Scouting Report: Jeremy Bleich

Bleich saw his stuff nearly make a full comeback

The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Jeremy Bleich in the supplemental first round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Stanford University. He missed most of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 season after having torn labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder, but finally made a comeback bid this past season and looked quite strong in the process.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jeremy Bleich
Position: Pitcher
DOB: June 18, 1987
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"I thought I pitched well," Bleich said. "I think I had a few ups and downs but I think that's part of the whole [rehab] thing. Just being able to compete on an every couple of days basis -- I was relieving and being able to be strong and healthy -- I thought that was a huge victory.

"As I got further away from my first outing and second outing, as I got more into it and more comfortable, the better I felt. I think because I had been off for a while I think my expectations, I didn't say I wanted to do this or that.

"I just wanted to be able to compete everyday and healthy, and I achieved that. I was happy with that. I think some of my success was great as well."

The numbers were very impressive in his return, posting a combined 2.76 ERA in sixteen appearances over three minor league levels and allowing less hits than innings pitched. Beyond the numbers, however, what was more impressive was his stuff seemed to be mostly back too.

"I think my fastball and curveball were extremely close, if not the same," he said. "My changeup was good as well, maybe just a touch behind [pre-surgery], but my fastball-curveball [combination] was very, very good.

"I think maybe I was a touch or two slower in velocity but as the season got towards the end I felt like I had more in the tank. I just needed more time to continue throwing and long-tossing. I believe it's definitely still there."

He didn't top out at 94 mph like he had in his pre-surgery days, but his average velocity was pretty much the same and that is exciting news after coming back from shoulder surgery.

He was used as both a starter and a reliever during his rehab season, and it remains to be seen how the Yankees will use him going forward. Bleich himself doesn't really care what role he serves as long as he's competing. For him, the fact that he doesn't even think about his injury is the biggest development in his game.

"It's really not an issue. I feel really good. In my workouts and in my throwing, there's no favoring it or anything like that. I basically don't think about it anymore which is great.

"I think there's a touch of crispness that I can regain. I think I can become sharper. I think that's my goal, just continue to hone my skills and take that next step.

"Getting to Tampa and competing there, and being healthy and not having any setbacks was great, but next year I'm ready to take the next step; be able to compete in Trenton and then go on from there, be able to make an impact," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2012

Tampa

1-1

0

16.1

20

5

10

3.86

2012

Staten Island

0-0

0

10.2

8

2

7

2.53

2012

GCL Yankees

1-0

0

5.2

3

1

7

0.00

2010

Trenton

3-2

0

41.1

35

28

26

4.79

2009

Trenton

3-6

0

65.0

84

34

60

6.65

2009

Tampa

6-4

0

79.1

79

22

56

3.40

2008

Staten Island

0-0

0

3.0

2

0

4

6.00



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Bleich averaged 90-92 mph with his fastball before his shoulder surgery and he sat mostly in the 90-91 mph range in 2012, which is a very good sign that the power is coming back in his arm. He only topped out at 92 mph, however, and that's a couple of ticks below his top velocity pre-injury, but there's a good chance he can get back to that 94 mph plateau the more he throws. His fastball still gets the natural tailing action too and his fastball command so far appears to be the best it has been in quite some time.

Other Pitches. What was remarkable about Bleich was how quickly his plus curveball returned. In fact, it's like it never left, especially from a command standpoint. It is his best strikeout weapon. His changeup was a plus pitch prior to his surgery but was more average to above average in 2012, which isn't surprising given that it is a true feel pitch and he didn't log a ton of innings. It shouldn't be long before that pitch is back to normal.

Pitching. Bleich gets an unfair reputation as a bit wild because of his rather high walk totals at the Double-A level before his surgery when in fact he is one to attack batters quickly with a big league three-pitch mix that he can command quite well. His higher walk totals immediately before his surgery had more to do with commanding a more powerful fastball [he was more of an 89-91 mph pitcher in college]. A very cerebral pitcher, he is adept at setting batters up and making quick adjustments from pitch to pitch. His delivery is also very fluid and he sets himself up in good defensive position when he has released the ball. Bleich is also a high makeup guy too; he doesn't get rattled and is very confident on the mound.

Projection. With three above average to plus pitches, Bleich gives the Yankees a good bit of flexibility role-wise. He has the knockout curveball that could allow him to be a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen at minimum, but he also normally has the kind of impact changeup that could give him left-handed setup man potential as well. Throw in an efficient and effortless delivery, he gives them some middle to back-end starting potential too. It's a bit too early to see how the 25-year old will be used going forward and there's still a chance the velocity could creep back up a tick or two, but the good news is he gives the Yankees some options even though he probably is best suited for the bullpen short-term given his advanced age.

ETA. 2014. Bleich's first full season back from shoulder surgery in 2013 will be a telling season. He will be pitching for Double-A Trenton in some capacity next season and depending on how he's used role-wise, he could find himself in the big league mix the following year.

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