Bryan Bullington By The Books


The Royals signed RHP-Bryan Bullington to a minor league contract back on November 24th.  On November 26th I went on record that it was a good move for the club to make.  He is low cost, low risk, and very well could wind up making the 2010 Opening Day roster as a member of the KC bullpen.  

He appears today as the subject of a post because I thought it would be interesting to track his “progression” from the perspective of books instead of stats.  I used past editions of Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook to cherry pick some quotes about Bullington.

2004 Baseball Prospectus:

The Pirates’ #1 pick in 2002 progressed well in 2003, beating up the lower levels despite a considerable loss in velocity as compared to his junior year at Ball State.  His size and track record argue that he’ll return to the mid-90s form he flashed in college, which, along with his plus slider and developing curve and change-up, would make him one of the game’s top pitching prospects.

2005 Baseball Prospectus:

He might not grow up to be a dominant starter, but he has the assortment to be a useful rotation regular.  He’s gotten his velocity up into the low 90s, and he can throw four pitches for strikes.

2006 Baseball Prospectus:

Bullington did make strides this past season, mostly thanks to improved off-speed stuff, but that’s all out the window after October labrum surgery.  He won’t pitch again until June.

2007 Baseball America Prospect Handbook: (Ranked as the Pirates #13 prospect)

His heater now sits at 88-91, far from overpowering, though he has good command of it.  He rediscovered his slider in Triple-A in 2005 and it became a strikeout pitch for him.  His curveball and change-up are also serviceable pitches.

2008 Baseball America Prospect Handbook:  (Ranked as the Pirates #14 prospect)

Bullington’s fastball now usually tops out at 90 mph, a far cry from the 95 mph scouts clocked him at in college.  He does have a good slider, decent changeup and a solid feel for pitching to make up for a lack of a great heater.  It’s clear now that he won’t be a star, but Bullington has shown great resiliency and can still carve out a major league career as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

2009 Baseball Prospectus:

He’s still searching for his first major league victory, as well as a performance that will prevent his career from serving as a memento of the previous Pittsburgh regime’s failures.

The above is a novel way to track a player’s career, though I don’t know how valuable it is in the long run.  Still it is kind of cool to line up what was written about him prior to each year from 2004-2009, and watch his prospect star slowly die in the process.

I hope you found the journey worth the read, even if it leaves no lasting impact.

(Wally Fish is Kings of Kauffman’s lead blogger.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

Tags: AL Central Baseball Bryan Bullington Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals

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  • Philly Keith

    Man, what a bust this guy turned out to be! You should do a piece like this for all of the Royals top picks. There are some bombs in that group too!

  • Wally Fish

    Bullington has certainly had a disappointing career to date, but he’s not done yet. If he can cobble together a career as a solid ML reliever he can do at lot to show he was worth the pick. Injuries, and not a lack of talent or ability, are the reason hasn’t been able to live up to his draft position or expectations. When healthy he’s been pretty good which is more than you can say for someone like Royals 2001 pick Jonathan Colt Griffin or Padres 2004 pick Matt Bush.

    In the future, I probably will do more installments of “By The Books” after I fill in more of the gaps in my reference library. For starters, I still need to track down 2 years of Baseball Prospectus and 6 years of the BA Prospect Handbook.