Top 50 Jays Prospects, Jays Journal Edition: #45 Daniel Webb

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Following Brian Jeroloman at #46, the first of many highly rated catchers on the Jays prospect list, is…

#45: Daniel Webb

image courtesy of nwfraiders.org

21 years old / 6’3″ 210 lbs

Born: May 18th 1989 in Paducah, Kentucky

Bats Right    Throws Right

High School Team: Heath HS Kentucky

College: Northwest Florida State

Drafted: by the Jays in the 18th rd, 555th overall, of the ’09 First-Year Player Draft, one rd before Ryan Tepera. Signed by Joel Grampietro for 6-years and $450,000, 3 times above the MLB recommended slot amount and the second highest amount paid by any MLB club in the 2009 draft to that point.

Wears: #14 for the Lansing Lugnuts

Quick Facts:

  • His name is really listed as Robert McDaniel Webb in Baseball-Reference, so it’s odd that he is referred to as Daniel.
  • While in HS, the assistant stated that Webb “broke his left foot in the first inning, but courageously pitched the entire seven-inning game, which wound up as a 2-1 loss.”
  • Very interesting fact here: Webb, and Anthony Gose, both made the 2008 Preseason High School All-America 2nd Team as pitchers. As we all know, Gose left pitching shortly thereafter, but both of their stats in HS were impressive to say the least. Other notables on their 2nd team include SD’s Casey Kelly as a SS, as well as LAD’s Ethan Martin as a 3B. It goes to show just how little the position you played in HS has to do with where you wind up!
  • Only played 1 yr of College ball before signing with the Jays.
  • In his 1 season in College, Webb held a 4.93 ERA and had 47 Ks over 62 innings of work.
  • Drafted by the DBacks in the 12th rd of the ’08 draft but was unsigned.
  • Once drafted, BA stated that his talent warranted being drafted as a first rd sandwich pick in the ’08 draft.
  • Was ranked as the 4th best RHP in the Jays system, and 20th best Jays prospect, by Baseball America (BA) prior to the 2010 season.
  • Noted by BA to have touched 96 MPH after signing with the Jays in ’09.
  • Had a perfect fielding percentage in 2010.

Stats

2010 W L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
SS 0 6 5.24 13 56.2 69 43 33 4 26 39 1.676 11 0.6 4.1 6.2
LoA 1 1 2.31 2 11.2 8 7 3 0 6 4 1.200 6.2 0 4.6 3.1
Total 1 7 4.74 15 68.1 77 50 36 4 32 43 1.595 10.1 0.5 4.2 5.7

Note: Of note in the stats listed above is the fact that Daniel had 33 ER while in SS Auburn while 43 Runs were scored while he was pitching. The fact that so many errors were committed while he was pitching may indicate some reasoning for his struggles as innings were extended. Frustration of the defensive woes can sometimes irritate a pitcher, or he can simply become tired as the inning wears on. Either way, it’s not a pleasant situation, particularly when younger and less equipped mentally to deal with these types of woes. Similarly, while 7 runs were scored against him in Lansing, only 3 were earned. You have to believe that as Daniel gets better defensive support, his numbers will reflect it.

Auburn Stats Ranking for Daniel Webb

  • Finished 3rd in IP with 56.2
  • Had the worst Whip of any starter at 1.68
  • Allowed more than 1 hit per inning with 69 HA over his 56.2 IP
  • Was the youngest starter on the team
  • Was the 3rd youngest pitcher on the Lugnuts roster at 20 years old once promoted there at end of year
  • Did much better once promoted, bringing his ERA down from 5.24 in Auburn to 2.31 in Lansing

Interviews:

Extra Information and previous experience:

  • Threw 62 innings in 28 GP in his 1 college year. Had a 4.935 ERA, 68 hits, 47 Ks, and 36 walks over that span.

Daniel Webb only ended up being a Toronto Blue Jay prospect because they were willing to go well over-slot for him and knew that they would pay what it took to sign him. The Diamondbacks, who had drafted him in 2008, had been scared off by his asking price and tried to use the leverage they gained when he failed to meet Academic requirements at the University of Kentucky to try to get him cheap. Well, they couldn’t sign him to what they felt was a worthy price. It’s a good thing this happened, because the Jays got a lot of potential at a more than decent price.

