What is the going rate for a cerebral college pitcher with a continually developing arsenal, increasing strikeout rate, and a perennial winner? How about a fourth round draft pick in the 2009 amateur draft by the New York Yankees.
Adam P. Warren is a 6'1", 200lb right hand pitcher from New Bern, NC. He played his high school ball at New Bern High, where he earned the New Bern Journal's "Baseball Player of the Year" award. An honor roll student, he graduated fifth in his class.
Warren went on to pitch for the University of North Carolina in 2006 and helped turn around what was not a highly regarded baseball program. "We had not been to the College World Series since something like 1989, I think" says Warren in 2009. "And now I have been there four times." This was not a coincidence.
It was his sophomore season of 2007 when Warren really started to shine. He went 12-0, sporting a minuscule 2.17 ERA in 70 2/3 innings. His 12-0 record ranks as the most victories without a loss in school history. Warren also earned two wins in the College World Series, allowing a total of two runs on six hits in 10 2/3 innings.
Warren's junior season at UNC, in 2008, saw an incredible feat come to an end. He suffered his first loss as a collegiate player after a run of 19 straight victories spanning his first three seasons. It was the longest streak by a UNC Tarheel since Scott Bankston ran off 20 straight during the 1983-1984 seasons.
Warren's senior season in 2009 saw him go 10-2 with a 3.31 ERA. The most impressive part about his development as a college player was his ever increasing strikeout rate. He went from a K/9 rate of 5.6 as a freshman, to a 6.3 rate as a sophomore, 7.9 rate as a junior and finishing with a 9.5 rate as a senior. This development, and his playoff success—six earned runs in 22 1/3 innings, 23 strikeouts and two walks—made it difficult not to notice him.
Warren was drafted in the 36th round in 2008 by the Cleveland Indians. He went back to school for his senior season, and it payed off because the Yankees took him with the 135th pick of the 2009 first-year player draft.
Warren was sent to short season Staten Island in 2009 and simply dominated. In 56.2 innings, he sported a 1.43 ERA with only 49 hits, 10 walks and an awesome 50 strikeouts. Hitters were baffled against him with a .236 batting average against.
In 2010, Warren began the year with class A Tampa and went 7-5 with a 2.22 ERA, 72 hits, 67 strikeouts and 17 walks in 81 innings. He was promoted to class AA Trenton where it was more of the same. He finished the year with a 2.59 ERA with 121 hits, 126 strikeouts and only 33 walks in 135.1 innings.
The increasing strikeout rate continued as a professional. In 2009, it was a 7.9 K/9 pitching for Staten Island. He improved to 8.3 in 2010 with Tampa and Trenton. His strikeout rate was actually the best at Trenton—9.7 K/9—where the competition is at a higher level than his two previous stops.
In an interview with Lane Meyer, Warren describes his arsenal as "a four-seam fastball between 90-94" (reports are it touched 96 in the minors) and a two-seamer that "don't lose much velocity" but "does get a little sink". He also has a change up "that sinks a little bit" and a 12 to 6 curveball that is still developing.
Finally he throws "what has started off as a cutter but has now developed into more of a slider that runs anywhere from 80-85 miles an hour".
Warren has excellent control—his WHIP in the minors is 1.10—and a good feel for his pitches. He mixes his pitches very well, as evidenced by his large arsenal, and does a great job changing speeds. He can throw anything from a 74 MPH curveball to a 96 MPH fastball, so it plays a huge role in what he does on the mound.
It looks as if Warren will start the year at either class AA Trenton or AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. It is conceivable that he will battle for a rotation spot in spring training. He has the talent to be a solid middle of the order starter. If he keeps improving on his strikeout rate, who knows where it may lead.
It is very clear that Adam Warren is a winner and has been his entire career. This would make his transition to the rotation in the Bronx smoother. The pressure is on, and Warren, seemingly, can handle whatever is thrown at him.
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The Patience Series:
Patience Part 1: Hector Noesi
Patience Part 2: David Phelps
Patience Part 3: Brandon Laird
Patience Part 4: Adam Warren (Above)
Patience Part 5: Eduardo Nunez
Patience Part 6: Gary Sanchez