Last night, Roy Halladay became just the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the playoffs. Let's take a trip back in time and check out his 1998 scouting report by Tracy Ringolsby, when Halladay ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays' system. . .
Background: Blue Jays scout Bus Campbell worked extensively with Halladay during his amateur days in Colorado, creating a relationship that resulted in Halladay using part of his signing bonus to buy Campbell a satellite television system. That was in 1995; now fast forward to 1998. After starting his second season with Triple-A Syracuse, Halladay was sidelined for a month with a right shoulder strain. He returned to one-hit Charlotte on July 20 and spent the rest of the season at Syracuse, then opened a few eyes by becoming the third-youngest starter in Blue Jays history. His second start turned into a no-hit bid against the Tigers on the season's final day. The bid ended with a two-out, pinch-hit homer by Bobby Higginson. Halladay continued to prove his value with a strong effort in the Arizona Fall League.
Strengths: Hallday has a prototype pitcher's body. He's tall, lanky and flexible—and has plenty of stamina. He finished third in the Colorado state cross country finals as a senior at Arvada West High. Halladay puts minimal strain on his arm. His fastball is solidly in the mid-90s, and he has the endurance to maintain his velocity into the late innings. He has developed more downward movement on his fastball, which allows him to get more ground balls. The Blue Jays initially took away the knuckle-curve that Campbell taught him in high school, but in the middle of this season allowed him to start throwing it again. It was the pitch he used for five of his eight strikeouts in the one-hitter against Detroit. He has developed a hard-biting slider that may be his best pitch.
Weaknesses: Halladay just needs a little refinement to be a legitimate big league, front-of-the-rotation pitcher. He has a tendency to open up and show the hitter his arm a little too soon. And he needs to throw his changeup more often.
The Future: After nearly two full seasons in Triple-A, Hallday's future is now. With the Blue Jays moving toward youth, Halladay figures to join fellow righthanders Chris Carpenter and Kelvim Escobar in the major league rotation on Opening Day.
To put the importance of prospects into even more perspective, consider the following fact: 60 former Baseball America No. 1 prospects for a team played on teams that made the playoffs this year, and that number could rise to 62 after this year's Prospect Handbook is released. Of those, 53 are on the playoff rosters. Considering that there are only 200 players on the eight playoff rosters that means that more than one fourth of them are former No. 1 prospects. Here is the complete list . . .
* = played on a playoff team this year, but not on a playoff roster
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