With the 20th pick overall, the San Francisco Giants took Chris Stratton, a right-handed pitcher from Mississippi State. Stratton (6’3″, 198 lbs) is the second first rounder to play for the Bulldogs — the first was a guy named Will Clark who the Giants added with the No. 2 overall selection back in 1985. @Crpls reminded me that there was another Mississippi St. player the Giants took in 1985, Jeff Brantley (6th round).
I could pretend to be all-knowing and describe Stratton’s tools and repertoire, but I’ve never seen the guy pitch. So let’s get to know Stratton the best way we can: through the power of a certain internet search engine!
Mississippi State Stats
The first year listed is 2012, followed by 2011 and then 2010. After putting up nearly identical numbers during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Stratton really took off during his junior year.
Scouting Reports (plus my own “analysis” of the analysis)
MLB.com: Starting the year as a reliever, Stratton eventually took over Friday starting duties for Mississippi State. His success there has seen him shoot up boards as the Draft approached.
Stratton has the chance to have an exciting four-pitch mix, all coming from the kind of ideal pitching frame scouts love. He throws a sneaky fastball, up to 94 mph with ease and with good movement. His slider is the better of his two breaking balls, a strikeout pitch with good rotation and bite. His curve is a notch behind, but it has the chance to be Major League average with a slurvy break to it. His changeup, also a future average offering, has some sink. He has above-average control, throwing all four pitches for strikes and showing an understanding of how to use his stuff well.
Stratton has been a very consistent performer since moving into the rotation and his combination of size, stuff and pitchability have him moving into first night of the Draft conversations.
Gotta love a “slurvy break.” Also, Jay Bilas is probably jealous that he didn’t come up with the word “pitchability.”
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel: Stratton really took a step forward this spring with his velocity and secondary stuff sharpening, and he still has some projection left in his long-limbed frame. At times, he will flash three plus pitches with a fastball that’s been up to 96, sharp three-quarters slider and late-diving, hard changeup. There are a few issues with Stratton as he more often will show above-average stuff with a low 90’s fastball and wavering feel for his secondary pitches, despite solid command. His arm action isn’t the cleanest and he’s nearly 22, so he has less time to make these adjustments than other pitchers. The Giants have a great track record of developing home grown arms and they have a lot of talent to work with here.
Hopefully the Giants can help him wash his arm action. I recommend Old Spice High Endurance, either “Pure Sport” or “Playmaker.”
Baseball America: Stratton excelled this spring for the Bulldogs and edged out LSU’s Kevin Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick tonight, as Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year. His stuff isn’t quite as firm, with a fastball that usually sits 92-93 mph but touches the mid-90s. His breaking stuff sets him apart; he throws both a slider and a curveball, and both can be above-average, with the slider getting higher grades.
Higher grades? At an SEC school? I kid, I kid…
Draft projections are proven wrong every year, but it’s interesting that two of the most respected and cited people when it comes to evaluating young baseball players thought Stratton would be off the board by the time the Giants were on the clock.
From John Sickels’ mock draft:
13) Chicago White Sox: I think this comes down to a high-upside high school bat (Hawkins, Seager, or perhaps speedy D.J. Davis) or the best college pitcher still on the board. In the end, Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State has a great balance of upside and refinement.
Keith Law tweeted this during the early stages of the first round:
San Francisco practically sprinted to the podium to get this pick in, as they probably didn’t believe they’d have a shot at Stratton when the evening began. Stratton began the season in the bullpen, but quickly became the Bulldogs’ ace and led the SEC in strikeouts. He has an ideal frame and a four-pitch arsenal. All of his tools are projected to be between average and above-average at the major league level. Assuming the late-bloomer fulfills that prophecy, the Giants just snagged no worse than a middle-of-the-rotation starter.
See for yourself!
It was tough to find video on him other than interviews, but the first video in this post features a few pitches from Stratton, starting at about 50 seconds in, from a game against Connecticut on March 2 where Stratton came in and pitched the last 6 innings in relief. The first pitch is a wicked breaking ball, the second is a fastball (very impressive) and the third looks like a pretty nice changeup.
If you’re feeling stalkerish…
You can follow Stratton on Twitter. He lists his location as “Starkvegas,” which today I learned is a nickname for Starkville, Miss.
The Giants’ minor league system no longer possesses a bounty of young pitching prospects. The best, Kyle Crick, is only 19. After watching that short video clip and taking into consideration the Giants’ excellent history when it comes to drafting and developing pitchers, it seems like there’s a good chance that we’ll see Stratton rise through the ranks relatively quickly.