Top 50 Prospects: #11 - Joe Bateman

There's something about having a sidearm reliever. He brings a different look to the mound, and can throw off a team that's gotten into a hitting groove. The Giants have found a promising one in San Jose's closer Joe Bateman.

Date of Birth: 05/06/1980 Position: P Height: 6'1" Weight: 182 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 32nd Round (#967 Overall) of the 2002 Draft
2005 Stats
Team-Level W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG G/F
San Jose - High A 3 4 1.91 56 0 21 75.1 54 20 16 1 22 80 .196 1.53

Not many major league baseball players come out of a Division III school, but Joe Bateman may become one of those few guys who pull it off. 

Bateman came out of the Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts, and started his career auspiciously, getting pounded in his second go-round at Short Season Salem-Keizer.  But things turned around for him in 2004 at Hagerstown.  Using some tricks taught to him by his S-K pitching coach Trevor Wilson, he rocketed to a 2.14 ERA working mostly in middle relief and a South Atlantic League All-Star appearance and followed that up with a solid performance late in the season at AA Norwich, netting a 2.78 ERA with a 1-3 record. 

He followed that up by avoiding the one year wonder stigma by splitting time as closer with the California League champion San Jose Giants and dominating the hitter-friendly league with a 1.91 ERA and matching it with excellent peripheral numbers in strikeouts, walks and WHIP. 

Doing something like that in the California League legitimized him and shot him up the prospect charts despite being a little old for his age.  It probably helped that he was working with mentor Wilson, who was the pitching coach at San Jose in ’05.

What Bateman does is mix a mid 90’s sinking fastball with a sliders, curves and a hard cut fastball, and uses a sidearm throwing motion to throw hitters off.  In that way, Bateman’s comparable to former Giant farmhand Scott Linebrink, who has used his sidearm motion to be a major part of the Padres shutdown bullpen.  Bateman has even performed better at the low levels than Linebrink did before he was traded to the Houston Astros by the Giants in 2000 for Doug Henry.

If Bateman does find his way into a setup rotation, he’s got the right kind of feel to help nail down the middle innings, an underrated aspect of a team.  Having a sidearm pitcher may be a gimmick of sorts, but it works.  The change in motion can throw off hitters who have been working off of a starting pitcher’s timing for several innings, and keep them off balance enough to set-up a power closer with a quick delivery to the plate. In a 2004 interview with SFDugout.com, he said he prefers the pressure of setup, so he appears to be right on track.  Teammate Clay Timpner simply called his stuff ‘nasty.’

For 2006, don’t be surprised to see Bateman get pushed up to Fresno to work with the new pitching coach there, Trevor Wilson (shocking!).    Bateman also has been given an invite too Spring Training, and has all the makings of shooting into the majors a la Scott Munter or Jeremy Accardo.  If something goes wrong in the bullpen, Bateman could beat out hot prospect Brian Wilson as the first guy the Giants will go to in a callup.


Have any questions about these prospects, or perhaps some we haven't named? SFDugout.com will be answering your questions throughout this series! Send your questions to sfdugout@yahoo.com!



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