Scouting Yankees Prospect #27: Ryan Pope

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Ryan Pope in the third round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Savannah College of Art & Design. He was the school's first ever NAIA All-American in baseball, won the Florida Sun Conference Player of the Year honors last season, and became the school's first ever draft pick in baseball before bringing his polished game to the Yankees.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ryan Pope
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: May 21, 1986
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

His numbers in college were incredible - posting a school-record 1.15 ERA in 2007 while going 9-5 with 122 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 102 innings pitched for the Bees - before becoming the most consistent pitcher for Staten Island last season, going 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in ten starts.

"Everybody plans and makes goals for themselves," said Pope. "I set my goals real high but I don't think I met the expectations I wanted. I would have liked to have had less hits, more strikeouts, and things like that.

"As a whole though, I didn't lose and I felt whenever I went out there I gave my team the best chance to win and I guess that's what it is all about. I guess I performed well. That's what other people say but I don't think I performed that well."

Walking barely two batters per nine innings and striking out more than one batter per inning pitched would seem to be a pretty solid season, especially in your professional debut season, but Pope is a self-professed perfectionist.

"I don't like to lose and if you strike three people out, why are you hanging your head? Because you missed some spots and you know you're not going to get away with that at the next level. You've got to know when you're doing good and when you're doing good and making mistakes. I think that's what makes pitchers."

Obsessed with being the best and with one eye towards the ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues, he is also grounded in his approach and understands the importance of working in the present to achieve long-term goals.

"I go out there and compete at 100 hundred percent," said the Florida native. "I go out there and throw everything I've got in that game and I'm not worried about anything but that pitch at that time to that particular hitter. I think that's where you'll get your advancements.

"I'm not going to get into you should be here or you should be there. You are where you are for a reason and it's up to you to make your pitches to move up."

Armed with three big league pitches already, while he doesn't have the mid-90's fastball of a top overall pitching prospect, it's his understanding of the game that has many scouts believing he could be a quick mover through the organization.

"I lived with my location with my fastball," he said of his strengths this past season. "I lost some velocity at the end of the year from changing some small things. I think with losing some velocity you have to learn to pitch a lot more, use more of your stuff, be more consistent with your location, throw all of your pitches in certain counts.

"I think you grow up when you face better competition. I think I adapted. What you can take away from my short-season is me adapting to the competition and the everyday repetitive baseball play."

Possessing a plus fastball for the collegiate level, especially for an NAIA conference, he believes his game is actually better suited for the professional level because he wasn't able to used one of his better weapons too often in the amateur ranks.

"Obviously getting used to the competition is a little different and you have to have more consistency with your offspeed pitches," he admitted. "Coming from the level I came from, I didn't need the changeup that much even though I did have a pretty good one. Now that I can rely on my changeup a little bit more, and with my curveball, it was good but it was a little iffy at times."

With the changeup being such a feel-pitch and unable to throw it much in college, improving his command of that pitch remains one of his top priorities as he gets set for his first full professional season in 2008.

"We're just trying to get the more consistent strikes, the more consistent breaks out of it," he said of his changeup. "Nardi Contreras has me doing some small things, which helped out a lot. I think going into next year I should improve."

The type of player who not only sets high goals for himself but one who does everything in his power to exceed them, he knows he has the makeup and work ethic to prove his performance in the NY-Penn League last season was not a fluke.

"Go into it in great shape," he said of what he needs to do to prepare for a long season. "I think what we did at school, we had one of the toughest - even at smaller school we had one of the hardest conditioning programs as a pitching staff - just what we did on an everyday basis.

"I think I won't ever not work. I think I'll be a worker, take from what I got from college with me and prepare for the next level. I think the main thing is keeping yourself in shape, going in the best possible shape you can go in, and just be ready to compete."

Understanding his own limitations and realizing he might not have the same over-powering stuff of a Joba Chamberlain, he knows what separates him from his competition and he believes that will be more than enough to be very successful in pinstripes.

"I'm not overwhelming but I'm not going to give in at the same time," he confidently told us. "I think I bring consistency. I don't like to be a guy who goes out there and gives up one run in seven innings and then in the next week get shelled, or the week after that does well.

"I want to perform but I want to perform every week at the same level. I want pretty much the same results every week. You're going to have your ups and downs. As much as people think that flamethrowers are bulldogs, I'd like to consider myself a mini-bulldog. I don't like to give in. I don't care if it's 3-2, I'll throw a changeup, I don't care who's hitting.

