Bryan Radziewski calls himself a "short, fat lefty," and the ninth-round pick of the Houston Astros was in the top ten of my pre-season list of "Very Luhnow" pitchers. At 5'10", 195 lbs., Radziewski may not be a physically-imposing presence on the mound, but he's pitched very well in a tough ACC this season - one year removed from being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals - earning second-team all-conference honors.
Despite a fastball that tops out in the high eighties, "B-Rad" is seventh on the Hurricanes' all-time strikeout list, having recorded at least seven in ten of his sixteen starts this spring, including a season-high ten in his debut, against Maine (his career high is sixteen, which he got last year against Virginia Tech). He was thirteenth in Division-I in strikeouts, and twenty-third in K/9.
You can get a decent of Radziewski's stuff here, though the information is over a year old.
In his outing against Virginia, he threw 105 pitches, and got 6 whiffs, which is well below where you would want it to be. He got 8 groundballs and 12 flyballs, and threw strikes 63.8 % of the time, an okay percentage. He gave up fouls a little more than Silvertstein as well, at 15.2% of the time.
His fastball was anywhere from 83-88, averaging 85.38 MPH. Only 7 starters in the Pitch F/X era (170 innings minimum) have had an average fastball velocity below that, and they were all veterans at the end of their careers (with the exception of R.A. Dickey, a knuckleballer, which Radziewski is obviously not). So obviously, this is not a MLB fastball, but let’s look at his other pitches.
His breaking pitch was a what I am going to call a curveball. It looked like a soft slider with some sweeping action, and the broadcast even called it a cutter. Just for ease and comparisons, I will call it a curveball, which it looked like at times. It was anywhere between 69 to 79 (it was probably two different pitches, a cutter/slider, and a slow curve), averaging 75.24 MPH. This is closest to Cliff Lee, Josh Tomlin, and Aaron Harang. He threw this pitch 44 times, or about 42 % of the time (seemingly supporting that he was actually a 4 pitch pitcher).
He also threw a change 12 times (about 11% of the time). The pitch was thrown 76-81 MPH and averaged 79.83 MPH, barely below Silverstein’s and closest to Kenny Rogers and Jason Vargas, two lefties who threw a ton of changeups.
(The Silverstein in question was Scott Silverstein, who went in the twenty-fifth round in 2013 to the Blue Jays. Radziewski went four rounds later to the Cardinals.)
LOOGY. Doesn't it stink that by virtue of handedness, this becomes everyone's immediate floor? Still, Radziewski does happen to be left-handed, and while he's generated far more strikeouts than you'd expect from a guy with his stuff and physique, he's also walked a lot of guys - no doubt because by his own admission, sometimes even he doesn't know where his pitches are going to end up.
It's certainly not out of the question that Radziewski could harness his stuff, add a little velocity, and become a middle-of-the-rotation starter. I'll call that his ceiling, though it's unlikely he'll reach it. It's more likely that he ends up a reliever in the major leagues, and you can dream on a #4/5.
Will He Sign?
Having already red-shirted after having surgery to replace a partial labrum tear in 2012, he could return to Miami for another season, but it seems likely that he'll sign and get his pro career underway.
The career accolades are impressive by themselves: a member of the USA National U16 team, 2011 Freshman All-America Second Team (Baseball America), 2013 Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List (USA Baseball), 2013 All-ACC First Team, 2013 Rawlings All-America Third Team, 2013 Louisville Slugger All-America Second Team, and a pair of 2014 Preseason All-Americas.
But the story itself articulates a clear picture of the type of obstacles the left-hander has had to overcome.
Standing just 5-foot-10 and a potato chip under 200 pounds, Radziewski was overlooked by professional scouts coming out of high school despite having enough firepower to be named as a Second Team Freshman All-American when he posted a solid 3.35 ERA while average 9.07 K9 and 3.65 BB/9.