Up until 2010, Teaford had only appeared in a handful of relief outings. Kansas City lost faith in Everett after back-to-back bad starts in late April and early May. Teaford went to the pen and did a decent job in relief appearing in 7 games and giving up only 4 ER over 13.1 innings. This was good enough to prompt a second chance at starting. Everett not only took advantage of that opportunity, he thrived in his first game against the Arkansas Travelers on June 9th. In 5 innings, Teaford gave up one hit and only one walk with 6 K spattered in between. Through either bad luck or lucky circumstances, Everett seemed to be back and was immediately promoted to fill an injury spot in the Omaha rotation. Whether fate was playing a mean trick on him or not, Teaford went forward with a chance at Triple-A Albuquerque. Teaford gave up 2 runs in the first before settling down with consecutive 1-2-3 innings and giving up only a single in the fourth. The fifth inning was the game changer for Teaford. Giving up a solo home run to the first batter of the inning, Everett looked poised to get out of the inning after a quick fly out and strike out.
Perhaps he got overconfident. Or he relaxed. And perhaps the altitude and wind blowing out at a brisk pace had something to do with the rest of the inning. It wasn’t a bad start. Teaford gave Omaha 4.2 solid innings before hitting a stumbling block. Teaford’s line looked worse than it was in most cases. L, 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 4 K. Fatigue was the biggest factor in his final line. Teaford rejoined the Naturals rotation after his brief stint in Omaha only to have another bad start. And back to the bullpen he went. His results were very similar to his first stint in the bullpen and he was given a third chance at the starting rotation on August 1. I happened to be at this start as it was the first game of a double-header in Springfield. Teaford had a solid start giving up 2 hits and 2 BB while striking out 9 and allowing no runs. Painting the corners with 91-93 consistently, Teaford was nearly unhittable. He mixed in a curve at 78-80 that had a good, sharp, and late action. That night it was an excellent pitch. Some anonymous scouts may have even called it a plus plus pitch. Everett also showed an above average changeup at 84-86. The main reason his change was successful was the control of the pitch. But Teaford’s deception on the pitch was also astounding. The fastballs and change ups were on the knees the entire night. And there was some great ability to pitch, not just throw what was called. While he would elevate the fastball as needed, Everett used the fastball up just enough to use the same higher release point to disguise the curve to throw it for a strike. And boy did the Springfield hitters look bad on the curve. Many didn’t even get the bat off the shoulder as they sat stunned that the ball broke so hard and late as it did. And just when one of them would think he was all over the curve, it would spike and he’d be left swinging only at the air as the
Everett seemed to have a fairly free arm action and did not labor at all in the outing I saw. Teaford has a good downhill plane even though he is considered fairly short for a pitcher at 6 foot. He was clean in his mechanics and is not a herky-jerky type of pitcher. The key to Everett Teaford’s game is his control. If a pitcher can successfully command the four corners of the strike zone like Teaford did on this night, he can successfully manipulate a hitter’s eye level as needed. Everett established his fastball early in the game and worked off that early success fooling hitters with his excellent curve and solid change up. In his last 5 outings, Everett has struck out 38 batters compared to 9 free passes. The ratio is 4:1 which often leads to a high rate of success. His hits to innings pitched ratio was 21 H to 31.0 IP. This is excellent.
It seems that Teaford is now an integral part of the Northwest Arkansas rotation after his tumultuous season. The Naturuals will have to count on him as they prepare for the playoffs. And it seems as though KC is happy leaving him there to pitch in the pressure of a playoff atmosphere. So why do I make the case that he should get a shot in the Omaha rotation again as they battle the Iowa team for a spot in the playoffs? Everett Teaford has recently demonstrated the ability to last deep into ballgames, consistently put his team in a position to win, and his ability to dominate the opposing hitters. Teaford has commanded 3 above average pitches from the left side, and he has mentally overcome a season that could have been wasted and turned it into a positive. Everett has had success in every level he has encountered except for Omaha. Now I believe he is ready to retest that resolve at the final season of Rosenblatt. Factor in that Everett is 26 and in his fifth minor league season with Kansas City, that the Royals need to know what they have in him, that organizations tend to stop looking at young guys when they are no longer "young", and Everett may be running out of time with Kansas City. What else does Everett Teaford have to prove at Northwest Arkansas? I’m really not sure.
Aside: I'm going to attempt to start a small blog with some of these types of story lines or experiences. Tell me what you think. Would you follow it?