"It's not me to care what the situation is, I'm just going to go out there and go balls to the wall for how many pitches I'm allowed to go."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2007

Staten Island

3-0

0

43.1

41

10

46

2.49



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Normally sitting in the 90-93 MPH range with great command of his four-seam fastball, changes made to his mechanics and pitching more than he ever had in his life saw Pope's velocity dip to the 88-92 MPH range in Staten Island this past season. It's not uncommon for first-year pitchers to see their velocities fluctuate and he should return to his normal velocity in 2008 and beyond.

Other Pitches. Pope already has a big league curveball and a big league changeup. His curveball is more of a swinging strikeout pitch right now, and he and the Yankees are looking to improve the command of his curveball to throw it more for called strikes. His changeup is extremely polished for a first-year professional pitcher, especially with the movement he generates with it, but he could stand to improve the consistency of the command with his changeup, throwing more in the lower-half of the strike zone.

Pitching. Pope's game is quite polished, thanks in large part to pitching backwards. He will throw any pitch in any count and he keeps opposing batters guessing at the plate. He relies on impeccable fastball command and solid secondary pitches, setting up batters in a chess-like fashion with his pitch selection. He is both extremely confident and fearless, yet has an insatiable desire to keep improving.

Projection. Drafted from a smaller school, combined with the fact he doesn't throw a mid-90's fastball, will allow him to fly under the radar on the way to the big leagues. He has the confidence and polish to be a quick mover through the minor leagues. His game is quite similar to that of current Yankee pitcher Ian Kennedy with his fastball command and solid secondary arsenal. And like Kennedy, Pope's ceiling is that of middle-of-the-rotation type of big league starter stuff-wise, but his plus command could have his repertoire play better from a results standpoint.

ETA. 2010. Pope has the best chance of any of the Yankees' short-season pitchers from 2007 to make the jump to the Florida State League next season. Even if he were able to accomplish that feat, with 40-man roster spots coming at a premium recently, it would seem he is destined to spend at least two seasons in the minor leagues before getting his shot in New York.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Ryan Pope
\r\nPosition: Starting Pitcher
\r\nDOB: May 21, 1986
\r\nHeight: 6'3\"
\r\nWeight: 200
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nHis numbers in college were incredible - posting a school-record 1.15 ERA in 2007 while going 9-5 with 122 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 102 innings pitched for the Bees - before becoming the most consistent pitcher for Staten Island last season, going 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in ten starts.
\r\n
\r\n\"Everybody plans and makes goals for themselves,\" said Pope. \"I set my goals real high but I don't think I met the expectations I wanted. I would have liked to have had less hits, more strikeouts, and things like that.
\r\n
\r\n\"As a whole though, I didn't lose and I felt whenever I went out there I gave my team the best chance to win and I guess that's what it is all about. I guess I performed well. That's what other people say but I don't think I performed that well.\"
\r\n
\r\nWalking barely two batters per nine innings and striking out more than one batter per inning pitched would seem to be a pretty solid season, especially in your professional debut season, but Pope is a self-professed perfectionist.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't like to lose and if you strike three people out, why are you hanging your head? Because you missed some spots and you know you're not going to get away with that at the next level. You've got to know when you're doing good and when you're doing good and making mistakes. I think that's what makes pitchers.\"
\r\n
\r\nObsessed with being the best and with one eye towards the ultimate goal of reaching the big leagues, he is also grounded in his approach and understands the importance of working in the present to achieve long-term goals.
\r\n
\r\n\"I go out there and compete at 100 hundred percent,\" said the Florida native. \"I go out there and throw everything I've got in that game and I'm not worried about anything but that pitch at that time to that particular hitter. I think that's where you'll get your advancements.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm not going to get into you should be here or you should be there. You are where you are for a reason and it's up to you to make your pitches to move up.\"
\r\n
\r\nArmed with three big league pitches already, while he doesn't have the mid-90's fastball of a top overall pitching prospect, it's his understanding of the game that has many scouts believing he could be a quick mover through the organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"I lived with my location with my fastball,\" he said of his strengths this past season. \"I lost some velocity at the end of the year from changing some small things. I think with losing some velocity you have to learn to pitch a lot more, use more of your stuff, be more consistent with your location, throw all of your pitches in certain counts.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think you grow up when you face better competition. I think I adapted. What you can take away from my short-season is me adapting to the competition and the everyday repetitive baseball play.\"
\r\n
\r\nPossessing a plus fastball for the collegiate level, especially for an NAIA conference, he believes his game is actually better suited for the professional level because he wasn't able to used one of his better weapons too often in the amateur ranks.
\r\n
\r\n\"Obviously getting used to the competition is a little different and you have to have more consistency with your offspeed pitches,\" he admitted. \"Coming from the level I came from, I didn't need the changeup that much even though I did have a pretty good one. Now that I can rely on my changeup a little bit more, and with my curveball, it was good but it was a little iffy at times.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the changeup being such a feel-pitch and unable to throw it much in college, improving his command of that pitch remains one of his top priorities as he gets set for his first full professional season in 2008.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're just trying to get the more consistent strikes, the more consistent breaks out of it,\" he said of his changeup. \"Nardi Contreras has me doing some small things, which helped out a lot. I think going into next year I should improve.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe type of player who not only sets high goals for himself but one who does everything in his power to exceed them, he knows he has the makeup and work ethic to prove his performance in the NY-Penn League last season was not a fluke.
\r\n
\r\n\"Go into it in great shape,\" he said of what he needs to do to prepare for a long season. \"I think what we did at school, we had one of the toughest - even at smaller school we had one of the hardest conditioning programs as a pitching staff - just what we did on an everyday basis.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I won't ever not work. I think I'll be a worker, take from what I got from college with me and prepare for the next level. I think the main thing is keeping yourself in shape, going in the best possible shape you can go in, and just be ready to compete.\"
\r\n
\r\nUnderstanding his own limitations and realizing he might not have the same over-powering stuff of a Joba Chamberlain, he knows what separates him from his competition and he believes that will be more than enough to be very successful in pinstripes.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm not overwhelming but I'm not going to give in at the same time,\" he confidently told us. \"I think I bring consistency. I don't like to be a guy who goes out there and gives up one run in seven innings and then in the next week get shelled, or the week after that does well.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to perform but I want to perform every week at the same level. I want pretty much the same results every week. You're going to have your ups and downs. As much as people think that flamethrowers are bulldogs, I'd like to consider myself a mini-bulldog. I don't like to give in. I don't care if it's 3-2, I'll throw a changeup, I don't care who's hitting.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not me to care what the situation is, I'm just going to go out there and go balls to the wall for how many pitches I'm allowed to go.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n SV

