Norfolk Tides Pitching Prospect Review

NYfansonly.com looks at the peripheral stats of the Norfolk pitchers. There are a few pitchers from Norfolk that are ready to contribute at the Major League level. We will look at the pitchers who logged a minimum of 40 innings with Norfolk and spent a majority of the season pitching for the Tides.

Heath Bell - RHP

The Mets signed Heath Bell as a non-drafted free agent in 1998 and he completed his third straight season pitching for the Tides. However, he showed more success in 2004, earning a promotion to the Mets where he was very effective in 17 relief appearances. Bell, who had displayed pinpoint control in years past, was uncharacteristically wild for the Tides in 2004, walking nearly four batters per nine innings. Still, he held opposing International League batters to a paltry .202 batting average and struck out 11 batters per nine innings for Norfolk. He possibly earned himself a bullpen spot with the Mets next season on the strength of his 2004 season with the Tides and Mets.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

3.23

1.19

55.2

3.88

11.0

0.65

.202



Bartolome Fortunato - RHP

Acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade from the Devil Rays, Fortunato was originally signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic by Tampa Bay back in 1996. His numbers below are the cumulative stats between Durham and Norfolk, with the bulk of the innings (44.2 to be exact) coming with the Bulls. He even picked up nine saves for Durham this past season. Used primarily as a reliever in his minor league career, Fortunato's 2004 numbers are right on pace with his career numbers. He walks too many batters (over 4 per 9 innings in 163 minor league appearances) but strikes out better than 10 per 9 innings. Looking at the opposition's batting average (.178) shows you why the Mets liked him. Like Bell, he possibly earned himself a bullpen spot with the Mets next season.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

2.52

1.12

50.0

4.32

10.6

0.72

.178



Matt Ginter - RHP

Ginter was Chicago's 1st round draft pick out of Mississippi State University back in 1999 and was acquired from the White Sox in the Timo Perez trade last spring. While Ginter did get more than 40 innings with the Mets, we wanted to show you just how good his peripheral stats were for the Tides this past season. He has always been a control pitcher, boasting a minor league career walk rate of less than three batters per nine innings. But what he did in 2004 was insane. His 1.13 walks per 9 innings led the International League and chipped in with a better than 6 to 1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While he wasn't a spectacular success in the Mets' rotation this past season, numbers that good are just too juicy to ignore. He deserves another shot with the Mets, although it will have to be in the bullpen.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

2.95

0.98

64.0

1.13

6.89

0.56

.230



Aaron Heilman - RHP

It was a tale of two seasons for Heilman after losing out in the race for the #5 spot in the Mets' rotation last spring. Heilman went 1-8 in his first 16 starts for the Tides with a 5.12 ERA but then did a total reversal in the second half of the season, going 6-2 with a 3.52 ERA in his final 10 starts. Taking that into consideration, his numbers are a bit skewed. His walks per nine innings were almost one more per nine innings over his previous career average. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2001 draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Heilman seems to have fallen out of the Mets' graces. He's a better pitcher than his overall numbers indicate. Heilman is more like the solid pitcher the Tides saw in his final ten starts. It would be interesting to see what type of numbers he could have if given 30 starts and not having to worry about being sent down if he has a rough outing.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

4.33

1.46

151.2

3.92

7.30

0.89

.269



Randy Keisler - LHP

Keisler was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 2nd round of the 1998 draft out of LSU. The 28-year old pitcher pitched a career-high 130 innings for the Tides this past season and struck out a career-high 110 batters in the process. His peripherals were okay, but they really didn't support his 3.81 ERA considering opposing batters hit .284 off of him and he gave up nearly 1.5 base runners per inning. He does not figure in the Mets' plans.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

3.81

1.46

130.0

3.12

7.62

0.90

.284



Bob Keppel - RHP

Keppel was the Mets supplemental first round pick in the 2000 draft out of Desmet High School in St. Louis. Once considered a top pitching prospect, his lack of strikeouts were always pointed out as a potential problem once he reached the higher levels. And sure enough, they were. Of course he was battling the injury bug in the early part of the season and like Heilman, he pitched better down the stretch. He only gives up about two walks per nine innings, exhibiting unbelievable control. But you're not going to win too many games when the opposing batters are hitting well over .300 off of you. Keppel is still only 22 years and one of the youngest pitchers at the AAA level. He'll be back with the Tides in 2005 and should not be written off just yet as a good pitching prospect as he still has some room to grow.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

4.71

1.42

93.2

2.11

4.04

0.77

.311



Jason Roach - RHP

Roach was drafted as a positional player in the 20th round of the 1997 draft by the Mets out of UNC Wilmington and was converted to a pitcher back in 2000. At 28 years old, Roach gets lost in discussions about pitchers at the minor league level. He quietly goes about his business and put together a very, very solid season for the Tides in 2004. His ERA and WHIP ratio were among the team leaders and was solid across the board. He did however serve up more than one home run per nine innings. He's a free agent this off season and chances are his tenure with the Mets may be over.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

3.47

1.32

90.2

2.98

7.94

1.19

.254



Patrick Strange - RHP

What a long, "Strange" trip it's been after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 1998 draft out of high school in Massachusetts. Once considered a top pitching prospect for the Mets, Strange has fallen on hard times since reaching the AAA level at the tender age of 21 back in 2001. Over his last two seasons at Norfolk, Strange was a combined 15-13 with a 5.45 ERA! He just has not been effective. Despite being 24 years old with three years of AAA experience to his credit, Strange's days in the Mets' organization may be over. He's a free agent this off season and it remain to be seen if he'll be back in 2005.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

5.25

1.51

135.1

3.52

5.85

1.20

.283



Tyler Yates - RHP

Acquired from the A's in the David Justice trade, Yates was drafted by Oakland in the 23rd round of the 1998 draft out of the University of Hawaii. After being shifted from the bullpen to the rotation in 2003 for the Tides, Yates won the Mets #5 starter position during Spring Training but could not hold on to the job. Despite showing flashes of success, the Mets sent Yates back to AAA to revert him back to a reliever. In 30 appearances for the Tides (just one start), Yates once again showed his dominance as a reliever. His peripherals were excellent in every category, except one. Yates walked almost five batters per nine innings for the Tides this season so despite keeping hitter off balance, he was allowing too many base runners. Yates could earn a spot in the Mets' bullpen next season now that he's back in his comfort zone.

Level

Team

ERA

WHIP

IP

BB/9

K/9

HR/9

Avg.

AAA

Norfolk

3.18

1.26

39.2

4.99

9.76

0.45

.190



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