After pegging fire-baller Austin Wood with their first-pick in the draft, the Red Sox go back to the talented, expensive well and tab Jack Armstrong Jr.
The first thing you need to know about Armstrong is that he's one heck of an athlete. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got good genes. As in his father, Jack Sr., who pitched in the big leagues for seven seasons.
Armstrong is one of the players in this draft who would really benefit from having a strong junior season in 2011.
He opened some eyes during his freshman season at Vandy, even though he rarely got into any games due to the Commodores’ ridiculous depth.
During the offseason, he ventured up to the Cape Cod League, where his father managed to turn in a few good performances into a first-round draft bonus. “Junior” did the same, pitching well for Wareham, well enough to make the Cape Cod All-Star team.
His 2010 season wasn’t as successful.
He did post a winning record (7-4), and his ERA was decent for a college pitcher (4.71), but he didn’t strike out that many batters (50 K in 78.1 IP) and was bombed during his final few starts, especially in the College World Series.
He didn’t even make it out of the second-inning in the Super Regional, leading some to believe that he was dealing with some sort of injury. Both Armstrong and the school deny anything was wrong with him.
For all of his success, or lack thereof, he still offers huge upside. He’s a big guy, which means he throws hard, in the mid-90s.
He’s even been known to crank it up to 99-mph on occasion. He also features a pretty good curveball and he’s working on a changeup.
Aside from his high-heat, the best thing Armstrong has going for him is the fact that he is an amazing athlete. He was the star of his high-school basketball team, and warranted several scholarships before deciding on Vandy and baseball.
His control isn’t the best, but he projects to have at least average big-league control.
If he doesn’t cut it as a starter, many experts believe that he would be well suited for a relieving role, possibly even as a closer, where his high-heat and bulldog mentality would be a perfect fit.
Armstrong is also pretty good with the stick. He was a high-school home run derby champion, and could have earned his way on his hitting ability to several other schools.
Like many collegiate draft prospects, Armstrong isn’t new to the draft. He was a 36th-round pick in 2008, and turned down a reported $1 million offer to attend Vandy.
If he can string together some good starts in 2011, he could stand to pick up at least that much, and possibly work his way into the first-round, giving more credence to the the belief that you can earn more money by going to college instead of straight to the pros.