PITCHING PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: '04
Halfway through the season it seemed as though Matt DeSalvo would run away with this award. Unfortunately, his season was derailed by back injuries following a promotion to AA. With him gone the field seemed much more open, that is until Brad Halsey went on a season ending tear. With his struggles in the major leagues fresh in the minds of many, it may seem like a reach to name Halsey the pitching prospect of the year, but based on my criteria, there was no other choice. Despite the lack of overwhelming physical talent, Halsey was able to put up the best pitching performance of anyone in the system and at an age where he can be considered a legitimate prospect. What he is a legitimate prospect to become still remains to be seen. At the very least, his big league performance thus far warrants him consideration as a lefty arm out of someone's bullpen and if he can develop in the bigs like he did over the course of the AAA season he could be a decent 3 or 4.
Brad Halsey, LHP, 23, AAA Columbus
- AAA: 144/8.0/2.3/6.8/0.5/3:1 (IP/Hper9/BBper9/Kper9/HRper9/K:BB)
Overall, the lefty had an outstanding season that was actually 4 parts. When the season opened it seemed that Halsey was overmatched at AAA as he sported a hefty 6.53 ERA in April. Coming on the heels of a middling 2003, when hits allowed are given heavy consideration, Halsey seemed destined to return to AA. Fortunately for him, something clicked and he went on a tear that eventually led to his promotion to the ML level.
After that brief stint in the majors Halsey returned to the minors and upon his return once again struggled. After giving up only 2 homers in his first 80+ AAA innings, Halsey began letting the long balls fly, before once again finding his self. This time, when he righted the ship, not only was Halsey not allowing the opposition to score, he was also striking out more than his fair share of batters to conclude the minor league season.
In the grand scheme of evaluating players, this may mean nothing as every player has their different ups and downs through the course of a season, but it may mean something in Halsey's case. Based on how he performed in April and in the middle of the summer upon returning to AAA it would seem that Halsey is not one to quickly adjust to changes in leagues/hitters. This would seem to go hand-in-hand with his less than great stuff as he would need to learn leagues/hitters in order to take advantage of what he does have, which is good control and decent secondary pitches. I'm sure most readers of this blog know where I'm going by now, but I'll say it outright nonetheless.
The Yankees should give Brad Halsey a shot. To those that say he has been given a shot, what he was given was not a shot. It was more like an opportunity to start a game. Giving him a shot would entail Joe Torre trusting him to stay in games when options include bringing in someone from the Circus of Ridiculously Atrocious Pitchers that is the back end of the Yankee bullpen. Giving him a shot would entail perhaps working him into a situation where he can be tested as a potential playoff LOOGY when you, the manager, are determined to have one and thus far big league lefties have "3" hits off him in 26 at bats. 2 of those hits were gifts to David Ortiz courtesy of the Yankees outfield defense.
I've given up on him having a shot this year, but with next year's rotation being potentially more injury-susceptible than this year's Halsey should at least be with the team from the start and take the Ramiro Mendoza role of year's past. Just somehow get him on the team as it's inefficient use of resources to keep him at a level that he has demonstrated he is better than in addition to the fact that the bullpen isn't compromised of a bunch of worldbeaters.
In the end, though Halsey does not have the highest ceiling of the main competitors he had for this award (it came down to him, Abel Gomez, and Tyler Clippard in my mind), his performance and assurance of being worth an ML role with some team somewhere makes him both a safe and solid pick. Oh yeah, and to put his '04 performance into more perspective, Baseball Prospectus, the premier number crunchers on the internet, have a system of rating pitching prospects. In that system, "STUFF", a pitcher gets a rating based on his peripheral numbers and age. Brad Halsey's 2004 was given a 31 on a scale where above 30 is considered "truly elite".
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