School: Northeastern University
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (13): It was an interesting year for Ottavino. Orignially pegged to begin the season at Springfield, he turned a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic into a ticket for Triple-A Memphis. To say he would have like to have gotten off to a better start would be an understatement. Through the first three months of the season, he had a record of 0-9 with an ERA under 6.85 in only one of those months. But he rebounded and showed his mettle to finish the season strongly. In July and August, the now 24-year-old posted a record of 7-3 with an ERA of around four.
To be more successful, Ottavino is going to have to work on his control. In his 27 starts, he managed a 5.13 BB/9 rate and an FIP of 4.55. He has trouble repeating his delivery which probably leads to his erratic control.
There is a lot to like when discussing Ottavino, a good pitcher's frame and a live arm capable of dialing his fastball up to the mid 90's. This should be a big year for him. He will start the season back at Triple-A and have a chance to build upon his strong finish in 2009. If he struggles, a move to the bullpen would be a real possibility.
Message board community (10): Ottavino was 11th in the community ratings last year and 10th this year. He started to receive votes as early as the 5th spot on our list, and that speaks to his upside. Ottavino can throw hard. One of our knowledgeable posters saw triple digits on a radar gun. Even if that's a badly calibrated gun, it's encouraging. And he has the frame (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) of a power pitcher. He did well in the World Cup. And Ottavino was in Triple-A at just 23 years of age. He's climbed the ladder steadily…Quad Cities in 2006, Palm Beach in 2007, Springfield in 2008, and Memphis in 2009.
But can he find the plate? He's walked 4.4 batters per nine innings through his minor league career, and that rose to 5.1/9 at Memphis. And his ERA hasn't been that impressive, 5.23 in 2008 then 4.75 this year. There was some discussion suggesting that his mechanics are inconsistent and his fastball straight. Perhaps he is eventually headed to the pen, but his rating this high is likely because of the possibility that he'll learn consistency and harness his talent as a starter. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (17): Ottavino just looks like a pitcher, big-framed and strong. At times, his stuff can be dominating, yet he led the entire Pacific Coast League in walks in 2009. He has had distraction and focus questions in the past. Ottavino is an intelligent and most even-keeled individual who may be his own worst enemy at times by thinking too much.
I would like to see him get downright angry if his fortunes do not align with his considerable potential. I would be one of the many who would be disappointed if all the Cardinals get from a first-round pick is an under-achieving starter who gets moved to relief.
Ottavino is better than that. Now on the 40-man roster with a full year of healthy Triple-A experience, there is no excuse for the reality that it is time for him to step up and show it. My ranking illustrates ongoing concern, however.
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