Even though he underwent Tommy John surgery during his college career, the Phillies have never been overly cautious with Patrick Overholt. Instead, they started him at Batavia rather than in the Gulf Coast League, moved him up a level in 2006 and even pushed him along to Clearwater later that same season. The 23 year old right-hander has handled it all well and is establishing himself as a contender for a future job in the Phillies bullpen.
His time at Clearwater wasn't overpowering, but he did hold hitters under the Mendoza Line during his time with the Threshers and it's going to be interesting to see how the Phillies deal with him when camp breaks. Will he be staying behind to pitch for Clearwater or head north to start the year with the Double-A Reading Phillies? The odds are that he may stay behind for a month or so to soak up some sunshine and get just a little more time in with the Threshers before heading to the R-Phils. It's not likely to be too long though before he heads to the Eastern League and a step closer to the majors.
Patrick Overholt's career stats
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Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft out of Santa Clara University. Overholt had two years of college eligibility remaining when the Phillies drafted him.
Repertoire: Basically a fastball/slider pitcher with good control. His change-up is still a work in progress and will probably never be much above average, but his fastball and slider are both good enough that he can generally survive with those pitches and mix in his change-up just to keep hitters honest.
Pitching: Overholt knows enough to stay down in the zone with his pitches and has good enough control to do so. His 5 homeruns allowed in 26.1 innings of work at Clearwater was surprising and doubled the amount of homeruns that he had allowed in his previous 79.2 innings of work in the professional ranks. He's a tough competitor who loves to pitch with the game on the line and lives for pressure situations. Opponents hit just .205 against Overholt with runners on base last season and .208 the year before at Batavia.
Projection: One thing that Overholt had to do better was get left-handers out. In 2005, lefties hit .277 against him, but managed just a paltry .130 (13-for-100) against him last season at Lakewood and Clearwater. The Phillies haven't had him do a whole lot of closing work, but there's plenty of time for that and Overholt definitely has the mental capacity to handle a tough job like closer. He certainly projects well as a back of the bullpen type pitcher and could become a closer once again at some point in his pro career. A job as a set-up man is probably a little more likely at this point.
ETA: While it may be a little disappointing for Overholt to start the season at Clearwater, it's really not a step back for him since he would have figured to start the 2007 season at Clearwater had he not been promoted to the Threshers during the season. After finding High-A ball a little tougher, it will be interesting to see how he handles Double-A when he gets there. That's going to determine exactly how fast he can be in the majors, but he could start getting a look by late in the 2008 season if all goes perfectly. Since he just turned 23, Overholt would only be 24 by late in the 2008 season and will have plenty of time to pitch in the majors from that point on.
Comparison: He doesn't throw very hard and isn't overpowering, but gets hitters out. Scouts have generally compared him to a Tim Worrell type pitcher, only with a stronger character and the potential to have more success as a closer.