SI Scouting Report: LHP, Neal Cotts
Cotts is the Sox' top pitching prospect for 2003
Cotts is the Sox' top pitching prospect for 2003
soxinsider@hotmail.com
Posted Nov 8, 2003


LHP Neal Cotts was selected in the second round of the 2001 amateur draft by the Oakland Athletics, and later traded to the Sox in the deal that sent Keith Foulke, Joe Valentine and Mark Johnson to the A's and brought Billy Koch, Cotts and Daylon Holt to the South Side on December 3, 2002.

At 23, Cotts recently put the wraps on his most successful season as a prospect, and one of the most successful ones in the entire White Sox farm unit for 2003, emerging as the organization's top pitching prospect in the process.

Keeping the walks to a minimum was a necessary factor in determining how far up the ladder Cotts would move heading into '03. As it turns out, he did just that, issuing over 30 fewer free passes in 2003 than in '02.

Cotts, a graduate of Illinois State University, recently gave up one run on three hits in five innings during an AFL start on October 13. He is currently 0-2 in the AFL so far.

Year

Team

W-L

R/9

IP

Hits/9

BB/9

K/9

ERA

2003

Birmingham (AA)

9-7

2.66

108.1

5.75

4.66

11.07

2.16

2002

Modesto (A)

12-6

4.72

137.2

8.06

5.70

11.67

4.12

2001

Visalia (A)

3-2

4.06

31

7.83

3.35

9.87

2.32

2001

Vancouver (A)

1-0

3.60

35

7.20

3.34

11.31

3.09



Neal Cotts emerged as the Sox' top pitching prospect in 2003, finishing the year 9-7 with a 2.16 ERA through 28 starts in AA (Getty images).
Repertoire: Upper 80's-Low 90's fastball, changeup, curveball.

Fastball: Cotts' fastball won't overpower you like that of Jason Schmidt's or Kerry Wood's, but has tremendous movement nonetheless and will commonly reach upwards of 90 MPH.

Other pitches: Like most pitchers that can't overpower you, Cotts is very deceptive by changing pitches, mostly using the changeup and his latest pitch, the curveball, as his top arsenal.

Pitching: Cutting down on his walk total was a big part of Cotts' breakout in 2003. Still, control was a concern for the southpaw when he made his professional debut in August. He walked a total of 17 batters in only 13.1 IP with the Sox for a whopping BB/9 ratio of 11.67.

ETA: 2004.

Projection: Future top-of-the-line starter.

Keys: It cannot be stressed enough--his control has to be kept under control. Ultimately, Cotts is in control of his own destiny. The sky is the limit and there's absolutely no one standing in his way. For this particular lefty, the key to success is clear: Master the BB's, and let the rest of the cards fall into place.

MLB Clone(s): Cliff Lee.

CAREER MINOR LEAGUE TOTALS

Year

W-L

R

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2001-03

25-15

132

311

245

171

389

3.15



COMMENTS

Of all the good talent in the Sox' system, Cotts is the cream of the crop, and Ken Williams knows it. Cotts' name was purposely taken off trade lists by Williams at mid-season while the Sox searched for ways to improve their chances at winning the American League Central.

Instead of trading their best pitching prospect in Cotts, Williams instead chose to part ways with the likes of LHP Royce Ring and RHPs Edwin Almonte, Frank Francisco and Josh Rupe.

Whether Cotts opens next season in the majors or back in AAA at Charlotte, time will only tell. Regardless, he'll be a big sleeper in the American League.

Got a question or comment for Josh? Email him at soxinsider@hotmail.com.

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