In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Prospect Profile: J. Brent Cox
Name: James Brent Cox
Position: RHP
Vitals: 6’3”, 200 lbs
Born: May 13, 1984
Hometown: Bay City, Texas
Drafted: 2nd round (63rd overall) in 2005 (Yankees second selection), received a $550,000 bonus

Background: Cox (who prefers to go by JB) spent his freshman and sophomore years at Texas serving as a bridge to incumbent closer (and 2005 AL Rookie of the Year) Huston Street before stepping into the closer’s shoes his junior year. Cox shined in his year as closer, recording an NCAA high 19 saves, while sporting a stellar 1.73 ERA in 78 IP. Cox has excelled on the biggest amateur stage around, the College World Series. He’s seen CWS action during all 3 years of his college career, capped off by closing out Texas’ 2 wins in 2005 final (Texas swept Florida in the best of 3 series) to give his team the CWS title. Cox dominated in those 2 games, nailing down multi-inning saves on back-to-back days while allowing only 2 baserunners total (1 hit and 1 walk). He came into Game 1 in the 8th inning with 2 runners on and no one out, and then proceeded to strike out all 6 batters he faced. He came on for another 1.2 innings in Game 2 the next day, striking out 2, including the final batter of the event. Cox has also excelled internationally, saving 4 games last summer as the closer for the USA Baseball National Team.

Strengths: Cox has a filthy slider that he’s able to throw for strikes at any time, in any count. It features a late and hard break down-and-in to LH hitters and down-and-away to RH hitters, often ending up in the dirt. He’s very adept at getting groundballs, as evidenced by the small number of HRs (4) he gave up during his Texas career. He adds good deception to pitches with an unorthodox, almost sidearm delivery. Despite his somewhat violent delivery, Cox has proved to be durable throughout his college career, thanks to his large frame and muscular build. He’s an intimidating presence on the mound and a fiery competitor who, like Street, throws strikes with relative ease.

Weaknesses: Cox has a tendency to rely too heavily on his slider, primarily because his secondary pitches lag behind it. His fastball can reach the low 90s, but it’s more effective at 88-89 because it features greater movement and sink, however it is still inconsistent. He has a feel for a changeup, but it doesn’t figure to improve much. Like most young pitchers, Cox has to tendency to just reach back and throw harder when he’s in a bind, a correctable flaw.

Comparison: Much was made of the Yankees passing on St. John’s closer Craig Hansen with the 23rd pick in the 2005 draft; however they have gotten the next best thing in Cox 40 picks later and $3.55M cheaper. Here’s a brief comparison of their career college stats (I also threw in Joey Devine, the former NC State closer who was drafted number 27 overall in 2005 by the Braves):

Hper9Kper9BBper9WHIPCWS Appearances

With the exception of strikeouts (although 9.21 Kper9 is outstanding), Cox’s stats compare favorably to those of Hansen and Devine, both of whom were more highly regarded coming out of school. It’s hard to ignore Cox’s substantial experience in the CWS (his 13 CWS appearances is an NCAA record), which is a result of Texas’ continued appearances in the event, as well as Head Coach Augie Garrido’s faith in Cox.

Outlook: Of all the pitchers in the Yankees’ system, Cox is the most polished, and subsequently he’s also the closest to the majors. It’s possible Cox could have seen time in the Bronx as soon as 2006, however, because of the bullpen depth the Yankees have added this offseason, Cox figures to spend a full season in the minors, allowing him to improve his fastball and changeup. He’ll most likely return to High Class-A Tampa to begin the year, but figures to move very quickly and should see Triple-A Columbus before season’s end. His stuff may be lacking compared to traditional closers, leaving Cox to profile better as a set-up man. Cox certainly has the moxie to close out games and says he wants to, so the door will remain open for him to take over once Mariano Rivera calls it a career.

Update: You can view Cox's scouting view here, simply scroll down until you find his name (2nh from the bottom), then click on your connection speed on the far right of his vitals line.
Blogger Michael Black said...
Hmmm...if the Yankees do decide to use him as their closer, it would make perfect sense that they would move him up to the bigs at some point this year.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I watched him pitch at UT his entire career and he has the makeup to be an excellent pitcher in the Majors. I'm looking forward to him stepping into a big role with the Yankees so they can get rid of some of the mediocre relievers they have now.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I grew up with J.Brent, he has always loved baseball and often dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player

Anonymous Anonymous said...
He doesnt play anymore

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