Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ProspectNation 2011: #22 Mike Zagurski

With a track record of Major League experience, Mike Zagurski continues to be the virtual understudy for the Phillies' lefty relievers. Zagurski's primary role in his career, when healthy, has been as an occasional substitute for the big club's bull pen.

The Nebraska native, Zagurski, made his debut with the Phillies in May 2007 and was sidelined with an elbow injury by August that year, which required Tommy John Surgery and kept him out for the entire 2008 season. Teamed with Kyle Drabek, who underwent the same procedure, during rehab and their time at Reading in 2009, Zagurski is credited with helping the former Phillies prospect to mature as a ballplayer. Drabek was, of course, dealt to Toronto as part of the Roy Halladay trade in December, 2009.

In October, 2008, the Phillies invited Zagurski, and another rehab partner, Scott Mathieson, to be guests at game 5 of the World Series. That historic night was something that really got under Mike's skin and gave him even more drive to get back to the Major Leagues. It allowed him to see, up close and in person, the type of action and excitement he was missing. The World Series clincher is steadily on Mike's mind as he strives to be successful and get noticed.

With a steady work ethic, Zagurski, who will turn 27-years-old this month, grinded hard throughout his 2009 campaign positioning himself to make a return to the big leagues. Combined at High A Clearwater and Double A Reading that year, Zagurski went 3-4 with 8 saves and a 3.38 ERA.

His commitment paid off, as Zagurski earned a call to don red pinstripes once again, this past season. In 52 relief outings with the Triple A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in 2010, Zagurski, who married his fiance Lauren this off-season, posted a 2-3 record with 3 saves, a 3.27 ERA and struck out 71 opponents in 52 1/3 innings.

However, once called up, Zagurski struggled, with a 10.29 ERA and a .320 batting average against. On a positive note, Zagurski struck out 11 batters in just 7 innings of action. Mike had two separate tough outings, in which he allowed 3 earned runs. Those efforts resulted in inflated numbers during his minimal MLB time last season. The strike out numbers show he has still some potential to compete at the highest level, if he can simply avoid the mistakes that result in those large outbursts by the opposing offense.

Zagurski is an individual that has serious goals and will work hard to achieve them. He remains a hard throwing lefty hurler with the potential to contribute out of the 'pen, when given the chance.

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