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Staten Island

\r\n

\r\n 3-0

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 43.1

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 10

\r\n

\r\n 46

\r\n

\r\n 2.49


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Normally sitting in the 90-93 MPH range with great command of his four-seam fastball, changes made to his mechanics and pitching more than he ever had in his life saw Pope's velocity dip to the 88-92 MPH range in Staten Island this past season. It's not uncommon for first-year pitchers to see their velocities fluctuate and he should return to his normal velocity in 2008 and beyond.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Pope already has a big league curveball and a big league changeup. His curveball is more of a swinging strikeout pitch right now, and he and the Yankees are looking to improve the command of his curveball to throw it more for called strikes. His changeup is extremely polished for a first-year professional pitcher, especially with the movement he generates with it, but he could stand to improve the consistency of the command with his changeup, throwing more in the lower-half of the strike zone.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Pope's game is quite polished, thanks in large part to pitching backwards. He will throw any pitch in any count and he keeps opposing batters guessing at the plate. He relies on impeccable fastball command and solid secondary pitches, setting up batters in a chess-like fashion with his pitch selection. He is both extremely confident and fearless, yet has an insatiable desire to keep improving.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Drafted from a smaller school, combined with the fact he doesn't throw a mid-90's fastball, will allow him to fly under the radar on the way to the big leagues. He has the confidence and polish to be a quick mover through the minor leagues. His game is quite similar to that of current Yankee pitcher Ian Kennedy with his fastball command and solid secondary arsenal. And like Kennedy, Pope's ceiling is that of middle-of-the-rotation type of big league starter stuff-wise, but his plus command could have his repertoire play better from a results standpoint.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2010. Pope has the best chance of any of the Yankees' short-season pitchers from 2007 to make the jump to the Florida State League next season. Even if he were able to accomplish that feat, with 40-man roster spots coming at a premium recently, it would seem he is destined to spend at least two seasons in the minor leagues before getting his shot in New York.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

\r\n

Get both magazines by upgrading today!
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine, including our special Yankees Prospects Guide, PLUS the special 84-page Scout.com Prospects Guide covering all 30 farm systems, included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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