Phillies Prospect #33: Justin De Fratus

In his first two pro seasons, Justin De Fratus has shown good progress, especially considering that he didn't have the advantage of pitching in a big school program in college. The right-hander appears ready for his first shot at a full-season league in 2009.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 11th round of the 2007 Draft.
Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6' 4"   Weight: 215 lbs.
Birth Date: October 21, 1987
2008 Team: Williamsport
Games/Games Started: 14 G / 14 GS
School: Venture Junior College
2008 Ranking: 40

Why De Fratus jumped to 33: In his first pro season, Justin De Fratus had a good showing in short-season ball pitching in the Gulf Coast League. He followed that up with a move to Williamsport in 2008 and improved on his numbers nicely and led the New York / Penn League in innings pitched with 83 1/3. While his walks to strikeouts ratio wasn't as good this past season as it was in 2007, it would have been almost impossible for him to keep up that pace, but he did keep a healthy ratio. He's continuing to develop nicely and should be ready for a move to Lakewood and his first shot at a full-season league, where he'll truly get to show off his skills.

STAT Justin De Fratus NY/Penn League
ERA 3.67 3.78
*DRA 0.54 0.81
H/9 IP 9.40 8.74
HR/9 IP 0.11 0.54
BB/9 IP 2.70 3.37
KO/9IP 8.00 8.56
KO:BB 2.96 2.54
WHIP 1.34 1.34
*WILD 11.56 14.27
*EFF 1.94 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: One miscue that De Fratus had in his first pro season was that he couldn't pitch deep into games. His velocity would tend to start dipping after just a couple of innings, which would flatten out his fastball. He obviously worked on conditioning and concentrated on pitching deeper into games, or he wouldn't have led the league in innings pitched this past season. His velocity is now more consistent and he continues to be able to move his fastball through the zone, seemingly at will. It's possible that his current low-90s velocity will spike up a mile per hour or two as he continues to mature. One of the things that De Fratus continues to work on is his change-up, which continues to get better, but still has some room for improvement. Developing a consistent change-up will also allow him to pitch deeper into games and give him the pitch that he needs to keep hitters off of his fastball, especially when he does start to tire a little. His slider is strong and moves down in the zone quickly, generally not moving much until late in its path to the hitter.

Pitching Style: In his first pro season, De Fratus walked just three hitters in 46 innings, which is an amazing accomplishment. He maintained good walk/strikeout numbers in 2008, but was more human with his ratios, walking 25 in 83 1/3 innings of work. His developing change-up is helping his strikeout numbers a little, pushing him from 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 2007 to 8 strikeouts per nine innings this past summer. Control is the key for De Fratus, who is generally a finesse pitcher, but will occasionally go right at hitters. He's not afraid to work hitters, but is learning how to do it without wasting pitches. De Fratus also keeps the ball down in the zone well and has allowed just two home runs in 129 1/3 innings of work over his first two pro seasons.

Projection: Keep in mind that De Fratus didn't come from a big college program and he wasn't a highly scouted prospect. It shouldn't necessarily be this easy for De Fratus, but so far, he's pitched well in short-season leagues and appears ready to continue moving through the system. Don't be surprised if there's a bit of a hiccup when he reaches Lakewood, but he's good enough to get past that and keep moving. With any luck, the fact that he's continuing to mature and continuing to develop his pitches will move him at a good pace once he puts it all together. When he was drafted, it was hard to know just how he might fit in, but he's looking more and more like someone who has the ability to become at least a back of the rotation starter down the road. 

Justin De Fratus' career stats

2007 GCL 2 3 4.30 0 10 8 46.0 51 25 22 1 3 34 1.17 .273
2008 Williamsport 6 5 3.67 0 14 14 83.1 87 39 34 1 25 74 1.34 .260
TOTALS 8 8 3.90 0 24 22 129.1 138 64 56 2 28 108 1.28 .264

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