Something that will never show up in a box score is the character you show, or the leadership you provide in the clubhouse. That's our job as writers to establish that certain baseball players are special members of the clubhouse and motivators in the organization. That's exactly what Alex Keudell is. The young man was released from the Tampa Bay Rays system out of Spring Training the season after he was drafted. The Angels swooped in and got a steal of the former Pac-12 Player of the Year and 27th rounder who has more potential than most draft picks that come from the top 10 rounds.
Alex Keudell's best asset is his delivery. A sidearm delivery with the exact same arm slot for each pitch has become a nightmare to young batters. Deception is a large key to Keudell's success and it helps with his six-foot-three frame.
Keudell's fastball has good sinking movement but not enough to be qualified as an official sinker. The fastball sits in the high 80's and occasionally touches 90 MPH. It's an effective pitch due to the sink and the groundballs that it forces, but it is not Keudell's go-to-pitch.
Keudell has a 9/6 curveball. We call it that because of his sidearm, but the drop is drastic like a 12/6 curveball. Keudell uses this pitch more often than none surprisingly, using it nearly 40% of the time. It is almost a gurrantee that Keudell will use his curve in any two-strike count, and though he doesn't strikeout many, it has become a swing and miss, strikeout pitch for Keudell.
Keudell has a changeup, but it is very standard. Just a third pitch in his arsenal to throw something different with a different speed to batters. Deception is the key to this pitch, as well as the other two.
Keudell has no problem with command, and he can place both his fastball and off-speed pitches anywhere he likes. Control is also no problem for the young pitcher.
Why Tampa Bay released Keudell is beyond us, and possibly, beyond everyone else. He posted a 2.28 earned run average over 43.1 innings pitched right out the draft. For a guy that is a groundball pitcher, he found a way to strike out quite a few, K'ing 8.7 per nine. Keudell also avoided walks and hits, posting a 1.062 WHIP over the 2012 season. To top off the great numbers, Keudell saved three games in Rookie ball.
Keudell had no issues at the higher levels of Low-A and High-A. He split time between both, posting almost identical numbers in just two games less in High-A. Of course, the hitter friendly California League tagged Keudell for just slightly higher statistics, but it didn't make them look bad in any way because... they were good! At the end of the 2013 season, Keudell combined for a 3.42 earned run average and a 1.231 WHIP, as well as a nine wins, four losses record over 24 starts.
EXPECTED OF THE FUTURE:
Alex Keudell will more than likely start in High-A out of Spring Training, possibly being the ace of the rotation. We don't expect him to stay in High-A very long, and his development doesn't need a lot of tweaks. Double-A should be the ending result of 2014 for Keudell.
He isn't as tall as him and is about two or three miles per hour slower on the velocity charts, but Keudell could develop in to a Brandon McCarthy type of guy. With that said, we believe Keudell is a good fourth or fifth starter of the future. If he climbs the ladder progressively with no flaws, Keudell could make the Major Leagues by early 2016, and with the way the Angels have developed him thus far, he will be a starter.
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