Prospect Profile: Ryan Webb

Since GM Billy Beane took over the controls of the Oakland A's front office, he has made it a practice to use his draft picks on college baseball players, rather than high schoolers. However, every once and awhile, Beane's A's take a chance on a talented high school player. Some of those players have included Eric Chavez and Jeremy Bonderman. Last season, the A's grabbed high schooler Ryan Webb in the 4th round. Will he follow in Chavez and Bonderman's footsteps to the major leagues?

Ryan Webb, 6'6", 195, RHP

Year

Team

Lg

Age

W/L

ERA

IP

TBF

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

H/9

BB/9

HR/9

K/9

K/BB

K%

2004

ARIZ

ARIZ (R)

18

1-1

4.87

20.1

83

18

11

11

1

23

2

7.97

0.44

0.89

10.18

23.00

27.7%

2005

KANE CTY

MWL (A)

19

3-1

2.76

32.2

126

31

12

10

5

25

3

8.54

1.38

0.83

6.89

5.00

19.8%





Webb was a 4th round selection (pick 127 overall) out of Clearwater Central Catholic High School (Florida) in the 2004 amateur draft. Wait, a high school player selected early by Oakland? Hey, nobody ever said the A's passed on talent at the right price. A high school senior season where Ryan threw 86 innings, posted an ERA of 0.90, struck out 120, and tossed a no-hitter convinced scouting director Eric Kubota and the rest of the front office that $250,000 was the right price for a pitcher who is a big, projectable right-hander in the Mark Mulder mold. Following in the footsteps of players like Bobby Crosby, Nick Swisher, and Huston Street (who all had fathers that played at a high level in a major sport), Ryan is the son of former major-leaguer Jack Webb, who pitched for the Mets and Dodgers from 1972-77.

Ryan may be tall and lanky, but he throws a high-80s fastball and a slurvy slider with excellent control, which is unusual for pitchers of his build and age. He has some feel for his changeup, and given the Oakland organization's emphasis on an effective change as part of every pitcher's arsenal, that pitch will improve with time. He's projected to fill out a bit and add strength, which should also add some velocity to his fastball.

Although Webb threw only 20.1 innings last year in rookie ball -- mostly as a starter -- he put up an incredible 23/1 K/BB ratio, as well as a strikeout percentage of nearly 28% at the age of 18 (note: strikeout percentage is the percentage of total batters faced that a pitcher strikes out; it's a bit more accurate in gauging effectiveness than K/9, since a pitcher that allows a lot of base-runners will have a lower K%).

Oakland moved him to low-A Kane County to start the 2005 season, and after making his first appearance of the season as a reliever -- striking out four batters in three innings and allowing one run -- he was moved to the rotation in what looks like a permanent move. In five starts and the one relief appearance, Webb has been very effective. His strikeouts have been down, but the fantastic control (only 5 walks in 32.2 innings, and a 5/1 K/BB ratio) remains.

Webb is still very young (he won't turn 20 until February 2006), and his youth and performance against competition that is, for the most part, older and more experienced than him, make him a legitimate prospect. If he can fill out a bit as he gets older, add some velocity, and perfect his changeup, Ryan has the ability to slot into the Oakland rotation sometime in the next few years. He's worth tracking; the A's won't rush him, but he could find himself in high-A Stockton at some point this year if he continues to shine.

Questions or comments? Please contact Adam Miller at adamgmiller@gmail.com


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