Los Angeles Angels pitching prospect Cam Bedrosian made his major league debut last night, pitching a scoreless inning against the Houston Astros. It has been quite a ride for the right-hander: he was a first round pick in 2010, got hurt in '11, was terrible in '12, improved to decent in '13, and is now in the majors.
The son of former major leaguer Steve Bedrosian, Cam was well-known to scouts as an amateur for his bloodlines and arm strength, earning a spot in the 2010 draft as a first-rounder from Sharpsburg, Georgia. He pitched 12 innings in rookie ball but promptly blew out his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery.
Some people regard this procedure as routine these days, but that's a mistake: not everyone comes back easily or completely. After missing 2011 on rehab, Bedrosian returned to the mound in 2012 and had a really awful season in the Midwest League: 6.31 ERA, 48/52 K/BB in 83 innings, 91 hits.
The numbers were not a fluke: he was throwing 84-87 MPH, with poor command, shaky mechanics, no bite on his breaking ball, and a changeup that was the same speed as his fastball. On paper, and in person, he looked like a guy who had been ruined by injury and was going to get released. If he had been anyone but Cam Bedrosian, former first round pick, he probably would have been.
The Angels had too much invested in him to do that, of course. They wisely moved him to the bullpen in 2013 and the results were much more impressive. Although his ERA was still high at 5.30 in Low-A, his component ratios were much better (69/22 K/BB in 54 innings) and he finished the year with nine shutout innings in High-A. Most importantly, his stuff was back: he was throwing 92-94 MPH again, his breaking ball was sharper, he had his mechanics back in gear, and he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League.
Bedrosian has been lights out in 2014: 1.47 ERA in 18 innings in Double-A, 30/6 K/BB, fastball at 93-96 MPH and a fully revived slider. He's a bullpen guy all the way now, like his dad. Steve saved 184 games and won a Cy Young Award. Cam will be hard-pressed to match that, but as long as he maintains his health he should be a successful reliever with a chance to close.