Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pitching Prosect #8: Matt Way

Matt Way is the only college player drafted this year that I have decided to put into my top 10 lists. I am a little hesitant to highly rate first year players from college. This is because most rookie pitchers that come from college seem to succeed in their first minorleague season. The lower level minor leagues are generally pitcher friendly leagues. The reason for this is that many batters need to make the transition from aluminum bats to wood bats. For this reason, I try and wait on college pitchers for at least a full year.

I decided to rate Way this high due to his immediate success, and impressive college statistics. Immediately after being drafted, Way was inserted into the New York Penn League where he did very well. In 8 starts, he pitched 37 innings, while posting an ERA of 1.67, and struck out 43 batters. After showing that the New York Penn League batters were no match for him, Way was promoted to Lakewood and continued to do well. There, Way went 4-1 in 6 starts, while posting a 3.11 ERA, and he struck out 42 batters compared to only 4 walks in 37 innings. Way, was the game 1 pitcher on the staff that led the Lakewood Blueclaws to becoming the South Atlantic League Champions. In his game 1 start, he went 7 innings while allowing only 1 run and striking out 7 on his way to the win.

Way was drafted in the 5th round of the 2009 draft out of Washington State University, where they finished second in the PAC-10 conference. The PAC-10 is undeniably the most dominant college baseball conference, therefore the competition is incredibly steep. As a senior, Way went 8-4 in 107 innings, while posting a 2.43 ERA, and striking out 124 batters. In 2009, within the PAC-10, Way ranked 3rd in ERA, 3rd in strikeouts, and 2nd in innings.

Way is not an overpowering pitcher as his fastball sits in the low 90s but places it very well on the outer half of the plate. As he is lefthanded, Way appears to be much faster then reported, this allows him to work off his fastball successfully. Way also throws a changeup which is probably his best pitch as he has the ability to locate it on both sides of the plate. He tends to rely on those 2 pitches the most but also throws a slider. The slider is an improving pitch and once he can gain control and bite, he will develop into a successful starter in the majors. It is very important to develop a reliable 3rd pitch before pitching at the major league level (It turns out Colbert Hamels failed to get that memo). Way has good control and strikeout numbers and if he can continue to improve, the Phillies will move him fairly quickly. He will probably start the season in Clearwater and should be promoted to Reading shortly after the season starts. In a worse organization, Way could probably find himself in the rotation at the end of 2011. The Phillies have more than an ample amount of pitching prospects so Way may find himself waiting longer than usual. In any case, Way should develop nicely as a major league pitcher and could potentially succeed in either the rotation or bullpen.

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