Introducing Kevin Comer, Pick #57 in the 2011 Draft

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Since the signing deadline has passed and it’s now time to take a more in-depth account of exactly what it is the Jays brought into the organization, I will be researching and evaluating each SIGNED pick from the 2011 class for the Jays. It’s a lengthy process, and some of them may take a little longer to bring together due to lack of information, but hopefully we’ll have it all done well before we bring out our “End of 2011 Top 50 Jays Prospects, JJ edition.” Each time a new article is completed, you’ll have access to it on JJ, through Tweet, and can access the entire 2011 class and our write ups on them here.

Below is everything I could gather about the Jays 1S 57th overall pick, Kevin Comer.

Introducing Pick#57: Kevin Comer

Right-Handed Pitcher / 6’4″ 210 lbs / New Jersey

Birth Date: November 22nd 1992 (18 years old)

High School Team: Seneca High School

College: NA. Had been committed to Vanderbilt.

Signed for: $1,650,000

Quick Facts:

  • Mentions Ken Griffey Jr., Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay as the players he has looked up to the most.
  • Grew up a Phillies fan (grade 7 onwards).
  • Was the starting pitcher for his High School team as they won the State’s High School Championship.
  • A 2 sport athlete, Kevin also played point guard and shooting guard in Basketball for his High School team.
  • His mother played professional Basketball in Asia, while his father played College Football for Kansas.
  • He and his father Ernie handled the contract negotiations with the Blue Jays.
  • Once struck out 16 batters during a HS game.
  • Credits weight lifting for helping him add some weigth to his frame, as he had sat at 180 lbs or so until this season.
  • Says he hit 90 MPH for the first time as a Sophomore.
  • Also adds that he was contacted by just about every single MLB team pre-draft, including the Yankees.
  • Asked who’s stuff he’d like to try on for an hour if he could, he said Aroldis Chapman’s since he’d “love to know that feeling.”

Stats:

  • 2010: 6-0, 1.67 ERA, 42.1 IP, 16 BB, 63 Ks
  • 2011: 6-3, 1.43 ERA, 52.2 IP, 100 Ks

Interviews/Videos:

  • A great video of Kevin’s delivery here.
  • An excellent Q&A with JaysProspects.com’s April Whitzman is available here.
  • Kevin Minnick’s CourierPostOnline.com’s article on Comer available here.
  • Threw one of his best games in HS during the South Jersey Group 3 playoffs, when he threw a 2-hitter CG.
  • A Matt Remsberg (Senior Editor) article for ESPNHS Magazine is available here.
  • A Q&A with Scout.com’s Kevin Levine-Flandrup is available here.
  • Many videos of Kevin are available on YouTube, so look him up!

Pre-Draft Rankings:

The best quote I could find within the manyu Q&As Kevin has done comes from April Whitzman’s interview, linked above, as he addressed what it was like to get drafted by the Jays:

“It was absolutely surreal to be drafted by the [Blue] Jays! I was overwhelmed with excitement and I will never forget that experience.”

AdTech AdThat quote differs from the sensation most of us had when Tyler Beede and some other Jays draftees were asked similar questions. He wants to be a Toronto Blue Jay, and that a great thing for the organization as a whole. Still, signing him wasn’t easy, as it apparently took until the 10-minute mark (of the 11th hour on August 14th) and “intense negotiations” to get a $1.65 million deal a reality. In the beginning of negotiations, the Jays had apparently offered him $1.3 million, while Kevin’s asking price had been $2 million. In the end, they both settled on the halfway point, at $1.65 million. They moved to that point slowly, with the Jays moving to $1.5 million, Kevin’s side moving to $1.8 million, and then both sides setlling on $1.65 million. The deal also includes a provision that has the Jays picking up the tab for his College education. 
 
The CourierPostOnline.com article I got this information from also does a great job putting his contract into perspective, since the guy before him (Kes Carter drafted by TB) got $625,000 and the guy after him (Jace Peterson drafted by SD) got $624,600. That makes his contract a very hefty one in comparison, and show us just how aggressive the Jays were in signing their high-ceiling draft picks. For him and Daniel Norris to get more money than the three players selected before them (Jacob Anderson’s $990,000; Joe Musgrove’s $500,000; and Dwight Smith’s $800,000) also tells us a lot about the Jays strategy going into the draft. They sat on these “hard signing” guys with the implicit willingness to spend the money required to sign them.
 
At this point, I have to wonder whether Tyler Beede would have signed had the Jays offered $3 million? We’ll never know, but we have to wonder.
 
Back to Comer, let’s review what it is that this newly millionaire 19-year old has to offer.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup asked Comer “when it was that you realized that you could do something beyond high school with baseball?” His answer: 

“Probably around the end of 8th grade going into freshman year; that’s when things really started picking up for me. I became a pitcher, and then after sophomore year I stopped worrying about playing the field and just focused on pitching and getting better at that.”

He’s a RHP who throws very hard, has a very effective deceptive delivery (hides the ball well), and uses both of these traits to dominate hitters. His spike curveball (76-80 MPH) and a change up he developed only this past winter (82-83 MPH) help complement his fastballs by keeping hitters off balance. The fastballs he throws include a 4-seamer that hits 94 MPH and a 2-seamer that has sink to it and hits 90-91 MPH.

In terms of makeup, Kevin is described by some as “both friendly and humble“, while other say “It’s incredible how easygoing he is” and “You’d never know he was a starbaseball player because he’s so down to earth.” Judging from his Tweets and interactions with fans, I’d have to agree with those statements. He always seems positive, has the athletic ability to match a great attitude, and since things never seem to affect him negatively, he’s able to overcome hiccups during games. Although modest, people still point to his confidence as a major factor in his success, he knows he has the skills to compete at the highest levels. Combine that confidence with being the type of guy who’ll “go out and pitch a great game, and he’ll be the first guy to grab equipment afterward and bring it to the bus,”  and his hard work, and you’ve got the makings of a great pitcher, a great team mate, and a great Toronto Blue Jays prospect.

Kevin Comer is the whole package folks. He’s got a lineage of athletic ability that comes from both his mom and his dad, he displayed those skills in 2 sports (Basketball and Baseball), and he has the demeanor to harness those abilities and to combine them with hard work to become the best pitcher he can be. He already has a couple of great fastballs to throw, understands the need to stay low, and learned the change up early as a way to increase the effectiveness of his change up. While many people were focused on Daniel Norris and Tyler Beede as the draft signing deadline came in, I do believe they overlooked Comer who definitely has the stuff to become a front-line pitcher should he make good on his talents and remain healthy.

He expects to begin his career in the GCL. Whether or not that happens in 2011 remains to be seen, but we’re excited to have him within the already deep line of Jays pitching prospects. Our gain was Vanderbilt’s loss in this case and I’m sure he’ll move up the minors ranks at a very good pace.

– MG

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