Pitchers To Watch in 2009

While every prospect needs to put up good numbers to keep impressing the front office folks, some are facing more important or challenging seasons than others. We've put together a list of some pitchers to follow in 2009.

Antonio Bastardo (Reading) - After pitching as a starter for much of his minor league career, Bastardo has been moved to Reading's bullpen. In 55 minor league games, Bastardo has been a starter for 42 of those games, but when you look at his stats, the move to the bullpen makes sense. Last season at Reading, Bastardo had a 2.96 ERA through his first four innings of work, but jumped to a 6.46 ERA after the fourth inning.

Joe Bisenius (Reading) - Here's a guy who needs to put up some solid numbers and look to redeem himself. The rap on Bisenius is that he can't make it past the Double-A level. In his career, Bisenius has a 3.31 ERA in 44 games at Double-A, but a 5.99 ERA in 50 Triple-A games. If he can't establish himself at Reading and make a somewhat early move to Lehigh Valley, Bisenius won't be considered a legitimate prospect.

Kyle Drabek (Clearwater) - Late last season, Drabek showed that he was well on his way to returning from Tommy John surgery, but he only threw 32 innings in the minors. This season, some in the Phillies front office are speculating that he could move through the ranks quickly enough to actually get a September audition in the majors. It all starts at Clearwater and if Drabek can put up good, early stats there, he'll move along to Reading when the weather gets warmer and then make another jump as soon as he proves himself at that level. It would be a remarkable return for Drabek even if he makes it as high as Triple-A before the end of the season.

Joe Savery (Reading) - The former first round pick had some tough times last season at Clearwater, but it's quickly forgotten that he was jumping a level to pitch at the High-A level and it was his first full season in the minors as well. Again, the stats tell the story though; from April through June, Savery's ERA was 4.82, but it went down to 3.11 in July and August. It might have taken Savery longer than the Phillies would have liked for him to adjust to pitching at Clearwater. Plus, Savery threw a lot of innings in 2007 and then pitched in the winter leagues and was a little worn out coming into the 2008 season. Savery may take a little time to adjust to Double-A, but he figures to put up much better numbers in 2009 than he did in 2008.

Mike Stutes and Vance Worley (Reading) - Both of these 2008 draft picks are being jumped over Clearwater in their first full minor league season. If Savery's jump over Lakewood was tough to make last season, Stutes and Worley have an even tougher jump to make in 2009. With the Double-A level generally being the toughest one to conquer and the one that separates the true prospects from the journeymen, Stutes and Worley will have their work cut out for them, but they're both likely to conquer the level relatively quickly.

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