Phillies Prospect #14: Drew Naylor

Drew Naylor made the most of his first stint in a full-season league and split his time between Lakewood and Clearwater. His impressive performance has him moving up on Phillies prospect lists.

Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in March, 2004.
Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6' 4"   Weight: 210 pounds
Birth Date: May 31, 1986
2008 Team(s): Lakewood (14 G), Clearwater (13 G)
Games/Games Started: 27 G / 27 GS
2008 Ranking: #21

Why Naylor jumped to #14: When Drew Naylor stepped up to Lakewood to start the 2008 season, the Phillies truly saw the pitcher that they believed they had in Naylor ever since they signed him back in 2004. His 1.03 WHIP, his ratio of walks (21) to strikeouts (97) and his 2.99 ERA were all the sort of signs that the Phillies had been looking for. Each season in the Phillies organization, Naylor had shown progress and after the 2007 season when Naylor pitched so well in Williamsport, showing even more development in his first full-season league was exactly what the Phillies were looking for from Naylor. Now, it's just a matter of continuing to build on what he started at Lakewood and conquering the High-A level, where he struggled after being promoted from Lakewood last season. The good news is that after arriving at Clearwater in June, Naylor showed improvement each month that he was with the Threshers and in August, compiled a 2.93 ERA in six starts during the last month of the season.

STAT Drew Naylor South Atlantic League
ERA 2.99 4.02
*DRA 0.31 0.73
H/9 IP 7.11 8.90
HR/9 IP 0.82 0.70
BB/9 IP 2.16 3.12
KO/9IP 10.00 7.84
WHIP 1.03 1.34
*WILD 9.07 13.43
*EFF 2.95 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: Naylor can contribute most of his success last season to development in his change-up, but once he reached Clearwater, hitters were able to pick up the pitch better because Naylor's arm speed tips off the pitch too much, but Naylor has worked on improving his arm speed to make the pitch more deceptive. It's possible that when all is said and done, the curve will be Naylor's best pitch. It's one of those looping 12-to-6 curves and he's been able to throw it for strikes more consistently. His fastball is generally right around 90 miles per hour, but he can pump it up a little when he needs to. His command took a big step forward last season and he was able to throw strikes on both sides of the plate.

Pitching Style: Generally, Naylor doesn't like to mess around with hitters. His fastball isn't good enough to just go right after the best hitters that he faces, so he still needs to set up his pitches, but he does it on the least number of pitches possible. Naylor pitches deep into games and even though he struggled at Clearwater, he still averaged six innings per start and threw a combined three complete games between Lakewood and Clearwater last season and two more the year before at Williamsport.

Projection: Last season was a breakout season for Naylor, not just in stats - a combined 8-10, 3.86 in 27 starts - but in how he developed both his change-up and curve. He led all Phillies minor leaguers in strikeouts with 156, which was over 165 innings of work. There is an outside chance that the Phillies will start him at Double-A Reading this season, but it's not out of the question for them to have him spend at least some time back at Clearwater just to give him a little more confidence before making the jump to Reading. Long-term, he projects as at least a mid-to-lower level starter at the big league level with the ability to pitch deep into games and give a team a lot of innings.

ETA: It would be a surprise to see Naylor fighting for a spot in the rotation next season, but not in 2011. By then, J.A. Happ and Carlos Carrasco should both be in Philadelphia, teaming with Cole Hamels to give the Phillies three of the best young pitchers around. Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton will both be eligible for free agency as things stand now, so the Phillies may be looking to add another young arm to their rotation and Naylor should be one of those arms that will be in consideration to join the big league club then.

Drew Naylor's career stats

2006 GCL 2 3 4.62 12 2 36.2 43 26 19 2 9 22 1.41 .297
2007 Williamsport 8 6 3.28 14 14 93.1 78 39 34 3 28 97 1.14 .228
2008 Lakewood 5 3 2.99 14 14 87.1 69 32 29 8 21 97 1.03 .214
2008 Clearwater 3 7 4.85 13 13 78.0 86 43 42 8 31 59 1.50 .282
TOTALS 16 16 3.77 53 43 295.2 276 140 124 21 89 275 1.23 .248

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