Righthander Roy Oswalt, a two-time 20-game winner who finished in the top six in Cy Young Award voting six times, is retiring, according to multiple media reports.
A 23rd-round pick of the Astros in 1996 out of Holmes (Miss.) CC, Oswalt signed as a draft-and-follow the next spring and reached the major leagues by 2001. He finishes his career with a 163-102, 3.36 mark in 13 major league seasons with the Astros, Phillies, Rangers and Rockies. His last full season in the majors was 2010, split between Houston and Philadelphia, and last season he had an 8.63 ERA in six starts for the Rockies.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Oswalt plans to work with his agent, Bob Garber, in an undetermined role.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Oswalt combined surprising velocity with a power curveball to become one of the NL’s top pitchers in the 2000s. He helped lead the Astros to their only World Series in 2005, going 20-12, 2.94.
Oswalt rose from relative obscurity to become Houston’s top prospect and the No. 13 prospect overall after the 2000 season. Here is what BA wrote at that time:
“One way the Astros try to keep player-development costs down is by aggressively using the draft-and-follow process. They identify raw players and try to sign them after they refine their skills in junior college. That’s how they got Darryl Kile and up-and-coming prospects Tim Redding and Gavin Wright, among others. Their best draft-and-follow work may have been done with Oswalt, though he didn’t come cheap. He blossomed so much in his second season at Holmes (Miss.) CC that he would have been a first-round pick had Houston not handed him a $500,000 bonus shortly before the 1997 draft.
“Oswalt has a plus fastball, but he seemed more concerned with his velocity than in becoming a refined pitcher in his first three pro seasons. That changed in 2000. He began decently at high Class A Kissimmee before being promoted to Double-A Round Rock for what was supposed to be an emergency start. When he responded with a 15-strikeout shutout, he never looked back. He went on to lead Texas League starters in strikeouts (9.8) and fewest hits (7.4) per nine innings, and his 1.94 ERA was the circuit’s lowest in a decade. While Round Rock was winning the league playoffs, Oswalt was in Sydney with the U.S. Olympic team. He contributed to the gold-medal effort with two strong starts against Korea, allowing two runs in 13 innings.
“Oswalt pitched more under control in 2000, which is why his career took off. He still pitches up in the strike zone with his fastball at times, but for the most part he worried about painting the black at 92-94 mph rather than trying to reach back and throw 96. Righthanders have no chance when he throws his heat knee-high on the outside corner. He hides the ball well, and when he doesn’t try to max out his velocity, his fastball explodes out of his hand with late life. His curveball jumps straight down, and his changeup at times serves as a third above-average pitch. He’s stingy with walks and home runs (allowing just six last year), and he limited lefthanders to a .201 average in Double-A. He’s an absolute warrior who always gives his best effort. Oswalt needs to remember that less is more when it comes to his fastball, that he has more command and movement when he throws in the low 90s.
“He needs to get more consistent with his curveball and changeup, as he doesn’t always finish off the latter pitch. If Oswalt continues to progress like he did last year, he’ll be ready for Houston after spending a half-season in Triple-A. He has the stuff to be the club’s No. 1 starter down the road, though the more established Scott Elarton does as well.”