Name: Mike Stutes
DOB: 9/4/86 (24 as of April 1, 2011)
Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 11th round, 2008 ($5,000 bonus)
Pre Draft Report: Mike Stutes was initially drafted by the Dodgers in the 32nd round of the 2004 draft out of Lake Oswego HS in Oregon. Stutes was recruited by college baseball powerhouses like USC and LSU before opting for Santa Clara and, ultimately, Oregon State. He was again drafted in 2007 following his junior season, this time going in the 9th round to the Cardinals. Heading into that ’07 draft, Stutes was BA’s 4th best prospect in Oregon (all of them members of Oregon State’s 2007 national championship team) and projected as going in the first five rounds. When he fell to St. Louis in the 9th, it appears as though he was still looking for fifth round money and ultimately opted to go back to school.
Stutes (and Oregon State) struggled in his senior year. As the Beavers missed making the regionals, Stutes needed a strong finish to lower his ERA to 5.32 and reclaim some draft status. Prior to the draft, BA rated him as the 2nd best prospect in Oregon and had him sitting at 88-92, hitting 94, and throwing three other pitches as average. It also noted that he lacked consistency and despite pitching for a national program, had not developed a feel for pitching and was often more of a thrower. As it turned out, he slipped two rounds into the 11th, where the Phils drafted him, quickly signed him, and sent him to Williamsport.
Career Synopsis: Stutes began his career shortly after getting drafted with Williamsport in the NYPL. After six excellent starts where he posted a 1.33 ERA and struck out 10.3 per nine, he moved up to Lakewood where he was just as good. The organization had him throw his fastball more and work off that, and after one outing in Lakewood, an anonymous front office sort said that Stutes had the highest ceiling of any 2008 draftee. Between the two stops, Stutes made 13 starts, allowing 4.7 hits and 3.7 walks per nine, limiting his home runs allowed to 0.4, and striking out 10.9 hitters per nine. He was twice named the Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Week and was the Pitcher of the Month for August.
Stutes entered 2009 entrenched as a mid-level prospect, placing 17th on BA’s list and 14th in John Sickels’. Stutes bypassed Clearwater and pitched the entire season at Reading as part of its rotation. He lost a full strikeout from his K/BB ratio, falling from 2.90 in 2008 to 1.88 in 2009 due to a plummeting strikeout rate that dropped to 6.7. His hits per nine and walks per nine just about doubled.
The Phillies opted to convert Stutes to a reliever in 2010, where he could primarily be a fastball/slider guy given the lack of development of his curve and change. BA still ranked him at 16 among Phillies prospects. Stutes split time almost evenly between the bullpens in Reading and Lehigh Valley and his numbers across the two stops were almost identical (other than a noticeably higher home run rate in AAA). The biggest changes from 2009 were a return of a very good K rate (9.3), a return to a very low hit rate (6.7), but by far the worst walk rate (5.2) of his career.
Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Stutes’ 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
Upside: Stutes originally projected out as third or fourth starter, but he’s now firmly entrenched as a reliever. At 24, he likely is what he’s going to be, and that’s a guy who throws 90-94 with and okay slider and not much else in terms of secondary pitches. His 2010 numbers give reason for optimism as the K rate and hit rate would be very useful in a big league pen, and his BAA was pretty similar versus lefties and righties after really struggling against lefties as a starter in 2009. The Phils are bringing him to camp as a NRI this spring, and he was just in Philadelphia to participate in the rookie development seminar. While Stutes appears to be a longshot to make the Phils’ pen out of spring training, getting his walk rate back down to his career average could place him in the mix should the big club need an arm during the season.
Stutes stays fairly compact in his delivery, keeping the ball tucked behind his head and then coming slightly over the top. This helps create deception, but the high arm slot means he won’t end up generating a lot of movement on his fastball. No real red flags, but he does pinch his shoulders slightly, and he does hook his wrist slightly. He gets a nice long stride toward the plate, and theres no real reason to think he’ll break down or not be able to handle a relief role.