- Full name Clay Daniel Buchholz
- Born 08/14/1984 in Nederland, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Angelina JC
- Debut 08/17/2007
Drafted in the C-1 round (42nd overall) by the Boston Red Sox in 2005 (signed for $800,000).
View Draft ReportNo one could tell at the time, but McNeese State had two first-round-caliber pitchers on its 2004 roster. While Jacob Marceaux was going 4-6, 5.71 as a swingman, Buchholz went 3-for-18 as a little-used infielder. He transferred to Angelina (Texas) Junior College as a sophomore to get more playing time, a move that should pay off handsomely. While Buchholz hoped to become a regular shortstop, Angelina coaches saw him pitch at 88-89 mph at a tryout camp and thought he had upside on the mound if he could make mechanical adjustments. They were right. Buchholz' fastball sat at 92 mph and touched 97 this spring. When he's on, his slider grades as a 65 and his curveball as a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Buchholz still needs to improve the consistency of his breaking pitches and his changeup, but it's hard to argue with his pure stuff. He went 11-1, 1.19 with 112 strikeouts in 76 innings as the ace of a prospect-laden pitching staff that also includes Robert Leonhardt, Aaron Odom, Matt Paradoski and Josh Tomlin. Buchholz, who was also batting .387 and led Angelina with a .613 slugging percentage, is a good athlete whose lefthanded power would make him a candidate for the first five rounds as an outfielder. The biggest concern is his makeup, stemming from an incident in high school that has some clubs avoiding him entirely. A rare juco prospect who's not under control from the 2004 draft, Buchholz will attend Texas Tech if he doesn't turn pro.
Organization Prospect Rankings
No pitching prospect had a more decorated 2007 than Buchholz. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Double-A Eastern League, where he outpitched Roger Clemens in a May matchup. From there he went to the Futures Game and then on to Triple-A Pawtucket, making five starts before getting summoned to Boston. Buchholz went six innings to beat the Angels in his big league debut, but the best was still yet to come. Called back up in September, he became the 21st rookie in modern baseball history to throw a no-hitter, dominating the Orioles in just his second start. He might have made Boston's playoff roster had he not come down with a tired arm, which led the club to shut him down as a precaution. Buchholz led all minor league starters by averaging 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings and won the organization's minor league pitcher of the year for the second straight season. His accomplishments are all the more impressive considering that he was a backup infielder at McNeese State in 2004 and didn't become a full-time pitcher until 2005. Buchholz emerged as a prospect that spring at Angelina (Texas) JC, though some clubs backed off him because he had been arrested in April 2004 and charged with stealing laptop computers from a middle school. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and scouting director Jason McLeod grilled him about the incident during a Fenway Park workout and decided it was a one-time lapse in judgment. Boston drafted him 42nd overall and signed him for $800,000. Buchholz has gone 22-11, 2.39 with 378 strikeouts in 308 innings since. Buchholz has a low-90s fastball that tops out at 95 mph, and it's just his third-best pitch. His 12-to-6 curveball and his changeup both rate as 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale and are better than anyone's on Boston's big league staff. With terrific athleticism and hand speed, he used an overhand delivery to launch curves that drop off the table. His changeup can make hitters look even sillier. He'll also mix in a handful of sliders during a game, and that's a plus pitch for him at times. Buchholz improved his mechanics in 2007 and now operates more under control. He showed during his no-hitter that he won't be fazed by pressure. His secondary pitches are so outstanding that Buchholz doesn't use his fastball enough. He needs to throw more fastball strikes early in counts and improve his command of the pitch. Clearly gassed after throwing a career-high 149 innings last season, he needs to get stronger. Working toward that goal, he trained at the Athlete's Performance Institute in Florida during the offseason. Buchholz is Boston's best pitching prospect since Clemens and has everything he needs to become a No. 1 starter. He'll join Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester in the big league rotation in 2008, giving the Red Sox four quality starters aged 27 and younger. Buchholz is the baby of the group at 23.
