Antonio Bastardo will make his MLB debut tomorrow against the Padres. Bastardo burst onto the scene as a hot prospect last year, only to get injured in Reading and fall off the radar. However, after a healthy return this year, he’s torn up Reading and Lehigh Valley and is looking to do the same in Philly after he became the surprise replacement to Brett Myers. Because of his performance, as well as some scouting reports comparing him to Johan Santana, Bastardo is coming up with a good deal of hype. Probably the most for a rookie pitcher since Cole Hamels. That’s not saying much considering our system has only recently gone on the upswing, and that the hype for future call-ups Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Drabek will probably be considerably higher, but it does give some extra reason to stay up for the west coast game on Tuesday.
So, the big question is, what should we expect from Bastardo?
Well, let’s start with the basic scouting report. He’s small and skinny, listed at 5’11”, 195 lbs. He is basically a fastball/change-up pitcher. His fastball reportedly comes in around 90-91 mph, and he has a deceptive delivery that makes it appear faster to hitters. I don’t know the speed of his change-up, but he uses it very well to get strikeouts. He does have a slider that he is working on, but doesn’t use it as often, much like Hamels and his curveball.
In terms of strengths and weaknesses, I created this chart below to show how his minor league numbers compared t0 3 recent Phillies lefties, Cole Hamels, Randy Wolf and JA Happ.
So what can we learn here, besides the fact that Hamels was an insanely good prospect? Hamels bests Bastardo in pretty much every category, as you would expect, so there is no reason to think he’s going to come in and set the world on fire like Cole did. However, he has significantly better numbers than they very-hyped Randy Wolf, and somewhat-hyped JA Happ. Bastardo let up 2 less hits/9 than Wolf, while striking out almost 2 more batters/9. His walks are a little high, but that is largely from when he was pitching hurt at Reading last year (37 BB in 67 IP). Looking at his numbers, I almost think of JC Romero, who when on, is very very hard to hit and gets his strikeouts, but when’s he’s off, he’s usually walking people, still not really giving up hits.
All-in-all, I think it’s clear that Bastardo isn’t in Hamels range, but should be considered at least a viable a prospect as Wolf and Happ.
Now – that’s more a long-term expectation, how about what we should expect on just Tuesday. I looked back over the past several years and put together another chart showing the results of the 1st start of pitchers drafted/signed by the Phillies who made their way through their system. This is for only starters, not guys like Robinson Tejeda and Ryan Madson who started as relievers but made spots starts here and there.
So, over the years, young Phillies pitchers have gone 7-3 in their debuts. The average start couldn’t be more “average” as it meets the lowest possible requirements for a quality start. I actually think that Bastardo will do better than that, something like 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, because he is facing a so-so line-up in a pitcher’s park.
It’s always exciting when a young prospect gets called up. You might be looking at the next Johan Santana, or you might be looking at the next Brandon Duckworth. On Tuesday, we’ll begin to find out with Bastardo.