Jun 26th, 2009
Pitching Prospects Plentiful in Bristol
Unlike their rookie ball brethren, Great Falls, the Bristol Sox feature a few notable prospects on their squad.
The first names to jump out might not even be the 2009 draft picks, but rather returning pitchers Steven Upchurch and Nevin Griffith. You could argue that they are the biggest upside players on the team.
Upchurch, a 12th round pick out of high school a year ago, fell in the draft because of signability issues (he had a commitment to Auburn). He is a very good talent that features a low 90s fastball, a changeup and a slider. Last year for the BriSox, Upchurch made seven appearances (four starts) and had a 3.26 ERA in 30.1 innings. The 6′4″ righty struck out 28 and walked 10. This year he started the team’s second game of the year and went 6 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) with 3 strikeouts and just 1 walk.
Despite repeating the level, Upchurch is a good young prospect in the organization. Considering his success last year, expectations should be somewhat higher.
Griffith was a highly touted high schooler in the 2007 draft when the Sox took him in the 2nd round. When he signed he had a great fastball-slider combination, but after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last season he has decided to ditch his wicked slider according to tricitiessports.com. We’ll have to see what Griffith’s curve and changeup look like post-surgery, but it is very unfortunate to have to lose the slider. Griffith started opening day and struggled. In 5 innings he allowed 4 runs (3 earned) and walked 4 while striking out 3. With the potential he once had (and possibly still does), he is still worth following in rookie ball.
As for the rookies, 2nd round pick David Holmberg is the highest pick to have reported to an affiliate (Supplemental pick Josh Phegley has reportedly signed, but is not yet on a roster). Rumors have been floating around about improved velocity towards the end of his high school season, but it remains to be seen if his fastball is significantly faster than the high 80s from his original scouting report. He has good control with an above average curveball and reportedly has very good makeup and maturity.
Reliever Kyle Bellamy joins Holmberg on the BriSox pitching staff. The 5th round pick this year was a 1st-team All American by multiple publications and dominated the ACC this year for Miami. The side-arming righty has the ability to move through the system quickly.
The lineup doesn’t have as many known commodities, but a few foreign players could change that. 18 year-old catcher Miguel Gonzalez is off to a hot start (4-8) after playing in the Dominican Summer League last year. 20 year-old first baseman Angel Ferreiras was promoted to Bristol after going 15-45 in the DSL this summer. DH Jeffer Patino, also 20, hit .327 with more walks than strikeouts in the DSL last year. These three could be the most intriguing in the Bristol lineup, especially with Dan Black already promoted to Kannapolis.