After falling to the second round in the 2008 draft, after a stress fracture in his pitching shoulder was discovered, Tanner Scheppers has decided to play for the Saint Paul Saints in the American Association independent league in order to improve his draft status. At one point last spring he was considered to be a top 10 overall player. His promise comes from his prototypical, projectable frame and an electric arm. At this time last year scouts were talking about how Scheppers was throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s as part of Fresno State's fall practices and scrammages, with improved fastball command. His fastball sits in the 92-96 range when healthy, and he has touched 99 in shorter relief stints. If he profiled to be used out of the bullpen, he may choose to use his powerful slider that has been clocked as high as 87 as his out pitch. However, last spring he improved the bite and command of his 76-80 mph curveball, which most feel is a better secondary pitch for him to use as a starter in order to pace himself deeper into games. His changeup needs work, but at this point in time gives him the foundation for three solid offerings. The health of his pitching shoulder of course will dictate just long Scheppers remains undrafted next June. He probably will only get a handful of bullpens and three, maybe four starts to prove that he is indeed healthy and that his arm responded well to the set-back. Otherwise he may regret turning down seven figures from the Pirates as their second-round pick last June.
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