Phillies Prospect #48: Michael Schwimer

After telling teams not to draft him in 2007, Michael Schwimer found himself with a good signing bonus and a plane ticket for Clearwater, Florida after the 2008 Draft. He pitched well at Williamsport and could assume the title of Phillies closer of the future.

Acquired:  Drafted by the Phillies in the 14th round of the 2008 Draft.
Bats: Throws: R
Height: 6' 8"  Weight: 240 pounds
Birth Date: February 19, 1986
2008 Team(s): Williamsport
Games/Games Started: 22/0
School: University of Virginia

There were a number of teams interested in drafting Schwimer in the 2007 Draft, but they all passed because Schwimer had made it perfectly clear that he intended to get his degree in Sociology from the University of Virginia and he appeared to be so set in his decision that teams stayed away from him, figuring that they simply wouldn't be able to sign him. True to his word, Schwimer got his Sociology degree from Virginia this past May and was drafted by the Phillies in the 14th round of the June Draft. It was actually a little surprising when Schwimer fell to the Phillies in the 14th round as some had him going a few rounds earlier than that, so the Phillies were quick to jump on him when he was still available.

Schwimer had to sit behind Casey Lambert in the University of Virginia bullpen until Lambert went to the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft. Lambert's exit provided the opportunity for Schwimer to close out games for Virginia and he took full advantage of the opportunity, taking advantage of what he had learned from studying Lambert. "It is kind of a weird feeling when you first watch someone do what Casey did on the mound," Schwimer told the Charlottesville Daily Progress. "I really started paying attention to it my sophomore year as I watched how completely dominant he was. Every game we played was an eight-inning game and it was over. If we had the lead they had no shot."

Virginia coach Brian O'Connor credited Schwimer's hard work when the Daily Progress asked him about his closer's progress. "He has really worked hard and it always comes back to consistency with everything that he throws. That has allowed him to get the results that he has."

The Phillies weren't one of the teams that had been on Schwimer's list of teams to listen to when they called names on Draft Day. "To be completely honest with you, the Phillies were not on the radar," said Schwimer. "Twenty teams had called and they weren't one of them. It was a weird situation." Even after the Phillies drafted Schwimer and gave him a strong, above slot signing bonus, Schwimer continued to insist that even without the added bonus money, he made the right decision to stay at Virginia for his senior season. He believes that his time at Virginia was well spent and in all honesty, even though he didn't move up much over where teams were looking at him in 2007, he now has a degree and came to the Phillies as a more prepared and mature pitcher with three strong pitches.

STAT Schwimer New York - Penn League
ERA 1.96 3.78
*DRA 0.65 0.81
H/9 IP 7.19 8.74
HR/9 IP 0 0.54
BB/9 IP 3.27 3.37
KO/9IP 13.50 8.56
KO:BB 4.1 : 1 2.5 : 1
WHIP 1.16 1.34
*WILD 12.60 14.27
*EFF 1.14 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.

Repertoire: Schwimer throws a fastball with good movement that he generally has in the low-90s range and compliments that with a good, mid-80s slider that generally has hitters simply retreating to the dugout. His change-up is actually a split-finger pitch and he's shown a lot of progress with his change-up and is continuing to develop the pitch in the pro ranks. "My changeup by far is my most improved pitch," Schwimer admitted. "It went from basically nothing and now it has gotten to the point where I want to throw it more than [his coach] does. I am really confident in it and I love the pitch. It is really good, especially against lefties." If Schwimer wanted to throw the change-up more than his coaches did, it's not because they lacked confidence in Schwimer's change-up, but rather because they were more impressed with his slider. Virginia catcher Franco Valdes agrees with the coaches. "The best part about it, is probably the latest-breaking thing that I have ever seen," Valdes confirmed. "It breaks right before it gets to me or it bounces, and that is even better. His slider has come a long way. His slider is a lot better than it was at the beginning of the season."

Pitching Style: Schwimer relies a lot on location and his strong command of all of his pitches. He walked three hitters per nine innings in his inaugural pro season and struck out 13.5 hitters per nine innings. He keeps the ball down in the zone and throws what hitters call a "heavy" pitch that is hard to get a lot of pop on when they hit the ball. At the University of Virginia, Schwimer posted a five-to-one strikeout to walk ratio in his senior season and pitched in a number of tight situations as the Cavaliers closer. At Virginia, Schwimer pitched in a set-up role to Lambert before setting a school record with 14 saves in his senior season and showed no problems handling pitching in pressure situations. At Williamsport, opponents hit .222 against him with runners in scoring position.

Projection: The Phillies aren't getting ahead of themselves with Schwimer. While some scouts see him as a potential closer candidate in the majors, the Phillies officially project him as a "late inning" type of reliever. The truth is that if he continues to develop, he could well find himself getting more and more credit as a potential major league closer. He pitched in that role for Williamsport last summer and saved eight games out of the bullpen and finished 19 games for the CrossCutters.

ETA: It figures that Schwimer could be ready for a stint at Low-A Lakewood in 2009 and it will be interesting to see how he makes it through his first full summer of pro ball. His pitches are good enough to succeed at that level and his maturity is certainly able to handle a spot with the BlueClaws, so as long as Schwimer shows good things in camp this spring, he could find himself at the Jersey shore for the summer.

Career Stats


2008 Williamsport 0 2 1.96 8 22 41.1 33 12 9 0 15 62 1.16 .217

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