When writing about pitchers in the Indians’ system, I always seem to write down the same phrase: “If he gets his command together, he could develop into a good No. 2 or 3 starter. If not, he has a strong future in the bullpen waiting.” It arises again in the case of Kieran Lovegrove.
Lovegrove’s ending up in Cleveland was the byproduct of the Tribe’s reaching on Tyler Naquin in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft. ESPN had Lovegrove ranked as the 46th-best prospect in the player pool, yet he fell to the Indians in the third round as not many other teams believed they had the money to sign him.
Makeup is definitely a plus for Lovegrove, as he started the Going To Bat Foundation (similar to MLB’s RBI program) with two of his high school teammates to help children around the world play baseball and softball.
While being a nice guy off the mound, Lovegrove was known around California for his nasty demeanor on it. His fastball sat in the low-90s, but flashed more and had solid movement on it. His 6’4″ frame helps him get the downward plane you want from a power pitcher and at only 185 pounds he’s expected to fill out more of his frame and even had some more to his fastball.
Lovegrove backs his heat up with a sharp slider in the low-80s that gives him a devastating 1-2 punch that could end him up in the back end of a bullpen one day if starting does not work out, which the Indians obviously hope will not be the case.
The main factor working against Lovegrove is command issues stemming from his ineffectiveness of repeating his delivery. He relies too much on his arm to generate velocity, which will be one of the main things pitching coaches begin to work on with him. Lovegrove has a clean arm action though, which means his mechanics won’t need to be completely scrapped.
If Lovegrove both bulks up over the course of his minor league career and uses the lower half of his body more in his delivery, I would not be surprised to see him easily working in the mid-90s as a starter with his fastball. As with many other Tribe farmhands, command will make or break his prospect status, but at the least he’s a high-upside ‘pen option a few years down the road.