Prospect Review: Burke Badenhop
What better place to start reviewing minor league performances from the past year than with the Tiger's Minor League Pitcher of the year, Burke Badenhop, someone who I have kept an eye on for quite some time considering our parallel paths. Badenhop is, like me, from Perrysburg, Ohio, the hallowed ground which gave us Jim Leyland, and Badenhop, like me, attended Bowling Green State University. Background aside, Badenhop had an outstanding year at West Michigan, but his status as a major league talent has been the subject of debate. What we do know are the stats he has given us through 1 year of playing time at West Michigan as well as time at Oneonta, so let's check out the stats:
YR. CLUB W-L ERA G GS CG SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG.
2005 Oneonta 6-4 2.92 14 14 1 0 77.0 69 32 25 0 26 55 .238
2006 WMI 14-3 2.84 27 27 3 0 171.0 170 59 54 6 31 120 .260
Two seasons of minor league ball have produced a good amount of success for Burke with a very impressive ERA. His success actually increased as the year went on, going 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA and limiting opponents to a .223 BA in his last 10 games. His late season improvement is very appealing, seemingly indicating that he is learning from mistakes and understanding how to better pitch to hitters. His BA against still needs to come down, but his second half numbers do show a good trend in that category as he went 7-1 with a 2.45 era and a .249 ba against after the all-star break. A 14-3 win loss column and a 2.84 era does impress, even at the Low A level, but he could have easily had an era in the mid to high 3.00s. Still, though, the fact that he is having success is promising and has to make him rate higher in the organization's eyes.
Badenhop was originally selected in the 19th round of the 2005 draft and wasn't seen as much of a prospect. At 6'5" 220 he looks to have the frame to build a power pitcher on, but he throws mid to high 80's and does not overpower hitters with a great fastball. Of course, we have seen time and time again that not having a big fastball does not necessarily hinder a pitcher's progress in success at higher levels, however Dombrowski's love of power pitching could result in Badenhop having a short leash as a viable prospect. Even with continued success his pitching style could end up making him trade fodder down the road as Dombrowski continues to load the organization with power arms.
It will be interesting to see how Badenhop responds to higher levels of competition as he moves up the food chain, but it is worth noting that he is a very intelligent man who seems to get better as he faces more and more hitters... he's not just a thrower. Next year will be a very big test for him (given that the organization will move him up a level) and should flesh out whether or not he is a legitimate prospect, but for now he has to continue to be rated a bit lower than his success should grant him.
Prospect Grade: C