Name: Andrew Wolcott
Draft: 17th Round, 2009
Position: Right Handed Pitcher
Weight: 240 lbs
History: Andrew Wolcott allowed nearly two baserunners per inning in each of his first two seasons at Duke University. Being a sinkerball pitcher, Wolcott puts the ball in play quite a bit. If you're facing aluminum bats and the defense behind you isn't outstanding, you're going to allow a lot of hits, and that's going to make you try to avoid contact and lead to walks.
Fortunately for Wolcott, the defense behind him improved dramatically for his junior and senior seasons, and he credits much of his success with that improvement.
"I just built off last year," Wolcott said of his step forward in 2009. "It's just a confidence thing. I finally had a good year my junior year, and after that, I knew that I could pitch well in this league. So I think I built off of it. I may have gained like a mile per hour or two on my fastball. Other than that, I just tried to execute pitches and it worked out for me."
"I had a great defense behind me too. We led the country in defense the year before and I think we were top five this year. Those guys helped out a lot."
Ever humble, Wolcott also credits the Duke program itself for much of his success.
"Just look at our win-loss record (35-24). Every year since coach Boggs has been here, it's been a step in the right direction," Wolcott explained. "I think I'm a product of that."
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, Wolcott was a product that didn't need much marketing. They have a well-known fetish for sinkerballs, for pitchers who attack the strike zone, and for polished college arms. Throw in Wolcott's size and intelligence, and they have the makings of a mid-round steal. The Diamondbacks didn't know that he would fall that far, and Wolcott had no idea where he might get drafted, but it is looking like a great match for the both of them.
"From everything I'd heard, I was going to get drafted, I just didn't know by where or by whom," revealed Wolcott. "I was online watching with my family and was just really excited once my name got called."
The excitement escalated the next day when fellow Blue Devil Tim Sherlock got drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 40th round. Sherlock's time at Duke was split between the outfield and the pitcher's mound. Even though he accumulated better numbers as a pitcher, the D-backs signed him as an outfielder. They should have a good idea of what they're getting in Tim Sherlock, as his father, Glen, is bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The two Duke boys drafted by the Diamondbacks may not be Bo and Luke, but they are quite close friends indeed.
"We lived next to each other junior year, and we had a small senior class, so it's a pretty tight-knit group," Wolcott said.
Sherlock and Wolcott figure to become even tighter the next few years as they advance through the Diamondbacks organization.
Makeup: Andrew Wolcott is humble, intelligent, and well-spoken. Character is an important aspect to scouting director Tom Allison's draft strategy as well as to the D-backs' overall organizational philosophy.
I'm heady, I'm hard working. I like to hit my spots and locate my pitches," listed Wolcott. "I don't really have overpowering stuff. I just try to throw everything for strikes and keep hitters off-balance."
Physically, Wolcott has the size and strength to work deep into games, as evidenced by the two complete games he has thrown this year. He is well-proportioned and appears to be strong enough throughout his body to be able to repeat his mechanics consistently.
Pitches: Two-Seam Fastball, Slider, Changeup
While Wolcott has been known to register in the 90s from time to time, he's at his best when his sinker is thrown in the high-80s. That's both because he can locate it more consistently at that speed and because it generally has a little more bite at that velocity.
Wolcott compliments his sinker with a slide-piece. He's not as consistent throwing it for strikes as he is with his fastball, and may not get professional hitters to chase it the way he did with his ACC opponents.
"I would say that my slider is my out-pitch," confirmed Wolcott. "If I go 0-2, I like to go to my slider, then paint an inside-fastball."
Wolcott also has a changeup that he will sometimes use to left-handed batters, but this is a pitch that will need considerable refinement in the coming years.
Prediction: Wolcott will be groomed as a starter, as he has had the most success in that role and the body of a workhorse. He may be limited to relief duty this year, however, to prevent a huge jump in innings pitched form his 2008 season. In order to make it to the major leagues, Wolcott will need to develop a solid third pitch - whether that's the straight change he has now or something else that he tries - and improve command of his slider. These are very doable goals, especially if Wolcott keeps in mind the biggest lessons he's learned from his time in college.
"Work hard and have confidence in your stuff and your ability," recited Wolcott. "You may not have a 95-mile-per-hour fastball or be able to hit the ball 500 feet, but you can get it done with what you have."
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