The Dodgers might have really found a gem from the 2012 MLB Draft in the person of Zachary Bird.
Bird, the Dodgers' ninth-round pick, today was named the 19th-best prospect in the Arizona League by Baseball America. He was the only Dodger prospect to make the list.
Yasiel Puig would have been a lock for the list, but he didn't have enough playing time to qualify. He should make the California League list when it is published early next month.
The tall righty had a nice debut season, considering he pitched it as a 17- and 18-year-old.
His 4.54 ERA and 1.33 WHIP could use some improvement, but his 2.90 FIP and 10.4 K/9 were fantastic. He also showed decent control for a teen with a 3.9 BB/9 and a 2.71 K/BB.There isn't a lot to analyze about his 39 2/3 debut innings, but those were the things that stood out.
Bird boasts a fastball that has touched 92 MPH in the past. With his 6'4, 190 pound frame, there is defintely projection there. He also has a low-70s curveball and a changeup. He'll need to improve upon his secondary offerings going forward, but things are looking well for him thus far.
Here's a video of him from the Perfect Game showcase in 2011.
Some have compared him to Edwin Jackson. Race notwithstanding, it seems to be a good comp. As prospects, they both have projectable frames and the ability to add velocity to the fastball. The key difference in their stuff is Bird's slow curveball and Jackson's hard slider. I'm betting Bird adds another pitch -- either a slider or cutter -- to his arsenal before it's all said and done.
Side note: So many times comparisons in sports are race-based. Some are apt, some are ridiculous. Case and point: the No. 17 pick, D.J. Davis, was compared to Juan Pierre during MLB Network's draft coverage. Thing is, he is absolutely nothing like Pierre as a baseball player. They're both black, both lefty all the way and both speedy. That's really it. Davis hit as many home runs in his first 266 plate appearances as Pierre has in his last 3,430 PAs. But I digress (a lot). It's lazy and flat-out wrong.
Oh, and Bird has one of the most unique Twitter handles around. Check it out.