Scouting Yankees Prospect #50: 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. Despite skipping the low-A level, it was a somewhat disappointing first full season for him in 2008 as he struggled in the second-half.

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

"I thought I performed well the first half," said Pope, who posted a 2.81 ERA before the All-Star break. "In the second half I had my first season struggles. I prepared myself in Staten Island for half a year but you never know what a whole year is like until you go through it.

"I did well in my first half season, did well in my first half of my first full season, and struggled in my second-half first year season. Next year I'll know how to go in preparing for the whole season."

He had a 5.47 ERA in the second-half to finish his first full season with a 7-7 record and a 4.15 ERA for the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League after bypassing the South Atlantic League entirely.

"I've never struggled like that before in my life," he added. "To struggle like that - it's not going to be the first time or the last time you struggle. You learn from the big things and the small things, and that's what gets you to the next level.

"Next year you know how to prepare yourself to get through a dead arm or to not get a dead arm. To me I take it all in. Whether the numbers are good or bad - I didn't really like them - but it was a learning process."

Admitting he didn't know how to cut back in bullpen sessions, how to incorporate better arm exercises and weight training, or just learning how to read his body better, the fact is he also had to deal with two sports hernias for a majority of the season and that wreaked havoc on his stuff.

"There might have been one or two starts where I felt good about my stuff and I flashed some things that I'm capable of doing," he continued, "but no, I never really got comfortable because we were on pitch counts, an innings limit, then you shut yourself down for half the year, then you get going again but you're on a pitch count again, and then by the end you're getting seven or eight innings in. I never really got in a rhythm."

The final numbers proved to be pretty average for a hurler with so much pitch-ability, but behind the statistics was a more telling tale, however - his velocity has dwindled in the professional ranks.

Reportedly sitting in the 90-93 MPH range in college, he saw his velocity dip down to 88-90 MPH in Staten Island a year ago and then fall even further during spurts in 2008.

"That was a shocker for me," he said. "Going into Staten Island I didn't have my velocity from school. It dipped down a bit in Staten Island and then it dropped some more here in Tampa this year too.

"It dropped down a lot lower than I thought it would. The period where I was absolutely struggling, I was struggling with velocity, command, my arm was dragging, I didn't have any arm speed, I had a lazy curve, a lazy changeup, etc. That was basically the second-half of the season for me."

The good news is his superb control and overall pitch-ability are so good he has the tools to turn his career around, and he believes he could put his sub-par first full season behind him.

"It's a learning process, I'll tell you that. It's a struggle, it's a grind, it's something you definitely have to mentally prepare yourself for, and those Joba's and Ian Kennedy's that get through their first full season like they did puts into perspective what kind of pitchers they are.

"The biggest thing I took from this season is it's all a learning process. I had a so-so year but I learned a lot and I'll take it into next year," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2008

Tampa

7-7

0

104.0

114

22

726

4.15

2007

Staten Island

3-0

0

43.1

41

10

46

2.49



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. The biggest thorn in Pope's side has been his inability to duplicate the same 90-93 MPH velocity he had in college in the professional ranks. His fastball has sat mostly in the 88-90 MPH range since signing, but bouts of dead arm and combining that with his sports hernias saw his velocity dip down to 84-88 MPH at times this past season. He has fantastic command of his fastball, however, so if he can get his velocity back up - and the rash of injuries suggests he will - his overall game could turn around in a hurry. He also has some natural sink and good movement to his fastball, giving him the basic foundation to a good two-seamer as he continues to develop it.

Other Pitches. Pope has a good big league curveball in his arsenal, but just like with his fastball, it was a bit inconsistent for him in 2008 while he was dealing with his injuries. It actually got a bit better by his last few starts too as he got better break and depth to it. He also throws a big league changeup that sits around 77-78 MPH, but it wasn't nearly as effective as it could be because his fastball velocity plummeted. Pope also has a slider in his back pocket that he and the Yankees plan on re-incorporating in the very near future. It was shelved in favor of developing his curveball, but now that he has a good one they will bring it back.

Pitching. Even with his stuff suffering the way it did, he still had a pretty solid overall season thanks in large part to his great pitch-ability. He has impeccable command of all of his pitches, he knows how to set-up batters in chess-like fashion with his pitch selection, and even though he doesn't throw very hard he has the ability to put away hitters. His lack of plus velocity though means he will have to be a four-pitch hurler to get to, and succeed at, the big league level. So the re-introduction of his slider could give him yet another weapon that opposing batters will have to think about. He does have a nice combination of work ethic, confidence, and mental strength.

Projection. In a lot of ways Pope is very similar to Ian Kennedy. Both have plus-plus command of multiple pitches, both have great pitch-ability, both pitch a bit backwards where they rely on their secondary pitches more, and both have ceilings of middle-to-back-end rotation starting pitchers at the big league level whose command could allow his stuff to play higher from a results standpoint. The biggest difference is that Pope has more of put-away curveball right now. If he can rediscover his college fastball and get back into that big league average or even fringy plus velocity, Pope has the overall game to be Kennedy-like.

ETA. 2011. The key to Pope's immediate future is getting his velocity back up to respectable levels. If he can stay healthy and find the power in his game again, he has an outside chance of starting in Double-A. If not, and perhaps his most likely track, he'll start the 2009 season back in the Florida State League.

