9. Ryan Tucker - RHP - 6'2 - 190lbs
(last year: 6)
The Marlins selected Ryan Tucker with a supplemental pick in the 2005 draft. The California native joined a pitcher heavy draft class and was signed for $975,000. He hadn’t had the same success as the other pitchers taken by the Marlins that season, but he has turned the corner the last two seasons. Before his 2007 season in Jupiter, Ryan went 7-13 with a 5.00era and a 1.45whip in 131.1 innings of work at low-A Greensboro. He was walking 4.59 batters per 9 and his control was all over the place. On the plus side, he was striking out more than a batter per inning. With the Hammerheads, he went 5-7 with a 3.52era and a 1.35whip in 138 innings of work. Although he lowered his walked by 1.5, his strikeouts decreased by 3 per. Not a bad trade-off as all his numbers improved from Greensboro. This season in Carolina, Ryan split time between starting in relieving, going a combined 5-3 with a 1.58era in 91 innings. Opposing Southern League batters hit .195 and hit just 2 homeruns off of him. He struck out 74 while walking 37.
Armed with a 92-95mph fastball that tops out at 97, Tucker has had scouts raving about him since day one. Ryan is a fantastic athlete with great competitiveness on the mound. He has a nice and easy delivery and he isn’t afraid to pitch inside. Because his fastball has always been so overpowering, he never really had even an average breaking ball. His second pitch is an average slider at this point with plenty of potential to it becoming a plus pitch. He was ordered by pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal to throw 10-15 sliders per game late in 2007 in order to improve it more. Some scouts suggest he is a candidate to be a future ace closer, while others still believe he could be a number 2-3 starter in the majors. Ryan can be a bit of a hot-head as he actually walked off the mound in 2007, when Jupiter pitching coach Reid Cornelius came out to talk to him. He would be suspended for doing this.
Tucker will most likely spend the beginning of the season closing in New Orleans, but could make the team out of camp if he shows control of his secondary pitches. He took a major step forward in 2008 and if that slider continues to show progress, he could be a force in 2009. The Marlins see Tucker as one of the anchors in the bullpen for the future.