Buchholz was Boston's minor league pitcher of the year in 2006, his first full pro season and just his second as a full-time pitcher. He began his college career as a seldom-used infielder at McNeese State before transferring to Angelina (Texas) Junior College, where he was a two-way star. Energized by a late-season promotion to high Class A Wilmington, Buchholz dominated and pitched at 95-97 mph during the playoffs. His fastball sat at 90-93 for most of the season, and while it's a plus pitch, at times it's only his fourth-best offering. When he gets ahead in the count, he buries hitters with his secondary pitches. He has the best curveball in the system, a 12-to-6 hammer, and he can throw a hard slider. Some scouts think his changeup is his best offering. Relatively inexperienced on the mound, he still is learning the nuances of pitching. Improved fastball command and overall consistency are Buchholz' biggest needs. Some clubs passed on him in the 2005 draft because he was arrested in April 2004 and charged with stealing laptop computers from a middle school, but the Red Sox say it was a one-time incident and don't worry about his makeup. Buchholz is a possible No. 1 starter. Boston will bring him along conservatively, so he'll probably open 2007 at the club's new high Class A Lancaster affiliate.
After getting just 18 at-bats as a freshman infielder at McNeese State in 2004, Buchholz transferred to Angelina (Texas) Junior College to get more playing time. The move paid off, as he starred as a two-way player and went 42nd overall in the 2005 draft, signing for $800,000. Despite his inexperience on the mound, Buchholz has a fair amount of polish, outstanding athleticism and tremendous potential. While he pitched mostly at 88-92 mph while working on strict pitch limits at short-season Lowell, he often picked up velocity and sat at 93-94 in the late innings at Angelina. His changeup is his second-best pitch right now, and he also has the makings of an above-average slider and curveball. Some teams avoided him in the draft because he was arrested in April 2004 and charged with stealing laptop computers from a middle school and selling them. Boston officials say they aren't concerned about further problems. His secondary pitches come and go. Buchholz will open 2006 at low Class A Greenville. A potential No. 3 starter, he'll move as quickly as he refines his breaking pitches and changeup.
Minor League Top Prospects
Buchholz made just three starts above low Class A prior to this season, but the Red Sox pushed their athletic righthander aggressively and he rewarded them with a dominant turn in the EL and quick rise to the majors. He allowed more than two runs in just two of his 15 starts. He was a model of consistency, throwing quality strikes with a lively 90-95 mph fastball, a curveball one scout rated a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and a plus changeup that several managers claimed was his best pitch. From time to time he even mixed in a hard slider. The total package prompted one American League scout to give Buchholz a 60 for Overall Future Potential--in other words, a multi-time all-star. "He just makes hitters look silly. You see a lot of off-balance swings," Erie manager Matt Walbeck said. "His stuff makes your jaw drop, and he also has presence and poise."
Solely an infielder when he began his college career and a two-way star in his draft year, Buchholz has flourished on the mound as a pro and keeps getting better. Promoted from Greenville to high Class A at the end of the year, he hit 97 mph four times while striking out 10 over six innings in a Carolina League playoff start. Buchholz didn't throw that hard in the SAL, but he did feature a 90-93 mph fastball and a well above-average curveball with sharp downward bite. It was the best breaking ball in the league, though he varies the break on his curve from 12-to-6 to 2-to-7 at times and some believed he'd be better off staying with one look. He also has a changeup that should be at least average. Buchholz has an athletic 6-foot-3 frame that allows him to repeat his delivery, but it sometimes gets a little long, which causes his fastball to sail on him. Because of his limited experience on the mound, he offers a little more projection than the typical 22-year-old pitcher.
A little-used infielder at McNeese State in 2004, Buchholz emerged as one of the best pure arms available in this year's draft after transferring to Angelina (Texas) JC and becoming a two-way player. During the spring, he featured three plus pitches in a mid-90s fastball, a nasty slider and a curveball. Buchholz didn't show the same electrifying stuff immediately after signing as a supplemental first-rounder, but it came back toward the end of the season. He had a 1.16 ERA and 32 strikeouts in his final 23 innings. Though he's inexperienced on the mound, he has good mechanics, a product of his natural athleticism.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the American League in 2013
- Rated Best Changeup in the Boston Red Sox in 2008
- Rated Best Curveball in the Boston Red Sox in 2008
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Eastern League in 2007
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the Eastern League in 2007
- Rated Best Changeup in the Eastern League in 2007
- Rated Best Curveball in the Boston Red Sox in 2007
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the South Atlantic League in 2006