The Dodgers acquired right-handed pitcher Stephen Fife at the trade deadline last season, one of three players acquired from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Catcher Tim Federowicz was the coveted piece of that transaction, with 22-year old Juan Rodriguez the live-arm lottery ticket, and Fife the low-upside starter.
Fife, now 25, was 14-4 with a 3.74 ERA in Double A in 2011, but continued his downward trend in missing bats. After 127 strikeouts in 126 innings in two years at Class A, Fife has seen his strikeout rate plummet to 5.83 strikeouts per nine innings in his 51 games, including 50 starts, in two years at Double A.
Our own Brandon Lennox rated Fife as the 53rd best prospect in the Dodgers organization:
Back in 2010 BA thought he could be a #3 starter in the big leagues, but at this point that seems unlikely. His strikeout rate has dropped significantly over the past few seasons, which would OK given that he is a groundball pitcher, but the fact that he allowed 6 homers in just 8 AFL starts has me worried. That being said, with another year of experience I could see him being a useful emergency 5th starter for the Dodgers while holding down a rotation spot in AAA. Now that’s he’s on the Dodgers 40 man roster he actually might get a ticket for Albuquerque as soon as 2012, and hopefully he’ll be able to hold his own in the difficult pitching environment of the Pacific Coast League.
Here is a video of Fife from the AFL striking out Braves catching prospect Christian Bethancourt:
In 1999, Fife was a reserve infielder on the Boise, Idaho Little League team that made it to the Little League World Series. Fife's team didn't advance to the U.S. final, as they were ousted 12-0 by the team from Phenix City, Alabama that featured Colby Rasmus as a first baseman and pitcher (though Rasmus didn't pitch in that game).
Fife was added to the 40-man roster in November, and will use the first of three minor league options this season.
|2012 Projections - Age 25 Season|
On the day Fife was acquired general manager Ned Colletti used the word "pitchability" to describe Fife, which at the time screamed "John Ely" to me. But Fife throws harder than Ely, and as the eighth or ninth starter on the depth chart you could probably do worse. Just by being on the 40-man, Fife is one step closer to making the big leagues, though I will guess that Fife doesn't see any time with the big club this season.
What's your prediction for Fife? Give us your prediction for ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched in the comments, and feel free to add strikeouts or any other predictions you have as well.