I had an opportunity to shake off the rust that had accumulated over my eyeballs during the offseason and see Moravian righty Brendan Close on Saturday. Baseball America pointed their omnipotent finger at Close when they mentioned him in a preseason write up on small school prospects to watch this spring. Clearly the best player on the field as the Moravian Greyhounds swept a double header from the Catholic University of America, Close has enough raw talent that teams will view him as at least a little more than a senior sign. He’s not a guy a team will bring on just to help fill the roster of one of their lower level affiliates. There is a chance, albeit a small one, that Close can find a niche and become a legitimate prospect. We’ll get into all that in a minute. For now, I’m going to take the next few seconds and enjoy the fact that a kid this talented fell through the cracks and ended up at a D-III school. People at Lehigh, Lafayette, Temple and Penn State are paid to find kids like this. None of them did. I find solace knowing that the industry is still not very good at mining baseball talent. I’ll be paid to do this one day, I swear to Christ. On to Close.
At an athletic 6’4”, 200lbs, Close has just a little projection left in his body. He has the athleticism to put on a little more weight and maintain his mechanics. He’ll have to maintain that delivery as is because if it were to get any worse it would become an issue. While Close’s straight over the top arm action isn’t anything to be concerned about, there’s plenty of noise from the shoulders up. His head whips around quite a bit possibly causing him to lose sight of the plate momentarily. It causes his command to suffer a bit.
Close has an interesting repertoire, consisting of a fastball, curveball, cutter and changeup. He works primarily with his fastball which sits between 87-89mph and touches as high as 92mph. It has some run, especially when he’s working to his arm side. The velocity is average but it’s far too much for hitters at this level to handle. Close relies on it almost too heavily. Why shouldn’t he? It gets the job done. That’s fine for now, but his secondary pitches are underdeveloped as a result.
When Close does work with the secondary pitches the results are a bit underwhelming. The curveball has a nice, sweeping, two plane shape to it, but it’s a little soft and loopy. The cutter moves plenty, so much so that I thought it was a slider before I was corrected by his teammate, Ben Hammel. The cutter has its moments but again, the movement isn’t very crisp much of the time. Close tried to back door these pitches against lefties in the first inning and got hit around a bit. He doesn’t use the changeup very much. He barely even threw it during between inning warm-ups. His arm slot is suited beautifully for a splitter and I hope whatever minor league pitching coach gets a hold of him after he signs recognizes that.
Close walked five hitters in eighty innings of work last season. I showed up thinking I’d see plus control and command. Close’s control is a true 60 on the scouting scale, but the command doesn’t grade out the same. He left several pitches up. I am mindful that Close was making his first start after an injury and was likely a tad rusty. I will see him again later this season and post an update. For now, I’m going to refrain from expounding about what I’d do with Close to improve his chances of making the big leagues one day. I’ll do that later this season. He shouldn’t be worried about that stuff right now anyway.
Changeup: ? (need to see more of it)