Recently, Jeff Sullivan of Fox Sports’ Just A Bit Outside wrote a very interesting piece comparing recently-acquired pitcher Brandon Maurer to current member of the San Diego Padres three-headed monster, Tyson Ross. Both men are nearly identical in terms of their size, and how they were both acquired. Ross was a practical give-away by the Oakland A’s, and while Seth Smith is no chump, if Maurer develops into what Padres’ GM A.J. Preller thinks he can be, it could be as big of a trade as any for an outfielder named Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, or Justin Upton ever was.
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Maurer is the classic case of a guy that hasn’t figured it out when given opportunities to pitch as a starter, as his night and day numbers between the rotation and the bullpen made him expendable when the Mariners needed an outfielder of Seth Smith’s caliber. Sullivan however, points out some eyebrow-raising similarities between Ross and Mauerer aside from the facts that they are nearly identical in size and were acquired for afterthoughts. When Ross was acquired from Oakland, his fastball was in the 92 mph range. When Maurer was a starter, his fastball was in the 92 mph range. Ross’ slider was in the 86 mph range. Same with Maurer. Ross’ changeup came in at 86, Maurer’s at 85. What Maurer has that Ross didn’t at the time, was a curveball that that comes in at 74.
So what’s going to make Brandon Maurer the second coming of Tyson Ross? Could Padres’ pitching coach Darren Balsley be the X-factor that turns things around for the 24-year old? When Ross came to San Diego, Ross struggled mightily with lefties. Balsley convinced the young righty to throw his slider with confidence and in the right spots. And since coming to the Padres, Ross relies on that slider to put away lefties, to the tune of of almost 200 strikeouts.
A.J. Preller and the Padres haven’t come right out and said what the plan is for Maurer, but they haven’t closed the door on giving him further time to develop and to compete for the open fifth starter’s job come spring training. He’s young, he has good stuff, and he’s with a new team that believes in him. After all, the Padres didn’t just give away a junker to get him. They traded away Seth Smith, straight up. If things don’t work out for Maurer as a starter? No biggy, he just becomes another power arm out of an already lethal bullpen, for a team that EXPECTS to win, and win big in 2015.