Position: RHP Height: 6-6 Weight: 210 Born: 1/27/83 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Gavin Floyd was drafted by the Phillies in the first round in 2001 out of high school in Baltimore. He was the fourth overall pick that year, and the first high school pitcher selected. Floyd debuted in 2002 with an excellent season for Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. He followed that up with another strong season in '03, this time in the Florida State League. Promoted to Double-A for 2004, Floyd has thrown 17 shutout innings through May 2, solidifying his status as one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the game.
Physically, Floyd is close to being a perfect pitching prospect. He is tall and lanky, but not too thin. He has both a strong upper body and strong legs. His fastball can hit 95 mph, and is a consistent 92-93 mph offering, with movement. His curveball is one of the best breaking pitches in the minor leagues, and he can throw it for strikes. His changeup was mediocre when he first signed with the Phillies, but he has worked hard to improve it, and it is now at least an average pitch. Floyd's command is very impressive for a pitcher his age, and he is poised and confident on the mound. His biggest problems are his over-reliance on the curveball and occasional mechanical inconsistency, which sometimes hurts his command. The latter hasn't been a problem this year. He's made strides learning to mix his pitches effectively and avoid using one pitch too much. He handles his position well, and shows good overall athleticism.
Floyd's statistics are generally solid across the board. While his K/IP rate stayed about the same between 2002 and 2003, while his K/BB improved, statistical evidence of stronger command. His early numbers in 2004 are excellent. Obviously he can't be expected to throw nothing but shutout innings all season, but his ratio set remains strong in Double-A, which is a good sign for his future. There are no real holes in his numbers, and he's been young for his levels of competition.
Floyd has had no major health concerns so far. The Phillies monitor his workload carefully, and while he racked up 166 innings in 2002 as a 19-year-old, they have kept his overall pitch counts to reasonable levels. That doesn't guarantee he won't get hurt, of course. There is some concern that his delivery may stress his elbow, but this is a minority opinion. His overall athleticism should help him avoid serious problems, but "should" doesn't mean "will."
What to expect
2004 has been a great year so far for Floyd. The Phillies are generally cautious about promoting young pitchers, wanting them to get a full year of experience at each level of competition. By this plan, Floyd would spend 2004 in Double-A and 2005 in Triple-A, then get a full shot in the majors in 2006. Floyd has been so good so far this year that that timetable may get pushed up. In my prospect book this year, I gave Floyd a Grade A-, ranking him as the ninth-best pitching prospect in the game. That grade may have been too conservative.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation, is also out, and can be ordered through on-line book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife Jeri, son Nicholas, and feline friends Toonces and Spot.