In aggregate over three seasons, the Brooklyn native holds a 19-20 record with a 3.89 ERA, logging 288 strikeouts but 147 walks over 324 professional innings from the New York-Penn League through the Double-A Texas League.
The potential is there. Heading into the 2008 season, we ranked Ottavino as the Cardinals' fifth-ranked prospect after having placed him at the same spot the year before. Coming off an up-and-down year and with more competition rising through the ranks, Ottavino seems destined to slip a bit in our rankings this winter.
With Springfield in 2008, Ottavino got off to a rough start with shoulder inflammation, followed by a highly-publicized period during which he took a "mental break" from the game. Further controversy percolated over his pitching repertoire and specifically how he planned to adapt to the organizational direction to develop an effective pitch low in the zone.
In his defense, Ottavino came back strong in June, limiting opponents to a .214 average. He followed that with a .267 OBA in July, but by August, it climbed all the way up to .317. His 115 1/3 innings in 2008 did not approach his previous two years marks of 143 1/3 IP in 2007 and 159 frames between college and pro ball in 2006.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder was named the Cardinals starting pitcher in the Arizona Fall League, where he has a 5.27 ERA in five starts, very comparable to his 5.23 with Springfield. In the AFL, opposing batters are hitting against him at a .314 clip. His ground out-to-fly out ratio is hovering around 1.00, again similar to his Double-A season mark.
To discuss all this and more, I caught up with Ottavino as he was manning the radar gun on one of his non-pitching days during an afternoon game last week for the Peoria Saguaros of the AFL.
Previous interview: Manager Ron "Pop" Warner.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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