It’s not too often when you read about someone not wanting to be in the spotlight, instead taking the road less taken.
That’s what Scott Kazmir did this past week when he participated in the Cleveland Indians “B” game to work on his breaking pitches against live opponents.
According to Craig Calcaterra of NBC’s HarballTalk, Kazmir threw, and there were plenty of scouts from the Rangers, Cubs, Brewers and Padres, who were on hand to take notice.
Considering many many moons ago Kazmir was all but written off by, in my estimation, everyone in the baseball world. And when you get into that grey area where you’re not sure if anyone wants your services it could be pretty devastating for anybody.
I remember a time when Kazmir was pitching for the Independent Sugar Land Skeeters. In one game he squared off against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, walked eight batters and his record dropped to 0-5.
At that point you could literally hear the critics proclaiming he was done and that this comeback was a waste of time. Little did anyone know that that moment was when things literally turned around for Kazmir?
After that game Kazmir went five consecutive starts without walking more than three batters and never surrendered more than four earned runs while going no less than six innings until his final start of the season.
A strong showing in Puerto Rico where he struck out 27 and walked eight batters in 22 innings definitely raised some eyebrows.
Rumours were rampant at the Winter Meetings that he was on the verge of signing a minor league deal with a multitude of teams, but it wasn’t till after the meetings that the Cleveland Indians took a flyer on the former first-round draft pick.
Now we are right in the midst of spring training and Kazmir continues to impress and surprise, especially since he is the one who requested this type of showcase (courtesy of MLB.com);
“I give him credit,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s been very good about communicating with us. He has not been real pleased with his breaking ball the last couple times out. He knows if he gets into a [Cactus League] game and he throws a couple and they’re not good, he’s going to go away from it and try to get outs.”
Calcaterra said in his article that scouts were impressed with the velocity of his fastball which was topping out around 92 mph, and despite some control issues with his breaking pitches, the deception was noted.
When this all started is was thought Kazmir was competing for a spot in the bullpen, but you might even consider Kazmir as the fifth starter on the team if he keeps progressing like this through the spring.
At this time he undoubtedly knows his limitations but he also knows how to win. And considering where he has come from, if he makes the Indians starting rotation or another team’s rotation, this has to be considered the biggest comeback story we have seen in quite some time.