Scouting Yankees Prospect #13: Jeremy Bleich

Bleich brings a ton of polish to the game

The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Jeremy Bleich in the supplemental first round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Stanford University. He signed too late to get more than one start in Staten Island this past season, but he was able to show his plus command and overall polish in the Hawaiian Winter League this offseason, and many believe he could move quickly through the minor leagues.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jeremy Bleich
Position: Pitcher
DOB: June 18, 1987
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"The transition has gone well," Bleich said of the professional level. "Obviously I'm glad everything worked out when I signed with the Yankees.

"They sent me out to Hawaii and it was definitely a learning experience for me. The speed of the game picked up, and the quality of play obviously picked up. I've been able to get back into the swing of things."

He signed right at the deadline in mid-August and as a result he was only able to get one regular season start with the Staten Island Yankees, allowing two earned runs in just three innings of work.

So little time caused him to struggle right out of the gate in the Hawaiian Winter League as well. He allowed five earned runs in his first two starts with the Waikiki BeachBoys, spanning just six innings, and he walked eight batters.

"There were a couple of things I worked on a little bit in Tampa the couple of days I had in Instructs before I went to Hawaii," he revealed. "I think I got [to Hawaii] and let the game get a little too fast.

"I needed to take a step back and slow the game down after the first two starts. Once I was able to do that I kind of just pitched and had fun, and competed. That's what it's all about."

He settled down after those first couple of starts, however, and posted a 0.59 ERA over his last five games, walking just four and striking out 30 batters in his remaining 30 2/3 innings.

"In Hawaii my curveball was a good pitch for me," he said. "It came around and I was able to use it as a strikeout pitch. Towards the end I was able to work on my changeup. I feel it got better and better.

"There's always room for improvement with those, even better command of my fastball than I had. I think it's just being able to mix three pitches and command them that led to a little bit of success."

It's his plus command of three big league pitches and his overall pitch-ability that allowed him to be such an early round pick, but it is his overall baseball acumen that has many scouts believing he could be a quick riser to the big leagues.

"Just competing and being smart, just knowing the game and knowing how to adjust," he listed as his greatest strengths. "It's a game of adjustments.

"The hitters are trying to make adjustments and the pitchers are trying to make adjustments, so whoever makes the better adjustments and makes them in a more timely fashion is going to be more successful. That's my goal and that's something I pride myself in."

Already drawing comparisons to a left-handed version of former Minor League Pitcher of the Year and former Yankees first rounder Ian Kennedy for his combination of plus command and baseball intelligence, Bleich is starting his professional career with no glaring weaknesses.

"I wouldn't necessarily classify it as rough, but not knowing what to expect," he said of the roughest adjustment so far. "I didn't really know what to expect in Hawaii and I didn't know what to expect when I first went to Staten Island.

"It's my first go-around though so I'm learning as I go. I'm antsy to get into Spring Training and I'm excited, just not really knowing what's ahead. I wouldn't say it's rough, it's just kind of the unknown."

Being left-handed and as competitive as he is, Bleich has continually heard the comparisons to Andy Pettitte and he strives to be just as consistent.

"I don't want to be good one night and bad the next time out," Bleich listed as his top goal. "I want to be good one night and be good the next day. If I'm not on that one day, I still want to be solid.

"Even if I don't have my best stuff, I still want to compete. If I have my best stuff I want to be able to use it to the best of my ability. I just want to be consistent and the way you do that is being competitive everyday."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2008

Staten Island

0-0

0

3.0

2

0

4

6.00



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Bleich won't overpower anybody with his fastball velocity, but what he lacks in great speed he more than makes up with impeccable command of his four-seam fastball. Velocity-wise he is big league average, sitting mostly in the 89-92 MPH range and topping out around 94 MPH on occasion. He is able to locate his fastball in all four quadrants, however, and his spot-on location does keep hitters guessing a bit more than most average velocity hurlers.

Other Pitches. Bleich has two very good secondary pitches that he can go to for an out. His curveball is his strikeout weapon of choice and it is a plus pitch, and it's the primary reason he has averaged nearly a strikeout per inning pitched so far in his short career. He rounds out his repertoire with a plus changeup as well. It's not nearly the same strikeout option as his curveball, but he can get quite a few swings-and-misses with it and he also uses it to make his fastball more of a weapon.

Pitching. The name of Bleich's game is plus command of three quality big league pitches and adjusting his game on the fly. He is extremely intelligent [as most Stanford alums usually are] on the mound and he's very adept at keeping hitters off-balance by tailoring his game to their weaknesses on a batter-by-batter basis. While he won't hit the upper-90's with his fastball, he is very confident in his overall stuff and he goes right after batters. He also works very quickly and he seldom allows batters to get comfortable or build any sort of rhythm. And even though he strikes out a fair number of batters, he is very efficient in his pitch counts and that allows him to work deep into games.

Projection. Critics currently down on Ian Kennedy and his game may not like the comparison, but in a lot of ways Bleich is a left-handed version of Kennedy due to his solid overall repertoire, plus command, efficiency on the mound, pitch-ability, and intelligence. Like Kennedy, he has a big league middle-of-the-rotation type of ceiling. Unlike Kennedy, however, Bleich has a plus breaking pitch that he can go to as a primary strikeout weapon, especially against the real tough left-handed batters, and that makes his projection a bit safer. Throw in his competitive drive and a willingness to learn, he could be a very steady innings-eater.

ETA. 2011. Bleich has the overall game to be a quick-riser through the minor leagues in Kennedy-like fashion. The difference, however, is that Bleich has a bit more ahead of him on the depth charts than Kennedy did two years ago. He could skip the low-A level next season and jump right into the Florida State League. If it plays out that way, he may only need two full minor league seasons.

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