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.