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Prospect Profile: Antonio Bastardo

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Prospect Profile: Antonio Bastardo

The Phillies signed Antonio Francisco Bastardo as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2005. He made his debut in the Dominican Summer League that year and was very effective, posting a 2.13 ERA with 63 strikeouts in just 38 innings. Moved up to the Gulf Coast League in '06, he performed adequately in his North American debut, with a 3.91 ERA and a 27/14 K/BB in 23 innings, with 20 hits allowed. He was an undersized but athletic lefty at 5-11, 160, rating as a Grade C prospect at that point, a guy with a good arm who might or might not develop.

Bastardo began 2007 with Lakewood in the Sally League, going 9-0, 1.87 with a 98/42 K/BB in 92 innings over 15 starts. A one-start trial in the Florida State League resulted in 12 strikeouts over five innings, though he also allowed five hits and four runs. He showed an erratic fastball, hitting 92-93 MPH at times but also going as low as 86-87. His changeup was excellent, but his breaking ball needed work, and he was slowed down at times by a sore arm. I rated him as a sleeper in the 2008 book, giving him a Grade C+ and putting the "Sleeper Alert" tag on his comment.

Returning to Clearwater to begin '08, he posted a 1.17 ERA with a 47/10 K/BB in 31 innings, leading to a promotion to Double-A. He was less effective at Reading, with a 3.76 ERA and a 62/37 K/BB in 67 innings, maintaining a good strikeout rate but struggling with his command. He also gave up 13 homers, and showed a strong fly ball tendency with 0.45 GO/AO ratio. As in 2007, his velocity was all over the place, hitting 92-93 (especially early in the season), but also running just 87-88 at times. His changeup and slider continued to develop. I gave him another Grade C+ in the 2009 book.

This year, Bastardo began at Reading and went 3-2, 1.82 in 35 innings with a 39/7 K/BB, showing much improved command. He then made two strong starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with a 2.08 ERA and a 12/3 K/BB in 13 innings. As you know, he made his major league debut last night for the Phillies and pitched six effective innings, fanning five with one walk and four hits. The one run he gave up was a homer.

Bastardo has gained 30 pounds since signing and is now 5-11, 195, having filled out his body. Sabermetrically, I really like his consistently strong strikeout rates, and the fact that he's maintained them against good competition. On the negative side, his control comes and goes, and the strong fly ball tendency could lead to gopher problems when his command is less than perfect. He also has a history of nagging injuries and inconsistent velocity, leading to durability concerns.

Bastardo isn't an elite prospect, but I think he's a good one, and I'd give him a B- right now. He can help the Phillies as long as they don't overwork him.