Phillies Prospect #29: Travis Blackley

Phillies Prospect #29: Travis Blackley

After struggling when he's been given the chance to pitch in the majors, Travis Blackley hopes that's all behind him now that he's with the Phillies. The Rule 5 pick is in the thick of a battle to be the Phillies number five starter.

Acquired: Claimed from San Francisco in the 2007 Rule 5 Draft.

B: L T:/  Height: 6' 3"  /  Weight: 190 lbs.

2007 Team/Level: Fresno (AAA - 28 g), San Francisco (MLB - 2 g)

Games/Games Started in 2007: 30 g / 30 gs

The Phillies have actually been well aware of Travis Blackley for a number of years. They first scouted him in his native Australia and made some mild moves toward signing him, but in the end, Blackley wound up with the Seattle Mariners. He was somewhat off the Phillies radar for a little while and wound up pitching in the San Francisco Giants organization and even made two starts with the Giants last season, but wound up off the 40 man roster and eligible for the Rule 5 Draft last December, which is where the Phillies again put him squarely back on their radar.

Repertoire:  Blackley throws an impressive change-up that works mainly because he uses the same arm speed and release point that he does with his fastball. Since undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum that cost him the entire 2005 season, Blackley has slowly moved his fastball back toward the 92 mph point that it was at before he suffered the injury. If he ever locks in his curve as a consistent pitch for himself, Blackley will be a much better pitcher than he has shown over the past couple seasons. It's that pitch that will be a key for him in getting Major League hitters out with regularity, especially if he's pitching as a starter.

Travis Blackley is one of six Australian born players in the Phillies organization and he has a shot at sticking with the big league club. Actually, the Phillies were one of the first clubs to scout Blackley in his native Australia. (Photo: Getty Images)

Pitching Style: Now that he's healthy, Blackley has returned to being the aggressive, no non-sense type pitcher that he was before the surgery. He's given up just over one home run per nine innings at the Triple-A level in his career and has walked just over three hitters per nine innings at the same level. He's primarily a control type pitcher and doesn't come unwound too quickly if things don't go too well for him. He will probably need to bust hitters inside a little more than he has and gaining consistency with his curve would prove to be a huge help.

Projection: So far, Blackley has been one of those pitchers who puts up good minor league numbers, only to get hit around when he gets a shot to pitch in the majors. With the Phillies looking for a back of the rotation starter, Blackley could potentially fill that spot or possibly wind up as a long reliever in the bullpen in 2008. Since he was a Rule 5 pick, the Phillies either have to use him or risk losing him and there is no doubt that they would like to keep him around the organization.

ETA: Blackley has thrown over 400 innings at Triple-A and should be ready for the majors. In that respect, he was a safe pick in the Rule 5 world, but he's only ever pitched two games in relief, so there are at least some question marks about how he would handle that role if given the opportunity.

Comparison: It's possible that Blackley could wind up being a Clay Condrey type pitcher, who is just on the verge of having what he needs to succeed at the Major League level, but can't quite get there. Like Condrey, it's possible that Blackley will settle in somewhere as a back-and-forth guy that fills in where needed, but is nothing more than an insurance policy. He does have better stuff than Condrey and with a little tweaking, could well eclipse what Condrey has given the Phillies.

What else you should know about Travis Blackley: 

  • He is one of six Australian born players in the Phillies organization.

Travis Blackley's career stats

Year Team W L ERA G GS CG IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP OPP AVG
2001 Everett 6 1 3.32 14 14 0 78.2 60 34 29 7 29 90 1.13 .211
2002 San Bernardino 5 9 3.49 21 20 1 121.1 102 52 47 11 44 152 1.20 .227
2003 San Antonio 17 3 2.61 27 27 0 162.1 125 55 47 11 62 144 1.15 .215
2004 Tacoma 8 6 3.83 19 18 2 110.1 100 49 47 14 47 80 1.33 .251
2004 Seattle 1 3 10.04 6 6 0 26.0 35 31 29 9 22 16 2.19 .321
2006 San Antonio 8 11 4.06 25 25 0 144.0 138 77 65 18 45 100 1.27 .255
2006 Tacoma 1 1 4.09 2 2 0 11.0 10 5 5 2 5 5 1.36 .233
2007 Fresno 10 8 4.66 28 28 0 162.1 156 87 84 21 68 121 1.38 .259
2007 SF Giants 0 0 7.27 2 2 0 8.2 10 7 7 2 5 5 1.73 .294
Major League Totals 1 3 9.35 8 8 0 34.2 45 38 36 11 27 21 2.08 .315
Minor League Totals 55 39 3.69 136 134 3 790.0 691 359 324 84 300 692 1.25 .238

Stats courtesy of The Baseball Cube.


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