Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Quality ground ball pitcher with four pitch mix and good chance to be a number three starter.
The Player: Allen Webster (RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers) – The Dodgers inked Webster out of a North Carolina high school in 2008, convincing him to turn pro with just a $20,000 bonus. He appeared in 12 games as a reliever that summer with middling success. Webster dominated with the Dodgers complex league affiliate in 2009 and showed well in a promotion to rookie level Ogden later that year. He finished with a 12-9 record and 2.88 ERA with Great Lakes in 2010, all with less than a hit per inning and nearly a strikeout per inning. He breezed through nine High-A starts before a promotion to Double-A in 2011. With Chattanooga he struggled to a 5.04 ERA in 91 innings.
Body: 6-3, 190 pounds with average shoulder width, long arms and legs. Thin and lanky with room to add more strength without bulking up.
Makeup: Good worker with professional mentality on and off the field. Controls emotions on the mound and believes in his best stuff.
Delivery/Mechanics: Athletic with good balance. Simple, deliberate lower half with some minor drop and drive and a long stride. Has some variation in his landing foot that throws off command. Drops arm straight down his back side, stopping short of full extension. Has some short-arm in him, appearing to throw like a catcher at times. Extends well out front and follows through completely.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 97, Low – 90, Average – 92-94, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 95, Low 90, Average 91-92, Grade – 50/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: Natural arm action and grip imparts above-average sink. Turns his fastball over at times to accentuate sink. Grade – 60/70
Overall Fastball: Short-arm action limits FB projection but should still have plus velo with plus sink. Must gain consistency from stretch to show same velocity. Gets careless with delivery at times, leading to variations in velocity and release point. Grade – 60/60
Curveball (CB): Flashes sharp 11-5 break at times. Throws at 76-78 with tight spin. Consistently throws down in the zone as a chase pitch, must learn to work pitch inside to right-handers more frequently. Grade – 50/60
Slider (SL): Threw more often than CB in 2011. Sits 80-81 with limited depth. Works better when he throws it harder and tightens it up. Grade – 40/50
Change-up (CH): Best and most reliable pitch. Has sink and arm-side fade. Works well against lefties. Will slow arm and guide pitch when he’s struggling to command FB. Trusts pitch in all counts. Lacks projection but quality pitch right now. Grade – 60/60
Control: Simplicity of delivery works well for throwing strikes. Will pound zone with fastball and change-up. At times will struggle with control from stretch. When delivery is completely in sync, shows potential for plus-plus control. Grade – 40/70
Command: Must refine ability to work both sides of the plate with sinking fastball. Relies on movement and just throws it down in the zone right now. Can’t elevate four-seam fastball to change eye level. Refining ability to locate secondary pitches. Short arm limits command projection but should be average with experience and refinement. Grade – 30/50
Summation: Four pitch mix with heavy sinking fastball gives him plenty of ways to work hitters and get outs. Induces plenty of ground balls while CB and CH give potential for some swing and miss. May be better off scrapping SL and focusing on tightening the CB to give him a different plane and movement pattern. Must refine command and control to allow best use of arsenal. Athletic with strong work ethic, has picked up on nuances of the game quickly. Remains poised on the mound with little visible emotion during starts. Has number two starter ceiling with high likelihood of becoming a workhorse number three.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Only requires refinement of command to achieve big league readiness. Has diverse arsenal that allows him to pitch without his best stuff and limits long term risk.
Future: The Dodgers plan to send him back to Double-A to start 2012. Improvements in his command and a more consistent CB or SL should allow for more success against advanced hitters this year. There is a slim chance he makes his MLB debut in 2012 but should be there by mid-season 2013 and be a rotation stalwart in 2014 while still just 24-years old.