Saturday, January 29, 2005

Stephen Bray Report

Stephen Bray, RHP, Kansas City Royals
Drafted 402nd Overall (14th Rd), 2003, University of New Haven
Bats R/Throws R
24 YO, 6'2", 190 lbs

This isn't the first person you think of when the subject of relief pitchers with the last name Bray comes up. Then again, that subject probably doesn't come up much unless you're so obsessed with prospects that you spend hours combing through minor league stat sheets, draft previews, and back issues of Baseball America. Don't look at me like that.

Bray was a college starter at a small division 2 school. Now he's a minor league reliever. He has 4 pitches, notably a high 80's fastball. His college K/BB ratio is what caught my eye originally. He struck out 34 while walking 8 as a junior at New Haven. He's continued that trend as a pro, striking out over a batter per inning while while walking only 1.7 per nine innings. He split this season between the Midwest League and the Carolina League with the following lines.

Burlington: 3.29 ERA, 73 K, 13 BB, 58 H, 63 IP

Wilmington: 3.86 ERA, 15 K, 2 BB, 14 H, 14 IP

He did give up 9 home runs in his 77 innings, which is sub-optimal, but not alarming.

Bray is a prospect, and while his numbers have been great, there are a couple of disclaimers. The obvious one is that he was 23 years old last season, a little older than average for the Carolina League, very old for the Midwest League. The other is that command and control righties in the bullpen have treacherous roads to the majors. Bray doesn't have the kind of stuff that people usually look for in a reliever. He doesn't have a breaking pitch that buckles knees or a fastball that makes the catcher get a glove with more padding. He'll likely make the jump to AA at some point in 2005. How he does there will tell us a lot about whether he's an organizational soldier in the making, or a unique prospect that will find his niche as a command and control reliever.

ETA: late 2006/early 2007
2 Stars

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