Top Prospect #5: LHP Keith Bucktrot

While everybody focused on Chase Utley coming out of the 2000 Draft, many overlooked Keith Bucktrot. Coming out of Claremore, Oklahoma, Bucktrot was drafted by the Phillies out of high school in the third round. The early returns on Bucktrot were shaky at best, but in 2003 Bucktrot seemingly learned how to pitch and seemed to gain more confidence as the season went along. He and the Phillies will look to build on that confidence this season.

Time and time again, our reports have stressed the importance of a player reaching AA. It's at that level that the cream generally rises to the top. While big numbers in A ball and Rookie League are nice and important, they're not the tell-tale sign of how a player performs. Pour through the stats sometime and you'll see that players numbers will generally take a bit of a slide downward – even for the best prospects – when they reach AA. Most rebound, but some never do.

For Keith Bucktrot, AA wasn't a learning experience, it was an opportunity to prove that he had truly learned a lesson or two along the way. When Bucktrot arrived at Reading, his career minor league ERA was 4.62 and he had a 24-29 record with stops in the Gulf Coast League, Lakewood and Clearwater. His arrival in Reading came about two-thirds of the way through last season, but he still had enough time to make 7 starts at AA. In those 7 starts, Bucktrot went 3-1, 2.56 for the Reading Phillies. A definite improvement over his earlier minor league numbers.

Bucktrot doesn't overpower hitters. His fastball tops out in the low 90s, but has good, late movement. His slider and change-up are improving and may hold the key to his development. By late last season, Bucktrot was becoming more consistent with his mechanics, but he tends to get a little lazy on some pitches and when that happens, he generally leaves the pitch up in the strike zone. Early on in his minor league career, Bucktrot tended to be erratic with his delivery and a lot of that was from lack of stamina. Each of the past two seasons he has pitched over 150 innings though and his stamina has gotten much better.

The Phillies will have Bucktrot back at AA Reading to start this season and depending on how things go, he may move along to AAA before the end of the season. The Phillies had Bucktrot at Clearwater for almost two full seasons before moving him along, but that was in the days when he wasn't as efficient as he seemed to be last season. It won't be the worst thing in the world if Bucktrot spends the entire season at Reading.

Keith Bucktrot's Career Stats

 

Year/Team

W

L

ERA

SV

G

GS

IP

H/9 IP

BB/9 IP

KO/9 IP

2000 Gulf Coast (Rookie)

3

2

4.78

0

11

7

37.2

9.3

4.5

9.5

2001 Lakewood (Low A)

6

11

5.28

0

24

24

134.2

9.3

3.9

6.5

2002 Clearwater (High A)

8

9

4.88

0

27

24

160.1

9.4

4.4

4.7

2003 Clearwater (High A)

7

7

3.33

0

19

17

110.2

8.4

2.3

5.5


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