Getting to know your prospects:Matt Packer
Name: Matt Packer
Position: Left-handed pitcher
Team: Double-A Akron Aeros
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2013 stats: 11-8, 3.34 ERA, 26 G, 142.2 IP, 158 H, 8 HR, 42 BB, 112 K, .283 BAA
Facts & Info: The Indians selected Packer in the 32nd round of the 2009 Draft out of the University of Virginia. In his sophomore season in 2008 he led all of college baseball in ERA (1.14), but a disappointing 2009 year and some concerns with his health pushed him to the late rounds of the draft. He missed half of the 2012 season with a shoulder injury.
The Stuff: Packer has good command of his average fastball that sits at 87-90 MPH and has touched 93 MPH in the past, and the pitch does some good sinking action down in the zone. He has a lot of confidence in his changeup as it is very deceptive with good depth and diving action and is the best pitch in his arsenal. His average slider shows swing and miss with good late break, and he has been developing curveball.
The Delivery: Packer does not have overpowering stuff and instead is a finesse pitcher that relies on a deep four-pitch mix, and the ability to throw them for strikes. What makes him so effective is his compact delivery and good arm action that creates some deception, and also a good feel for his fastball, slider and changeup and commands them well down in the zone.
The Intangibles: Packer is athletic and versatile where he can pitch as a starter or reliever. He is aggressive on the mound and puts the ball on the plate with a pitch to contact approach and he gets a lot of hitters to roll over his sinking fastball for groundball outs. He knows how to attack hitters, locates his breaking stuff well, and consistently induces weak contact. He shows good composure on the mound, is intelligent, and is a plus makeup player.
The Focus: Packer has rebounded well from a sprained left rotator cuff which sidelined him half of last season. He needs to be better with the mechanics in his delivery by repeating it very well and maintaining a good arm slot. His curveball is the fourth pitch in his arsenal but one he and the Indians would like to develop into an average offering so he can better attack lefties and change their eye level.
The Future: Packer has had a nice bounce back season and proven to be healthy and strong the whole way through. His athleticism and durability bodes well for him as it offers the Indians the option to keep him as a back of the rotation starting option or as a left-handed relief option at the big league level very soon.