A half decade has passed and an entire farm system’s worth of Phillies prospects have been shuttled to one team or another in exchange for a litany of significant big league pieces. Of those sent packing, almost none have gone on to do anything significant. Hell, Carlos Carrasco was DFA’d last week. But now Jarred Cosart, one of the few ex-Phils prospects likely to make an impact of some kind at the big league level, has been summoned from the minor leagues. And he’s already made some pretty serious noise.
So let’s talk about what we saw from Jarred Cosart on Friday night, a night in which he tossed eight shutout innings against one of baseball’s better offenses. Keep in mind that watching baseball on TV clouds your vision from lots of important things. It’s more difficult to see downhill plane, pitch grips upon release, point of release, use of lower half, front foot placement and anything that goes on when the eye in the sky isn’t watching. That’s a lot of things. But between what I saw last night and what I’ve seen from Cosart in person in the past, I don’t feel like I’m doing you a disservice by chiming in here, but be aware of our limitations.
Okay, let’s begin. Jarred Cosart throws the baseball really hard. He sat 93-95mph most of the night and touched 97 a few times. His four-seamer features natural cut and will sink a bit, too. He commanded the shit out of it tonight, especially to his glove side, got some ground balls with it, some swings and misses, and generally kept it down in the strikezone. It was a very effective pitch and he leaned upon it heavily. He worked in a two-seamer that had a nice combination of sink and some arm-side run which he worked away to left handed hitters. It’s a plus-plus pitch (70) without much argument and provides Cosart a stable foundation on which to build a big league career. He maintained his velocity throughout the game, something he did not do the last time I saw him (2012 Fall League) when he was likely building arm strength which he seems to have constructed.
Cosart’s curveball has always been his most consistent, useful secondary pitch. The vertically oriented offering hums in between 79-82mph with good depth. Cosart knows how to use it. He pitched backwards with it the second time through Tampa’s order, buried it in the dirt, worked it back door at times, though we didn’t see any back foot charlies to left handed hitters. While Cosart showed advanced usage of the breaking ball, it didn’t yield results. He threw maybe 20 of them and none of them, none whatsoever, were swung at and missed. This is strange to me. The pitch appears to have the requisite movement to miss bats and the unusually high curveball velocity certainly helps, yet no Tampa hitter’s bat found only air when swinging. Again, I can’t be sure because I wasn’t sitting a few rows behind home plate like I usually am, but it’s possible that Cosart’s curveball is easy to identify out of his hand for one reason or another. Trevor May, who also has some tremendous movement on his curveball, suffers from the same stigma. It’s not a death blow, this is just one start and the curveball does look good, but it’s something to watch.
The changeup (of which Cosart threw maybe five or six) is about an average offering. It has nice horizontal movement but Cosart didn’t have great feel for it and the pitch often ran too far to his arm side for hitters to even consider offering at it. There’s a chance this pitch improves with time, but I’m not overly optimistic about it.
Cosart’s delivery has always been a topic of debate. It is a bit violent and he’ll lose sight of home plate at times because of it (though he looked to keep a still head most of the time on Friday) and some scouts aren’t a fan of where his front foot lands (he doesn’t create a right angle with it from the mound, it plants short, this is often called, “cutting yourself off”) but I’m not going to sit here and tell you the delivery is going to cause him to break.
Overall, I think Cosart is a #3 or #4 starter. Based on the way his two fastballs work, it’s really a four pitch mix right now and the secondary stuff seems solid, albeit unexceptional, overall. This is a young man with a tremendous right arm who had a terrific debut. I was surprised at how well Cosart mixed things up (though Carlos Corporan deserves a ton of praise for that as well), and that sort of pitchability bodes well for his future, especially if that change never comes along any more than it has thus far. I feel pretty good about his chances of staying in a rotation right now (unless he breaks, but we can’t exactly predict that. Well, I can’t anyway) but don’t think he’s going to be some dominant force of nature like most of baseball-watching Philadelphia probably thinks he’s going to be after tonight’s start. The Hunter Pence trade will end up hurting (Jonathan Singleton and Domingo Santana are on the way while Josh Zeid is probably a future middle reliever) and it would certainly be nice to have an arm like Cosart in red pinstripes, but I don’t think this one is going to cut depressingly deep.