6'1" 180 lbs DOB: 10/7/1987
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2009: Charlotte Stone Crabs/Montgomery Biscuits
Acquired: 2006 Draft, 4th Round, 109th Overall
Overshadowed by some flashier names in the system, Alex Cobb ranked 6th in the Florida State League in ERA as a 21-year old in 2009.
More impressive than the ERA were the steps up his rate stats took. In 2008, he had a 3.29 ERA, but his FIP(fielding-independent pitching) was over a run higher. He ranked #10 on this list a year ago, where I said that "if his strikeout rate continues to decline, it's going to be tougher for Cobb to succeed as he advances." Not only did it not decline, it improved by near 1.5 despite the promotion, from 6.3 to 7.7. Not that that's a terrific strikeout rate, but combined with the rest of what Cobb can do, it's more than acceptable.
His walk rate held nearly steady from a season ago, and he walked only 31 batters in 125 innings. Cobb also does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground. Despite a 1.83 GO/AO in 2008, he surrendered 16 home runs. His groundball rate dipped a little to 1.58, but came with it a more appropriate 6 home runs. His stuff isn't outstanding, so if he makes a mistake it's going to get punished, but allowing home runs shouldn't be a big long-term problem considering he gets a fair number of groundballs.
At just 6'1" and 180 pounds, Cobb doesn't offer a lot of projectability. His fastball only sits in the 90-91 range, but he can locate it and it has decent life on it. His curveball is probably his best pitch, and he can garner swings and misses with it provided he sets it up properly. His change-ups grades out about average.
Cobb doesn't excel in any one area. He doesn't strike out the world, but he strikes out enough. He doesn't have elite control, but walks don't kill him. And he isn't a true sinker-baller, but he gets his share of groundballs. Because of this, he doesn't have as high a ceiling as some guys ranked lower(like Wilking Rodriguez), but he doesn't have a very low floor. Despite a small-ish frame, he should be able to handle a full starter's workload. He went on the disabled list two times in 2009 with blister issues, but his arm has been healthy. Still, his future may be in the bullpen as a useful set-up man, where his pedestrian stuff could play up a tick and his lack of a true weakness would be valuable.