Top Prospect #50: Patrick Overholt

Patrick Overholt has had a tough time at the Double-A level. In a season-and-a-half at Reading, Overholt has yet to hit his slide and could be back at Reading for another shot at Double-A.

Acquired:  Drafted by the Phillies in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft.
Bats: R   Throws: R    Height: 6' 5"  Weight: 190 lbs.
Birth Date: February 8, 1984
2008 Team(s): Reading (AA)
Games/Games Started: 49 G / 1 GS
School: Santa Clara University
Last Year's Rankings: #32

Why he fell from #32 to #50: When the Phillies first signed Patrick Overholt, they had him working out of the bullpen, but then switched him to a starting job. In 2008, they transitioned him back to the bullpen. Whether it's the uncertainty of his role or something else, Overholt has struggled. In 2008, his control wasn't as good as it had been in the past as his walks per nine innings went from 4.3 in 2007 to 5.6 last season at Reading. Overholt now has over 150 innings of work at Double-A and has a career 5.88 ERA at that level, meaning that 2009 is going to be an important season for Overholt as he tries to finally hurdle the AA level and move closer to the majors.

STAT Patrick Overholt Eastern League
ERA 5.86 4.22
*DRA 0.92 0.57
H/9 IP 8.73 9.18
HR/9 IP 1.15 0.84
BB/9 IP 5.63 3.63
KO/9IP 8.39 7.03
KO:BB 1.50 1.90
WHIP 1.60 1.42
*WILD 23.21 14.73
*EFF 0.88 1.00
*DRA (Defensive Runs Average) - a measure of how much a pitcher was hurt by his defense. Basically, the number of runs that the defense allowed through errors. The lower this number, the less a pitcher was hurt by his defense.

*WILD (Wildness rating) - a measure of how many  "bad pitches" a pitcher made during an average game, resulting in walks, hit batters and wild pitches. The lower this number, the better for a pitcher.

*EFF (Efficiency rating) - A basic measurement of how a particular pitcher ranks among other pitchers in his particular league. The higher this number, the higher the pitcher ranked among other pitchers in his particular league.

Why he fell from #32 to #50: When the Phillies first signed Patrick Overholt, they had him working out of the bullpen, but then switched him to a starting job. In 2008, they transitioned him back to the bullpen. Whether it's the uncertainty of his role or something else, Overholt has struggled. In 2008, his control wasn't as good as it had been in the past as his walks per nine innings went from 4.3 in 2007 to 5.6 last season at Reading. Overholt now has over 150 innings of work at Double-A and has a career 5.88 ERA at that level, meaning that 2009 is going to be an important season for Overholt as he tries to finally hurdle the AA level and move closer to the majors.

Repertoire:  One of the reasons why Overholt has struggled is that he hasn't been able to develop his secondary pitches. Overholt has a nice fastball and slider, but his velocity isn't something that he can use to blow away hitters, so he's got to keep it down in the zone. He has added some late movement to the pitch and his strikeout rate went from 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 2007 to 8.4 last season at Reading. He compliments his fastball with a good slider that continues to develop well. His change-up isn't deceptive enough to truly keep hitters guessing and at times, they'll sit on his fastball. If his change-up gets better, it will likely be the pitch that he needs to be successful.

Pitching Style:  Overholt has seen his home runs per nine innings go north as he has headed up the minor league ladder, but not to a point where it's anything to worry about. On the upside, Overholt's strikeout numbers are moving up, but he would help himself if he could improve on his 45% ground ball percentage. One glaring issue is how much better left-handed hitters tend to perform against him, having hit .287 against him last season, while right-handed hitters hit just .215 against him, which was a drastic turn around from how he pitched in 2007, when left-handers hit .252, while righties feasted at a .331 pace. Overholt doesn't physically appear to be fazed by having runners on base, but his Double-A stats show differently. In his two stints at Reading, opponents have hit .302 against Overholt with a runner on base. Earlier in his career, those numbers were much lower and it didn't appear to be an issue for him.

Projection: With his inability to develop strong secondary pitches, Overholt likely doesn't have a future as a starting pitcher. The problem is that as a reliever, he's had trouble getting left-handed hitters out and unless baseball starts to develop a specialized role for right-handed relievers as they have for left-handed specialists, Overholt won't be effective enough to make it out of the bullpen. It will be interesting to see what a new pitching coach at Reading may be able to do for Overholt and it's going to be interesting to see how Overholt responds to what could be a make-or-break season for him at Double-A. For the second season in a row, Overholt pitched in the Arizona Fall League, but wasn't able to show any success in that setting, either.

ETA: The Phillies exposed Overholt in the Rule 5 Draft, but didn't lose him. One question is whether the Phillies will challenge Overholt with a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley or keep him at Double-A and hope that he can find a way to succeed before pushing him along to Lehigh Valley. Either way, unless Overholt were to catch fire this season, he's not going to hit the majors until 2010 at the very earliest and if he doesn't pitch well this season, there will be some legitimate concern about whether he'll truly be a prospect. Overholt will turn 25 in February and may just need a little more time to adjust to pitching at higher levels of the minors. He's certainly not at a point where the Phillies should feel that they need to rush him and as long as he can show improvement during the 2009 season, Overholt can still be considered a serviceable pitcher that could help in Philly, perhaps as a swingman or long reliever.

Career Stats

YEAR / TEAM W L ERA SV G GS IP H R ER HR BB KO WHIP OPP AVG
2005 Batavia 2 3 2.65 5 21 0 34.0 28 12 10 1 13 51 1.21 .224
2006 Lakewood 3 3 3.15 2 29 0 45.2 37 17 16 4 26 52 1.38 .223
2006 Clearwater 5 3 4.10 0 15 0 26.1 20 17 12 5 10 41 1.14 .196
2007 Clearwater 4 6 3.82 0 13 12 73.0 67 36 31 10 30 56 1.33 .248
2007 Reading 6 9 5.90 0 15 15 79.1 92 61 52 10 43 54 1.70 .294
2008 Reading 3 8 5.86 10 49 1 78.1 76 59 51 10 49 73 1.60 .245
TOTALS 23 32 4.60 17 142 28 336.2 320 202 172 40 171 327 1.46 .249



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