Top Prospect #10: Keith Bucktrot

Luckily for Keith Bucktrot and the Phillies, the injury that the young right-hander suffered last season wasn't serious. He was just one of many Reading pitchers hit by the injury bug, but wasn't hit hard. Eastern League hitters did hit him pretty hard, but that will likely be just a small footnote when all is said and done on Keith Bucktrot's minor league career.

Coming into the 2000 Draft, the Phillies had set their sights on Chase Utley as their first round pick. After that, there was a lot of finger crossing. The guy they wanted next was Keith Bucktrot, but with the Phillies second round pick going to Cleveland, many scenarios didn't have Bucktrot lasting until the Phillies next picked in round three. Luck was on their side and it didn't take them long to announce the name Keith Bucktrot out of Claremore High School.

Since then, Utley has obviously gotten the lion's share of the attention from the 2000 Draft, but as Bucktrot moves closer to the majors, more and more of the spotlight is shining in his direction. Bucktrot didn't set the world on fire early in his minor league career, but he continued to move through the system. It took a season and a half at Clearwater for Bucktrot to be deemed ready for AA and he has now had that same amount of time at AA Reading. Last season, Bucktrot stumbled, but also battled some minor injury problems. The Phillies will have to decide whether to give Bucktrot a little more time at the AA level or simply move him along to AAA Scranton. It's likely his ticket will be punched for Scranton, if not at the very beginning of the season, then in the not too distant future.

00 Gulf Coast 3 2 4.78 0 11 7 0 37.2 39 21 20 19 40
01 Lakewood 6 11 5.28 0 24 24 3 134.2 139 93 79 58 97
02 Clearwater 8 9 4.88 0 27 24 2 160.1 167 101 87 78 84
03 Clearwater 7 7 3.33 0 19 17 0 110.2 104 50 41 29 68
03 Reading 3 1 2.56 0 7 7 0 45.2 34 17 13 15 30
04 Reading 4 7 4.87 0 20 20 0 105.0 140 65 57 39 60
Career 31 37 4.50 0 108 99 5 594.0 623 347 297 238 379

Acquired: Drafted out of Claremore High School (Oklahoma) in the third round of the 2000 Draft.

Pitching: The Phillies have been a little concerned that Bucktrot seems to overthrow at times. When he does, he gets wild and many times, it's wild-high, resulting in homeruns. His walks/strikeouts ration isn't eye-popping, but it's good. Technically, Bucktrot is a little behind where they thought he would be at this point in his career, since he was figured to be getting consideration for a major league job right about now or perhaps, later in the season. It's no big deal though, since Bucktrot is still just 24, but the Phillies are hoping for a big season out of the young right-hander.

Projection: It's likely that the Phillies will promote Bucktrot to Scranton to start the 2005 season. It won't be a major shock though if he winds up back at AA for a few starts; that will likely depend on how he throws in camp this spring. The hope is that Bucktrot can develop into a middle of the rotation type starter and that by this time next year, he will be getting some consideration for a spot in the rotation.

ETA: Don't count out a September audition for Bucktrot. Especially if there are a rash of injuries or if the Phillies are out of contention, he could get a look, much like Gavin Floyd was pressed into last season. At this point though, it's likely that a year from now, he'll be where Floyd is now; getting some more AAA seasoning, but ready for the majors when and if needed.

Comparison: Brett Myers. Bucktrot has a lot of potential and many scouts see the same kind of stuff in Bucktrot that they saw in Myers. One big difference is that Bucktrot isn't as heralded as Myers was, which may help him in the long run. Bucktrot is also a little more coachable than Myers generally is. Myers also had much stronger numbers in the minors and climbed through the system much quicker.

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