Name: Antonio Bastardo
DOB: 9/21/85 (25 as of April 1, 2011)
Weight: 193 lbs
Acquired: amateur free agent, 2005 (undisclosed bonus)
Pre Draft Report: Antonio Bastardo was signed in February 2005 out of the Dominican Republic. Scouting reports appear to be non-existent from prior to his signing, but he was about 35 lighter than he is now, leaving him with a wiry, athletic frame and reports of a “live” arm.
Career Synopsis: Bastardo made his debut in 2005 in the Dominican Summer League at age 19, putting up a 62/28 K/BB ratio with no homers allowed in 38 IP. He followed this up with 23 IP in the GCL in 2006, compiling a K rate of 10.6 (and a walk rate of 5.5) and maintaining low homer and hit rates. His splits were much better in his seven relief appearances than in his two starts. He battled injuries both years, first by shoulder tendinitis in ’05, then a pulled groin in ’06.
At age 21, Bastardo was moved to Lakewood for the 2007 season, and had a phenomenal year. Working as a starter (and including one late year start at Clearwater), Bastardo went 10-0 with a 2.14 ERA. In 96.2 innings, he struck out 110 batters, walked 45, allowed just 68 hits and only 3 homers.
In 2008, Bastardo debuted on BA’s prospect rankings at #26. He started the season in Clearwater’s rotation, and 47 Ks and 10 BBs in 30.2 innings across five starts. His performance got him noticed on Baseball America’s Hot Sheet, which noted:
Bastardo’s numbers are now too loud to ignore. His 47 strikeouts on the season—including three double-digit efforts—lead all minor league pitchers, and he hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of his five starts. Now, before you get carried away, keep in mind this is the pitcher-friendly Florida State League we’re talking about and that Bastardo’s plus changeup has, naturally, tied inexperienced batters up in knots. He’s 5-foot-11, pitches in the high 80s and has shown a severe fly-ball tendency thus far (0.40 G/F), so let’s see how Bastardo adapts to Double-A before holding any parades in his honor.
As mentioned, after the five starts, Bastardo was promoted to Reading. While his strikeout rate dropped from previous levels, it was still respectable at 8.3, but his control deserted him as he walked 5.0 batters per nine, and his home run rate soared to 1.7. As BA speculated, his fly-ball tendency (0.45 G/F with Reading) led to a lot more balls leaving the park against more experienced hitters. Following the season, he compiled a 2.20 ERA in six starts in the Dominican Winter League.
Heading into ’09, Bastardo moved up to #11 on BA’s list. He started the season in Reading’s bullpen. After four good relief appearances, he was moved into the rotation and put together a 1.98 ERA in five starts before being promoted to Lehigh Valley in mid-May. After two more good starts in Allentown, he was called up to the big leagues on June 2 and made his debut against the Padres. Rob Neyer recapped his surprising performance in this piece:
It was fascinating watching Bastardo Tuesday night. Not a power pitcher? He threw mostly fastballs throughout his outing. What’s more, in the first couple of innings, he was throwing 94 and 95. In the next couple of innings, he was throwing 92 and 93. And in the fifth and sixth, he was mostly down to 90 and 91, just like the scouting reports said. I will say this, though: I never did see a fastball clocked lower than 90. And if he can stay in the 90s while pitching into the sixth inning, he’s got a shot. Of course, it’s also possible that the gun was running a few miles an hour too fast.
Bastardo made five major league starts before coming down with a shoulder strain and was DL’ed on June 29. Once healthy, he was optioned back to Reading where he made two relief appearances before the end of the year. At the conclusion of Reading’s season, he was sent to the FIL to stay sharp for a possible postseason role, and he was recalled on October 3 and placed on the postseason roster. He was on the roster, and pitched only 1/3rd of an inning, but it was memorable as he struck out Jason Giambi with the bases loaded in the 8th inning of a tight game.
Bastardo moved up to 9th in BA’s rankings in 2010. He broke camp with the Phils, and pitched out of the bullpen until June 17, when he was placed on the DL with a left elbow issue. A month later, once healthy, he was optioned to LHV. He came back up to pitch one game in the majors in August, before once again hopping the turnpike for Allentown. He was called up for the final time at the end of August and pitched with the Phillies for the rest of the year and again appeared in the postseason. Despite all the back and forth, Bastardo’s year was actually decent—he struck out over 14 batters per nine in the minors and while it fell off in the majors, it was still over 12.0.
Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Bastardo’s raw tools, rated on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are my estimation based on what I’ve read and those I’ve talked to. The second number is a future projection, the first number is the current assessment
Summary: Bastardo’s raw arm strength is easily plus for a lefty, bordering on well above average at 91-93 as a starter, and 94-96 as a reliever. His fastball is fairly straight, but he hasn’t had trouble blowing it by people. His control has improved, though his command is still a tick below average, especially with his secondary offerings. He has average mechanics, an average changeup and a tick below average slider. His biggest red flag is his health, as he can’t stay healthy for an entire season. There are no obvious flaws in his mechanics, he’s not super high effort, his arm appears to just not be able to handle the workload of a professional baseball pitcher. Its a shame, because he had potential to be an above average starter, but is now likely relegated to middle relief when hes healthy enough to play.
Upside: Bastardo has become something of an on or off pitcher. When all of his pitches are working, he can hit 93 with his fastball and complement it with a very good change and a decent slider. When off, his control betrays him, he’s fly ball prone, and command of his slider slips. His durability is also a concern, as he has seen DL time in almost every one of his professional seasons. The Phillies seemed content to use him as a left specialist last year (he averaged under an inning per outing), but he has the stuff to be more than a situational reliever. In his big league time last year, he struck out 12 of 40 right handed hitters he faced and didn’t surrender a homer to them. Assuming the Phillies keep two lefties in the pen, it’s a virtual certainty that Bastardo will be one of them. His slider and the health of his left arm will determine whether he keeps the role all year.
Profile updated: 30 January 2011