Prospect Profile: Will Startup
Name: Will Startup
Will Startup was taken by the Braves in the 5th round of last year's draft (167th overall). Will came out of the bullpen for the Georgia Bulldogs for 3 years. He was a workhorse for Georgia as he amassed 217 innings over his 3 years there. Will started his professional career in Rome last year. He was pretty impressive as he collected 5 saves in 25 appearances for the Rome Braves. In 38 innings Will allowed 31 hits and just 6 walks against his 30 strikeouts. His WHIP was very good at 0.97 due to his good control. His k/9 at 7.11 was a little low but everything else looked great.
Will started 2006 in Myrtle Beach but only lasted 2 games as he was quickly promoted to Mississippi. He was fantastic in Mississippi as he gave up only 2 runs in 25 innings for a 0.72 ERA. He also improved his strikeout ration with 29 in 25 innings against just 6 walks. Startup also saved 4 games for Mississippi this year. He was then promoted to Richmond where he pitched well but no longer dominated. His h/9 increased while his k/9 decreased. However, that is to be expected with such quick ascension. He still put up very respectable numbers with a 3.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He won't need to spend much of 2007 in Richmond before he is ready for the majors.
Will Startup's projection is difficult because he has only pitched one full year in the minors. He obviously projects as a relief pitcher as that has been his only role since college. He has saved games at both the college level and at Mississippi this year but I don't really see him being a closer at the major league level for a couple of reasons. First, he doesn't have overpowering stuff, and second, he is left-handed. I don't see him as a LOOGY either because he has excelled for a few years at being a full inning reliever. So my projection is that Will Startup can be a good to excellent setup man or middle reliever in the big leagues.
Projection Update: I still think he can be a full inning reliever but he may start out as a LOOGY for a while. His h/9 increase in Richmond along with the pounding he took in the Arizona Fall League will probably make the Braves think twice about letting him pitch against tough right handed batters initially.