Last Thursday, May 29th, Memphis Redbirds southpaw Tim Cooney threw a complete game shutout against the Iowa Cubs. In fact, he was only one out away from a no-hitter before surrendering a single to the talented Arismendy Alcantara. Cooney didn’t skip a beat, striking out highly-touted shortstop Javier Baez to end the game.
Most Cardinals fans should be aware of Cooney, as he had disappointing results in the Grapefruit League this spring after striking out four of six batters who opposed him in his first appearance. While he didn’t look particularly good following that first outing, his talent was obvious, and I was intrigued.
After making 11 starts thus far for Memphis, Cooney has posted a underwhelming but decent line with a 5-4 record, 3.82 ERA and 50 strikeouts with 24 walks in 66 innings. When one delves further into his 2014 stats, a few things stick out. Cooney has seemingly regressed and is pitching with astounding inconsistency. His BB/9 percentage is a lackluster 3.27, while his HR/9 rate stands at 1.36, and his FIP is downright awful at 5.28. Last season (spent mostly in Springfield), Cooney walked 22 batters in just over 118 innings, a total which he has surpassed this year in a bit over half the amount of innings. That is concerning.
As mentioned, his season has been marred with inconsistency. Last Thursday’s incredible outing was preceded by two consecutive stinkers; a May 23rd start against the Oklahoma City Redhawks in which he surrendered six runs on 12 hits in four innings following a start on the 18th against the Omaha Storm Chasers in which he was pummeled, giving up four of his five hits for homeruns and walking five in (ironically) a four inning, six run loss. Hopefully the rest of his season more closely resembles his gem against the Iowa Cubs and not the two previous starts.
With the obligatory stats out of the way, a brief scouting report is in order. Unfortunately, I have yet to see Cooney pitch in person. Consequently, the following is comprised of observations from spring training telecasts and what I have seen attested to by others who have seen him pitch.
From a physical standpoint, Cooney has ideal size standing at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 195 pounds. Tim has an easy delivery with nothing that strikes me as concerning or a potential health risk, and he delivers the ball from a 3/4 arm slot.
His repertoire consists of a low 90’s fastball with some movement, a big curveball which stands as a plus breaking ball, a cutter, and a changeup. Before this year, the reports on Cooney were that he has good command of all 4 pitches. Without seeing any of his starts, it’s hard to say if his control has been terrible overall, or if he only becomes erratic occasionally. Hopefully it is the latter and his command returns to normal.
If Tim Cooney is able to develop more consistency and regain command of all his pitches, he projects as a mid or back of the rotation starter. If not, he will either be a “AAAA” player or a journeyman reliever.