Name: Ethan Hollingsworth
Ethan Hollingsworth was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round in 2008 out of Western Michigan. The native of Joliet, Illinois, had a strong career at WMU. As a junior, he posted a 3.84 ERA and had a 77:24 K:BB ratio in 84.1 innings. He was a two-time Mid-American Conference All-Star.
Hollingsworth signed quickly after the draft and was sent to the Rookie-level Pioneer League for the rest of the 2008 season. It was a rough introduction to pro ball for Hollingsworth, who posted a 6.10 ERA and allowed 80 hits in 59 innings for Casper. He did have a solid 55:16 K:BB ratio, an indication that the ERA may have been a function of a little bad luck.
Hollingsworth showed improvement in 2009. In a season split between Low-A and High-A, he posted a 4.37 ERA and had a 132:34 K:BB ratio in 146.1 innings. He still allowed a healthy share of hits (164), but he maintained a solid groundout-to-flyout ratio (1.39) and gave-up only 12 homeruns.
Despite pitching well at the High-A level for Modesto in 2009, Hollingsworth returned to the Nuts at the start of the 2010 season. He would make 25 starts for Modesto and toss 160.1 innings. Hollingsworth finished third in the California League in innings pitched, even though he made two starts for the Double-A Tulsa in the middle of the season. With the Nuts, Hollingsworth posted a 3.31 ERA and he struck-out 153 while walking only 34 in those 160.1 innings. He brought down his hits-allowed number, as well, giving up 161 base-hits. Hollingsworth did not fare as well with Tulsa. In those two starts, he allowed 11 earned runs in 10.1 innings, striking out nine and walking four.
Hollingsworth had the best ERA of any Colorado minor league pitcher last season and he earned the Rockies Organizational Pitcher of the Year award for 2010.
Hollingsworth is what scouts call a "command righty." When he reaches back for something extra, Hollingsworth can hit 92 on the radar gun, but he generally sits in the 88-90 MPH range with his fastball. His best pitch is his change-up. Hollingsworth has always had good command and the ability to induce groundballs, both attributes of which the A's have always been fond.
Although Hollingsworth will be new to the organization in 2011, he isn't unknown to the A's, who saw him pitch frequently while he was with Modesto, as the Nuts are in the same division as the A's Cal League affiliate, the Stockton Ports.
"We did see a good amount of Hollingsworth in the Cal League, and even dating back to the '08 draft," A's Director of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi said.
"Our scouts compared him to Barry Enright, as a guy with an average fastball but enough command and feel for his off-speed pitches to move up the ladder as a starter. Statistically, he put up strong numbers in a hitters' league, and we especially like his K/BB numbers, which were backed up by the scouting reports of his good command and plus, swing-and-miss changeup."
Double-A will be a big test for Hollingsworth. Without plus stuff, he will need pinpoint location within the strike zone to retire more advanced hitters. He struggled with getting too much of the good part of the plate with Tulsa in those two starts in 2010. A's minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson has helped a number of A's prospects add a cut fastball in recent years, and Hollingsworth may benefit from adding that pitch as a way to keep right-handers honest.
Hollingsworth's ceiling is that of a fifth starter in the big leagues. He has moved slowly through the minor leagues to this point in his career and will be on the older side for Double-A in 2011. That being said, with his pitching repertoire, he should age well.
With prospects such as Arnold Leon, Pedro Figueroa and Julio Ramos recovering from Tommy John surgery and with the lack of pitchers selected by the team in the early rounds of the last two drafts, the A's were thin in the area of A-ball and Double-A starting pitchers before adding Hollingsworth. Consequently, he will be given every opportunity this season to succeed at the Double-A level. If he pitches well, he could see some time in Triple-A by the end of the season, especially if the A's have as many injury problems as they did in 2010.