So, why are the Phillies hedging their bets on how to use Byrd? Part of the reason is that his curve is continuing to get better, but the Phillies aren't sure whether it will ultimately be as good as some scouts thought. The popular concensus is that Byrd needs that pitch to be an effective starter at the higher levels of the minors and certainly in the majors. A vote in favor of having Byrd in the bullpen is his location and his ability to keep the ball in the park; In 96 innings, he's allowed just 2 homeruns.
By the numbers, Byrd has been successful no matter how he's pitching. His career ERA as a starter is 2.44 and stands at 3.12 as a reliever.
|'05 GCL Phils||3||1||2.66||0||9||8||44.0||36||14||13||1||10||24|
|'06 GCL Phils||2||1||3.22||0||9||5||36.1||33||22||13||1||15||27|
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Florida in the 18th round of the 2005 Draft.
Repertoire: Byrd's velocity continued to improve last summer and he's still not where he will likely be at this time next year. The 20 year old right-hander was near 90 miles per hour in his second pro season. His curveball also improved and when all is said and done, Byrd may be known more for his curve than for his fastball. The change-up is coming along, but is just a pitch that keeps hitters honest.
Projection: Darren Byrd is one of the guys that the Phillies will keep a close eye on this spring. While his numbers have been good, the Phillies could keep him in short-season ball to get more time to work with him in extended camp, but it's also possible that they'll let him start at Lakewood if all goes well in camp.
ETA: At just 20 years of age, Byrd has time to develop and the Phillies aren't going to rush him at this point in his career. He'll get there when he gets there, is the most likely estimate.