Monday, December 10, 2012

Tom Boleska: Rule 5 Scouting Report

Tom Boleska was picked up in the minor league Rule 5 draft by the Orioles from the Twins. The Twins signed him in October after he spent the season with Fargo-Moorhead in Independent ball. Boleska was originally drafted in the 35th round by the Pirates in 2007. The 26 year old right-handed pitcher worked nearly exclusively out of the bullpen and was mostly very effective. However, even though he was successful in a small sample size in AA in 2010, 2011 was not so kind. He began the year by walking more batters than he struck out and was released after 16.2 innings. Boleska would move on to Edmonton in Independent ball, and threw 47 solid innings. He lead the team, which had 7 former MLB pitchers on the roster, in K/BB and didn't give up a homer (team average was .5 HR/9IP).

Boleska would spend all of 2012 with Fargo-Moorhead and lead the team in K/9IP, ERA, and K/BB. He has had some arm issues throughout college and his professional career. This has lead to inconsistent velocity, but he has been mostly at about 90 MPH on his fastball, touching 93 MPH (the low velocity isn't surprising since he was drafted so low). According to some who saw him this year, he was hitting up to 94-95 MPH, which certainly makes him more attractive. Mechanically, he is a little strange with his body, as the motion isn't extremely fluid and there is a little pause. He has a pretty high leg kick and long stride. His off-speed pitch appears to be a change, and it didn't look particularly impressive, but had some bite. However, he moves his fastball around the zone and locates it well, including keeping it low. He has always been a pretty solid ground-ball guy according to GO/AO (which is certainly not my favorite statistic, but if you want to go back a few years, that is pretty much what you have to use).

 Here is some video of one of his outings with Fargo-Moorhead this year. It is a full length game, but he begins pitching around 3:21:00.

The increased fastball makes him more interesting, and health will be key as to whether or not he develops into anything more than a pitcher that put up some good numbers in Independent ball and the lower minors. Of course, the minor league rule 5 draft is about as low risk as it gets. has him listed as part of the Orioles AAA team, and if true, at least we will get a visible radar gun on him when he pitches in Durham and Lehigh Valley on MiLB.TV.

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