Padres scouting report: Dirk Hayhurst

A starter in college, Dirk Hayhurst began the year as a reliever with the Fort Wayne Wizards. His success in a long relief role became hard to ignore as the days turned into summer. When a hole opened up in the rotation, Hayhurst was immediately placed in the role.

"All these guys are starters in college and you don't get a chance to look at everybody," said Tye Waller, the Padres' Director of Player Development. "Because we liked the arms that we had at the time in Fort Wayne, he started out as a reliever. He earned the spot to be a starter. He pitched outstanding from day one in Fort Wayne."

It wasn't something that the right-hander took to – at first. He saw himself as a reliever and the success he had while doing it only strengthened his resolve.

He has always viewed himself as a mediocre pitcher that happens to throw strikes but as the season began to unfold and success followed him into the starting rotation, his view of himself also changed.

"The difference is out of the starting rotation you have to be more – your strategy is different," Hayhurst explains. "You don't want to show them your pitches as fast. You want to hold something back for later on, maybe the second or third time through. Whereas out of the pen I could just go out there and if I want to throw a first pitch curveball to the very first batter, I could do that. But the first pitch of the game when it is inning one, when you are the starter, and you want to throw a curveball – you don't do that!"

Blessed with a jelly arm, one that doesn't experience any pain between starts, Hayhurst was able to make the move to starter and accept it. It is hard to blame him for holding on so long. He did, after all, have an ERA of 0.00 in 20 innings as a reliever.

Success followed Hayhurst as a starter. In 17 starts, he allowed more than three earned runs just once and compiled a 7-4 record to go with his 2-0 mark as a reliever. He walked just 19 batters in 118.1 innings of work, a ratio of 1.44 per nine innings pitched and sported a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.12.

He was on the spot from the beginning of every game, holding a 1.06 ERA in the first inning and in four starts during the month of June he did not walk a single batter.

He ended the year with a 2.66 ERA and held the opposition to a .252 batting average, .241 with runners in scoring position.

Things weren't so rosy when he was promoted to Lake Elsinore in August. He went 1-2 with a 5.56 ERA but that figure is skewed due to a nine run, all earned, outing in just three innings of work. He did not allow more than two earned runs in any of his other four outings.

"When he came up to Lake Elsinore I think he just psyched himself out," Waller concluded. "Everyone thinks when you go up a level you have to throw harder, have to throw better breaking balls, but that is not necessarily so. He found that out eventually but he got himself in trouble early on."

The biggest problem for Hayhurst was his walk totals. While he walked just 19 in 118.1 innings with the Wizards, he gave free passes to 16 in 22.2 innings of work with the Storm. Batters also hit .333 off him with runners in scoring position.

Hayhurst has the mentality to succeed in the California League and if he can get back to what got him this far he should do well. His trademark is his ability to not walk anyone and keep from hurting himself. When the walk totals soar for any pitcher, they have a tough time overcoming the errors. He won't overpower anyone but could turn into an effective middle reliever down the road.

"Good fastball, very good curveball, good change," one Padres scout said. "He spotted his pitches well and when he wasn't on he would miss down. I think that is important. You miss down and it is a ground ball rather than missing up and it is a ringing double."

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