Unheralded Lefty Making It Look Easy

Sometimes, prospects can come out of nowhere. An unheralded college pitcher who draws little attention can become a nice prospect and move quickly through the system. The Phillies have a guy that everybody missed on and he's pitching well at Clearwater.

Don't feel too bad if you don't know the name Matt German. Most fans don't. He's not on any list of Phillies draft picks, because he wasn't drafted by them. In fact, he was a fifth year senior last season for Northern Illinois University, making him eligible to sign with any pro team right after the college season and the Phillies were one of the few teams that even pursued him.

After signing with the Phillies last May, German was assigned to Williamsport, but quickly showed that he was able to handle more of a challenge and moved along to Low-A Lakewood. After posting a combined 1.54 ERA in his two stops, the Phillies decided to offer another challenge and started him at High-A Clearwater this season and he's made the decision look like the wrong move, only because he is pitching so well that you have to wonder if he should be at Double-A. In eight innings of work, German hasn't allowed a run and has a WHIP of 0.63 with two hits and three walks allowed. In fact, he's hit as many batters (2) as he's allowed hits to.

German is tied with Brad Lidge for the most innings pitched without giving up a run in the organization.

Since he was a fifth-year senior at NIU, German didn't have to wait for the draft to sign with a Major League club, but the Phillies were one of the few who really made an effort to get him. "There were a few teams that called," said German. "But the Phillies were the most aggressive and showed the most interest." As it turns out, it was a good move by the Phillies and they may have found a young left-handed reliever that they can look to move through the system pretty quickly. German's college coach, Ed Mathey, believes that German is well suited for success in the pros. "Matt has a strong arm and he's effective against both left-handed and right-handed hitters, so he should be able to be more than just a lefty specialist," emphasized Mathey. The numbers show what Mathey was talking about, since left-handed hitters are hitting .167 (2-for-12) against German, while right-handed hitters are 0-for-14 against him this season. In his minor league career, left-handers are hitting .111 (9-for-45) against him, while right-handed hitters are batting just .219 (21-for-96) against German.

German had a streak of 5.2 innings without allowing a runner snapped Monday night when he gave up a hit to Tampa's Mitch Hilligoss. After that, he notched another 1.1 innings of runner-less work in Clearwater's 6-0 win over Tampa.

Brian Schlitter has been serving as Clearwater's closer and has done a good job in the role, but you have to figure that if all continues to go well for German, he could be put into a closer's role at some point in his career. For now, he and Sam Walls are sharing the set-up job with the Threshers and combined with Schlitter, the Threshers have a tough combination to fact at the back end of their bullpen. The three have a combined mark of 0-1, 1.44 with four saves in five opportunities. They've also combined to allow opposing hitters just a .169 batting average.

Matt German. Remember the name, because it looks like he could be climbing up the ranks pretty quickly.

Matt German's career stats

2006 Williamsport 0 1 1.23 15 7 22.0 12 3 3 1 9 28 0.95 .160
2007 Lakewood 0 0 2.08 11 0 13.0 12 5 3 0 4 18 1.23 .240
2008 Clearwater 0 0 0.00 6 0 8.0 2 0 0 0 3 12 0.63 .077
TOTALS 0 1   32 7 43.0 26 8 6 1 16 58 0.98 .184

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