1. Clay Buchholz, RHP
Draft: 1st round, 2005, Angelina College (TX)
2007 Stats: 1.77 ERA
at Double-A (86.2-55-22-116); 3.96 ERA
at Triple-A (38.2-32-13-55); 1.59 ERA
at MLB (22.2-14-10-22)
Year In Review: After finishing the previous year on such a strong note, the Red Sox
surprised some by starting Buchholz off at Double-A this season, but he blew away hitters at two levels before throwing a no-hitter in his second big league start, and establishing himself as the top pitching prospect in the game.
The Good: Buchholz is the total package with outstanding stuff, outstanding command and control, and outstanding mound presence. His four-seam fastball sits at 92-94 mph, can touch 97, and features excellent movement. It also isn’t even his best pitch. His plus-plus curveball is a true 12-6 breaker, and multiple scouts relay stories of batters falling down while trying to hit it. His changeup is also an above-average offering that features a late and heavy drop. He also mixes in a solid slider, and a two-seam fastball with some sink. His mechanics are smooth and sound, and he pitches with a fearless intensity.
The Bad: Anything here is nitpicking. At times, Buchholz becomes a bit too enamored with his secondary offerings, and needs to focus more on setting everything up with his fastball. Some felt this was solved at the big league level when Jason Varitek
called all the pitches. Buchholz was shut down at the end of the season due to minor arm soreness, but it was done purely on a precautionary basis, and there are no long-term concerns.
Fun Fact: While at Angelina college, Buchholz was also the best hitter on the team, and would still have been drafted in the first ten rounds as an outfielder if he'd never pitched.
Perfect World Projection: Buchholz is one of the few pitching prospects around with true ace potential.
Timetable: Buchholz’ ascent is the primary reason Curt Schilling
has been spending time writing good-bye letters to his Boston teammates. Buchholz is penciled in for an Opening Day rotation slot, and could be an impact pitcher immediately.