Back in early May, we profiled three left-handed pitchers drafted in 2014; Austin Gomber of the St. Louis Cardinals, Eric Skoglund of the Kansas City Royals, and Seth Varner of the Cincinnati Reds. Let's revisit the trio and see how they have performed as the 2015 season approaches its close.
Austin Gomber: Drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round in 2014 from Florida Atlantic University, Gomber has pitched very well in the Low-A Midwest League, going 14-3 in 21 starts with a 2.79 ERA and a sharp 132/31 K/BB ratio. He has been particularly excellent in recent weeks, going 8-0, 1.84 in his last nine starts with a 64/13 K/BB in 59 innings, allowing just 39 hits.
Scouting reports indicate that his curveball has steadily improved all season, a notion backed up by an increasing strikeout rate. He already had a low-90s fastball and impressive change-up, and adding polish to the third pitch gives him projection as a mid-rotation starter.
Eric Skoglund: Selected by the Royals in the third round in '14 from the University of Central Florida, Skoglund opened 2015 with excellent pitching for Wilmington in the High-A Carolina League, posting a 2.30 ERA with a 44/8 K/BB in 55 innings over his first nine starts. However, he began to slump in June, then was placed on the disabled list with an "elbow injury" after a disastrous start in July (nine hits, two walks, five runs in 3.2 innings). Overall he has a 3.52 ERA with a 66/11 K/BB in 84 innings.
Before getting hurt, Skoglund was showing excellent command of a low-90s fastball, hard slider, and improving change-up. There is little public word about the severity of his elbow injury but he hasn't had any surgery yet. If healthy, Skoglund projects similarly to Gomber: a strike-throwing mid-rotation possibility.
Seth Varner: Drafted by the Reds in the 10th round from the University of Miami-Ohio in 2014, Varner got off to a strong start in the Midwest League with Dayton, posting a 2.88 ERA in 14 starts with an incredible 77/5 K/BB in 78 innings. Promoted to Daytona in the High-A Florida State League, he's remained effective (although not as dominant) with a 3.88 ERA in 47 innings with a 41/6 K/BB. The composite line is a 3.25 ERA with a 118/11 K/BB in 125 innings, allowing 133 hits.
Varner doesn't throw as hard as Gomber and Skoglund but he changes speeds well and has the best command and control of the trio. We need to see him in Double-A next year but if he passes that test he could become a fine number four or five starter. Being a home-state kid is cool too.
Overall, all three southpaws have performed well, Skoglund's elbow problem being the only glitch.