Our minor league analyst Ryan Ghan was interviewed on LunchTime HaloTalk at the start of the 2011 season to discuss his list of the Angels Top 20 Minor League Prospects. Here is a transcript as our countdown continues...
Ryan Ghan: In the number five slot, we've got Tyler Chatwood. Local product. Grew up in Redlands, not too far from the Inland Empire ballpark. He's 6 feet, but throws like a 6-foot 5-inch, 300 pound hulk. I mean, he can get it up to 97 to 98, great fastball. And what's most impressive about that fastball, what I've always... whenever I've seen him, what has always impressed me was how a guy that short can create that much downward angle on a baseball. He creates very good angle at the plate and hitters have a tough time squaring it up. He gets a lot of groundballs. I think we'll see progressively fewer groundballs the higher up in the system he goes, but he should always have those tendencies. He's certainly had success in that department so far. He's also got a very good curveball, very sharp break. If you look at some of the video online where they show him from behind, especially when he was first drafted, the curveball is unbelievable. It's unreal how much he can make that ball move. The movement on the pitch now is tighter, sharper, so isn't as easy to see, but it's tougher for hitters to pick up on too. His change-up got a lot better last year. He was a little more confident in it, and threw it for strikes.
So, he's got three useable pitches. Now, I do hope that the Angels keep him in Double-A as long as possible this year. Maybe let him stay there the whole season. We were talking about how that park might warp our impression of a pitcher earlier, but the upshot is that it does give pitchers a lot of confidence. Allows them to trust their stuff. Chatwood did not strike out as many guys last year as maybe we would have liked to have seen him in Arkansas so he's going to need to work on that curveball, but again, with a fastball that good and that hard to square up, I think he's got a lot of potential for major league success.
Rev Halofan: So, what's the ceiling on Tyler Chatwood if you would?
Ryan Ghan: I would say Roy Oswalt last year, you know, maybe not early in the career but a really dynamite number two starter. That's where I would put his ceiling. Now, that's not a sure thing. He does have some command issues that he hasn't fully worked out yet. So, you know, we're just speculating here on upside. We're rolling the dice. But his upside could be as good as that.
RevHF: I'm thrilled but the guy could be in the basement in Arkansas the next five years for all we know, so I'm not holding you to any of this.
RGhan: All right. But he is a guy to get excited about. He's also a nice guy. Good clubhouse presence. Works really hard. Still very young. He's really young for the levels that he has been pitching at. So, he has got a good shot and great future.
Jim Gardner: Any kind of injury concerns? Does he have any problems?
RGhan: He did have Tommy John surgery in high school before turning pro. I don't think he has missed a start since. There were some minor glitches preseason early on. They held him back in spring training before he started in Cedar Rapids two years ago. I want to say for some foot thing maybe. But the arm I think has been fine since the Tommy John surgery in high school.
Due to the not unexpected Scott Kazmir implosion, Chatwood was called up to the big leagues in April. Born in December of 1989, he is the 4th youngest player in the American League this season (teammate Mike Trout is #1 and Alexi Amarista #7). His 6-7 record and 94 ERA+ are respectable for a fifth starter and he has been getting better as the season progresses, flashing glimmers of brilliance even. He pitched back to back 7-inning 4-hit shutouts on the road against the Mets and Dodgers in June.