Top Prospect #44: Patrick Overholt

Some looked at Patrick Overholt as damaged goods. The Phillies looked at him as a potential sleeper and someone who they could take on with their 22nd pick in the 2005 Draft. After all, grabbing a player in the 22nd round doesn't exactly constitute a big gamble.

Patrick Overholt came into Santa Clara University and assumed the role as the team's closer in his freshman season. Not only did he take over the job, he did very well at it and was considered to be one of the better closers in the country. Then, came the bad news. Overholt developed a sore elbow and wound up needing Tommy John surgery. After a freshman season when he saved 10 games and posted a 4-4, 3.00 mark for Santa Clara, he was going to miss the entire 2004 season. His return in 2005 was less than stellar, but that was to be expected since it generally takes two years for a pitcher to recover from TJS.

The Phillies drafted Overholt in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft, but thought that he might head back to Santa Clara. Since he would be healthy, he could have likely fought for his old closer's job back and helped his prospects for being drafted much higher than the 22nd round in 2006. Actually, he could have returned to Santa Clara for two more seasons and if all went as planned, he could have potentially moved into the upper echelons of the draft. Instead, he opted for the signing bonus - albeit, not the kind of money that he could have gotten down the road - and started his professional career.

For their part, the Phillies showed a lot of confidence in Overholt and started him at Batavia. When he signed, the smart money was on the cautious Phillies starting him in the Gulf Coast League against weaker opposition. Instead, Overholt went to upstate New York and pitched very well at Batavia, going 2-3, 2.65 with 5 saves. The good news was that Overholt didn't appear stressed or have any problems with his elbow. In fact, he didn't even look tired and threw 34 innings in 21 outings. He also struck out 51 hitters while walking just 13. Following Overholt in 2006 will definitely be something to see.

Patrick Overholt's career stats

2005 Batavia 2 3 2.65 5 21 0 34.0 28 12 10 1 13 51

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft out of Santa Clara University.

Repertoire: Throws the basic fastball / slider combination and has good control with both pitches. His fastball is generally in the low 90s and he locates it low in the zone, keeping the fly balls to a minimum. His slider has good, biting movement and that too stays down in the zone. Overholt's control has always been good, but it was especially good at Batavia. The movement on his pitches keeps hitters from digging in, which was one reason for the high strikeout totals with the MuckDogs. He also has a high energy, bulldog mentality and isn't afraid to establish himself on the inside part of the plate. Overholt has a decent change-up that he is working on and if he can develop that pitch, he'll be downright dangerous. Overtholt can get especially tough with runners on base. Opponents hit just .208 against him with runners on base and .212 with runners in scoring position. With the bases loaded, opposing hitters were 0-for-5 against him.

Projection: His pitches and his mental make up make Overholt perfect for a closer's role. He doesn't let things bother him and while he has good strikeouts per innings pitched ratios, he isn't afraid to let hitters put the ball in play, as long as it's on the ground. The only reason he didn't continue on as Santa Clara's closer was because of the injury and there is no reason to believe that now that he's healthy, he can't return to closing out games in the minors. Since the Phillies weren't afraid to start him at Batavia last season, odds are that they won't be afraid to elevate him to Lakewood in 2006 and have him pitching in the back end of the BlueClaws bullpen. One thing that Overholt has to do is get tougher against left-handed hitters. Overholt - a right-hander - allowed right-handed hitters to hit just .192 against him at Batavia, but left-handed hitters hit .277 against him. Many times, his pitches wind up being down and in to left-handers and they can pull them through the infield for a hit.

ETA: Again, it's tough to judge young pitchers and how quickly they'll develop, but the fact that the Phillies seem to be less cautious about Overholt than they are about many other pitchers, gives hope that he'll be on somewhat of a fast track. It will be much easier to judge once we get to see how he will do over a full season at a higher level, but there is reason to believe that Overholt will progress at or near a level per season pace.

Comparison: Overholt reminds some of a younger Tim Worrell. Mentally, Overholt is probably a little tougher on the mound than Worrell and has more potential to be a major league closer throughout his career than Worrell showed, especially at an early age.


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