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Top Prospect Alert - Ty Howington

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 11-4-80, Age: 20, Height: 6í5íí, Weight: 220, Bats: S, Throws: L. Acquired: Drafted By Reds in 1st Round of 1999 Draft (Hudsonís Bay HS, Vancouver, WA). 2000 Stats: (Dayton - Low-A) 5-15, 5.27 ERA, 142 IP, 150 H, 86 BB, 119 K. 2001 Stats: (Dayton - Low-A) 4-0, 1.15 ERA, 39 IP, 15 H, 9 BB, 47 K. (Mudville - High-A) 3-2, 2.43 ERA, 37 IP, 33 H, 20 BB, 44 K. (Chattanooga - AA) 0-1, 2.45 ERA, 11 IP, 8 H, 9 BB, 10 K.

At each of his first three stops in 2001, it has appeared that Ty Howington is finally on the path to stardom that is expected of every top draft pick. Howington had a miserable first 18 months as a professional, even by high-school pitching standards. In 1999, a two-month holdout insured that he would not debut that year with the majority of his class. When he finally started to pitch last season with Dayton, his mechanics were a mess, rendering his command almost non-existent. Even at his worst he wasnít extremely hittable, but the 19 wild pitches, 13 hit batsmen, and the 5.44 walks per nine led directly to the terrible end numbers that he posted. The Reds were willing to be patient with him and kept him at the same level to open 2001. They decided to focus on his mechanics, trusting that his stuff would remain intact once his delivery solidified. It didnít take long to see that Howington was a completely different pitcher in 2001. After six starts in which he allowed only 5.5 baserunners per nine, the Reds moved him on to the California League. At Mudville, he nibbled more, but still showed enough stuff to strike out 10.7 men per nine, so he was moved up to Double A after only seven outings. His first two starts in AA have been a mixed bag: the 8 hits, 10 strikeouts, and 2.45 ERA are all good, while the 5.5 innings per start and 9 walks illustrate the distance that he still has to travel.

Howington has a mid-90ís fastball with "late life," an above-average curve, and a change that is already adequate as a third pitch. He probably has the best velocity in the entire organization, and certainly can work off that pitch without needing to refine his off-speed repertoire. His major issue is command, and as with most young pitchers, it is sporadic. It would be nice (and expected) to see the Reds leave him at AA at least through the first few months of next season, with a major-league debut either late next year or early 2003. With the dearth of pitching prospects in the Reds entire system, Howington could easily become the ace of the staff by 2005.


 

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