Like fellow prospect Sean Gleason, Cole McCurry’s switch to the bullpen has brought new life to his prospect status. McCurry was drafted by the Orioles in the 43rd round of the 2007 draft out of Tennessee Wesleyan. He was sent to the GCL immediately after signing, where he began what has been a dominant minor league career.
In 2008, McCurry began his first full pro season by putting up a 2.76 ERA in 15 starts for Aberdeen, which earned him a promotion to Delmarva. His ERA rocketed after moving up to the South Atlantic League, but he maintained strong walk and strikeout rates.
McCurry returned to Delmarva to begin 2009 and spent the entire season there. His 2.71 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 139 innings were video game like statistics. Despite the dominant performance, McCurry was still old for his league and would have to continue to prove himself as he progressed through the minors.
2010 was the year where McCurry’s future role became much more clear. He struggled with his command as a starter, but thrived after he was moved into Frederick’s bullpen.
He’s been in the bullpen ever since and is starting to make a name for himself as a legitimate relief pitching prospect.
He works with two different off-speed pitches. His changeup displays nice depth and action off the fastball. His slider/cutter is a bit more than a “show me” pitch at this stage, and he prefers to ride it away from contact. His slider/cutter shows more lateral movement, but has nice action when he snaps it off.
McCurry can effectively live low and away. When his fastball command is tight, the slider becomes a serious chaser out of the zone.
He has continued to be a nightmare match up for left handed batters at every stop. Outside of two bad outings in the Arizona Fall League, McCurry performed rather well against left handed batters in what is a hitters’ league.
After seeing the batters’ reactions, his arm slot makes it difficult for left handers to see the ball out of his hand. He should be a pitcher that can get ground outs and strikeouts as a LOOGY.
McCurry has ability, but it is consistency that is keeping him from the major leagues at this time. When he has clean mechanics and lives down in the zone, he will knock out a lineup 1-2-3. Then, he will return the next inning and display inconsistencies, as the ball goes all over the place.
He has the stuff to be a key cog in any bullpen, but must iron out the minor mechanical problems to become a dependable reliever.
If the Orioles need a LOOGY, McCurry should be able to come up and get the job done against lefties right away.
Even if they Orioles are simply looking for some relief help at some point during the season, McCurry should hear his name called.