On Thursday night in Honolulu, USF dropped a close 2-1 game to Hawaii. The Dons fell back to .500 with the loss and their offensive struggles again did them in. On the bright side, the defense has played well of late and the pitching staff continues to give USF a chance to win. On Thursday night soph RHP Alex Balog did his part. The Archbishop Mitty grad began the game with six no-hit innings. He gave up a hit in the 7th, which was followed by an error and two more hits, resulting in the two runs that proved too much for USF to overcome. Balog struck out 11 and walked only two.
I have written about and mentioned some players who were on my Braves scout teams during my time as a scout and Balog was on my 2009 scout team, along with some higher profile players like SS/P James Roberts (now at USC), RHP Eric Jaffe (UCLA) and OF Joc Pederson (signed with Dodgers in 2010 draft). Balog is a tall, strong pitcher and as a former water polo player (read that as a strong shoulder) I had a pretty favorable projection on him as a pitching prospect (projected his fastball to reach the 90-92 mph range in my reports on him).
Well, fast forward to the 2012 season and Balog's numbers are sparkling: 21.2 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 22 K (9.14 K/G), 1.66 ERA. Seems that my projection on him was a little light... Last night he was up to 96 mph (according to a scout) and settled into the 92-93 mph range. Better yet, his fastball has sink and he has learned to use his height to create leverage and downhill angle. You can read that as he is not giving up extra base hits. He features two types of breaking balls as well, one of them a hard slider.
One thing I feel sure about is that if a pitcher with talent, tools, aptitude, work ethic, and some physical projectability ends up at USF with pitching coach Greg Moore, he is going to maximize what he can do at the college level and beyond in many cases. Not only do pitchers develop their physical talent at USF, but because the USF coaching staff is exceptional at teaching the whole game, their pitchers also know HOW to pitch and understand how their execution of pitches fits in the entire game plan.
Kyle Zimmer will take the hill for USF tonight.