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Prospect Retro: Ben Sheets

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Ben Sheets of the Milwaukee Brewers

Per reader request, a Prospect Retrospective on Ben Sheets

Ben Sheets was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round in the 1999 draft, 10th overall, from Northeast Louisiana University. He made 7 starts after signing, split between the Pioneer League and the California League, posting a combined 4.04 ERA and 40/16 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings. I gave him a Grade B in the 2000 Minor League Scouting Notebook.

Sheets began 2000 at Double-A Huntsville, going 5-3, 1.88 in 13 starts with a 60/25 K/BB in 72 innings. Promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis at the midway point, he went 3-5, 2.87 in 13 starts, with a 59/31 K/BB in 82 innings. Although his ERAs were pretty, his underlying component ratios were not spectacular, particularly his K/IP. I gave him a Grade A in the '01 book, and rated him as the second-best pitching prospect in baseball (behind only Ryan Anderson of Seattle). I did warn in my comment about Sheets that his mediocre K/IP and K/BB marks were a warning that he should not be rushed and might not thrive immediately in the Majors.

Sheets made 2 starts in Triple-A in 2001, then moved up to the Majors, going 11-10, 4.76 in 25 starts. He followed that with a 11-16, 4.15 mark in 2002, but his strikeout rate increased considerably, and there were hints that he was starting to put things together. That didn't quite happen in '03 (11-13, 4.45), but in '04 he blew through the league, posting a superb 264/32 K/BB in 237 innings, with a 2.70 ERA. Poor run support kept his record to 12-14, but for many clubs he would have been a 20-game winner with underlying stats like that.

I still think that Sheets could have used some additional Triple-A time, but right now it looks like everything is going to work out well for him.

Comparable Pitchers to Ben Sheets, based on Sim Score and PECOTA (no active players included)

Don Robinson
Frank Pastore
Mike Moore
Tom Seaver
Dennis Leonard
Bob Rush
Dave Stieb
Don Sutton

An interesting list of comparables: two Hall of Famers, and other excellent pitchers. Pastore is the worst guy on the list.