Kings of Kauffman Prospect Rankings: #8 Jake Odorizzi

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Who: Jacob Odorizzi
DOB: 3/27/1990, Highland, Illinois
Position:  RHP
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 185 lb
Bats:  Right
Throws:  Right
Acquired: Traded with Alcides EscobarLorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress from Brewers for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt – 12/19/2010

Rankings:
~ Baseball America: #1 (Milwaukee)
~ Royals Review #8
~ Kevin Goldstein: #8
~ John Sickels: #7 B+

Stats:

Year Age Tm Lev W L ERA G IP BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2008 18 Brewers Rk 1 2 3.48 11 20.2 9 19 1.306 7.8 0.9 3.9 8.3 2.11
2009 19 Helena Rk 1 4 4.40 12 47.0 9 43 1.362 10.5 0.6 1.7 8.2 4.78
2010 20 Wisconsin A 7 3 3.43 23 120.2 40 135 1.152 7.4 0.5 3.0 10.1 3.38
3 Seasons 9 9 3.68 46 188.1 58 197 1.221 8.2 0.6 2.8 9.4 3.40
Rk (2 seasons) Rk 2 6 4.12 23 67.2 18 62 1.345 9.7 0.7 2.4 8.2 3.44
A (1 season) A 7 3 3.43 23 120.2 40 135 1.152 7.4 0.5 3.0 10.1 3.38
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/19/2011.

When the Royals were shopping Zack Greinke this winter, part of the package they wanted in return for the 2009 Cy Young winner was a minor league starter who offered similar skills.  According to some, they may have found that prospect in Jake Odorizzi.

Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook labels him “a lesser version of Zack Greinke“.  Both were first round picks (Greinke #6 Overall in 2002, Odorizzi #32 overall in the supplemental round in 2008).  They have similar build (Greinke’s listed as the same height but five pounds heavier).  They even have similar stuff and smooth deliveries.

Odorizzi has a four seam and two seam fastball.  The four seamer hangs around 92-94 and has “late explosion” while the two seamer has more movement.  He’s able to command both late into games and maintains his velocity well.  BA rates his four seamer as a 65 on the 20-80 scale.  Odorizzi also has two developing breaking pitches – the curveball is the better of the two, grading out at a 60 for BA.

He doesn’t have Greinke’s slider, which turned into a lethal weapon in 2009, but the comparison, so far, seems to fit.  Odorizzi is considered to have the upside of a #2 or #3 starter in the big leagues, but nobody pegs him as a potential ace.  Still, the comparison is apt – he’s not quite Greinke, but he’s not far off.

These are Greinke’s numbers through his age 20 season (career minor league stats include his 2006 detour to Double A):

Year Age Tm Lev ERA G IP BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2002 18 3 Teams Rk-A–A+ 3.97 6 11.1 3 9 1.412 10.3 0.0 2.4 7.1 3.00
2002 18 Royals Rk 1.93 3 4.2 3 4 1.286 5.8 0.0 5.8 7.7 1.33
2002 18 Spokane A- 7.71 2 4.2 0 5 1.929 17.4 0.0 0.0 9.6
2002 18 Wilmington A+ 0.00 1 2.0 0 0 0.500 4.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
2003 19 2 Teams A+-AA 1.93 23 140.0 18 112 0.943 7.3 0.6 1.2 7.2 6.22
2003 19 Wilmington A+ 1.14 14 87.0 13 78 0.793 5.8 0.5 1.3 8.1 6.00
2003 19 Wichita AA 3.23 9 53.0 5 34 1.189 9.8 0.8 0.8 5.8 6.80
2004 20 Omaha AAA 2.51 6 28.2 6 23 1.081 7.8 0.6 1.9 7.2 3.83
4 Seasons 2.96 53 285.2 54 238 1.057 7.8 0.8 1.7 7.5 4.41
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/19/2011.

The first thing I want to stress is I’m not trying to say that Odorizzi is the next Zack Greinke or will becoming the next Greinke. But he’s close.  The Brewers had taken a less aggressive approach to Odorizzi’s minor league promotions, whereas the Royals had Greinke in the majors at 20 years old (and his performance had warranted it).  I think that’s a combination of Greinke’s talent and draft slot pushing him up the ladder quickly, while Odorizzi has a little less talent and his later selection doesn’t earn him quite the same push.  It’s also an unfair comparison, as Greinke, despite a bad 2010, is one of the best pitchers in the game right now and has the hardware to prove it.

Odorizzi gave up more runs and walked a lot more than Greinke through age 20, but he’s also more of a strikeout pitcher and still has a strong 3.40 K/BB ratio over the course of his minor league career.  It was good enough to make him the Brewers top pitching prospect before the trade and he’s earned a spot on the MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list, too.  He’s good, but probably never Greinke good.

It’s a testament to the strength of the Royals system that he goes from being Milwaukee’s best prospect to the latter half of the top ten of the Royals list.  If you’re keeping score at home, you can probably discern that he’s ranked fifth in our countdown among Royals pitchers.  Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus suggests that he’d be a top-three option on any other team.  That shouldn’t diminish his importance at all.  In fact, since Odorizzi is a right-handed pitcher in a sea of left-handers, he may have more opportunity to settle into a #2 spot in the rotation because the Royals will have to break up the lefties somehow (especially if Aaron Crown ends up in the bullpen as some speculate.)

Is Odorizzi the next Greinke?  No.  He might be 80% of the way there relative to their minor league paths.  He’s pretty likely to see time in Wilmington this year in High A and once the juggernaut of starters get promoted from Northwest Arkansas to Omaha (or beyond?) he should finish the year in Double A with a 2012 target of Triple A in his sights.

Keep track of the full list of prospects in the Kings of Kauffman Countdown on our Prospect Rankings page under the Organization tab or by clicking here.  Stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on TwitterFacebook, or by way of our RSS feed.

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Tags: AL Central Baseball Jake Odorizzi Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals Zack Greinke

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