Tanner Bushue Scouting Report (2010)
Earlier this season, I had the opportunity to catch a start by Houston Astros prospect Tanner Bushue. Entering 2010, the former second rounder was ranked as the second best pitching prospect in the system behind 2009 Lexington Legend hurler Jordan Lyles. While Bushue did not disappoint from a projection standpoint, his present stuff was more reminiscent of a control artist and not the young power pitcher he was billed as.
Physical Projection: If not for Zack Wheeler of the San Francisco Giants, Bushue would be the most projectable pitching prospect I’ve seen this season. At 6’4″ and 190 lbs. or so, Bushue is long and lean, but possesses a trunk which should allow him to gain size through his core. An excellent athlete, his motion is amongst the simplest I’ve seen at the level. Bushue’s low effort delivery generates easy arm whip, but his explosion is limited due to his not being fully developed physically. With increased strength, it’s easy to see his adding additional velocity as he matures.
Mound Presence: What impressed me most about Bushue were his bullpens. Working from the stretch, Bushue repeatedly threw the changeup with a focus rarely seen from teenage pitchers. At a time where most pitchers simply go through the motions, Bushue pitched with purpose becoming visibly annoyed when unable to deliver the pitch to the outer black. His professionalism and work ethic were refreshing and far beyond his years.
In game action, Bushue punched the clock and went to work. While he wasn’t particularly efficient due to fastball command which was average to a tick below, Bushue consistently fought out of jams using his fastball/curveball mix to keep hitters off balance. Bushue’s ability to navigate out of tight spots is yet another sign of maturity as a pitcher. Once the body catches up the the mindset, look out!
Fastball: At 87-88 MPH throughout, his fastball velocity was significantly less than what had been reported in draft circles. With velocity a couple of MPH below average for a righty, Bushue had to rely on command/control to be effective. While not perfect, he was able to move the pitch in and out with some success. Many of his hits allowed were due to leaving the pitch up, but he was generally able to leverage his height and create downward plane on the pitch.
Curveball: At 69-72 MPH, Bushue’s curveball featured a big, slow 12-6 break. He was able to keep the pitch at the knees for most of the outing painting the outside corner repeatedly. While it may be due to a lack of velocity, Bushue’s curveball had more depth than any other pitcher I’ve seen this season. If he can refine the offering up to create tighter break, it could wind up a plus pitch.
Changeup: Not thrown in game action, Bushue feverishly worked on the pitch from the stretch in his pre-game bullpen, and then again during side work at batting practice. In development, the pitch was wildly inconsistent and he looked to be aiming the change instead of throwing it. While the pitch has a long ways to go, Bushue’s understanding the need to develop the pitch is a great first step towards success.
Pitchers like Tanner Bushue are a great example as to why I do my best to avoid prospect reports of players I plan on scouting. Had I expected to see 94 MPH with a hammer curveball as had been reported, I would have probably left the park extremely disappointed. While his fastball/curveball combination was not nearly as advanced as draft reports made them out to be, his physical projection leaves quite a bit to dream on.
In many respects, Bushue resembled a poor man’s Casey Kelly with less polish and secondary pitch development. As he matures, Bushue should grow into a number four starter with 200+ inning potential. However, his makeup is a big “X-Factor” for me as players with his work ethic are much more likely to surpass expectations.
19 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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