The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with a college legend who is big on results but not so much on raw talent. Can he continue to overachieve and defy expectations or will his winning magic finally run out?
Position: Pitcher Highest Level: Rookie
Throws: Left Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 lbs.
Age: 22 Born: 2/15/90
2012 Season Stats
Rookie (Orem): 22.0 IP, 0-2, 4.91 ERA, 23 H, 11 BB, 2 HR, 21 SO, 2.73 GO/AO, 4.38 FIP, .339 BABIP
Fastball – C+. His fastball isn’t necessarily hard, clocking in at 86-89 mph, but he spots it well and offers two different versions. A heavy sinking fastball on righties and cutting fastball against lefties.
Off-speed Pitches – B. He has what I’d call a plus change, uses the same arm speed and delivery as his fastball and he puts it wherever he wants. He also offers a curve/slider, though neither are much more than “show-me” pitches in order to keep the hitter guessing.
Control – B. Roth is a finesse lefty that hovers in and around the strike zone with all of his pitches.
Command – C. This grade changes from pitch to pitch. I saw him spot his change-up wherever he wants in college and kept the majority of his pitches low in the zone. Whenever Roth did miss however, he kept it away from the middle of the plate which is just an example of his intelligence and poise as a pitcher.
Mechanics - B-. Roth alternates between a borderline sidearm delivery on lefties and a three-quarter delivery on righties. While this worked in college it almost never works in the pros. Still his delivery is low impact and offers minimal risk of injury to his back, elbow or shoulder.
Performance – B. This is taking into account his third consecutive sterling performance in the College World Series for South Carolina. There really isn’t much to take away from his performance in Orem other than the fact that he kept hitters off balance more than expected.
Projection – D. With Roth, what you see is what you get and what the Angels have is a soft-tossing lefty with composure. For now, he’ll remain a starter but I fully anticipate Roth transitioning to the bullpen in the high minors and serving as a lefty specialist or Scott Downs type of setup man with his deceptive delivery, moving fastballs and excellent change-up.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date – 2016.
(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)
Season Summary: Despite being a ninth round pick in the 2012 draft, Michael Roth might be the most well-known player to come out of the draft class for the Halos. Roth became a college baseball legend at South Carolina as the de facto ace of the Gamecocks who won the College World Series in 2010 and 2011 while also losing in the finals in 2012. In 2010 and 2011, Roth was the winning pitcher in both of the championship-clinching games and the staff aces for 2011 and 2012. It is a resume that is unparalleled in college history.
Unfortunately, that resume doesn't do anything to mask the deficiencies in his skillset. Roth is a polished pitcher already and has a deep repertoire of pitches, but he just doesn't throw hard, working in the mid-to-high-80's with his fastball and only has average command. That is going to make it hard for him to survive in the majors unless his command improves. However, he does a deceptive delivery thanks in part to his low arm slot. That should aid him well against left-handed hitters, but it is also what makes him more vulnerable to right-handed batters, thus limiting his potential to that of a reliever. It does appear though that the Halos want to see if he can cut it in the rotation first as he did work mostly as a starter for Orem after he was drafted. He was limited to just two innings per outing though, but that was a function of the Angels trying to keep his innings under control since he did log 137 innings for South Carolina his senior season.
What to Expect in 2013: It looks like the Angels are going to keep Roth as a starter for the time being even though the consensus is that the only way he will ever reach the majors is as a LOOGY. Given his track record in college, it is probably worth it just to see if Roth has some sort of intangible ability to outperform his actual talent level or figure out a way to alter his delivery so that his arm slot doesn't make him so susceptible to righties.
What will be interesting is to see how aggressive the Angels are in promoting Roth. He is an advanced enough prospect from his college days that keeping him in the low levels is something of a waste as he has already faced similar or better talent back at South Carolina. However, if they really do want him to make changes to his delivery or approach, he'd be best served taking a slower walk up the organizational ladder.