A Webb quote after being drafted by the Jays: “I just have expectations to work hard and get to the big leagues in a couple years.”

That’s what we want to hear, and that’s what we want to see.

I am a huge fan of any player who is drafted in the late rounds and has the potential to be a middle-to-top of the rotation guy, and such is the case with Daniel Webb. With the right instruction on how to pitch and control his powerful stuff, Webb could become as dominant as Brandon Morrow currently is. However, if he doesn’t learn along the way, he could also struggle just as much as Oliver Perez has, and thus is the trial and tribulation of drafting a power thrower.

I say thrower because Daniel was exactly that when the Jays drafted him. He didn’t have the repertoire of pitches required to call himself a pitcher yet and was an extremely raw arm at that point. What did the Jays know when they drafted Webb? They knew that he could hit 96 MPH and worked anywhere between 90-94 MPH consistently, and that he has enough size and strength to be a durable pitcher. They also knew that he uses a good change up, which apparently has a lot of movement, that could play up as he gets a feel for it. If sharpened, his off speed stuff would work well towards keeping hitters off balance.

The problem since then has been the same as what any real-estate agent will tell you is required when thinking of buying a house: location, location, location! You can read the issues in his 2008 Draft Report here.

Webb throws across his body (as you can see in the video below) and not from over the top. I’m not sure if it’s an arm angle issue or an attempt to throw too hard issue, but Webb has a hard time hitting his spots when using his fastball. Since he also doesn’t have a third pitch to go along with an average change up and dominant-but-wild fastball, he lacks some ammunition to be an effective starter. This has led to speculation that Webb may wind up in the bull pen at some point.

However, I don’t think that will be the case if the minor league staff in the Jays system can teach Webb an effective cutter or polish his woeful curve. If any organization has enough pitching depth in the minors to wait for Webb to figure things out, it’s the Toronto Blue Jays. To give up on such a high starting potential would be a big mistake. Just ask the Mariners who did just that with Brandon Morrow. The Jays saw first hand the payoff they got when they stuck to using Brandon as a starter, and I believe their intend to do the same with Daniel.

A Baseball America draft tracker post noted the following about Webb:

“A National League area scout said Webb’s inconsistency stems from the fact that he tends to rush through his delivery when he doesn’t fell he has his best stuff.”

Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues and now with MLB Trade Rumors added the following about Webb before the 2009 draft took place:

“Webb is a bit of a project and will require patience, but his delivery is surprisingly sound. He clearly has the highest upside of any JuCo player available in this year’s draft, and might still be around when the Yanks pick in the fourth round, #135 overall.”

Boy was he ever right about the last part. He was available to them in the 4th, 5th, 6th…ect… And, I think he’s right about the delivery. It’s smooth and effortless. The issue is being able to repeat the delivery – particularly the release point – so that he can hit his spots more effectively. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish when trying to hit 93-95 MPH on the radar gun.

Webb had an okay, not great, first season at Auburn and made a couple of starts for Lansing at the end of the year.  Like fellow ’09 draftee Drew Hutchison, who we will cover later in our top 50 list, Webb signed for an amount well in excess of what the typical 19th-rounder would get, but Hutchison has a much better idea of how to pitch at the moment. What isn’t a question at all for Webb is the fact that he is a fiercely competitive pitcher. Like the Jays top prospect Kyle Drabek, Webb has been noted for being “very aggressive and competitive on the mound.” I can also say that if he did break his foot during the first inning of a game in HS and stayed in the game regardless of the pain he was in, it shows the true grit and character that Webb has to use in order to compete at the highest levels.

If his aggressive and competitive nature, size and velocity abilities, and his feel for pitching all come together at some point, Daniel Webb will jump up the prospect ranking charts faster than any other Jays prospect. With so many other examples of patient approaches with pitching prospects within the Jays system (Ricky Romero being the best example of the present, while Roy Halladay would be one from the past), it bodes well for Webb’s chances of putting it all together and making his way to The Show some time in 2012 or 2013.

I expect very big steps to be made by Webb in 2011 and could see him reach HiA by mid-season if he does as well as I expect him to.

Here is a video of Daniel Webb warming up, courtesy of gerrymcdonald.ca.

Expected 2011 Team: Lansing Lugnuts

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together:#2 starter if he really does put it all together, or dominant reliever or closer if he can’t get that 3rd pitch polished.

– MG

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