Name: Will Inman
DOB: February 6, 1987
Coming into a new system, MadFriars.com was slightly torn on the ranking of Inman. He came in with nothing but positives but was a different pitcher than expected when he arrived in San Antonio.
"He just wasn't quite on track," former San Antonio and current Portland pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "We didn't mess with him. I guess they tried to change him in Milwaukee. We tried to let him be like he was. They sent us some tapes and we let him be comfortable and pitch like he was in those tapes.
"He was a little disappointed. His command wasn't like what we had seen. Here is a kid coming from A-Ball to Double-A. There is a big difference. He had some adjusting to do with that. He will be fine."
"He was working on some delivery things with Abby," former San Antonio and current Portland manager Randy Ready noted. "Milwaukee had changed some delivery things."
Unfortunately, ranking him based on what he did in the Milwaukee system would have been unfair – especially since our staff had never seen him. It had to be based on what he did once he arrived in the Padres' system – and we have been vilified for the ranking.
While we stand by the placement, it is expected that Inman will be a different pitcher in 2008 – proving us wrong along the way.
The disparity centered around his heater. Reports have Inman's fastball hitting as high as 91-92 MPH, but his velocity was down while he was in San Antonio. The right-hander sat 82-84 MPH and topped out at 86 MPH. His command also suffered.
After dominating the High-A Florida State League, Inman was promoted to Double-A Huntsville. In eight starts, the Virginia native suffered a 1-5 record and 5.45 ERA.
After the trade, Inman won each of his first three starts, allowing three hits in each outing and yielding four runs. Over his next four starts, Inman allowed 15 runs in a span of 22.2 innings, yielding four homers and ending the year with a 4.17 ERA in Texas League play.
Coming into the 2007 season, Inman had never posted an ERA above 2.00 and looked well on his way to repeating the feat with a 1.72 ERA in High-A. Double-A proved different – as he posted 4.80 ERA over 15 starts across two leagues.
"I read some reports that said his fastball was up to 93, but I saw mostly 83 and 85, 86 tops," Padres former minor league field coordinator and current MLB scout Bill Bryk said. "A good changeup with no fear and good pitchability but no real out pitch. His fastball was way short and he was tired at the end of the year."
Blessed with tremendous confidence in his ability and very mature for his age, Inman will get in trouble when he tries to make things happen, getting away from his strengths. He will fall into deep counts trying to be too fine with his pitches.
In the Texas League, Inman walked 4.2 batters per nine innings. Coming into San Antonio, the 21-year-old had issued a free pass to 2.45 batters per nine innings – and perhaps he was trying to make such a positive impression that he got out of his comfort zone.
He has a 12-to-6 curveball that will get a little loopy at times but offers solid swing-and-miss capability when hitters are focusing on the fastball. When he keeps it in the zone or sinking towards the dirt, Inman can get people buckling knees and hitters rolling over.
His third offering is a below average changeup. It is a pitch he has tinkered with over the last year and even changed some of his mechanics to get it working. The Padres wanted him to revert back to a time, mechanically, when he was pitching well and took the focus away from throwing the pitch.
A quick starter, Inman prefers setting the tempo early on and making the hitters afraid of his ability to pitch in and out while knowing where each pitch is going.
"A young, talented kid," said Ready. "He really likes to pitch. He is going to maximize his abilities. He did some nice things. He had a lot of innings so we kind of throttled him back a little bit. I look for big things from him coming up in the spring."
When he is throwing strikes, Inman will use his full arsenal to expand the zone, getting hitters to swing at pitches they would normally lay off. It is one of the reasons Inman has posted solid strikeout numbers without overpowering stuff.
Inman hides the ball well and has a bit of an arm flare at the end of his delivery that makes hitters believe the ball is still in his hand for an extra second. His fastball jumps on top of hitters because of that, batters have a tough time picking it up and often swing through the pitch.
"His delivery is different than most," Abbott said. "He has a lot of motion and stuff. The left arm goes up in the air, the right arm goes behind him, a lot of moving parts."
In 317 career minor league innings, the right-hander has fanned 373. The only time he has not struck out more batters than innings pitched came during his time in San Antonio.
While it sounds like a cliché, he knows how to pitch and works the corners well. Given his youth, Inman is well refined in pitch sequencing and keeping hitters off-balance.
"You have to remember he is only 20 and in Double-A, but I just didn't see the dominant stuff I was told he had," Bryk said. "He has some deception coming out of the shirt. I think we will see a different kid this spring. I talked to people I trust in Milwaukee who told me he is the real deal."
ETA: With no true plus pitch, his command must return. If he is walking a batter every other inning, he will be challenged to see the same type of success he had at the lower levels. An improved changeup will also be critical to his development in 2008. Inman will begin the year in Double-A at 21 and history says he will be in Triple-A by the end of the year – a year that sees him hit his spots and get outs.
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