Prospect Retro: Erik Bedard
Erik Bedard was drafted in the sixth round in the 1999 draft, out of Norwalk Community Tech College in Connecticut. His pro debut was excellent: a 1.86 ERA with a 41/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. At age 20 he was a tad old for the level, but the K/IP ratio stood out as a big positive. His velocity was just average in the 87-90 range, but he showed a good breaking ball. I didn't put him in the 2000 book for STATS, since I didn't write about many rookie ball players back then. Nowadays a similar prospect would get a Grade C or C+, with a "higher potential" notation.
Bedard moved up to full-season ball in 2000 and posted a 9-4, 3.57 mark with a 131/35 K/BB in 111 innings for Delmarva in the Sally League. Baseball America ranked him as the 19th-best prospect in the Orioles system. Influenced by his strong component ratios, I gave him a Grade C+ in the '01 book, noting that he was a sleeper and "a better prospect than some guys with more press." His fastball had moved up a tick to 88-91, and his secondary pitches were improving.
2001 saw him go 9-2, 2.15 in 17 starts for Frederick in the Carolina League, with a 130/26 K/BB in 96 innings and just 68 hits allowed. Shoulder soreness cost him a month of pitching time, but his velocity continued to increase, into the 90-93 range now. I moved him up to Grade B, with only the shoulder problem keeping him away from a B+ rating.
His shoulder was fine in 2002. Unfortunately his elbow wasn't. He went 6-3, 1.97 with a 66/30 K/BB in 69 innings for Double-A Bowie, before blowing out his elbow and going under the Tommy John knife. I wrote in the '03 book that he was a Grade B+ and one of the best left-handed prospects in baseball if healthy, but the injury forced a rating drop to Grade C+ until we saw how he recovered.
Bedard rehabbed in '03 pitching six games at three different levels, for a total of 19.1 innings. I didn't put him in the 2004 book, which was a mistake on my part: I think I got sloppy and forgot about him to be honest. Nowadays I'd be more likely to catch a mistake like that thanks to the blog. I'd probably have given him a Grade C+ still, as the reports on his rehab indicated that his fastball had dropped back down into the upper 80s.
It was expected he's spend much of '04 in the minors rebuilding his arm strength. Instead, he made 26 starts for the Orioles and held his own, eventually showing no ill effects from the surgery. He has been increasingly effective ever since, with improving command and rising strikeout rates.
Bedard is an example of a projectable Grade C/C+ pitching prospect at the lower levels who builds on his skills and thrives as he matures. He wasn't a super-hot prospect early in his career. He always posted good numbers, but it took time for the scouting reports to catch up with what the numbers were showing.
As for his future, it depends on his health. Sim Scores show guys like Donovan Osborne, Bud Black, Tervor Wilson, Justin Thompson, and Chris Nabholz as comparable to Bedard through his age. PECOTA comps for 2008 aren't available yet. The ones from last year show Gary Peters, Mark Langston, and Mike Flanagan....but also Whitey Ford and Warren Spahn as possible comps. Bob Gibson shows up too, although given the LHP/RHP split I ignore than comp personally.