06/03/2004 1:41 PM ET
Big 12 big on lefties
Purcey, Jackson, Howell highlight conference
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- When it comes to next week's First-Year Player Draft, three Big 12 pitchers will not be left out.
|Oklaoma's David Purcey struck out 121 batters in 109 2/3 innings in 2003. (courtesy University of Oklahoma)
Left-handed pitchers David Purcey from Oklahoma, Zach Jackson from Texas A&M, and University of Texas hurler J.P. Howell -- all juniors -- highlight a crop of lefties available in a draft believed to be deep in right-handed pitching.
"This is the Big 12 and there is a lot of talent in this conference," Jackson said. "To experience this has been great. But by no means am I intimidated by any of the other lefties and I'm sure they think the same thing. We are just going out there and doing our thing."
In 2004, Jackson, who features a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a slider and a changeup, went 10-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 15 regular season games. Jackson transferred from Louisville after going 17-9 in two seasons there.
He was drafted by the White Sox in the 50th round in 2001 but did not sign with them.
"My ability to locate is the main thing for me," Jackson said. "I think if I'm not on with my fastball, spotting inside and outside the zone, I will have problems, but I take a lot of pride in being able to throw strikes and locating. I think that's one of my biggest strengths."
Purcey, who stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 240 pounds, is no stranger to the First-Year Player Draft. He was drafted by the Mariners in the 20th round in 2001 and in the 17th round by the Yankees in 2003.
"For the most part, the teams that drafted me before told me I fell because of signability, but this year I know I want to go out and play if I'm drafted," Purcey said. "There's nothing to worry about. Pick me and I'll go."
"When it comes down to it, it is about throwing strikes and executing," he said. "No matter what side you throw from, you have to throw strikes. I think when I get beat, I beat myself."
This season, Purcey went 8-5 with a 3.28 ERA in 109 2/3 innings during 17 regular seasons games. He struck out 121 and issued 51 walks. Primarily a starter, he also made relief appearances in 2003.
"I have a good fastball and I think I can change speeds pretty well," he said. "I have a curve and I have a changeup that I'll use more on the next level than here in college. In college, I just throw my fastball and curve. Hopefully, one will be for a strike and I won't struggle that day."
Howell, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound southpaw from Sacramento, was a 2004 second-team Preseason All-America selection. He went 13-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 20 apperances (16 starts) during 111 2/3 innings this season. He struck out 134 batters and walked 41 for the Longhorns.
In 2003, he went 10-2 with a 2.52 ERA after making 21 appearances in a team-best 19 starts. He was first-team All Big 12 and a third-team All-America selection.
Howell was selected by the Atlanta Braves during the second round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft and went 3-4 with a 6.27 ERA in 2002 at USC before coming to Texas.
"I think somebody like (Astros pitcher) Andy Pettitte is somebody to be like," Purcey said. "He's a big, strong lefty who throws strikes, but he also has morals and is a good person. I think if I come close to being anything like Andy Pettitte, I will be on the right track."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.