Top 50 Prospects: #12 - Scott Munter

Scott Munter got overlooked a lot because he's 'just' a relief pitcher, but with a sinker and a mid-90's fastball, he can fill what is arguably the most important role in the bullpen.

Date of Birth: 03/07/1980 Position: P Height: 6'6" Weight: 240 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 47th Round (#1411 Overall) of the 2002 Draft
2005 Stats
Fresno - AAA 1 3 5.11 12 0 0 12.1 17 8 7 0 4 5 .362 2.44
San Francisco - MLB 2 0 2.56 45 0 0 38.2 40 15 11 1 12 11 .280 3.46

Scott Munter is another one of those guys who gets overlooked because he's a relief pitcher and not the kind of guy you usually see on prospect reports.  But the truth about Scott Munter is that he fills arguably the most important role in the bullpen; not the closer, but the guy who can come in with men on base and leave them there.

Munter played a lot in the big leagues this year, just missing the cutoff requirements for this report.  Munter's rise was prompted by a strong 2004 season where he dominated AA, and put up good numbers in a brief appearance at Fresno.  He caught the eye of the major league coaching staff with a 0.84 ERA in Spring Training in 2005, and was voted by his teammates as the winner of the Harry S. Jordan award, given to the player in his first big league camp who shows both a strong performance and dedication to the game.  Though he started the season in Fresno, Munter got shuffled up and down between the Majors and AAA, making his major league debut in May after the Armando Benitez and Jason Schmidt injuries,, and eventually getting a full time spot in the bullpen as other relievers were released or traded. 

If you watched the Giants in 2005, you know Munter.  Broadcaster Mike Krukow loves him, because of his imposing 6'6 presence on the mound and his famous ‘bowling ball' sinker that the broadcasters and catcher Mike Matheny rave about.  That gave him a nice 2.44 Groundball/Flyball ratio in AAA, and an impressive 3.46 G/F ratio in the majors.  

That's important, because it gives you someone you can bring in with runners on and a need to get more than one out.  Groundballs can often turn into double-plays, and even if they get through for hits, chances are they won't be big hits that'll score a bunch of runners at once (of the 40 hits he gave up, only 6 were for extra bases).  Having a guy like Munter lets the Giants use him in those sorts of clutch situations, and leave more well-rounded pitchers for full-inning (or longer) setup duties later in games.

There are definitely some worries with Munter, the most notable being his elbow.  He was sidelined in August with elbow problems, and was shelved quickly after he returned in September.  Munter had arthroscopic surgery on October 1st, and has been declared ready for Spring Training.  But the worry of more problems is always there. 

Munter did also give up more hits than hoped, allowing a .280 batting average, and left handed hitters particularly did well, batting .353/.431/.431 against him.

The hope is that Munter will come back with slightly different stuff in 2006.  In '05, he threw his sinker almost exclusively, reportedly at the urging of coaches.  In 2006, he should be throwing his mid-90's straight fastball more, and probably have a better mix with a changeup or slider.  That should help him improve even more as he is in line for a significant role in the San Francisco bullpen.

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