Top Prospect #49: Mike Mihalik

<i></i> brings you our annual countdown of the Top 50 Phillies Prospects. The list continues today with Mike Mihalik, who was born and raised a little more than an hour outside of Philadelphia and hopes to someday be pitching with the Phillies. The young right-hander pitched for three different teams in the organization last summer after being selected in the 40th round of the June Draft.

Even though he finished his college career at the University of Delaware as the school's all-time leader in strikeouts by a pitcher, Mike Mihalik wasn't highly scouted. In fact, the Phillies were the only team really pursuing Mihalik and were on hand for most of his starts. Because there wasn't much competition, Mihalik lasted until the 40th round of the draft.

In college, Mihalik was a starter, but the Phillies believe he is better suited to pitching out of the bullpen. In his first professional season, the Phillies moved Mihalik along quickly. After a short, ten-game stint in the Gulf Coast League, Mihalik made a successful jump to Batavia and was again moved quickly out of the rookie league ranks. Instead of taking Mihalik up one rung, the Phillies bumped him to High A Clearwater and things there were a little rocky to say the least. It was a challenge that the Phillies wanted to try, but not one that anybody really expected Mihalik to pass with flying colors.

With Mihalik now working out of the bullpen, there is somewhat of an adjustment that is expected, but the Phillies believe that Mihalik is strong enough to work on a reliever's schedule and that he should be able to progress pretty quickly. They already know that he doesn't need to repeat any time in the rookie leagues, so he's likely to start 2005 close to his home in Pennsylvania as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws.

2004 GCL 0 0 1.20 4 10 0 0 15.0 10 10 2 3 15 1
2004 Batavia 1 0 3.60 1 4 0 0 10.0 6 4 4 3 9 1
2004 Clearwater 0 1 10.80 0 3 1 0 5.0 11 6 6 1 5 2
Career 1 1 3.60 5 17 1 0 30.0 27 20 12 7 29 4

Repertoire: Mihalik has some size (6' 3") and has a strong arm. His velocity is pretty average, but the Phillies believe that as he continues to develop, his velocity will climb slightly. He gets good movement on his pitches and keeps hitters off stride by mixing things up along the way.

Pitching: Because he does have such a strong arm, the Phillies believe that Mihalik is best suited working out of the bullpen in the pros. He should be able to pitch on a regular basis and has a strong enough mentality to work out of tight situations. He saved five games in his first pro season and the Phillies could look at him as a potential closer. He keeps the ball down in the zone and has good command.

Projection: With Mihalik posting a combined 2.16 ERA in two rookie leagues, he doesn't need any more short-season work. Instead, the Phillies will likely start him at Lakewood in 2005, unless he looks stronger than expected this spring and gets moved to Clearwater for another shot. Odds are good that he can at least reach Clearwater sometime in '05.

ETA: Late in 2008 is a safe bet. Mihalik could speed up the process and some scouts believe that he could challenge for a bullpen spot in the spring of 2007.

Comparison: Some scouts see in Mihalik what they saw in David Coggin when he was climbing the ladder. One difference is that Mihalik seems to have an even stronger arm, so hopefully, the injury problems that Coggin experienced won't cloud Mihalik's future.

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