Top Prospect #49: Matt Maloney

Matt Maloney came out of Ole Miss and started his professional career in Batavia. The left-hander didn't set the world on fire, but he showed a lot of the promise that Phillies' scouts saw when they tracked him in college and that's enough to label his first pro season a success.

As the adage goes, you can never have enough left-handed pitching. The Phillies system has a number of left-handers coming through the ranks, including Cole Hamels and newly acquired Gio Gonzalez. The Phillies also believe that they have another one in the lower levels that will move his way up the list of prospects.

The Phillies' last two third-round picks - J.A. Happ and Tim Moss - were likely more heralded when their names were called on Draft Day, but there is no reason to believe that Matt Maloney won't catch up to both of them. The Ole Miss left-hander went 8-3, 3.11 in his final college season and signed early enough to get almost a full season in at Batavia. Maloney made the most of it, turning in eight starts and finishing with a 2-1, 3.89 mark for his first pro season. It appeared that Maloney was tiring as the season was winding down. He threw 104 innings in college and added another 37 with Batavia, which was the most amount of innings he had ever thrown, by far.

Having Maloney from the season's beginning to end in 2006 will be interesting to watch. Although he's only ranked 49th on our list, he figures to make up ground quickly and is one of the lower level players that will be most interesting to watch this season.

'05 Batavia 2 1 3.89 0 8 8 37.0 38 20 16 2 15 36

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of the University of Mississippi in the third-round of the 2005 Draft.

Repertoire: Maloney throws the four basic pitches - fastball, curve, change-up and slider - and has good command of all of them. His fastball isn't overpowering and was in the upper 80s for most of his college career. He generally keeps the ball down in the zone and has excellent control. In two college seasons, he walked 32 and struck out 153 in 152 2/3 innings of work. He wasn't quite as sharp at Batavia, but still had a good ratio and keep in mind that he was tiring. He has excellent mechanics and a smooth delivery, which will serve him well as he moves up the ladder. With his size and good mechanics, the Phillies hope that Maloney will add at least a little velocity to his fastball.

Projection: Maloney spent some time as the Ole Miss closer in 2005 and was pretty effective in the role. He was eventually moved into the starting rotation and settled in as their number two starter. The Phillies kept him in the starting rotation at Batavia and have no plans to move him back to the bullpen. He's got good size (6' 4", 220 pounds) and scouts believe that he can develop into a middle of the rotation starter who will have the ability to pitch deep into games. The fact that he has good command and keeps the ball down also lends itself to pitching a lot of innings. The Phillies generally start their better college pitchers at Batavia and move them to Lakewood the following season and there is no reason to believe that Maloney will follow a different path.

ETA: Don't figure on Maloney spending too much time in the minors. He pitched in a good college program, against stiff competition and doesn't need too much seasoning. Keep in mind too, that the Phillies don't speed pitchers along, so it's not likely that Maloney will simply catapult toward the majors. Maloney could be one of those one level per season kind of guys, which would have him starting the 2009 season at AAA and possibly getting an audition later that season with the big league club. By 2010, Maloney should be right in the mix and depending on what happens with the major league rotation in 2009, he could get a longer audition time then.

Comparison: If you could take Eric Milton's talent and get him to keep the ball down in the zone, he might equal Matt Maloney. Most scouts believe that Maloney could well surpass those expectations though as he develops.


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