Baseball America ranked right handed pitcher Chris Withrow seventh on their list for 2012, but many other prospect lists rank him higher. Born in Midland, Texas, the 22-year old was drafted by the Dodgers in the 1st round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Midland High School. He is listed at 6’3″ and 195 lbs. Pitching as a senior in high school, he had a 8-1 record with a 1.32 ERA and 90 strikeouts.
In 2007 he played briefly with the Rookie level Gulf Coast Dodgers where he appeared in 6 games, starting 4. He only pitched 9 innings, allowing 5 earned runs and striking out 13 batters. He missed most of the 2008 season with multiple injuries. An odd injury was sustained during the 2008 offseason when he gashed his throwing hand after trying to throw a snorkel mask. A sore elbow ended his 2008 season early thereafter.
In 2009 he played mostly with the Single A Advanced Inland Empire 66ers in San Bernardino before being called up to AA Chattanooga. He had a 6-6 record in ’09, starting 16 games for the 66ers. In 86.1 innings pitched he had a 4.69 ERA, 105 strikeouts, and 45 walks.
In 2010 and 2011 Chris pitched for the Chattanooga Lookouts, putting up very similar numbers both seasons. He was 4-9 in 2010 with a 5.97 ERA in 27 starts. In 129.2 innings pitched, he struck out 120 and walked 69. Last season Withrow had a record of 6-6 with an improved 4.20 ERA in 25 starts. In 128.2 innings pitched, he struck out 130 and walked 75 Southern Leaguers. Withrow was able to lower his ERA from the season prior, while also allowing 5 less homeruns, had a higher strikeout rate, and got more groundouts than flyouts. When asked about his improvement during his second season at AA Chris said:
“Chuck Crim, our pitching coach, he really helped me out to be more positive,” Withrow said. “He focused on quality misses along with quality pitches, and that really opened my eyes to, ‘OK, you can miss and still be effective.’ That was a whole new concept for me, I never really — you know, you miss, you’re like OK, that’s a ball. Well, it can set up other things.”
A power pitcher, Withrow’s fastball hovers around 93, but has been clocked up to 99 mph. He is improving his curveball, a great strikeout pitch. Scouting reports see him as a future middle rotation candidate. He needs to work on lowering his walk rate as most young pitchers normally do. His BB/9 sits at 4.9 through 5 seasons of minor league work. He also has a changeup which he has been working on, but needs further development.
Chris Withrow may even get a chance to get his feet wet on the big club this season. His name is now being thrown around with the likes of Allen Webster and Zach Lee, who are other top Dodger pitching prospects. Even though the future new owner needs to invest in building up the farm system, the Dodgers have quite a few hopeful young hurlers in the pipeline.