Byrd was an 18th round pick in 2005 out of Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Florida. He won't turn 20 until later this month and the Phillies weren't even sure that he would sign with them when they drafted him. He was one of those draft-and-follow guys that figured to head toward college and would only be a possibility for the Phillies to sign the next spring. Instead, Byrd took a different approach and instead of worrying too much about how much he would be paid, realized that he had a great opportunity ahead of him and turned pro.
What the Phillies have found is that they definitely drafted a kid with a great work ethic who loves the game of baseball. After two seasons with short-season teams, a move to Lakewood could be in the immediate future for Byrd.
2006 Prospect Ranking: 48
Status: The Phillies cautious approach with Byrd has been predictable. He was just 18 when the Phillies drafted him and he came in the middle rounds (18th), so he wasn't a high school stud that figured to be a can't miss prospect. Instead, he was seen as somewhat of a project and he's accepted that and worked hard to improve. It's very conceivable that he'll start 2007 with the first full-seaason assignment of his career and a spot on the Lakewood roster.
Scouting Notes: Byrd continues to work on a curve that will make him a more effective pitcher. He's shown progress with the pitch and should continue to make the pitch work better for himself as he progresses. The Phillies have shuttled Byrd back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, with 7 of his 13 appearances this past season coming as a starter. He appears to be able to handle either role and his ERA as a starter was a reliever was very comparable to each other (3.10 in relief, 2.84 as a starter). The truth is that Maloney's stats in most categories are very good and he's shown some consistency over his two seasons.
Analysis: This will be a kid to watch over the next couple of seasons. While he won't turn 20 until later this month, Byrd has shown a lot of maturity throughout his career and it's something that he prides himself on. Rather than balking at a second short-season, Byrd worked hard in extended camp and simply went out and pitched well, knowing that's his fastest way to a promotion. While starting the year at Lakewood is a definite option, it will be interesting to see if the Phillies remain cautious with Byrd and hold him back in extended camp again. The fact that the Phillies have Byrd pitching in the Florida Instructional League is a good sign that they're looking seriously at starting him at Lakewood next season.
Look for our 2007 list of the Top 50 Prospects in the Phillies organization to be released in January, 2007.