I’m planning to write some player profiles (a la Mac) of the top prospects in the system. I’ll start with one of the top pitchers: the struggling Anthony Lerew.
Lerew was drafted out of high school as the 345th overall pick in 2001. Mainly a fastball/slider pitcher, he hits the mid 90s and is said to have good control. He’s worked his way through every level of the Braves system with consistant success. . .not really dominating, but pitching well. Not as high of a strikeout rate as you’d like to see out of a power pitcher, but he’s real stingy with the homers. That success earned him a rating as one of the top 10 Braves prospects by both Baseball America and John Sickles.
At the begining of the year he was coming off a season that began in AA and ended with a September call up. In spring training he was even touted as a candidate for the closer’s job in Atlanta. As we know all too well he’s not there now, having missed the cut for the big league team at the end of spring.
And if you think that watching Chris Reitsma this season has been painful, be glad Lerew didn’t make the team. Lerew has had a disasterous 2006. He’s seen all of the major indicators of pitching performance go in the wrong direction. Here are his 2006 numbers with his career lines:
- k/9 2006=6.8 Career=7.7
- h/9 2006=12.6 Career=7.81
- BB/9 2006=5.13 Career=2.93
- Hr/9 2006=1.58 Career=0.62
So, you can see that he’s pretty much fallen apart this year. The strikeout numbers, though never quite that good, aren’t really the problem. It’s just that he’s much, much easier to hit this year. And the hits aren’t just singles, as he’s already given up 8 home runs. Why is this happening? He pitched well in 72 innings at Richmond last year, so it’s not that he’s in over his head at AAA. Is he hurt? Doesn’t look like it — he’s still reaching the mid 90s with his fastball.
Or maybe it’s something new. He was said to have been working on a new pitch, a splitter, in spring training (at the request of Fake Leo). It’s possible that tinkering with new pitches and new mechanics has flattened out his previously live fastball. Word from a fan who saw last night’s 3 inning, 11 hit fiasco was that Lerew looked like he was throwing BP: hard but flat.
On the bright side, Anthony is the youngest pitcher on the Richmond staff, so he’s got enough time to figure it out. When he does, (and his track record says he will), I think he’ll shape up to be a starter.