PHOENIX–It almost seemed like Pat Overholt’s second inning of work at Phoenix Municipal Stadium would never come to an end.
After battling his way out of a fourth inning that included Overholt’s catcher–the Peoria Saguaros’ Brett Hayes (Marlins)–throwing out speedster Andrew McCutchen (Pirates) after a leadoff walk, the Phillies’ righthander cruised through the remainder of the inning.
The fifth, however, was another story.
Raul Padron (Athletics) led off the frame with a ground-rule double over the head of Saguaros’ right fielder Greg Golson. Overholt then plunked Nolan Reimold (Orioles) with an inside fastball and Drew Butera (Twins) sacrificed both runners up for the first out of the inning.
Overholt then got Chris Coghlan (Marlins) to roll over to short for the second out.
After a long battle with Pirates outfielder Nyjer Morgan, Overholt induced weak contact with an 84 mph slider that the lefthanded-hitter popped up behind second base, but it fell in for a two-run single.
Orioles infielder Blake Davis followed with an opposite-field RBI single and Overholt was left contemplating his days in Double-A Reading, where he went 6-9, 5.90 and allowed 92 hits in 79 innings–all as a starter.
Numbers aside, Overholt is a reliever. His stuff tended to flatten out, often after just three innings in Double-A in a starting role. And while his slider is viewed by many in the organization to be the best in the system, it wasn’t impressive Tuesday.
“I didn’t see enough of it today to say it was a good slider,” said one scout from a National League club. “He didn’t throw it enough to really say if it was good or bad, but the ones he did throw were fringy.
“I wound up comparing him to (Nationals closer) Chad Cordero after seeing him today as not being a real velocity guy, but a guy who has a heavy ball with some arm side sink that comes right at you. But I didn’t see a guy who would be a go-to guy coming out of your bullpen. He’s not that kind of a Cordero, but his ball is really heavy. I didn’t see that kind of stuff from him with the breaking ball, but he’s got good sink (with the fastball) at times.”
A 2005 22nd-round pick out of Santa Clara, Overholt had never started in pro ball until this season.
“It seems like he could be good in short spurts with a two-pitch mix,” said another NL scout. “But he shouldn’t mess with more than that.”
Righthander Bob McCrory was the choice among high Class A Carolina League managers as having the premiere fastball in the circuit for 2007.
McCrory regularly sat anywhere from 95-97 mph at Frederick before earning a promotion to Double-A Bowie where he finished the year 1-2, 3.91 with 13 saves and 22 strikeouts in 23 innings.
But for as much as McCrory has maintained his velocity this season–he was up to 98 mph Tuesday–he lacks secondary pitches to keep hitters off balance.
“There is no breaking ball,” said a scout with an American League club. “He showed a changeup, which was just OK.
“To me that’s part of his problem. He should be (former Reds and Mariners righthander) Bobby Ayala–just a grip and let it rip guy that throws his fastball and a split or something else. This is not a guy who should be concerned with throwing more than two pitches. He’ll never reach his ability.”
The Best Of Tuesday
Aside from seeing veteran Ernie Young milling about in the stands at Phoenix Muni, Twins righthander Eduardo Morlan was by far the most impressive arm in a league that frankly doesn’t have a lot of them this year.
The 21-year-old topped out at 93 mph, but he’s toned down his delivery somewhat and showed the ability to command two plus pitches.
“He’s a big leaguer,” another scout from an AL club said. “Hands down the best guy I saw today. Just a heavy ball with sink that knew what he was doing up there in any situation. He had a plan. Nice, easy delivery that he repeats well with a toe-in finish. He has everything you look for in a guy with two power pitches. His slider gives him the chance to pitch in the big leagues right now if he can command the fastball.”
And For The Record . . .
Phillies lefthander Josh Outman, who got the start for Peoria on Tuesday, sat at 92-94 with his fastball and showed off a plus slider at times.