- Full name Bradley Thomas Lidge
- Born 12/23/1976 in Sacramento, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Notre Dame
- Debut 04/26/2002
- Drafted in the 1st round (17th overall) by the Houston Astros in 1998 (signed for $1,070,000).
Organization Prospect Rankings
Lidge entered 2002 with the best arm in the system and a checkered medical history that included nearly as many surgeries (three) as pro wins (four). Houston planned to make him a full-time reliever to keep him healthy but two things happened: New Orleans needed him in its rotation, and he more than doubled his career innings total without hurting his arm. He did pull an abdominal muscle and required offseason arthroscopic surgery to repair a minor cartilage tear in his left knee. Lidge's slider is as good as any in the game. It's unhittable and has so much life that it often gets mistaken for a splitter. His velocity dipped in 2002, but he still showed enough juice at 92-94 mph. Getting regular innings allowed him to improve his changeup to combat lefthanders. Though he stayed relatively healthy last year, Lidge has lost so much time to injuries that he'll have to be a reliever unless his command takes a major jump forward. That's not terrible, but his ceiling as a starter would be huge. He has closer stuff and continues to parallel Robb Nen, who had a similar injury history in the minors. Barring injury, Lidge should make the Astros this spring.
At the start of 2001, Lidge was as dominant as any pitcher on a Round Rock staff that included Carlos Hernandez and Tim Redding. But as too often has been the case, he had to be shut down because of injury. What was thought to be shoulder tendinitis turned out to be fraying that required arthroscopic surgery in July. Lidge has the best power stuff of any Astros pitcher, including the major league staff. He regularly turns bats into kindling. He has a 94-95 mph fastball that rides and sinks and can touch 98, and a slider that's so unhittable it wouldn't matter if he told batters it was coming. Though his pitches are so lively, he can throw them for strikes. Lidge has three surgeries and four victories as a pro. In 2000, he had operations to repair a broken forearm and to clean out his elbow. He hasn't had enough time to refine a changeup. The Astros may have to move Lidge to the bullpen in an effort to preserve him. His story is similar to that of Robb Nen, who has a similar arsenal and was hurt for six straight years in the minors. Houston farm director Tim Purpura copied Nen's bio out of the Giants media guide and gave it to Lidge for inspiration.
The Astros absolutely love Lidge's arm--when it's healthy. And it has rarely been healthy since they made him the 17th overall pick in the 1998 draft. After three years as a pro, Lidge has racked up more elbow operations (three) than victories (two), and his eight starts last year were a career high. His latest surgery came in November, when he had bone chips removed after they prompted his early exit from the Arizona Fall League. Houston has changed his mechanics and had him scrap his curveball in favor of a slider in order to reduce the stress on his elbow. When he's 100 percent, Lidge has touched 98 mph and throws a consistent 94-95. His slider can be unhittable at times and has draw comparisons to those of J.R. Richard and Todd Worrell. Because Lidge has yet to pick up a changeup or show any durability, his future may lie in the bullpen. He's expected to pitch in Double-A in 2001.
Minor League Top Prospects
Lidge's biggest accomplishment was simply staying healthy for the first time since he was drafted 17th overall in 1998. Between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors, he more than tripled his previous career high of 42 innings. The Astros were resigned to the fact that Lidge wasn't durable enough to remain a starter, so they planned on putting him in relief at New Orleans. After they put him in the Zephyrs rotation in late May, he held up all season. Lidge's big league destination still looks like the bullpen. Houston has several young starters, and relieving would allow him to focus on carving up hitters with one of the best sliders in the minors and a low-90s fastball. He'll reach 95-96 mph more often in a shorter role, and his weaknesses (fastball command, changeup consistency) won't be as magnified.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Reliever in the National League in 2008
- Rated Best Curveball in the Houston Astros in 2001