Saturday, October 31, 2009

Colton "Billy" Cain

The Pirates signed 8th rounder Colton Cain, 18, for $1.125M. The 6-3, 225-pound left-handed from Waxahachie High had a scholarship in hand from Texas, but hey, money talks. Cain fell in the draft and into the Pirates' lap after telling teams he wanted a seven-figure bonus to leave the Longhorns.

The price was the highest over-slot amount dished out for his round, but Cain was ranked the #14 prospect in Texas, and #109 in the country, so he was quite a landing for the Buccos, and probably a decent value with the #253 selection.

He signed in August, after breaking off earlier negotiations to take a little trout fishing vacation. Cain throws in the low-90s, and has an OK curve that should become a plus pitch in time, along with a work-in-progress change.

An All-State pick and star on U.S. national youth and junior teams the last two summers, he won his two starts for Team USA in 2008 with victories over Chinese Taipei and Korea. He posted a 6-2 slate with a 2.17 ERA and had 118 Ks against just 18 walks in 58 innings of work his senior year.

He also was a first sacker with big lefty power potential, enough potential that at least two scouting services had him as a fringe first-rounder at first base. But Cain's Pittsburgh future is on the mound, though he's raw. Velocity, especially for a southpaw, is something that's tough to coach - he once struck out 19 players in a game.

Here's the report on him:
Fastball: Cain touched 94 mph and throws a hard, heavy fastball with sink.
Curve: It was inconsistent, though he showed some rotation. A slider might be his best bet in the future.
Changeup: Showed some feel for a change. He has good arm speed and it has a chance to be a good pitch down the line.
Control: Overall, it was pretty good. He left the ball up in the zone at times, but could get away with it at this level.
Poise: An oustanding competitor who is very aggressive on the mound.
Physical Description: Cain is a big, strong lefty, kind of like a young Greg Swindell.
Strengths: Outstanding heavy fastball from the left side; pounds the zone with it. Good athlete who's very competitive.
Weaknesses: Other pitches lag behind the fastball, though he does have a breaking ball and a feel for a change.
Summary: Cain is a big, strong lefty out of the high school ranks who will have to be signed away from being a two-way player at University of Texas. He's improved his Draft prospect stock as a pitcher, running his heavy fastball up to about 94 mph. His other offerings are behind the heater, but he does have a feel for pitching. He's a step behind the elite prep lefties in this class, but he's not too far below them.
He signed late enough that the Pirates just gave him a look-see in Florida and held him out of competition.

We expect that he'll start in the GCL at Bradenton in 2010 as he makes the transition from two-way player to the hill, with a strong showing earning him a later ticket to State College.

(Next: Evan Chambers)

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