Don’s Thoughts: Branden Kline is a bit of a tweener who I feel would be better suited as a relief pitcher, but I would keep stretching him out as a starter to improve his arsenal and command. He is a basically a two pitch pitcher with a good fastball and curve combination. He is a player that was throwing 91-93 mph as a starter and in relief he was up to 95 mph.
He could improve his strength and see a tick or two increase on the fastball with what could be 96-97 mph in relief. The power curve has some serious spin and depth to it, and he has good command and control of the offering. His two pitch combo would make him a quality 7th or 8th inning arm.
He has a change up that needs some refinements. He also needs to refine a few aspects of his delivery, and create a safer arm action. He has the upside of a middle rotation starter. I think if the Orioles feel they are contending sooner rather than later, he may start in the low levels and move to the bullpen as he progresses quickly through the system. I do not think he would take long to develop in relief role, and could pitch for parent club as early as 2013 in relief.
The Red Sox knew Kline would be a tough sign, as many Virginia commits are. Now, three years later, Boston and the other 29 teams will have the chance to draft one of the better college closers in the country.With a projectable Brandon Morrow-like frame, Kline has a very live arm with clean action that delivers fastballs regularly in the low-90s, and there might be more velocity in the future. He throws a hard curve and is willing to throw it at all times. He commands both pitches well and has the mentality that works in the back end of a bullpen.While Kline closes in college, he may not fit that role ideally at the next level, though increased velocity might help in that regard. Even if he doesn’t rack up saves, he could reach the big leagues quickly as a setup man.
Bullpen Banter (link):
Tall with a strong base and room to add muscle to upper half; long lanky arms
Straight overhand arm slot; really extends arm on the backside
Fastball had excellent downward plane
Hard slider with vertical movement; primary secondary pitch
Threw one overhand curve ball during the outing for called strike; pitch had good shape
Change-up had some drop to it
Relied on the angle created by his size and arm slot to get batters to chase fastballs low out of the zone (some in the dirt)
Control and command were solid