Since the Gorz trade I've been trying to figure out who the hell this Graham Hicks guy is. He was treated like a simple throw in, but given that he's a young, tall, LHP I had to do some investigating. Plus, last time the Cubs picked up a high upside, no name arm from someone else he turned into one of the best pitching prospects in the system.
Here's some things I picked up:
- He's a 6'5 lefty who might not even weigh 200 pounds yet. I mostly see him listed at 170, which is maybe heavier than me and I'm 6' on a good day...a really good day.
- He was a 4th round pick out of HS, and was actually somewhat touted. He was going to go to the University of Central Florida, but chose pro ball instead.
- He had been 18 for about 4 months when he was drafted in '08. He's 21 on February 9th. Young and projectable so far...
- He throws a fastball that can touch 92, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider. The slider is supposedly his best pitch, and the changeup is said to be strong too.
- He's got the ability to get the K, but hasn't posted a dominant K rate in the minors over significant innings yet. So far he's got a 7.2 K/9 in the minors, and in last year's 71 IP in (I think) low A and A ball he posted an 8.3 K/9....7.8 in A ball.
- Control seems spotty overall, but given his profile it sounds like it's because he's so young and is all arms and legs right now. Career BB rate in the minors is 3.6 over 133 IP so far.
- Has been hittable...he's given up 163 hits in 133 minor league innings. Pretty crappy, and probably the most disheartening thing I've noticed about him.
- Seems he's one of those HS pitchers who was pretty good as a junior, but then started throwing 90 as a senior and caught the eye of pro scouts. That said, before the pro scouts he had drawn interest from UCF, a local D1 school.
- Learned his slider from former ML pitcher Russell Jacobs.
- Craig Cozart, who I assume is someone of significance from UCF wrote this about him at one point:
"A 6-foot-4 left-handed pitcher that has got an unbelievable amount of potential left in him, even though his stuff is ready right now. He could walk on campus and pitch in our rotation immediately. He's going to pitch comfortably, from 88-89 mph and we've seen him run it up to 90-91. He has developed a slider that is just unhittable right now. He pitched down in Lakeland at the Florida Diamond Club and punched out all six guys that he faced. He runs it in on righties and away on lefties, both are equally effective. He's got a change-up and a curveball and he's a true four-pitch guy, which is very rare to say that you are bringing in a four-pitch guy onto campus. He loves to play the game and it's really fun to watch Graham Hicks pitch because he has such enthusiasm with a care-free attitude even though he is a great competitor. He is a very, very polished left-handed pitcher at this point."
- His Perfect Game scouting report:
SCOUTING REPORT: Hicks is long and lanky at 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds, and hasn’t come close to getting physically mature or strong yet. He consistently touched the upper-80s this spring with his fastball, and has a very good curveball and developing changeup. Hicks throws from a three-quarters release point and stays over his curveball well, giving it hard downward bite. He’s shown the ability to throw strikes with all his pitches and has an idea how to work hitters. A year ago, Hicks was topping out at 83-84 mph so the improvement over the course of the 2008 season gives scouts reason to think he’ll keep adding to his present stuff. He’s went 8-1 this year and threw a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts in a district semi-final win in the Florida state playoffs.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
Physically he sounds like Marshall without the "he can't start" thing. I hope this guy distinguishes himself, because it sounds like he can be pretty good. It's certainly nice to get another talented lefty in here...I think we're up to two now with Kirk...3 if you want to toss in Raley...man I wish they had been able to sign Bryan Harper last year.