- Full name Taylor Buchholz
- Born 10/13/1981 in Lower Merion Township, PA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Springfield
- Debut 04/07/2006
Drafted in the 6th round (175th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2000.
View Draft ReportThe 6-foot-3, 218-pound Buchholz has the size, ability and stuff to warrant interest in the third or fourth rounds. His velocity ranges from 88-92 mph and his slider is a solid-average pitch. He's committed to North Carolina.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Buchholz was the key player from the Astros' perspective in their Billy Wagner trade with the Phillies in November 2003, but Ezequiel Astacio since has passed him in that regard. Little has gone right for Buchholz in his two seasons in the Houston system. He went 0-5, 7.92 in his first six starts and was just coming out of that slump when he went down with a strained shoulder in July 2004. He had arthroscopic surgery on his labrum and his biceps in November 2004, and seemed hesitant to cut loose last season. Once again, he had to be shut down as he was starting to get on a roll, missing most of the second half with a sore shoulder. He came back at the end of August and did look strong in the Arizona Fall League. It's hard to know what to make of Buchholz. He still has one of the best curveballs in the system, but his velocity ranged from 84-86 to 92-94 mph in 2005. He throws from a high three-quarters angle, robbing his fastball of life and leaving it hittable when he doesn't keep it down. Confidence may be the key with Buchholz. He doesn't aggressively put hitters away, too often laying the ball over the plate after he gets ahead in the count. He needs to use his changeup to get lefthanders out, but he doesn't trust it enough. Staying healthy is also important, as Buchholz had shoulder problems and bone chips in his elbow in 2003. The Astros will send Buchholz to Triple-A for the third straight season, and they'd like to see him develop a mean streak and force his way to Houston.
Buchholz topped this list a year ago after arriving in the Billy Wagner trade with the Phillies. He started poorly with the Astros, going 0-5, 7.92 in his first six outings at Triple-A New Orleans. He was pitching better when a shoulder strain shut him down in early July. He didn't need surgery, but made just three more relief appearances in mid-August. Buchholz has one of the best curveballs in the minors, a hard, sharp bender that he can change speeds with. He has plus velocity on his fastball at 91-95 mph. He has improved his changeup, which should become a solid average pitch, and come up with a two-seam fastball with more sink. After his shoulder problems and bone chips in his elbow in 2003, Buchholz needs to get stronger and more durable. He usually throws a four-seam fastball and works too high in the strike zone. He tries to be too perfect and out-thinks himself, and there are some worries that he may give in to adversity too easily. Buchholz should be fully healthy for spring training. He needs some extended success in Triple-A before he'll get his first big league callup.
The Phillies first approached the Astros about a trade in September, searching for a reasonably priced alternative to David Bell and inquiring about Geoff Blum. After Philadelphia held its offseason organizational meetings, it shifted its top priority to closer and came looking for Billy Wagner, Houston's career leader in saves. The Astros were rebuffed when they asked to build a trade around one of two pitching prospects, Cole Hamels and Gavin Floyd. The Phillies initially turned them down on Buchholz as well but relented when they realized it would be a deal-breaker. His commitment to North Carolina caused him to slide in the 2000 draft. His hometown Phillies may have been the only team that could have signed him, and they gave him fourth-round money ($365,000) as a sixth-round pick. Buchholz went 3-13 in his first calendar year after signing before everything started to click. He was the FSL pitcher of the year in 2002 and the youngest player selected for the Double-A Eastern League all-star game in 2003. Buchholz' signature pitch is a hard curveball he picked up in low Class A in 2001. One scout compared its quality and his feel for it to Josh Beckett's and Kerry Wood's, while Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said Buchholz' curve could be one of the five best in the National League within a few years. He throws the bender at 76-79 mph, and can change speeds off it to further befuddle hitters. Buchholz also has a quality fastball that sits in the low 90s, touches 95 mph and has heavy life. He'll flash an average changeup at times. He has a strong, durable frame that has held up well through 78 starts over the last three seasons. He shows good poise on the mound and never let a lack of run support fluster him at Double-A Reading. Buchholz succeeds so easily with his fastball and curve that he hasn't thrown his changeup much. He needs to use it more often to improve its quality and command. He pitched with bone chips in his elbow in 2003, but the problem resolved itself without surgery. Buchholz doesn't always trust his natural stuff and will try to overthrow. Then his front shoulder flies open in his delivery and he leaves pitches up in the strike zone. He needs to do a better job of holding baserunners. The Wagner trade made sense on several levels for Houston. Wagner was unhappy with the direction of the club, he made more money than the Astros wanted to pay when they had a lower-cost alternative in Octavio Dotel, and they got three potential starting pitchers. Buchholz will open 2004 at Triple-A New Orleans. Given how Houston went through 12 starters in 2003, he could get promoted quickly if injuries strike. Buchholz projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter.
