Once upon a time Blake Hawksworth wasn't the last reliever in a long bullpen, forced to make spot starts behind Jeff Suppan—he was the best prospect in a bad Cardinals minor league system. In 2003, as a 20 year-old starter in A ball, he struck out 89 against 24 walks in 86 innings. He flashed a fastball that was mid-to-high nineties and a plus changeup. He was so good, and the Cardinals system so bad, that he was named a top prospect even after he ruined his shoulder that year, an injury that left him in the prospect wilderness with a low-90s fastball until his sudden reemergence as a useful reliever on a 2009 team without any.â†µ
So what's interesting about the first successful start of his major league season, last week against Kansas City: the velocity was still back. Hawksworth averaged 95 miles per hour on his fastball in five innings of work, two thirds of them for strikes. He didn't get any swinging strikes, but it helped him set up that changeup, the only thing that never left Superprospect Blake Hawksworth.
So if you want an idea of how Blake Hawksworth's going to look tonight, see if he can keep the fastball up for one more start. It's seven years late, but it would be nice to see that number one prospect finally deliver. (We certainly didn't get it with his predecessor, Jimmy Journell.)â†µ