Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Top Prospects #12: Asher Wojciechowski

Name: Asher Wojciechowski
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 1st round (2010)
Opening Day age: 21
Height/weight: 6’4”/235 lbs
Best/worst tool: Fastball/changeup
Risk factor: Low
ETA: 2013

Scouting Report

At 6’4” and 235 lbs, Wojciechowski has the build of a workhorse starter. Despite that, he could find himself working in the back end of a bullpen in the very near future. Stamina is not the issue, as he is more than capable of eating innings and giving his bullpen an easy night. The problems arise when closely examining his delivery. His windup mechanics are solid, and he has a strong drive with his legs as he completes the delivery. The problems arise with his arm action, which has some serious effort in place of the smoothness you’d like to see. The way he slings his arm in the follow through has significant injury potential, and efforts made by the Blue Jays to resolve the issue led to deterioration in both stuff and command. Wojciechowski throws three pitches, but relies heavily upon the best two, his fastball and slider. The four-seam fastball is an above average pitch that sits in the low 90’s while touching the mid 90’s. It lacks late life, which causes trouble when his inconsistent command escapes him. His slider has improved significantly over the last year, grading out as above average while clocking in the low 80’s. His third pitch is a below average changeup, though it’s far more of a “show me” pitch than a regular part of his repertoire. Should he transition to the bullpen where he can go max-effort, both his fastball and slider could become plus pitches and his lack of a third pitch wouldn’t be such a hinderance.

2011 Statistics and Analysis

25 games (22 starts), 130.1 IP, 156 H, 68 ER, 15 HR, 31 BB, 96 K
11-9, 4.70 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.63 K/9, 3.10 K/BB, 1.03 GO/AO

The 2011 season was a very interesting one for Wojciechowski. Early in the year, the Blue Jays coaching staff made some adjustments to his delivery in an effort to better preserve long term health. The results were pretty horrific. After starting out hot in April, Asher fell apart through May and June, completely losing his command and getting hit around the park due to lost velocity; 12 of his 15 home runs allowed came during that time. He simply couldn’t keep the ball down in the zone with the mechanical alterations. The first half numbers were pretty ugly: 5.42 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 1.73 HR/9. Things changed after the Blue Jays allowed him to return to the delivery that made him a first round pick. In the second half, his velocity and command returned, and the statistics followed shortly thereafter: 3.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 0.16 HR/9. While the overall numbers are rather disappointing, the fact that he finished the season strong is a good sign and bodes well for his future.

Expected 2012 Assignment: Double-A New Hampshire

Future Outlook

The 2012 season is likely Wojciechowski’s last as a starter unless he significantly improves his changeup and learns to throw it with confidence. In Double-A and above -– particularly the majors –- two-pitch starters simply don’t work. If he can develop it to the point where it’s a viable third pitch, he’ll remain in the rotation and would be looking at a mid-2013 major league debut. If he can’t –- and the club will watch him keenly in the early months of the season -– he’ll be converted to relief and could see the major leagues as early as late 2012. Given his history with the changeup and his requirement for a high-effort delivery to be effective, the bullpen is his most likely destination. He simply has too many issues to resolve in a system loaded with higher ceiling arms.

Perfect World Projection: Closer

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