Buchholz' commitment to North Carolina caused him to slip in the 2000 draft, but the Phillies persuaded the local product to sign by offering him $365,000, equivalent to fourth-round money. After starting his pro career with a 3-13 record, Buchholz rebounded to go 18-12 since. Like Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd, Buchholz has developed into a durable pitcher with the potential for three above-average pitches. He throws two- and four-seam fastballs, generating plus life and sitting at 88-93 mph with a high of 96. Buchholz learned a new curveball grip at low Class A Lakewood in 2001, and now his breaking ball has more velocity than Floyd's and equal bite. His conditioning, athleticism and sound delivery have made him durable. Like Floyd, Buchholz needs to refine his command in the strike zone. He tends to overthrow, causing him to leave his pitches up. His circle changeup is a work in progress. Buchholz was knocked around a bit in four late-season starts at Double-A Reading, and will head back there in 2003. He gives the Phillies another potential front-of-the rotation starter.
After starting his first full season with a 1-10 record, Buchholz kept his composure and reeled off six straight victories, including four complete games and three shutouts. Buchholz slid to the sixth round in the 2000 draft because most teams expected him to attend North Carolina. It took third-round money to sign him, but it looks like a wise investment. Buchholz is an exceptional athlete with a major league body, and the Phillies love his aggressiveness. He goes after hitters with a lively 92 mph fastball that tops out at 94. His curveball and changeup improved throughout the 2001 season as he became more consistent with his delivery. He showed his strong makeup by bouncing back from his ugly start. Buchholz was one of the most consistent starters in a young rotation at low Class A Lakewood, and the Phillies believe that he just needs to improve his situational pitching. The biggest culprit behind his 1-10 start was an offense that averaged 3.7 runs a game. Philadelphia has been willing to move pitchers quickly, but Buchholz will follow a more normal ascent for now. He'll head to Clearwater as one of the youngest starters in the Florida State League.
Though the Phillies didn't have a second-round pick in 2000, they were able to land a few prizes in the first 10 rounds because of scouting director Mike Arbuckle's willingness to take chances. Keith Bucktrot, Buchholz and Danny Gonzalez all had been projected to go higher than they did. Buchholz was strongly committed to attend North Carolina, but Philadelphia believed it owned a regional advantage and selected the Pennsylvania high school product. It still took third-round money ($365,000) to sign him, but the move could pay off. Buchholz has the size of a future workhorse and he's developing the repertoire to go with it. He consistently can hit 90 mph and has topped out at 92. He has the makings of an above-average curveball and already owns a great feel for his changeup. Buchholz shows an impressive aptitude considering he's not even a year removed from the prep ranks. His command and poise should help him as he's expected to jump to a full-season circuit this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
When EL observers talked about Buchholz, they started with his curveball. It's a legitimate plus pitch, a knee-buckler that can leave righthanders helpless. He also throws a 91-93 mph fastball with good, late life. His changeup also shows signs of becoming a major league pitch. But Buchholz sometimes has trouble commanding his fastball, and his shy, unassuming demeanor sometimes affects him on the mound. "The arm and the makeup and the breaking ball are all there," one manager said. "But he's more of a setup guy in the bigs unless he develops his changeup and fastball command. If he doesn't have his breaking ball right now, he gets pounded."
Managers rated Buchholz' curveball the best breaking pitch in the league. Scouts compare the 12-to-6 hammer to that of fellow Phillies righthanders Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd, grading it a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Like Myers and Floyd, Buchholz is developing into the total package on the mound. His fastball hits 88-93 mph on the gun, and his changeup is effective. He has a sound delivery and is establishing himself as a workhorse. "Oh man. He has an above-average fastball and one thing he does really well is change speeds on his fastball," Pevey said. "One time he's 92-93, then 88 with movement. He was overmatching guys here."
Despite being a teenager, Buchholz has a workhorse body and tied for the minor league lead with five complete games. He also topped the Sally League with three shutouts, a tribute to his resourcefulness. His 91-mph fastball didn't scare anyone, but his curveball and changeup made him tough to hit. So did his thinking man's approach to pitching. Buchholz didn't panic after starting the year with a 1-10 record, finishing with eight wins in his final 12 decisions. "He looked much more in control in the second half of the season," Pino said. "He had a good arm, good curve and good control and wasn't afraid to throw that changeup anytime in the count."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the Houston Astros in 2005
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the Pacific Coast League in 2004
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the Eastern League in 2003
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the Florida State League in 2002