Tim Cooney Scouting Report (2014)
From Michael Wacha to Trevor Rosenthal, the St. Louis Cardinals are developing young pitchers better than any other MLB team. Riding this organizational high, prospect followers are catching on and looking for the next wave of arms to break through. After posting a 148/22 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 26 starts last season, Tim Cooney has become a darling of the advanced statistical community similar to Oakland Athletics pitcher Tommy Milone a few years back. Milone has become a proven 12-game winner with the ability to keep his team in ballgames — a fine outcome for the unheralded left-handed pitcher. Is Cooney a similar case study? Or, will he fall short of growing expectations?
Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Tim Cooney presented as shorter and more compact in person. This is partially due to clean, simple mechanics, allowing the left-hander to repeat his delivery. Maxed out physically, he has little room for projection, but Cooney’s command/control arsenal doesn’t require additional size or strength to be successful.
On a cold, April night against the Nashville Sounds, a cold drizzle and near freezing temperatures may have affected Tim Cooney. The left-hander sat 86-88 MPH with the fastball, dipping even lower on occasion with his two-seamer. The pitch featured late, sinking action and tail away against right-handed hitters. Given his reputation as a plus control pitcher, his ability to command the fastball was less than expected. Against Hunter Morris, Tim Cooney left a mid-80’s fastball at the letter and in. The Brewers product deposited the mistake pitch for a home run to right field.
The next day, Memphis’ pitching coach mentioned Cooney sat 90-92 MPH in his previous starts. Given the weather, it’s a tidbit worth mentioning.
At 76-78 MPH, Cooney mixed a change-up with sink and fade. His best off-speed pitch in this start, it featured arm action identical to the fastball. With the ability to command it well, Tim Cooney was comfortable throwing the change-up any count.
Against left-handed hitters, Cooney’s primary breaking pitch was a mid-70’s curveball. Featuring big, slow break, it presented as a below average pitch with the intent of keeping hitters guessing. Projecting it as a successful pitch at the MLB level is impossible given its arc and lack of sharpness.
Cooney also mixed in an 80-81 MPH slider with Frisbee action. Another below average breaking pitch, he used it in lefty/lefty match ups including a strikeout of Milwaukee outfielder Caleb Gindl. On a low-and-outside slider, the left-handed hitter swung through the pitch.
Early in the season, his left/right splits are interesting given Tim Cooney’s off-speed stuff. With a 3.42 ERA versus right-handed hitters, his tailing change-up is an equalizer. Meanwhile, below average breaking pitches hamper his effectiveness against same-handed hitters. Given the change-up tails down and in to left-handed bats, the lack of an effective breaking pitch appears to be catching up to him.
Tim Cooney’s final start of May was a game which thrust him into the national prospect spotlight. His 8 2/3 no hit innings overshadow an up-and-down 2014 season. With a 5.36 FIP to date, his home run and walk rates are up, pointing to a pitcher who needs more development time. Ultimately, Cooney projects as a 4/5 starter in the mold of Milone, although the Oakland pitcher excelled in his initial Triple-A assignment.
Regardless of his struggles, St. Louis’ selection of Tim Cooney in the third round is a coup — especially when factoring in his $404,000 signing bonus. With the Cardinals picking late in the first round more often than not, it’s the Cooney’s of the world who reload the system after a number of successful graduates.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Number 4/5 Starter On First Division Team Fastball 45 50 Curveball 35 40 Slider 40 45 Change-up 55 60 Control 40 50 Command 50 60
Owning Tim Cooney
In Reality Fantasy Baseball, Ben Flajole was ready to pop Cooney with Team ROTOscouting’s first round pick before talking him off a ledge. Instead, we took D.J. Peterson of the Seattle Mariners. Back end starters are a dime-a-dozen in 12-team mixed leagues, but the safety of Tim Cooney will allow a keeper/dynasty owner to sleep better at night knowing an innings eating left-hander capable of limiting damage is on the way.
5 Jun 2014 / Mike Newman / 1
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