Scouting Mets' Prospect #41: Neal Musser

Musser Regained Old Form in Binghamton

The New York Mets drafted Neal Musser out of Benton Central High School in Indiana in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft. Ranking #41 among the Mets' Top 50 prospects, Musser models himself after current Mets' LHP Tom Glavine. Here's a scouting report on Neal Musser. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

Vital Statistics:
Name: Neal Musser
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: August 25, 1980
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Musser was the Mets' first pick in 1999 after forfeiting their first round pick signing free agent 3B Robin Ventura the previous off season. He went 7-1 with 108 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched his senior year of high school. Born and raised in Indiana, Musser grew up a Reds fan but his favorite player as a kid was Nolan Ryan. "I grew up idolizing Nolan Ryan. I loved the way he pitched and I would love nothing more than to play as many years as he did and have as much success as he had. I don't have the velocity he had. I am more of a control pitcher", Musser told NYfansonly.com back in 2000 after a successful season with the Kingsport Mets.

Musser jumped on to the prospect radar with a coming out party in 2001, going 7-4 with 98 strikeouts in 95 innings pitched for the Capital City Bombers before earning a promotion to St. Lucie where he continued his good pitching. As good a season as 2001 was for him, 2002 was a lost season filled with injuries. Musser, who suffered from some elbow tendonitis in his pitching elbow after his 2000 season at Kingsport, had a stress fracture in his left foot in 2002 that limited him to just 32 innings pitched. In fact, Musser has had a wide array of injuries that has plagued his minor league career, including a stress facture in his left foot, a rib cage injury, elbow tendonitis, and an ailing back. Some of those injuries can be attributed to the 20 lbs of weight he put on after being drafted. He weighed just 185 lbs on draft day in 1999.

Despite missing three weeks with a back problem in 2003, Musser was able to bounce back with a solid season. More important than his stats that year was the fact he was able to consistently take the mound. Musser followed his 2003 campaign with an outstanding effort for Binghamton this past season. He was his old dominant self at times, going 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the month of May for the B-Mets and even earned a promotion to Norfolk. His baptism in AAA did not go so smoothly however as he had problems locating his fastball, the same control problems he displayed when he made his professional debut for the Gulf Coast League Mets back in 1999.

His walk rates and control is something Musser is always cognizant of, two things he's always striving to improve. "I've got a lot more walks than I want. It's something I'm trying to work on. That's why we are all down here in the minors. I'm trying to sharpen up my off speed pitches and cut down on my walks", Musser told us earlier in the year. What kind of pitcher is Neal Musser? Just ask him. "I guess I model myself after Tom Glavine. Glavine is also left-handed. He picks the corners, changes speeds, and mixes it up real well. That is something I strive to do."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2004

Norfolk

2-4

36.0

39

17

24

6.25

2004

Binghamton

9-6

108.1

103

40

70

3.41

2003

Binghamton

5-9

100.1

108

39

76

4.57

2003

St. Lucie

3-1

34.2

41

9

16

4.67

2002

St. Lucie

2-0

19.0

20

5

12

1.42

2002

Brooklyn

0-0

13.0

7

5

12

0.69

2001

St. Lucie

3-4

45.2

45

19

40

3.55

2001

Capital City

7-4

95.0

86

18

98

2.84

2000

Kingsport

3-2

34.1

33

6

21

2.10

1999

Gulf Coast

2-1

31.1

26

18

2

2.01


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup, Slider.

Fastball. Musser's fastball averages between 88-90 MPH and gets it as high as 92 MPH at times. His fastball has a heavy, sinking action that aids him to keep the ball in the yard. He has had troubles at times locating his fastball and that gets him into trouble.

Other Pitches. Musser has a plus changeup which serves as his out pitch. His changeup effectively runs away and drops well. It has great movement and he's able to throw it at any time. His curveball is solid and his slider is something he's continually worked on developing. Despite having four pitches in his arsenal, Musser really relies on his fastball and changeup.

Pitching. Musser was dead on when he compared himself to Tom Glavine. Like Glavine, Musser uses his off speed pitches to set up his fastball. He works both sides of the plate to keep the hitters off balance. He does not have an overpowering fastball that will get by many hitters. If he loses control of his fastball, which he's be known to do on occasion, that's where the Glavine comparison ends. Musser has a plan on the mound and when he's in total control of his pitches he is as dominant as they come. Consistency is something Neal has had to work on throughout his career.

Projection. Musser is only as good as his control. Of course that could be said about any pitcher. But it's truly the case for him. While he can be a world beater at times, he lacks the consistency and fastball needed to be a frontline starter. He's still only 24 years old and has a wealth of experience under his belt now. He still has a chance to be a backend starter in the rotation, but with his durability issues, he seems more suited for the bullpen.

ETA. 2006. Musser should be part of the Norfolk rotation in 2005. It will be a pivotal year for him to make his mark. With a very good season for the Tides in 2005, Musser could find some role on the Mets (most likely in the bullpen) by 2006. He's the left-handed pitcher closest to the Majors for the Mets and that's going to expedite his arrival to Shea.

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