Scouting Padres Prospect: Neil Jamison

It is not often that a first-year setup man gets clumped into top prospect status. But Neil Jamison showed the poise of a major league veteran in his professional debut and is headed for San Diego as quick as a fish taco.

A year after going in the eighth round to the Mets, the Padres snatched Neil Jamison in round six from Long Beach State. His selection was preceded by an impressive run with the 49ers during his senior season – posting an ERA of 0.00 in 29.1 innings.

His success, therefore, wasn't a surprise in the Padres' system.

In his first 16 relief appearances for the Eugene Emeralds, the right-hander yielded just one earned run. And he ended his Northwest League stint with four earned runs allowed over 25 appearances that spanned 27.1 innings.

With runners in scoring position he gave up just two hits in 26 at bats and of the 23 hits he allowed just three went for extra bases.

It was simply tough to put good wood on the pitches he was throwing and he wound up striking out 31 while walking eight before his promotion for Fort Wayne.

Jamison has a three-quarters delivery and sports a fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball rides in the high eighties but it has a lot of sink and his slider has enough tilt to make a poker player jealous.

"He has a fastball that sinks and a slider that he locates," Bill Gayton, the Padres director of scouting, said. "He has the makeup to continue advancing. He does not have real big velocity but has good tilt to his slider and a fastball with movement."

The San Diego native didn't run into trouble until he reached Fort Wayne and that was one outing. Five of the 11 hits and two of the three runs he surrendered in ten innings of work came in one appearance. His very next outing produced five outs all by way of the strikeout.

The 22-year old prospect did have some troubles against left-handed hitters through the year – he limited righties to a .207 average but lefties batted .288.

Jamison brings a measure of poise to the mound and is not afraid to attack and challenge hitters. Given his closing mentality, he comes in firing on all cylinders.

When we asked a prospect to name a sleeper on his team – the answer was easy:

"Neil Jamison, but I don't know if he's really a sleeper," fellow pitcher John Madden said.

After dominating the Instructional League – posting a 0.00 ERA and allowing four hits, no walks, while striking out eight, sleeper is not really the right term for the right-hander. And when he checked in at 19 on our top 60 it took a few by surprise – but not the Padres.

"Makeup is outstanding," added Gayton. "He did what he did at Long Beach State. A fastball/slider combo that gets people out."

Two more levels in 2006 will be what the Padres push for. Jamison has the pedigree to thrive under such conditions and could be the second player from this draft class – behind Cesar Carrillo – to make it to the majors.

"He is a guy who could move quickly through the system," Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, said. "He understands how to pitch and throws strikes."

Staying focused and continuing to be aggressive within the edges of the strike zone is on the agenda for Jamison. If he can do that with regularity, it won't be long before he is pitching in front of his hometown fans.

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