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Jon Bachanov: Angels Top Prospect #18

18) Jon Bachanov, 1/30/89 - RHRP, Rookie Ball and A-Ball

4 Wins, 0 Losses. 32.1 IP, 3.09 ERA, 52 K/5 BB, +7 runs saved

Ranking in a Nutshell: You'll see Bachanov rank higher on other lists due to his spectacular return from Tommy John surgery. Unlike most guys breaking in a new elbow, Bachanov showed stunning control over two plus pitches, a low 90's fastball that touched 96 at times, and a hard-breaking slider.  Over 32.2 rookie ball innings in Arizona and Utah, he walked just 5 batters and fanned 52, resulting in a 10.4 K/BB ratio. Beyond the gaudy '09 numbers, however, remain questions about his long-term health, his role, and just how well his stuff will play against better competition.

Track Record: He's a 2007 high school draftee who pitched his first pro innings last April, so the stat sheet is skimpy. His 2009 numbers were outstanding, reflecting a well above average ability to pound the strike zone with swing-and-miss offerings. "Defense neutral" pitching statics, which approximate what a pitcher's performance would have been minus all fielding-related "luck," loved Bachanov, pegging him at a 1.30 FIP (an ERA equivalent).  His actual 3.09 ERA looks far more mortal, and resulted from the opposition hitting an appalling .438 on ball in play. While that does indicate a healthy dose of bad luck, I think it also reflects his determination to avoid issuing walks - when he fell behind in the count, he may have grooved too many mash-able pitches. Needless to say, that's a tendency to watch out for at the higher levels.

Win-the-Lottery-Ceiling: Likely a back of the bullpen power arm. Of the current Halos relievers, Jason Bulger's repertoire matches up closest with Bachanov's, though the latter's pure stuff has the chance to be better. If Bachanov reverts back to starting - and that's a big if - he may have the arsenal to warrant an Aaron Harang or even a Jake Peavy comp (remember, win the lottery...)

Scouting Report: (Below the jump)

Bachanov's pre-draft scouting video is available here (click through to the video). I haven't seen him pitch post-surgery (hopefully I'll catch him in April), so I don't want to spend too much time scrutinizing a delivery that has almost certainly changed, but here are a few observations: first, his mechanics varied from pitch to pitch, leading to inconsistent control; second, his arm slot shifted from three quarters to low-ish three quarters, often generating significant arm side run at the expense of more downward plane, but also causing him to get under his fastball and miss high.  While he's undoubtedly been a project for the Angels' coaching staff, the control he showed in '09 indicates that Bachanov is currently doing a much better job of repeating his delivery.  

If you want further cause to dream on his stuff, note the crazy slider he throws a lefty about halfway through the video. Wicked pitch.

Bill Mitchell at Baseball America mentioned a potentially plus change-up that Bachanov breaks out on occasion, which would compliment his plus fastball and swing-and-miss slider perfectly if he moves back to the rotation. Although the Halos used him primarily out of the pen in 2009, don't be too surprised to see them give him a shot at starting at some point down the line.