I have a report from Chicago's minor league camp in Arizona, indicating that former first round pick Mark Pawelek, first round out of high school in Utah in '05, has made a major breakthrough this spring. If you'll recall, he came to camp overweight and out-of-shape last year, and was rather disappointing in the Northwest League in '06, not showing as much velocity or command as in '05.
Well, this year that has changed. Listed at 6-3, 190 but up to 220 at times last spring, he went on a special workout, diet, and yoga program this spring, and reported to camp at 6-5, 200...gaining two inches of height and some muscle. According to a Cubs front office source, Pawelek has been pushing 96-97 on the gun, hit 99 once, and is showing a "Koufax-like" break on his curveball. He's also added a kind of splitfinger changeup that hitters just pound in the dirt. He's blowing the ball past everyone, and they are thinking about starting him as high as Double-A to begin the year, skipping the A-ball level entirely. He's also grown a goatee, trying to look more intimidating on the mound, and in general is a lot more aggressive and confident.
I'm going to raise his grade to B+ and am considering putting him in the Top Ten right now.
In case anyone gets confused looking through the archives, please note the date this article was posted.