Rookie Profile: Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the sixth round in 2006, out of Wagner College in New York. He was successful in college but had missed most of 2005 following Tommy John surgery, which probably hurt his stock a bit on draft day although his actual performance in '06 was strong (2.03 ERA, 53/16 K/BB in 44 innings, 22 hits). He continued to pitch well in pro ball, posting a 2.02 ERA with a 53/20 K/BB in 58 innings for Vancouver in the Northwest League, with 39 hits allowed, drawing positive scouting reports with his 90-93 MPH fastball and good curve. I gave him a Grade C in the 2007 book, but wrote that he had upside, represented "good value" as a sixth round pick, and could rise quickly if his command held up.
Bailey began 2007 with Kane County in the Midwest League, posting a 3.35 ERA with a 74/22 K/BB in 51 innings, allowing 42 hits. Promoted to Class A Stockton, he continued to pitch well though with slight slippages in his ratios, posting a 3.82 ERA with a 72/31 K/BB in 66 innings, 56 hits allowed. He made one emergency start for Triple-A Sacramento, throwing eight strong innings, allowing one run with four strikeouts, one walk, and three hits allowed. He made progress adding a changeup to his repertoire, and I gave him a Grade B- in the 2008 book, writing that further command improvements could result in a rapid rise.
Beginning 2008 at Double-A Midland, Bailey was inconsistent early in the season but more effective after moving to the pen, posting a 0.92 ERA in relief but 6.18 as a starter. He threw harder more consistently in shorter stretches, adding some cutting action to the pitch, while continuing to use his curveball and changeup to give him a more diverse arsenal than many relievers. He finished with an overall line of 4.32 ERA with a 110/56 K/BB in 110 innings, allowing 99 hits. He was excellent in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1.29 ERA with a 16/1 K/BB in 14 innings. I gave him a Grade C+ this year, but noting that if his command "sharpened up" that he could be a surprise in 2009.
I thought he might have a solid year as a middle reliever. I did not expect him to post a 1.84 ERA with a 91/24 K/BB in 83 innings, with just 49 hits allowed. I did not expect him to pick up 26 saves. His FIP was 2.56, still very impressive though it does show that the ERA had some good luck attached to it. His velocity charts show his speed picking up as the season progressed. He was at 88-94 early in the season, just like in the minors, but was getting up more consistently into the mid-90s as the summer progressed.
As for the future, Bailey may backslide a bit next year just due to luck, but as long as he remains healthy I don't see any particular reason why he can't be a bullpen force going forward.