In the middle part of his minor league career, Ryan Cameron went through a tough stretch that has ultimately prolonged the amount of time it's going to take him to make it to the majors. It's not that Cameron was horrible, but he just wasn't showing anything that made scouts believe that he had a future as a major league pitcher. Since coming to the Phillies though, he has tweaked his delivery and worked hard to impress the organization, going a combined 12-7 with a 2.80 ERA in one season at Double-A Reading and another at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre. In 2005, Cameron saved a career-high 19 games for Reading and followed that with 7 more saves for Scranton last summer.
Cameron doesn't have a blazing fastball and some scout wonder if he could be an effective closer at the major league level. Instead, they look at Cameron as more of a filler type pitcher in a major league bullpen. Then again, Geoff Geary was long thought of in the same way and he's pitched very well in pressure situations for the Phillies. While he's not on the 40 man roster, Cameron could get a couple of opportunities to pitch with the big league club this spring as they examine every opportunity to add to their bulllpen.
Ryan Cameron's career stats
Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as a minor league free agent prior to the 2005 season. Was originally drafted by Colorado in the 11th round of the 1998 Draft and was traded to Boston in March of 2003. Became a minor league free agent after the 2004 season and signed with Florida, but was released in spring training.
Repertoire: Cameron doesn't generally blow hitters away, but will occasionally rear back and put a little extra on his fastball. That's not to say that he doesn't get his share of strikeouts as he's averaged just under a strikeout per inning in the minors. Normally, he's in the high 80s to about 90 miles per hour with the fastball. He has a decent slider and decent curve, but neither are above average pitches. What Cameron does have is good movement on his fastball and the ability to spot his pitches well.
Pitching: The key for Cameron is to keep the ball down in the strike zone. In the minors, he's averaged giving up just one homerun every 11 innings and has had a good walks to strikeouts ratio. Last season, his walk ratio was higher than normal, but he was still able to be effective and get hitters out in key spots. With runners on base, opponents hit just .204 against Cameron last season and with runners in scoring position, hitters managed just a .213 average against Cameron. He's calm in tight spots and seems to live for pressure situations.
Projection: There are plenty of relievers who get away with not having a blazing fastball. Cameron has control and movement and those are two keys to getting hitters out. There is no reason to believe that he couldn't help a major league team out as part of their bullpen ensemble, at least against right-handers, since lefties hit .259 against him last season. Cameron would likely be the kind of pitcher who would come in to get an out or two to get out of an inning and then hand it over to someone else.
ETA: With over 500 innings at Double-A or above, Cameron is ready for a shot at the majors now. He doesn't appear to be on the radar for a shot in the bullpen this season and will likely start the year at Triple-A Ottawa and serve as insurance for the Phillies 'pen.
Comparison: Cameron is much like Geoff Geary. Both have similar styles and it's likely that Cameron would have to be nursed along much like the Phillies have done with Geary in their bullpen. It's also likely that Cameron would eventually work his way closer to the back end of the bullpen, much like Geary has and start to show that he belongs on a major league staff.