Some prospects going into Spring Training 2013 will be familiar to the fans that followed their teams into September of 2012. Some prospects got a cup of coffee, or at least a quick shot of espresso, and are striving to make their careers more than that. Tyler Cloyd made his debut on August 29 against the New York Mets. While he is not the most alluring prospect name out there, he is likely to have some kind of an impact on the 2013 Phillies. Here is a look at what one might expect from this peripheral prospect going forward.
The right-hander was drafted in the 18th round out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 2008. In college he was a two-time North Central Conference pitcher of the year in 2006 and 2007. Cloyd made his full-season minor league debut in 2009 at Lakewood where he had success permitting 32 runs over 88.2 innings while striking out 77. With some regressions along the way, Cloyd progressed through the various levels of the Phillies system. In 2012, he had his best statistical minor league season with AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley. Between the two levels, Cloyd had a WHIP of 1.00 over the span of 167 innings and opposing teams scored 44 runs against Cloyd. Baseball America ranked Cloyd as having the best control of any pitcher in the International League in 2012.
The Phillies called Cloyd up in late August and he made six starts in the final month of the season. In this small sample, Cloyd seemingly held his own. In 33 innings, Cloyd struck out 30 and had a WHIP of 1.21 while surrendering 18 runs to the opposition. However, after watching two of Cloyd’s starts, there is plenty of reason to question his viability as a major league starter. While there are reports of Cloyd’s fastball touching as high as 92, I think I only saw one pitch touch 89 with the vast majority of his fastballs in the 85-87 range. Although Cloyd can pinpoint his fastball, it doesn’t have much tilt to it. His secondary pitches, a change-up and a curve, seemed mediocre, offering little velocity deception off the fastball. Although he had success in an eight-inning victory against the Mets in New York on September 20, it was a Mets lineup that included the likes of Fred Lewis, Mike Baxter, Justin Turner, and Kelly Shoppach. The Mets consistently helped Cloyd by swinging at and popping up first pitches. On September 27, however, against the Nationals, Cloyd’s lack of velocity was exploited by Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche who combined to hit three home runs and two doubles off the former college standout. In his 33 major league innings, Cloyd surrendered eight home runs in total.
The Phillies appear to have five starters ahead of Cloyd and will not need his services in the starting rotation to start the season in April. However, when one of their starters gets injured, Cloyd might be the one asked to step up into the rotation. Fans can hope Cloyd can get through the lineup a couple of times without the opposing hitters completely blasting off. That unfortunately seems like Cloyd’s ceiling, which actually is not that bad considering he would be doing it at the major league level.