Graham Stoneburner, 23, is a right handed pitcher listed at 6-1 and 190-pounds. He was born in Richmond, Virginia where he pitched at Mills E. Godwin High School. He raised eyebrows there as a junior when he put up a 0.21 ERA and 74 strikeouts over just 43 innings. During his senior year he had a big setback as he suffered a stress fracture in his back that kept him from pitching all season long.
So instead of entering the draft, Stoneburner went to Clemson. Unfortunately even there he ran into injury problems as he was forced to redshirt his freshman year after he tore his ACL in January.
He finally got a chance to pitch again in 2008, but things didn’t go as well as he would have liked. In his first year pitching at Clemson he had a 5.55 ERA over 71 innings and 16 games. His K/9 was 6.56 and BB/9 was 2.65.
After that season he went to the Cape Cod league and put up a 2.93 ERA and 30 strikeouts with 12 walks in 30.2 innings. He carried that over to his sophomore season that was quite a bit different though as he put up a 3.52 ERA and a 9.98 K/9 over 64 innings and 20 games.
Stoneburner was tabbed the 180th best prospect in America by Baseball America, but signability concerns allowed him to fall to the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2009 draft. He signed with the Yankees for well above slot at $675,000.
Stoneburner signed with the Yankees so late in 2009 that he was only able to pitch in one game with the Staten Island Yankees that year (short season A-Ball). He only threw one inning even, but he struck out a pair of batters. It was very brief, but impressive.
The following season Stoneburner was promoted to Low-A Charleston. He was only in Charleston for seven games though because his numbers, a 2.08 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and just 10 walks in 39 innings, were so impressive.
From there he was promoted to High-A Tampa where he continued his impressive season. In 19 starts in Tampa he had a 2.53 ERA over 103 innings. Overall in 2010 he had a 2.41 ERA, a 8.7 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9. All very impressive numbers across the board.
Stoneburner primarily throws three pitches – a fastball that sits in the 93-96 mph range, a very good slider, and an improving changeup. He was primarily a two-pitch pitcher out of college, but the changeup has been and important part of his development over the past year. His slider may be his best pitch though as it sits in the low 80′s range.
With two plus pitches, what makes Stoneburner an exciting prospect is the control he displays on the mound. His walk ratio has always been very good and it has just gotten better since high school.
2011 is a big year for Stoneburner in the respect that it will go a long way in determining whether he remains a starter or is moved to the bullpen going forward. He needs to continue to develop his changeup and turn it into a real plus pitch. If he fails to do that a move to the bullpen may be in order.
If Stoneburner sticks as a starter it’s hard to tell what his potential will be at this point. He seems like he would be at least a middle-of-the-rotation starter if all goes right. That would put him on track to reach the majors and stay there by 2013. If he moves to the bullpen it is possible that he contributes in the Bronx by 2012.