Name: Matt Buschmann
DOB: June 22, 1984
After being drafted in the 15th round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Buschmann was shipped to the Eugene Emeralds where he took part in the piggyback of pitching on four days rest, flipping between starter and reliever. By the end of his tenure in Eugene, the right-hander was secure in a starting role.
He tallied 60.2 innings with the Ems, posting a 3.12 ERA. A quick starter in games, Buschmann's main problem was a lull he hit in innings three and four, the source of 12 of his 21 earned runs allowed.
After his start on August 25, he got the call. His initial thought was he might head to Fort Wayne where he would join former high school teammate David Freese – a cascade effect when Evan Meek was dealt to Tampa Bay. Instead, he hopped over Fort Wayne into Lake Elsinore to help the Storm playoff run.
"Matt progressed fine in the two and half months he was here," 2006 Eugene manager Doug Dascenzo explained. "He is a strike thrower and I think he has a bright future ahead of him."
He went 1-0 over two starts for the Storm during the regular season with a .205 average against and wound up as the only starter on the squad to register a playoff win.
Buschmann mixes in a variation of three pitches: a fastball, slider and changeup; all from a three-quarters/sidearm delivery that has the ball coming out of a right-handers back.
"Anytime you have three pitches you can throw for strikes you are well ahead of the game at this point in time," said 2006 Eugene pitching coach Wally Whitehurst. "He is very knowledgeable about pitching, working ahead in the count and understands the importance of the changeup."
Two-seam fastballs are the favorite early in the count because of its movement down in the zone, sitting 87-89 MPH, and the heavy four-seamer that checks in at 91-94. His changeup sits at 80 and the slider a tad harder at 82-84 MPH.
With an ability to locate each of his pitches and throw the changeup and slider in any count, hitters have a tough time adjusting to his repertoire.
The result was 63 hitters bowing down to him via the strikeout in Northwest League play, often flailing at his slider as he worked ahead in the count.
He didn't hit 92-94 during his time in Eugene because of all the innings his arm accrued, but should come back next year healthy, rested, and with a tad more bite on the heater.
"Bushy did a hell of a job for us," Whitehurst said. "A great kid coming out of Vanderbilt. He has a plus changeup, his slider is pretty good, he has a three-quarter arm slot that when he stays on top of the ball has real good life down in the zone and throws strikes. He has a chance to move pretty quickly."
Buschmann strung together a scoreless streak of 16 innings during one stretch of the season, allowing just six hits over that span. It came down to first pitch strikes (he walked 11 with the Emeralds) and working within the Padres mantra of three pitches or less to finish a hitter off.
His pinpoint control has been a staple of his young professional career and will allow him to refine his pitches without fear moving forward.
"Buschmann has done well," Padres' vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "You have to like a guy who throws strikes."
An excellent athlete who will prove to be a good hitting pitcher one day, Buschmann has an inquisitive attitude and continually wants to challenge what he has learned previously.
He is also one of the best fielding pitchers from the right side.
His challenge, given his arm slot, will be to stay on top of the ball and get full extension on his pitches to give him the maximum life possible. When he short-arms the ball it tends to flatten out and the loss of movement puts it over the heart of the plate.
The starboarder owns a delivery that baserunners can use to their advantage. He was amongst the lead leaguers in stolen base attempts against in the Northwest League, yielding 12 steals in 17 attempts.
ETA: Buschmann made it all the way to High-A in his debut campaign and should start in Lake Elsinore this season. He has good command of the strike zone and a solid three-pitch repertoire. Buschmann could move up to Double-A by the end of the year if he continues to keep the ball down in the zone and may figure into the mix early in 2009.