Clayton Mortensen in rehab start in Extended Spring Training. Courtesy: Shaun P Kernahan

First Hand Reports: Clayton Mortensen

May 14, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Clayton Mortensen (59) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Mortensen has pitched just six official innings, all for Triple-A Omaha, since being acquired by the Kansas City Royals from the Boston Red Sox at the end of August last season. This off-season, he resigned with the Royals on a minor league deal, but has been held back in Extended Spring Training due to injury. I have been to two of his rehab starts as he looks to prove he is still a big league caliber pitcher.

His fastball has sat between 87-89 MPH which is about level with his career average when looking at his monthly averages at Brooks Baseball. His change is slower than usual, as he was clocked as low as 78 MPH today rather than the 81-82 MPH it frequented in his best seasons, 2011 and 2012. He also threw quite a few sliders that were clocked as high as 85 MPH, but based on the amount of movement, it looked more like a soft cutter rather than a slider.

In all, he avoided any real hard contact, most of the hits he gave up were ground ball singles through the holes of the defense. In his five years in the big leagues, he has started in just 13 of his 74 appearances, but he did go four innings today, leading me to believe he could be a starting option later this season.

This is at least his second start in extended spring and, given the fact he was able to go a full four innings today, he will probably be back in “real” games soon. With P.J. Walters having put up very poor numbers for Omaha, 9.10 ERA in six starts, there appears to be a spot ready and waiting for Mortensen, and some good outings in the PCL could very well earn him a spot back in the big leagues, especially given the Royals 40-man roster currently consists of just 39 players.

Tags: Clayton Mortensen Kansas City Royals

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