Some people were born to do certain things. When Wynn Isaiah Pelzer was born in 1986, he was given the perfect name for a baseball pitcher. His name is the type of gift sports editors can only dream of, as headlines like “Pelzer Wynn’s Again” and “Pelzer Runs Wynning Streak to Ten” are ready made for the papers. Fortunately, Pelzer grew into his name and is a pitcher on the cusp of the major leagues.
The right-handed Pelzer enjoyed a stellar career at the University of South Carolina, starting and relieving with equal success and consistently being one of the best hurlers in the SEC. He was already a hot commodity following his junior year in 2007, and after being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 9th round of that year’s draft, he decided to sign and start his professional career. He made steady progress through the San Diego system as a starter, but near the 2010 trade deadline, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles with cash considerations for shortstop Miguel Tejada. The fact that Baltimore was willing to trade one of its last established veteran players for Pelzer shows how much regard they have for the pitcher.
Since joining the Baltimore organization, Pelzer has been transitioning back to relieving and made it as high as Triple-A in 2011. So far in his minor league career, Pelzer has a 32-31 record in 126 games, with a 3.89 ERA. He has also struck out 422 batters in 472 innings, while relinquishing an impressively low 32 home runs. More information about his statistics is available here.
The scouting report on Pelzer is that he has major league stuff, highlighted by a low 90’s fastball. Consistency in his delivery and command are the last challenges he has been addressing, as he continues to progress through the minors. Heading into 2012 there is little reason why he won’t make his major league debut at some point during the season. There’s not much left for him to prove in the minors, and the rebuilding Orioles are likely to have many holes on their pitching staff to fill, with prospects like Pelzer eager to show what they can do.
Keep an eye out for Pelzer in Baltimore in 2012. He is a great follow on Twitter and was gracious enough to recently answer some of my questions. #Wynning!
Wynn Pelzer Interview:
Who was your favorite team and player growing up and why?: My favorite team growing up was the Atlanta Braves. I got into little league about the same time Andruw Jones made his debut, so I liked his game.
Can you run through what your draft experience was like; did you think you would go lower or higher than the 9th round?: My draft experience was a little frustrating because the previous year I threw really well and positioned myself to get drafted a little higher. My junior year wasn’t as good as I wanted and I had major knee surgery after I was drafted.
How did playing college ball at South Carolina prepare you for life as a professional player?: Playing at the REAL USC was good because the level of competition was really high. A lot of the guys I was playing against were going to play pro ball at some point, and it made me a better player. Matt LaPorta with aluminum in his hands was a testy situation.
What are contract negotiations like after being drafted?: I think they’re a standard case of a player’s perceived value versus how much the team thinks he’s worth. My negotiations were unorthodox because I was injured and somewhat of an enigma. So it was stressful, but in the end everyone on both sides want to get a deal done. You just can’t show your hand.
What pitches do you throw, and which one is your strongest and which one needs the most work?: I’m a sinker/slider/change-up guy; mostly sinker/slider. When I need a swing and miss, I lean on my slider. When I need a double play ball I’m living with my sinker. I’m comfortable with both of them, but I need to tighten up my command. It’s my biggest obstacle at this point in my career.
Are you most comfortable starting or relieving?: I’m comfortable doing both. My command makes it harder on me as a starter, but as long as I have a defined role I can adapt and prepare accordingly
What is the best baseball park/stadium you have ever played in?: The best stadium is The Diamond in Lake Elsinore. Any and everything that goes into a good baseball environment is top notch. I’d do it again for free.
Are you expecting 2012 to be the year you make your major league debut?: I expect to get better as a pitcher and put myself in a position where I can contribute to the big club. All I can control is my preparation and performance. But if the Lord is willing, I’ll be blessed with the opportunity.