: William Alan HornePosition
: 6'4", 195 lbsBorn
: January 5th, 1983Hometown
: Marianna, FloridaDrafted
: 11th round (349th overall) in 2005 (Yankees 11th selection). Recieved a $400,000 bonus.Background
: As John Manual of Baseball America puts it in the 2006 Prospect Handbook, "Horne has lived a baseball lifetime." Drafted in the first round out of high school by the Indians in 2001, Horne was selected ahead of current big leaguers Noah Lowry, David Wright, JJ Hardy and Danny Haren. He opted not to sign and instead went to the University of Mississippi where he has a solid freshman season only to succomb to Tommy John surgery and take a medical redshirt his sophmore year. Horne then transferred to his local Chipola Junior College (Marianna, Fl) for his junior year and was drafted in the 30th round of the 2004 draft by the Angels. Horne bypassed a reported six-figure bonus to attend the University of Florida, his third college in 4 years. After helping the Gators to the College World Series Finals, Horne considered returning to Florida as a fifth year senior, but turned pro after the the Yankees pursuaded him with third round bonus money.Strengths
: Horne is a mature pitcher that knows how to get outs on days he doesn't feature his best stuff. His best offering a a heavy 92-95 mph fastball that he does a good job of keeping in the bottom third of the zone. He works off his fastball with a hammer curveball that bites hard and down in the zone. Horne's curve can be unhittable if he's getting it over the plate consistently. He learned a cut fastball from Chipola JC pitching coach Jeff Johnson (a long-time family friend), and can now throw it for strikes on a consistent basis.Weaknesses
: Horne's health hasn't been perfect; in addition to Tommy John surgery, he also missed all but 1 start of Florida's CWS run with a hamstring injury. His changeup is rudimentary and needs improvement if it's going to become reliable. He's improving his ability to throw strikes, but he still has plenty of room for improvement with his control (4.37 BBper9 at Florida). Horne also needs to continue to smooth out his mechanics and work on his ability to hold runners.Comparison
: Despite all his travels, Horne has yet to make his pro debut. He attended the Yankees fall minicamp after signing and was impressive. With no pro stats to look at, I thought I'd compare Horne's perfomance in his final college year to that of another Yankees' prospect who'll be knocking on the door to the Bronx within the year:
Horne is the classic example of a guy who's stuff is better than his numbers show (read Bonderman, Jeremy circa 2003 or Burnett, AJ circa 1999-present). His numbers are solid, but nothing jumps out at you, except the relatively high amount of walks.Outlook
: Horne figures to make his pro debut at either Low-A Charleston or High-A Tampa; his spring performance will dictate his destination to start 2006. If he gets his control together and gets his changeup to where it's a consistent offspeed pitch, Horne's upside would be tremendous (he is a former first round pick remember). The Yankees will keep him as a starter, which is for the best in the long term, but the feeling here is that Horne would absolutely blow through the system if he was used out of the bullpen. He'll be expected to climb the ladder quickly, and could see regular big league time as soon as Opening Day 2008.
From Wednesday's ESPN.com chat with Jim Callis of Baseball America
Mike A. (Chico, CA): Hey Jim, thanks for taking our questions. Was Alan Horne an 11th round steal for the Yanks, even though they gave him 3rd round money? Has his stuff declined since he was a first rounder in 2001? Thanks as always
Jim Callis: What's money to the Yankees? Horne might be a steal. His stuff hasn't really declined, but he hasn't gotten much better since he went in the first round. Some scouts think that could turn out well for the Yankees, while others question how competitive Horne truly is.