Friday, February 11, 2011

ProspectNation 2011: #8 Austin Hyatt- RHP

Previously drafted by the Braves out of high school, Austin Hyatt was selected as a 15th round draft choice by the Phillies in 2009, having attended the University of Alabama where he pitched as a starter.

In his senior season with Alabama, Hyatt posted an 8-3 record with a 3.76 ERA in 15 games in the tough Southeastern Conference before signing his first professional contract with the Phils.

Almost immediately, Hyatt began his pro career with the short season Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League. The right-hander dominated as a 23-year-old, posting a 3-0 record with a 0.66 ERA and a .141 batting average against in 17 games, 5 of which were starts. With Williamsport, Hyatt struck out a beastly 81 batters in 54 1/3 innings.

The tremendous efforts upon his arrival in the Phillies organization earned Hyatt a bump up to Class A Lakewood where he served as the BlueClaws' set up man for the team's postseason run en route to the South Atlantic League title. Hyatt pitched in all 5 Lakewood wins in the 2009 postseason without allowing a run.

As a member of the High A level Clearwater Threshers in 2010, Hyatt posted an 11-5 record with a 3.04 ERA and a .220 batting average against in 23 games, 21 of which were starts. In 124 1/3 innings in the Florida State League, Hyatt struck out 156 batters and walked just 35.

In one May start against Jupiter (Marlins affiliate), Hyatt forced the baseball world to take notice of his talents, as he struck out a career high 14 batters, while allowing just 1 hit over 8 innings.

Over Hyatt's final 10 starts with the Threshers, he won 5 and lost none, while notching an astounding 0.83 ERA.

The 6'2", 180-pounder was named the Florida State League's pitcher of the year for his exceptional efforts in 2010, despite being promoted to Double A Reading in early August.

With Reading, Hyatt started 4 games, going 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA and a .247 batting average against. While in Double A, Hyatt added more solid strike out numbers, posting 25 K's in 22 innings.

Now 24 years old, Hyatt's pitch repertoire includes a fastball that tops out in the mid-90's and a very good change up that has movement. Hyatt's third pitch is a slider that he worked to gain more confidence in last season. The success of the slider, among other factors, could determine Hyatt's future status, whether as a starter or a reliever.

Expect to see Hyatt back in Reading in 2011. At this point his future with the Phillies does not seem to be as a starter. With considerable depth among starting pitchers at the Major League level (the starting 5 locked in, with Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley on standby, in case they are needed), the Phillies could likely move Hyatt back to a relief role, going forward, with hopes he will continue to progress quickly. If Hyatt can take some strides and impress the higher ups this year, fans could see the Georgia native insert himself into the conversation with other relievers the team has as bullpen options.


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