#4 Jake Odorizzi
Acquired: Via trade with Milwaukee
From: Breese, IL
Jake Odorizzi was the 32nd overall draft choice by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2008 draft. Very early in his career he drew some comparisons to Zack Greinke, due to his high school pitching numbers, his athleticism, and the fact that he may have been a decent prospect as a shortstop as well. Just a couple years later, Odorizzi would find himself heading to Kansas City in a trade that would send Zack Greinke to Milwaukee.
The debate can be made about which pieces in the trade were the most critical for the Royals to obtain. Most likely Jeffries was the fourth piece, considering he was originally listed as a player to be named. However, at this point it would appear that the real gem of the deal is Jake Odorizzi, who has ranked in Baseball America's top 100 in each of the last two seasons.
Odorizzi features an excellent fastball that sits in the low 90s, but can be dialed up to 95-96 when the need arises. The fastball features strong movement, with sinking action. Odorizzi also throws a change, slider, and curveball, each of which project as average offerings. Because none of his secondary offering will likely develop into a plus pitch, Odorizzi's upside is likely that of a #3. If things break right though, and one pitch comes along more than expected, that upside could rise to a #2.
At the moment Odorizzi's biggest concern is his propensity to allow the long ball. In Northwest Arkansas, Odorizzi allowed 1.7 HR/9. Just for reference, the Texas League average was 0.94 HR/9. According to Baseball America, Odorizzi's problem is that he has trouble locating his fastball down in the zone, this is something that must be improved on before he gets a big league shot.
Not only does Odorizzi allow a ton of homers, but he also gets very few ground balls. His 33% ground ball percentage in 2011, is a bit surprising after reading that Odorizzi's fastball gets good sinking action. If he can't improve his ground ball percentage it will be imperative that he keep his K:BB very high, somewhere over 3, in order for him to find success. Of course, if you are going to be a fly ball pitcher, Kauffman Stadium is a good park to call home.
Jake Odorizzi will open 2012 in Northwest Arkansas, but he could reach the Major Leagues by season's end.
Picture taken from MiLB.com