Top Prospect #27: Lee Gwaltney

In some ways, Lee Gwaltney has had more than his share of failure. A 3-12 senior season in college and a 13-22 minor league career record might have people worried about Gwaltney. The real story lies behind the wins and losses; Look closer at the other numbers and at Lee Gwaltney himself and you'll see why the Phillies believe they have true pitching prospec on the fast track.

Lee Gwaltney was no secret. After all, he had been drafted three times before the Phillies took him in the sixth round of the 2002 Draft. The interesting thing is that when the Phillies drafted him, he had come off what was a sub-standard senior season at Louisiana Tech. In fact, he finished the year with a 3-12 record in 16 starts and had a 4.08 ERA as a senior. So, how did he rise from being drafted only as high as the 37th round previously to being a sixth round pick? Easy. The Phillies saw a pitcher who had all of the basics and a lot of plusses.

Many believe that if all it took to succeed in the major leagues was one pitch, Lee Gwaltney would be a major leaguer now. His split-finger fastball is in a class with some of the better major league pitchers who throw the pitch. He has good movement on the pitch and strong control over it. Scouts also loved the fact that Gwaltney came through his senior season with good poise after the disappointing season that he had at Tech. It didn't seem to rattle him as it would have many young players.

The Phillies also saw in Gwaltney a guy who can give them a true prospect who has the ability to eat up innings. In 2003, Gwaltney pitched at least five innings in 17 of his 22 starts at Lakewood, which is a good number for young pitchers at that level. There is still some work to do on Lee Gwaltney, but the Phillies believe that they found a middle of the rotation type pitcher with their sixth round pick in '02.

2002 Batavia 0 2 3.60 0 7 7 0 25.0 26 12 10 6 18 2
2003 Gulf Coast 0 0 0.00 0 1 1 0 2.0 3 2 0 0 1 0
2003 Lakewood 8 8 3.06 0 22 22 1 118.0 92 48 40 49 72 5
2004 Clearwater 3 10 3.80 0 20 20 1 116.0 122 54 49 39 81 7
2004 Reading 2 2 7.17 0 4 4 0 21.0 24 17 17 11 17 4
Career 13 22 3.70 0 54 54 2 282.0 167 133 116 105 189 18

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of Louisiana Tech in the sixth round of the 2002 Draft.

Repertoire: The split-fingered fastball is his mainstay. Gwaltney also throws a low to mid-90s fastball, change-up and curve. His split-finger has been ready for the majors since college and his other pitches - especially the fastball - are very close.

Pitching: Partially because of his split-fingered pitch, Gwaltney keeps the ball down in the zone and doesn't give up many homeruns. He's not exactly an overpowering type of pitcher. He has good stuff and strikes out his share of hitters, but isn't afraid to let his fielders do their job behind him.

Projection: After a tough time at AA last season, Gwaltney will need to head back to Reading for work there this season. Don't be surprised if he heads to AAA Scranton by the time the season ends, because he's got enough talent to move quickly. Generally, AA is the level where some players hit a bit of a wall. In Gwaltney's case, that wall should be small and certainly not anything that will hold him back for long.

ETA: The Phillies will likely add Gwaltney to the 40 man roster next winter and he'll be in camp for a look in 2006. He'll need more time at AAA, but at least he'll get his feet wet in a major league camp. Anytime after about mid-season of 2006, he should be ready for at least a cup of coffee in Philadelphia.

Comparison: At 6' 6", Gwaltney is a tall, lanky type of power pitcher that the Phillies love. There really isn't anybody on their staff right now that Gwaltney compares to, but one comparison might be Felix Rodriguez, who the Phillies sent to the Yankees in the Kenny Lofton trade.

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