Josh Collmenter, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
One of the best rookie pitchers so far in 2011 is Josh Collmenter of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 20 innings, he's got a 14/1 K/BB and has allowed just 10 hits, resulting in a stellar 0.90 ERA. He threw six shutout innings against the Dodgers in his first major league start on Saturday, May 14th, seizing a place in the Diamondbacks rotation. Who is this guy, and is this performance a fluke?
Collmenter was a 15th round pick in 2007 out of Central Michigan University. He posted outstanding K/BB and K/IP ratios in A-ball and Double-A, but was hit hard in Triple-A last year, which hurt his stock with scouts. Collmenter wasn't a hot prospect pre-season: Baseball America didn' t even list him as one of Arizona's Top 30 prospects. I was more optimistic, giving him a Grade C+ and ranking him at Number 16 on my Diamondbacks list.
Scouts have never given him much slack: few right-handers with 85-88 MPH fastballs succeed in the majors. His second pitch is a strong changeup, and he'll mix in an occasional curve and a rare slider. The fastball/changeup combination, combined with his stellar command and a deceptive over-the-top delivery, was often too much for minor league hitters even without plus velocity. And so far, it's been too much for major league hitters, too.
Will that remain true? He's defied the odds so far, and except for 10 rough starts in Triple-A last year, he's been effective at every level of pro ball. Scouts praise Collmenter's ability to adapt and learn, and he'll need that ability as the hitters get used to him. I would not underestimate Collmenter's ability to stay ahead of the curve, and he could end up having a very good career as an inning-eating strike thrower.