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\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\n\"I thought I performed well the first half,\" said Pope, who posted a 2.81 ERA before the All-Star break. \"In the second half I had my first season struggles. I prepared myself in Staten Island for half a year but you never know what a whole year is like until you go through it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I did well in my first half season, did well in my first half of my first full season, and struggled in my second-half first year season. Next year I'll know how to go in preparing for the whole season.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe had a 5.47 ERA in the second-half to finish his first full season with a 7-7 record and a 4.15 ERA for the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League after bypassing the South Atlantic League entirely.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've never struggled like that before in my life,\" he added. \"To struggle like that - it's not going to be the first time or the last time you struggle. You learn from the big things and the small things, and that's what gets you to the next level.
\r\n
\r\n\"Next year you know how to prepare yourself to get through a dead arm or to not get a dead arm. To me I take it all in. Whether the numbers are good or bad - I didn't really like them - but it was a learning process.\"
\r\n
\r\nAdmitting he didn't know how to cut back in bullpen sessions, how to incorporate better arm exercises and weight training, or just learning how to read his body better, the fact is he also had to deal with two sports hernias for a majority of the season and that wreaked havoc on his stuff.
\r\n
\r\n\"There might have been one or two starts where I felt good about my stuff and I flashed some things that I'm capable of doing,\" he continued, \"but no, I never really got comfortable because we were on pitch counts, an innings limit, then you shut yourself down for half the year, then you get going again but you're on a pitch count again, and then by the end you're getting seven or eight innings in. I never really got in a rhythm.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe final numbers proved to be pretty average for a hurler with so much pitch-ability, but behind the statistics was a more telling tale, however - his velocity has dwindled in the professional ranks.
\r\n
\r\nReportedly sitting in the 90-93 MPH range in college, he saw his velocity dip down to 88-90 MPH in Staten Island a year ago and then fall even further during spurts in 2008.
\r\n
\r\n\"That was a shocker for me,\" he said. \"Going into Staten Island I didn't have my velocity from school. It dipped down a bit in Staten Island and then it dropped some more here in Tampa this year too.
\r\n
\r\n\"It dropped down a lot lower than I thought it would. The period where I was absolutely struggling, I was struggling with velocity, command, my arm was dragging, I didn't have any arm speed, I had a lazy curve, a lazy changeup, etc. That was basically the second-half of the season for me.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe good news is his superb control and overall pitch-ability are so good he has the tools to turn his career around, and he believes he could put his sub-par first full season behind him.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's a learning process, I'll tell you that. It's a struggle, it's a grind, it's something you definitely have to mentally prepare yourself for, and those Joba's and Ian Kennedy's that get through their first full season like they did puts into perspective what kind of pitchers they are.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest thing I took from this season is it's all a learning process. I had a so-so year but I learned a lot and I'll take it into next year,\" he concluded.
\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 \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 2008

\r\n

\r\n Tampa

\r\n

\r\n 7-7

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 104.0

\r\n

\r\n 114

\r\n

\r\n 22

\r\n

\r\n 726

\r\n

\r\n 4.15

\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. The biggest thorn in Pope's side has been his inability to duplicate the same 90-93 MPH velocity he had in college in the professional ranks. His fastball has sat mostly in the 88-90 MPH range since signing, but bouts of dead arm and combining that with his sports hernias saw his velocity dip down to 84-88 MPH at times this past season. He has fantastic command of his fastball, however, so if he can get his velocity back up - and the rash of injuries suggests he will - his overall game could turn around in a hurry. He also has some natural sink and good movement to his fastball, giving him the basic foundation to a good two-seamer as he continues to develop it.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Pope has a good big league curveball in his arsenal, but just like with his fastball, it was a bit inconsistent for him in 2008 while he was dealing with his injuries. It actually got a bit better by his last few starts too as he got better break and depth to it. He also throws a big league changeup that sits around 77-78 MPH, but it wasn't nearly as effective as it could be because his fastball velocity plummeted. Pope also has a slider in his back pocket that he and the Yankees plan on re-incorporating in the very near future. It was shelved in favor of developing his curveball, but now that he has a good one they will bring it back.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Even with his stuff suffering the way it did, he still had a pretty solid overall season thanks in large part to his great pitch-ability. He has impeccable command of all of his pitches, he knows how to set-up batters in chess-like fashion with his pitch selection, and even though he doesn't throw very hard he has the ability to put away hitters. His lack of plus velocity though means he will have to be a four-pitch hurler to get to, and succeed at, the big league level. So the re-introduction of his slider could give him yet another weapon that opposing batters will have to think about. He does have a nice combination of work ethic, confidence, and mental strength.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. In a lot of ways Pope is very similar to Ian Kennedy. Both have plus-plus command of multiple pitches, both have great pitch-ability, both pitch a bit backwards where they rely on their secondary pitches more, and both have ceilings of middle-to-back-end rotation starting pitchers at the big league level whose command could allow his stuff to play higher from a results standpoint. The biggest difference is that Pope has more of put-away curveball right now. If he can rediscover his college fastball and get back into that big league average or even fringy plus velocity, Pope has the overall game to be Kennedy-like.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2011. The key to Pope's immediate future is getting his velocity back up to respectable levels. If he can stay healthy and find the power in his game again, he has an outside chance of starting in Double-A. If not, and perhaps his most likely track, he'll start the 2009 season back in the Florida State League.
\r\n
\r\n

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

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\r\n

\r\n

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