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Top Prospect Alert - Roy Oswalt

By Robert Sherry

Roy Oswalt: One of my favorite pitching prospects in the minors, this former 23rd round pick in 1996 was a dominate force in the Texas League after being promoted from Single-A. He didn't really receive much notice on prospect list before 2000, but he's sure to be high on many lists in 2001.

Drafted out of high school, Oswalt attended Holmes (MS) JC and then signed as a draft-and-follow selection in 1997. Oswalt's biggest moment during the 2000 season came in his first Double-A start as he fanned 15
hitters. His first impression was only a sign of things to come. Oswalt ended up making 19 starts for Round Rock, posting an 11-4 record with a 1.94 ERA in 130 innings, 106 hits allowed, 22 walks, and 141 strikeouts.

Standing at 6-foot and 170 pounds, he doesn't look like an intimidating figure on the mound. Yet this 23-year-old righty uses a mid-90s fastball and very good curve as his top two pitches, both of which he throws with excellent command. He has an improving change-up has his third pitch. He had an up-and-down career during his first couple of pro seasons, but now it seems that he has taken that big step forward needed to be an impact player. With the Astros in need of quality pitching, especially since they lost out on their attempt to bring back Mike Hampton, any pitching prospect in the upper levels will probably get a longer look in 2001.  This should only increase Oswalt's time table. If he gets off to a strong start at Triple-A, don't be surprised to see him up by mid-summer.


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