One of the fascinating aspects of a baseball trade is the evaluation and projection of any prospects included in the transaction.
Right-handed pitcher Corey Black is the prospect the Chicago Cubs got from the New York Yankees in their recent deal for Alfonso Soriano.
The 21-year-old is not built in the mold of a strong-armed power pitcher, but even at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, he actually has a power arm, bringing his fastball to the high-90s, at times even hitting 100 mph.
Black had a nice career as a prep star playing both baseball and football at Mission Bay High School in San Diego, Calif., it's important to note that Black had Tommy John surgery as a junior. His primary position at Mission Bay was shortstop, and he hit .431 as a senior.
Black initially attended San Diego State University, where his coach was the legendary Tony Gwynn. In addition to being a utility infielder, he pitched for the Aztecs, both starting and relieving. He was removed from the SDSU roster at the beginning of his junior year.
Black transferred to Faulkner University in Alabama, where he could play baseball without having to sit out a year. He pitched well enough for the NAIA Faulkner Eagles to be selected by the Yankees in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
In parts of two seasons, Black has thrown 135 1/3 innings. He has pitched exclusively as a starter. That's significant, as based upon what I've seen, I believe he projects best as a reliever.
Black's ERA is a very respectable 3.79 in his short career. He has yielded 121 hits in 135 1/3 innings. He also has walked an average of four hitters a game while striking out 9.2 batters per nine innings. He has a composite WHIP of 1.34.
His primary pitch is a high-velocity fastball, but he also has an emerging changeup that can elicit swings and misses to finish off hitters. His slider and curveball are not as far along, which is not unusual for young, developing pitchers.
His mechanics are surprising, with a lot of movement in his body and head at the point of release. In addition, he doesn't extend his arm consistently in his release, causing drift of some of his pitches.
It is always comforting for a club to have a quick, electric-type power arm like Black's available in the bullpen. If he were to be slotted in a mid- to late-game pitching role, he could concentrate on commanding his best two pitches -- the fastball and changeup. Those may be all he would need as a reliever.
Trading for Black, the Cubs added a strong, versatile pitching option they can develop for a role to meet their organizational needs.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.