: Zachary KroenkePosition
: 6'3", 210 lbsBats/Throws
: April 21, 1984Hometown
: Omaha, NebraskaDrafted
: 5th round (169th overall) in 2005 (Yankees 5th selection).Background
: Drafted after his junior season, Kroenke was the ace at the University of Nebraska for his final two seasons, earning second team All Big-12 honors both years. The baby-faced Kroenke showed flashes of dominance as a Husker, hurling a complete game 1-hitter against Kansas State
as a sophomore, followed by 11 strikeouts in 6.1 IP against Northwestern. The happiest person in Kroenke's family on draft day was his grandfather, who's a lifelong Yankee fan.Strengths
: Kroenke is as polished as college juniors get. He's got good command to both sides of the plate with all his pitches. His fastball runs anywhere from 88-92 mph, touching 94 out of the bullpen. His slider is a strikeout pitch that has tight rotation and a sharp break. Kroenke's frame is of major league caliber, as he has wide shoulders and a strong lower half. Thanks to that frame Kroenke is a workhorse lefthander, hurling 7 complete games in 41 starts as a Husker (17%), as well as averaging more than 7.2 IP per start at Staten Island.Weaknesses
: Kroenke has what scouts call a "pie throwing" delivery; a phrase that stems from a brief pause in his arm motion. It sometimes costs him command and consistency with his pitches. His changeup is in it's developmental stages, lagging significantly behind his fastball and slider. He's never been good at holding runners, and baserunners like to take advantage of his long motion from the stretch.Comparison
: Throw away Kroenke's 2-inning cameo for the Gulf Coast League Yanks, and he's never had an ERA over 3.03 since high school. His short season stats rivaled that of Devil Ray's phenom Wade Davis in 2005:
Davis is almost 17 months younger than Kroenke however, and is a prime candidate for a breakout season in 2006. Kroenke certainly needs to address his walk rate, although 3.46 really isn't that bad.Outlook
: Kroenke shouldn't need much minor league seasoning, however it might take time to get the kink out of his arm action, benefiting both his command and long-term health. His ceiling may not be anything more than a middle-of-the-rotation starter, as he'll most likely develop into a number 3 or 4 workhorse starter. He may never get that chance with the Yankees though, and could be a prime piece of trade bait in coming years. He'll start the season at Low-A Charleston, although High-A Tampa is a possibility with a strong spring showing. His big league ETA is late-2007, early-2008.
You can view Kroenke's scouting view here
, simply scroll down until you find his name (2nd from the bottom), then click on your connection speed on the far right of his vitals line.