Getting To Know: Brad Halsey, LHP

On Sunday, the Oakland A's dealt some of their AAA relief pitching depth when they traded the talented but inconsistent Juan Cruz to the Arizona Diamondbacks for left-hander Brad Halsey. Halsey spent all of last season in the majors as part of the Diamondbacks' rotation. The soft-tossing lefty began his career with the Yankees and was dealt to Arizona last year as part of the Randy Johnson deal. Our sister publications, FutureBacks and PinstripesPlus, give us scouting reports on Halsey.

Brad Halsey, 6'1'', 180, LHP

Trade Analysis from OaklandClubhouse

In many ways, Halsey and Cruz are the exact opposite pitchers. Halsey is a classic control lefty who doesn't throw overwhelmingly hard, but he works aggressively in the strike zone and mixes his pitches well. Cruz is a classic power righty who relies on his overwhelming fastball to blow by hitters. Cruz struggles frequently with his command and often dances around the strike zone despite his high-90s fastball.

When Cruz was coming through the minor leagues, he was seen as the next great young hurler who would anchor the Chicago Cubs rotation. However, Cruz struggled in Chicago and the Cubs eventually gave up on him, shipping him to Atlanta before the 2004 season. Cruz was converted to the bullpen in Atlanta and, under the watchful eye of pitching coach Leo Mazzone, had his best season as a professional in the middle of the Braves' bullpen.

Cruz attracted the attention of the A's during the off-season before the 2005 campaign and the A's acquired Cruz as part of the Tim Hudson trade. The wiry right-hander was expected to be a big part of the A's revamped bullpen. However, he struggled almost immediately and the A's sent him down to AAA-Sacramento mid-season. Cruz pitched well in AAA, dominating the Pacific Coast League to go 5-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 13 starts. He struck out 90 in only 75 innings. Cruz was brought back to the big leagues in September, but he continued to struggle in his limited appearances. He finished the year with a 7.44 ERA in 28 appearances for Oakland.

Cruz came into this spring ticketed to go back to AAA-Sacramento. The A's stacked their bullpen this off-season when they moved starters Kirk Saarloos and Joe Kennedy into the bullpen, and the A's rotation was filled, as well. Oakland hoped that an impressive spring would generate some interest in Cruz, who was slated to make $750,000 this season. Cruz has pitched well this spring, as he has yet to allow a run in 8.2 innings. He will now try to realize his immense talents in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks become the fourth team to buy into the promise that is Juan Cruz.

Before the trade, Halsey was fighting with Claudio Vargas to try to keep his fifth starter spot in Arizona. Halsey was a highly touted prospect in the New York Yankees chain before he was traded to Arizona as part of the Randy Johnson deal before last season. In three minor league seasons, Halsey has gone 34-14 with a 3.26 ERA in 64 appearances (61 starts). A graduate of the University of Texas, Halsey was picked in the 8th round of the 2002 draft by the Yankees. He moved quickly through the New York chain and made his major league debut in 2004 with New York, going 1-3 with a 6.47 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts).

Last season, Halsey was slotted into the back of the Arizona rotation. He went 8-12 with a 4.61 ERA in 28 appearances (26 starts). He threw 160 innings and walked only 39 batters, but he struck out only 82. He turned 25 in February.

Halsey will probably take Cruz' spot in the AAA-Sacramento rotation. He gives the A's another left-handed, upper-minor league option, something the A's were short on before the deal. The A's may also take a look at Halsey out of the bullpen to see if he could be the eventual second lefty in the bullpen.

Scouting Reports

So who is Brad Halsey? PinstripesPlus and FutureBacks each published scouting reports on Halsey when he was a part of the Yankees' and Diamondbacks' organizations, respectively. Here are parts of their reports:

From PinstripesPlus, June 2004

Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Splitter

Fastball. Brad Halsey is not a hard thrower, so do not expect him to blow anyone away with it. His heater is normally in the high 80's range but can sometimes touch the low 90's. He can control this pitch very well and has excellent command overall. He needs to keep it on the corners of the plate.

Other Pitches. There is no doubting the depth of Brad Halsey's repertoire, as he has four very solid pitches. First, his slider is widely considered to be his best pitch. It is more of a slow slider that breaks away from the lefties and down and in on the righties. The little strikeouts he does get come on this pitch primarily. He has always thrown a good splitter that dives down and away from a right-handed hitter. However, Halsey felt the need to develop his changeup better and many scouts believe that him doing that has put him over the edge as a starting pitcher. Has excellent command of all his pitches.

Pitching. You wouldn't think that a pitcher that does not throw very hard like Brad Halsey would be very aggressive. However, he is just that. His reputation has made him well known as a fearless man on the mound and he comes right after the batters. Halsey is normally always around the plate and relies on getting ground balls and pop ups.

Projection. It does not appear that Brad Halsey is a number one or two starter. However, it is very possible that he could end up as a very serviceable middle of the rotation starting pitcher.

From FutureBacks, April 2005

Brad Halsey came to the Diamondbacks in the Randy Johnson trade and while Javier Vazquez was certainly the prime target, the Diamondbacks have high hopes for Halsey and he already seems to be surpassing them. Young, left handed with excellent control, Halsey will never be a #1 or #2 but could prove to be a solid #3 eventually. The Diamondbacks have been stockpiling young left handed pitching but Halsey has, along with Michael Gosling, set himself apart from the other D'Backs lefty prospects (including Matt Chico, Clint Goocher, and Bill Murphy) last season when he appeared in eight games with the Yankees. While he didn't blow anybody away (as his 1-3 record and 6.47 ERA show) he appeared comfortable and capable, simply needing a little more seasoning. He profiles as a poor man's Tom Glavine.

Pitches: Halsey's fastball touches 90 on occasion, but cuts away from right handed hitters more effectively in the 86-89 range. Because the velocity is average he depends on pinpoint control, something he occasionally showcases but must become more consistent with. Halsey's biggest problem coming into the Spring has been his lack of a plus complimentary pitch, but both his slider and change up have shown marked improvement since last season. Now the trick will be to get Halsey's confidence in those pitches to the point where he will throw them in fastball counts. His final outing of Spring Training was less than impressive as he gave up six runs on eight hits in four innings.

ETA: Among the reasons for Manager Bob Melvin's decision to go with Halsey as the #5 and moving Gosling to the bullpen has to be Halsey's experience. Once you've pitched at Yankee Stadium you have to believe there is no kind of pressure the Arizona media and fan base can generate that will affect him. Another big advantage has to be Halsey's durability, as he has pitched 150+ innings in all of the last four seasons.

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories