Friday, March 19, 2010

Prospect #15 Billy Bullock

Relief RHP
Drafted 2nd round, 2009 University of Florida
Levels Played in 2009: Elizabethton Twins Appalachian League, A Beloit
Opening Day Age: 22

The third of three consecutive relievers on this list has a world of talent. The Twins had a very successful draft in 2009. They were able to re-tool their farm system by selecting 4 college arms with their first 4 picks. Billy Bullock was the third one taken but he might have the most upside. ESPN's Keith Law said he was the best college closer in the 2009 draft. Bullock is a big power reliever, with a hard fastball and sharp breaking ball. U of Florida tried for a couple years to make him into a front line starter but he could never put it all together. He was bit wild, never had a third pitch and seemed to get over tired.

The Gators coach was a former minor league Twins pitching coach, Kevin O'Sullivan. He decided to turn Bullock into a closer and it panned out very well. In his Junior year he pitched a total of 47.2 innings, with a 2.64 ERA, 50 strikeouts, and 11 saves.

His transition to professional ball went quite smoothly as he dominated rookie ball throwing 7 more innings giving up 1 run, striking out 10 and only allowing 4 base runners. The Twins quickly decided that Bullock was ready for full season ball and was moved up to Beloit for the end of the season. Bullock stepped in right away as the Snappers closer and racked up 8 saves in 26 innings. He had a 2.73 ERA and struck out 35 batters (12.1 K/9). He some command issues with 12 walks, but his stuff was so good that he was able to overwhelm Midwest League hitters.

Billy Bullock arguably has the best fastball in the system. He works with an explosive fastball that ranges 94 to 97 MPH. He has been able to run it up to as high as 98 on the gun. He pairs that with a power slider to form a perfect combination for a dominant closer. Bullock stands at 6 feet 6 and weighs 225 pounds. He will have to fine tune his command issues because he is known for giving up a few walks and home runs. But his stuff is defintiely legit and he is in the place to be to learn some control. Bullock will most likely begin the year in Fort Myers. Depending on what the Twins do with former first rounder Carlos Gutierrez, he could get an early promotion to New Britain.

ETA: Late 2011, early 2012
Projection: He has closer stuff. He has closer makeup. He can be a closer.
MLB Comparison: Best case scenario he could be Jonathan Broxton.
Worse case maybe Grant Balfour.

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