per rotoworld, the Phillies have acquired Kyle Lohse for Matt Maloney. First reaction is, okay, I’m fine with it, but maybe I’m still underrating Maloney a bit. I gave Maloney a B in the prospect grades, saying this
Maloney, Matt, LHP (age 23) Grade = B
On paper, Maloney should be an A++. He put up a sparking 2.03 ERA in 168.2 IP in 2006, allowed only 120 hits and struck out 180 batters, en route to helping lead the Blueclaws to the SAL title. However, there are some problems, in my view. First, he was 22 the entire year, on the high end of the prospect spectrum. College pitchers should dominate at low A, and Maloney did. The second problem, which ties in with the third, is his walk rate. He walked 73 in the 168.2 IP, which is a lot of walks. This ties in with the third problem, his mediocre stuff. He has a deceptive delivery (but it looks max effort to me, which could be a problem), and he relies on his slow curveball to get outs. The problem is, at higher levels, batters are less likely to swing at breaking balls out of the zone. Most guys with fringe stuff are pinpoint control guys, like Kevin Slowey and Jeremy Sowers, and scouts even question their success at higher levels. For a guy with an 86-89 MPH fastball, even for a lefty, I think he’s going to need to really refine his control at the higher levels, or he’s going to hit a wall quickly. Because he clearly didn’t belong in the SAL, we’ll have to see how he does against better competition. I’m not writing him off, though my writeup seems harsh, but I want to see him dominate (or at least pitch well) at higher levels against more advanced hitters. If his control improves, so will his grade.
Ceiling: Because of the lack of a high quality fastball or above average stuff, his ceiling is probably as a 4th/5th starter.
Floor: Brian Mazone without the steroids?
Conclusion: Finesse pitchers are really tough to figure out and project. If his control improves, he’s got a much better shot to reach his ceiling. If it doesn’t improve, he looks more like a AAAA pitcher, or maybe a possible reliever down the road. His 2007 should land him in Reading, where he’ll be the proper age for his level, and will be facing much more advanced prospects. If he repeats his numbers from 2006, he’ll be a legit prospect, and the ceiling might even improve.
Basically, the problem I have with Maloney is that I don’t think he’s anything more than a 5th starter in the majors. None of his pitches are plus, he doesn’t have a lot of velocity, and that means he’s going to have to rely on his control/command to be effective. Prior to the last 6 weeks or so, his control/command hasn’t been good, and wasn’t particularly great last year. It’s one thing to trick 19 and 20 year old hitters in Low A, it’s another thing to fool major league veterans. Maloney is hittable, and that’s at AA, so he’d have certainly been hittable in the majors. This is the benefit of stockpiling arms in the system though, as he’s turned into a major league pitcher at a time when we desperately need pitching. If I were grading Maloney now, I’d probably either leave him at a B or drop him to a B-, but the difference isn’t overwhelming.
So that brings us to Lohse. I don’t have a ton of good things to say about him. None of his peripherals are great, but he is capable of delivering a gem every time out. The sad thing is, he’s also capable of delivering a complete clunker. Maybe the Phillies think Duuuuubee can work some magic with him, and catch lightning in a bottle for 2 months.
Because of Maloney’s limited upside, I don’t mind this deal. The time to win is now, so go for it. Maloney wasn’t an elite prospect, he might pitch well, but in Great American Ball Park, I’ll bet against it.
For everything I’ve ever written about Maloney, click here.
Someone was kind enough to run the splits on Lohse. When pitching against NL teams this season, his numbers look like this
69 K; 5.52 K/9
24 BB; 1.92 BB/9
11 HR; 0.88 HR/9
That looks pretty decent to me.
Keith Law weighs in
The Phillies have now made two small but useful additions to their belated playoff push. Kyle Lohse is a capable fifth starter, a substantial improvement over J.D. Durbin and Adam Eaton, and an improvement over Kyle Kendrick once reality catches up with him. Lohse is a classic four-pitch mix guy who has never really had the put-away pitch that would elevate him out of fifth starterdom; his fastball is a bit too true and he’s prone to the longball, which won’t get any better for him with the move to Philly. The cost was minimal, reliever Matt Maloney, who projects as an 11th/12th man in the big leagues. Maloney is a lefty whose breaking ball isn’t good enough to make him a lefty-killer. Given Reds GM Wayne Krivsky‘s reliever fetish, offering Maloney was a good gambit for the Phils.