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PuRP #29: Pedro Strop

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Second on our list is Pedro Strop. I'll try and have Matt Miller up tomorrow and then I'll probably take a break on posting these until Tuesday. You never know, though. It's feast or famine with me.

Pedro Strop

Pedro signed his name in a spot conducive to help keeping his identity concealed.

Position, 2006 Team: RHP, Casper/Asheville (milb profile page)

HT: listed 6'0"WT: 160 lbs.

D.O.B.6/13/1985

2006 Stats (Casper): 11 GM 0 GS, W-L 1-0, 13 IP, 9 H, 3/3 R/ER, 2 BB, 22 K, 2.08 ERA, .205 BAA

2006 Stats (Asheville): 11 GM 0 GS, W-L 2-1, 13.1  IP, 10  H, 7/7 R/ER, 5 BB, 13 K, 4.73 ERA, .213 BAA

Bio: Strop was a graduate of the Rockies' Dominican academy and made his U.S. debut in Casper in 2003. At the time, he was a promising young shortstop who's greatest strengths were his defensive skills, but who had enough offensive tools to be considered a potential quality prospect in the infield. Of course, one of those defensive skills was his cannon arm and quick release, which foreshadowed his subsequent move to the mound. 2003 didn't show much promise as he struggled at the plate in one of the Minors' best hitting environments at Casper. Still, some of that was attributable to culture shock and Strop was graduated to the short season club at Tri-City in 2004.

That season started off with a bang for Strop, as he hit two homeruns in his first game with the Dust-Devils (Tri-City is a pitcher friendly environment, making it more impressive) and hopes were high that things would be clicking with him. This was about as high as expectations would get though, as he once again fell into a hitting funk and was soon to be overshadowed by Chris Nelson who was tearing up the Pioneer League circuit in Casper. Strop's final chance as an infielder came in 2005, but when he was quickly outpaced by teammate Jason Van Kooten at the plate, it became clear that if he were to remain a position player his ceiling would only be as minor-league filler.

He was called up to Asheville late that season, but not even friendly McCormick Stadium could rescue his bat, so the Rockies came to him with the idea of switching to the mound. Apparently he took to it like a fish to water. We started hearing the buzz out of the Dominican on the movement on Strop's plus fastball by the time pitchers were reporting to Tucson. By the time camp broke and extended Spring Training rolled around we heard he was quickly taking to a change-up and we were eagerly anticipating his pitching debut in professional competition. He didn't disappoint, mowing down Pioneer League hitters with a 15.23 K/9 rate. By the end of the short season he was already back in Asheville. His call-up with the Tourists was shaky at first, he allowed two walks but escaped otherwise unharmed in his debut, but his second outing on August 5, he got reamed, giving up a double, homerun, a walk and a single while retiring just one batter before giving way to Andrew Johnston in the ninth of what should have been a blow-out victory.

Strop showed his resilliency by bouncing back with a pair of solid outings, including August 16, wherein he redeemed himself by throwing two perfect innings and picking up the victory in the tail-end of a doubleheader. His next outing two days later was another disaster, though, as he learned the perils of McCormick Field's short right porch with back to back hitters, giving up his second and third homeruns in Asheville. Those would be the last for 2006, as his ERA would drop from 8.53 after August 18, to the 4.73 he finished with, his last seven innings (five games) he would allow just five hits, one walk, and strike out eight.

Projection, Majors ETA: Strop is so new to pitching that he remains a little bit of a wild card. Currently being groomed to be a late inning reliever, I don't believe there's been any thought of moving him out of the bullpen as of this date. He's a little on the small side and might not have the stamina to be a starter, or would lose too much of his promising heat. As Chris Kline at BA mentions, however, in addition to the fastball and the developing change, he also has flashed what looks to be a "plus slider," and three good pitches should serve him well whatever role he's put in. Next season look for Strop to resume again at Asheville, but if he shows the same rate of development, it's certainly not out of the question that he'll be in Modesto instead.

He could be in Denver by 2008, but he's already pushing the issue of whether it's worth it to put him on the forty-man roster, and the Rockies will have to make a tough decision regarding his future before next offseason's Rule 5 draft after dodging a bullet and retaining him this year. For that reason, there's a chance he could be part of a trade scenario this season to a team without the same minor league depth that can better afford to protect him.

Other Links:

Pedro's Pitching Splits at MinorLeagueSplits.com

Pedro's Baseball Cube Page

Prospect Pulse: December 1 (Rule 5 preview)" by Chris Kline at the Baseball America (paid subscription required)

Really, other than those, your best bet for info on Strop is doing a search here on the right, as we've pretty much been the only ones to notice him until he generated buzz ahead of this year's Rule 5.