The Braves’ top pitching prospect (having passed Matt Harrison) was drafted in the second round of the 2003 draft, out of a California high school. He pitched well in rookie ball, but in 2004 got off to a rough start in A-ball and then needed Tommy John surgery, missing the second half of that season and the first half of 2005. He needed to re-establish himself in the second half of 2005 and pitched pretty well in Danville before tearing his knee, requiring ACL surgery.
In 2006 he started off in Rome and was too advanced for the level, going 8-1 with a 2.99 ERA, striking out 84 in 75 1/3. Promoted to Myrtle Beach, he had his troubles, going 4-4, 4.11, with his big problem being control, as he walked 36 men in only 65 2/3, though he did manage to strike out 58.
It was enough to get him to Mississippi to start 2007, where in 73 innings he struck out 71, going 8-1 again with a 3.56 ERA. He got moved up to Richmond and has set the International League on fire, four starts, a 1.57 ERA, 27 strikeouts in 23 innings.
At his best, he throws hard for a lefty, in the 91-93 MPH range. Like Chuck James, has a deceptive delivery. Needs to harness his control; even when he’s pitched well, he’s had troubles with walks. Exceptional at denying the home run thus far in his career. Since his knee injury, he’s allowed only 15 homers total… It’s possible that he and James can’t co-exist in the same rotation, that they’re too similar in style. At least it’s probably best that they not pitch back-to-back.