A perennial top Dodger prospect, Chris Withrow is looking to finally advance out of AA Chatanooga and fulfill his potential as a pitcher for the major league club. Withrow was the Dodgers first round draft pick in the 2007 amateur draft out of Midland High School in Midland, Texas and battled arm injuries early which limited him to only 4.0 innings pitched in 2008. 2009 was a breakout year of sorts for Withrow. He played most of the year in the very hitter friendly Cal League (Dodgers A+ affiliate at the time was the Inland Empire 66'ers) and even though the ERA was average at best (4.69 in 86 innings) his FIP was very impressive at 2.96. Withrow managed the extreme offensive environment by attempting to strikeout every batter he faced and ended up posting a K/9 of 10.95 as a starter. The Dodgers brass noticed the dominance and promoted the 20 year old to AA Chatanooga. Withrow certainly held his own after the promotion and posted a FIP of 3.68 in 26 innings as a starter with the Lookouts. The solid showing was noticed by Baseball America as well as Withrow was rated the 48th best prospect in baseball after 2009.
As 2009 was a big year for Withrow, one can imagine that the Dodgers were looking for an oppurtunity to fast-track the young right-hander. Withrow would start his 21 year old season again in Chatanooga, unfortunately there was little improvement over the prior year (if even a bit of a regression.) 2010 saw Withrow struggle through an entire year in AA posting an ERA of 5.97 and a FIP of 4.50. Worse was the fact that his K/9 dropped and the BB/9 increased. Withrow would again spend the entirety of 2011 in AA Chatanooga and while the K/9 rebounded, the BB/9 continued to get worse (at 5.25 per 9 innings.) This brings Withrow to a crossroads in 2012. One expects the Dodgers to again leave Withrow in AA. Should Withrow continue to show signs of improvement (as he did from 2010 to 2011) it will encourage the Dodgers to keep Withrow as a starter. If not, the Dodgers might elect to Ethan Martin/Scott Elbert him, turning him into a hard throwing reliever, ending the days of Withrow as a top Dodger prospect.
Even though Withrow was the Dodgers first selection in the 2007 amateur draft, he was actually a compensation pick for the Dodgers losing Julio Lugo in free agency. The Dodgers actually surrendered their first round pick the prior winter by signing type-A free agent Jason Schmidt.
As Withrow was only added to the 40 man roster for the first time this past winter, Withrow has 3 option years remaining and 6 seasons of major league service time which would be under Dodgers club control.
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|2012 Projections - Age 23 Season|
Entering 2012, the Dodgers will again likely assign Chris Withrow to AA Chatanooga. Considering his poor to decent results the past two years, judging exclusively by statistics, I would consider Withrow a very long shot to contribute in 2012. Looking outside the statistics however and there's a bit more hope. Accoding to resident prospect expert Brandon Lennox who ranked Withrow the 3rd best Dodger prospect entering 2012, "Withrow has a fastball that can reach 98 mph, and he also has the makings of a plus curveball. He also throws a fading changeup and as mentioned by [DeJon] Watson he’s added a slider to his repertoire." Considering the excellent scouting report, it's certainly possible that Withrow can make a jump in 2012 where all the tools suddenly click. If so, I wouldn't rule out a late season callup as a starter.
I predict Chris Withrow will be promoted to Los Angeles in September and will start 2 games. He will throw 13 innings with an ERA of 2.08.
What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Withrow's ERA, number of innings pitched, plus anything else you would like to predict.