Righty hurler Justin De Fratus was selected in the 11th round in the 2007 amateur draft by the Phillies, and since then has been one of the organization’s most steady ascenders.
After signing his first pro contract in 2007, as a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, De Fratus posted a 2-3 record with a 4.30 ERA and a .273 batting average against in 10 games, 8 of which were starts.
The following season, the Oxnard, CA native pitched with the short season Low A Williamsport Crosscutters. In 14 games as a starter, the California native went 6-5 with a 3.67 ERA and a .260 batting average against.
In 2009, De Fratus was a key piece of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws pitching staff, taking on both starting and relief duties. In 36 games (12 starts) that season, De Fratus went 5-6 with 3 saves, a 3.19 ERA and a .258 batting average against.
After beginning the 2010 regular season with Class A Advanced Clearwater and posting a 2-0 record with 15 saves and a 1.79 ERA in 29 games, De Fratus was promoted to Double-A Reading in early July. Over the last two months of the season, as a member of the R-Phils, he went 1-0 with 6 saves and a 2.19 ERA in 20 games. Combined at the two levels and pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, opponents batted .208 against De Fratus.
De Fratus stayed hot throughout the 2010-2011 off-season, pitching for Team USA in the Pan-American qualifiers held in Puerto Rico, helping the Americans finish with a 9-1 record. He also posted exceptional statistics for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, holding opponents to a .125 batting average in 7 scoreless outings.
In 2011, combined at two levels with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the man known to family and friends as “J-Bone” posted a 6-3 record with 15 saves, a 2.99 ERA and a .227 batting average against. The exceptional efforts during his minor league campaign, last year, earned De Fratus a promotion to the big leagues in September.
During his stint with the Phillies, De Fratus proudly wore the pink backpack assigned to the newest/youngest member of the team’s relief corps and held opponents to a .083 batting average and posted a 2.25 ERA.
Equipped with top notch control, De Fratus sports a repertoire that includes a fastball that tops out at 96 MPH, a strong slider and a deceptive change up. In recent years, the 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder has seen his minor league K/9 rate go from 8.84 combined in 2008 and 2009, to 9.83 in 2010, then to 11.86 in 2011.
Currently sidelined with a bit of elbow tightness, De Fratus still stands as one of the Phillies’ best young relief arms. With the arm ailment potentially standing in the way of making the opening day roster, De Fratus is a lock to be one the club’s premiere options to fill an inevitable void on the pitching staff and make an impact out of the bullpen this year.
Our 2012 prospect countdown index can be found HERE.
Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. You can check out more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.