|Prospect in the Spotlight: Scott Kazmir|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on August 27, 2004
Height 6-0; Weight 170 lbs; Bats L; Throws L; Position SP; DOB 1/24/84; Team Tampa Bay Devil Rays
In 2002, the New York Mets drafted LHP Scott Kazmir from Cypress Falls High, a high school in Houston. In his junior year Kazmir threw four no-hitters and he had six times as many strikeouts and runners reaching base in his senior year. Many teams were scared about what Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year was wanting in terms of signing bonus, so the Mets, after fifteen picks in the first round, managed to get him. He wasn’t even the first player from his high school take, as Clint Everts went in the number five slot with the Montreal Expos. Well, the Mets, using Dave Lottsfeldt, managed to get Kazmir to sign with a $2.15 million signing bonus, which was lower the most teams expected and a club record for the Mets.
Kazmir then begun his minor league career in Brooklyn and pitched brilliantly. Albeit in very short outings as the Mets had him on a strict 75-pitch limit. They wanted to avoid putting damage on a young arm, which was wise, but he needed to get some innings in and be tested in the 6th inning to see if he can escape a jam he might get himself into.
The lefty throws a 94-96 MPH fastball that scouts rank as one of the best in the minors. Accompanying that pitch is an above average slider and a sometimes “major league quality” changeup, according to some scouts. As his body continues to fill out - - he’s only 20 - - he should have even more velocity, as scary as that sounds.
The downside for Kazmir is that there are many questions about his stamina. In the minors he didn’t pitch many innings and many scouts question his durability because of his lack of size. He also needs to improve his changeup and better control the running game. Many scouts have problems with Kazmir’s approach towards his economy, i.e. getting 0-2 and trying to nibble the corner for a strikeout instead of just getting the hitter out.
Many scouts have been pessimistic about Kazmir’s future as a starter, saying they see him as a “Billy Wagner-style power reliever.” Um, since when did that become a bad thing?
I think that Kazmir will get his innings (both total and per start) now that he has switched organizations. This adjustment should lead him to develop into the front-of-the-rotation starter that his talent dictates. As John Sickels, writer of “The Baseball Prospect Book 2004,” says, “Scott Kazmir may be the best left-handed prospect in baseball.”
And what do the Mets end up doing with a dominant arm like this? Well, get rid of him, of course. The Mets sent Scott Kazmir to the Devil Rays at the trading deadline for SP Victor Zambrano, which was not a very wise move. Upon finding out about the trade, Kazmir had some words for the Mets.
“Basically, I just want to show them the mistake they made.”
A huge mistake it was.