Indians' Top Prospects: No. 66
The T.J. House File
Born: Sept. 29, 1989 in Picayune, MS
Acquired: 16th-round draft pick in 2008 from Picayune (MS) Memorial HS.
Strengths: Tailing fastball reaches the low 90s. Has a tight breaking ball. Gained experience in U.S. Junior National Team program and was headed to college (Tulane) until Indians enticed him with big contract.
Weaknesses: Late signing delayed pro debut until '09, so it is to be seen how he adjusts to facing experienced hitters. Will have to develop the off-speed pitch he didn't need in high school.
2009 Projection: Extended spring, then to Arizona or Mahoning Valley.
So why is a 16th-round pick who didn't pitch an inning of pro ball ranked higher than some other 2008 Indians draft picks who did?
Good question. One that lends its answer to a veteran scout who saw House pitch both in high school and for the U.S. Junior National Team. He says the lefty is poised, powerful and projects as a fast riser through the minor leagues.
The scout pointed to an instance where House was working on a no-hitter and issued a walk on a questionable call by the umpire that had fans booing. House didn't question it -- he simply picked the guy off first base before delivering the next pitch -- and went on to finish the no-no.
The scout says he thought House was worthy of being selected in the top three rounds of the draft. He figures teams were scared off by the youngster's insistence that he was absolutely going to college unless he got a million dollars or more to turn pro.
The Indians reportedly gave him a $750,000 signing bonus and agreed to pay for a college education in order to get him.
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