Josh Outman is a freak. His unorthodox mechanics have been well analyzed and have found to be basically a good idea. Perhaps his success will lead other pitchers to adopt his style - actually, his father's style - of mechanics. The whole thing stems from the elder Outman's knowledge of biomechanics and kinesiology, which he put to use to develop a style of pitching that puts much less strain on the elbow and shoulder. Along the way, Outman has been receptive to letting coaches tweak his mechanics and it has all worked out to make Outman a pretty impressive specimen. You get the feeling that he could throw the ball between his legs and get hitters out.
Last season, the Phillies parked Outman in the starting rotation at Lakewood and he was a key part of their run for the South Atlantic League title. He put together a string of 37 straight scoreless innings through the middle part of the summer, during which he was basically unhittable. This season he will likely be at Clearwater as he moves closer to the majors and it's going to be interesting to see how his mechanics and ability translate to the higher levels of the minor league system.
Josh Outman's career stats
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Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 10th round of the 2005 Draft out of Central Missouri State University.
Repertoire: Outman has a fastball that sometimes seems to dive down in the zone and has late movement. Thanks to the tweaking that the Phillies did with him mechanics, his velocity has improved and his fastball is generally in the mid-90s and he hasn't lost any of the control or movement on the pitch. His slider and change-up are nothing spectacular, but they're both at least average and he can throw them both for strikes. He can also keep all three of his pitches down in the zone, which is a key part of Outman's success.
Pitching: Outman may have one of the best arms in the organization, although he doesn't get as much recognition as some of the other, more developed pitchers. Because of the fact that he keeps his pitches down in the zone, Outman allowed just one home run in 29.1 innings in 2005 and stretched that to one every 31 innings last season. His motion is deceptive and some scouts believe that he will only get better as he develops more and continues to improve on his secondary pitches. In his first pro season, Outman averaged 4.29 walks per nine innings and issued 4.35 free passes last season; both may be just a tad high, but nothing to get too concerned about, especially when he's getting the number of strikeouts that he does, averaging 9.36 whiffs per nine innings of work.
Projection: Outman's role seemed to rest on how his slider and change-up would develop. The Phillies believe that both will be good enough that they can keep him in the starting rotation and that's likely where he'll be when he heads for Clearwater in 2007. It's looking more and more like Outman will be an impact type pitcher who can serve at least in the middle portion of a major league rotation in the not too distant future. He still has some work to do, but you have to love what we've seen from Josh Outman over the past two seasons.
ETA: Just how quickly the Phillies will move Outman is going to be interesting to see. If he pitches well at Clearwater, he could hit Double-A by the end of the season and be at Triple-A sometime in 2008. Getting a shot in camp with the 2009 Phillies wouldn't be out of the question.