Prospect Grades: Blaine, Hill, Savage

We’re gonna keep on keepin’ on here with the grades.

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Blaine, Justin, LHP (age 22) Grade = C

If I were to tell you a guy was 35% below league average, would you guess he had an ERA under 4? Probably not, but that’s the case with our 6th round pick in 2005. Blaine, a 6’4 LHP, had pretty awful peripheral numbers across the board, 9.27 H/9 (-5%), 5.43 BB/9 (-20%), 5.91 K/9 (-16%), but the only bright spot is that he didn’t allow a single HR in 56.1 IP. Even with his terrible peripheral numbers, he posted an ERA of 3.82. So, we clearly need to look deeper at his performance and adjust his grade, as I find it hard to give him an F. Start with his age….he was 22 in 2006, at Low A. That’s the top end of the age spectrum, and he probably should have been at Clearwater, but because he was a 2005 draft pick, it’s not that unusual. He started 6 of the 18 games he appeared in, so his role isn’t crystal clear just yet. His OPS allowed by month improved after a bad May (.824) to .595 in June and .690 in July, that’s decent. He was equally good against LH and RH batters, .706 OPS against LH, .705 against RH. So really, what gives? Well, check out this statistic. He allowed 119 groundballs to 34 flyballs. That’s right, over 3.5 GB to FB….that’s pretty ridiculous. The trade off is, of course, that he can’t strike anyone out. I’m not sure where he’ll end up in 2007, but it will probably be in relief, probably at Clearwater. I don’t have the video handy, but his delivery reminds me a little of Huston Street, the A’s closer, but with a lot less velocity, and from the left side.

Ceiling: I think his ceiling is a #5 starter, probably similar to a guy like Carlos Silva.

Floor: Organizational filler.

Conclusion: The Phillies have two more years to figure out what to make of Blaine. As he moves up the organizational ladder, his control is going to have to greatly improve, or his ERA is going to skyrocket. Ground ball specialists can survive, but they can’t give out free passes at the alarming rate Blaine was issuing them in 2006. If he figures out how to throw stikes and maintains his strong GB tendencies, he could be a useful backend option or a swing man.

(NO PHOTO, SORRY RON)

Hill, Ronald, RHP (age 24) Grade = C-

Ronald Hill? Who? I’m sure that’s what most of you are saying. Hill was taken in the 17th round in 2005, and after a nice run at Batavia in 2005, he was sent to Lakewood in 2006. He impressed, putting up a 2.30 ERA in 54 innings from the bullpen, and was sent to Clearwater, where his results weren’t nearly as good, putting up a 7.88 ERA in 16 IP. His peripheral numbers at Lakewood were good, 8.56 H/9, 2.47 BB/9, 9.22 K/9, and 0.00 HR/9, but at Clearwater, not so good, with 14.63 H/9, 2.25 BB/9, 6.75 K/9, 1.69 HR/9. It’s important to realize the CLW sample is much smaller. It’s also important to realize his Lakewood numbers came at age 23, too old for the league. As a reliever only, his value is diminished further. However, I do like guys who show quality control, and he did so over the course of 2006. His K rate dropped at Clearwater, but was still 6.75/9, which considering an adjustment time is normally necessary, isn’t the end of the world. In his two other split areas, he got more than 2 ground balls to every fly ball, which is a positive, and he was tough on RH batters, holding them to a .629 OPS, while lefties knocked him around to the tune of a .931 OPS. Clearwater is his likely destination for 2007.

Ceiling: A ROOGY who gets lots of groundballs would be a nice role for Hill, who isn’t on anyone’s radar right now.

Floor: Out of baseball in 5 years.

Conclusion: Hill is a guy who most people have never heard of, which isn’t uncommon for late round draft picks. I can’t speak to his “stuff”, but he probably has a sinker or a big two seamer that moves, which is what generates all the ground balls. He has good control, he got a fair amount of swings and misses, so he does have some promise. His 2007 season represents his age 24 season, so he’s gotta move quickly if he’s to be considered a prospect at this time next year. If he pitches well at Clearwater, he should be moved to the Reading bullpen by June, and then we’ll have a better clue on what he can offer, if anything.

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Savage, William, RHP (age 22) Grade = B

Savage, a 26th round pick in the 2006 draft, is already looking like a potential steal. Assigned to Batavia after the draft, he pitched 9 scoreless innings, allowing only 6 H, 1 BB and striking out 8. He was sent to Lakewood, and his numbers there solid, putting up a 3.45 ERA in 31.1 IP, with 31 H, 5 BB and 28 K. His peripherals as a pro so far are better than his college numbers, which has to be a bright note for the Phillies, even at this early stage. His composite puts him around 30% better than league average for his time in the SAL, which would earn him a B+, but I dropped him to a B because he’s strictly a reliever as a pro. He did start some in college, and was able to bounce back after pitching multiple innings in relief, so he could be looked at as a multi-inning reliever at the top level. His stuff appears to be largely average, but the word is that he has a deceptive delivery, which makes his stuff play up a notch. He could start back in Lakewood, but the Phillies may challenge him and skip him to Clearwater, as he was a 4 year senior and does have late game experience in college. As of now, there are no real flaws to criticize him on. 2007 will be his age 22 season, so he’s ok age-wise. I guess his hit rate could stand to drop a hit or so per 9, but he did have good success against RH batters, holding them to a .563 OPS, and he got more GB than FB, so he has those two things working for him.

Ceiling: A 7th/8th inning reliever. Probably lacks the stuff to close, but could be a useful medium leverage kind of reliever.

Floor: AAAA pitcher, swingman type role in the mold of Clay Condrey.

Conclusion: For a 26th round pick, Savage did well for himself by moving to Lakewood and pitching well. Because of his experience and versatility, he could move quickly through the system. Mediocre stuff normally requires excellent command, which he appears to have. The role he eventually plays with the big club, if he makes it that far, will be determined by his ability to put hitters away without a true out pitch. He’s definitely one to watch in 2007.

1 thought on “Prospect Grades: Blaine, Hill, Savage

  1. You’re nearing the bottom of the barrel, James. But that may
    not be fair to either Blaine or Savage, the latter in particular.
    I associate Blaine with a decent school like San Diego State and
    Savage with Oklahoma (Geary’s old school), but I may have a
    memory lapse. At least they played college ball at a decent
    level of competition.

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