Paul Clemens is not a top prospect...yet. He wasn't a big prospect in a loaded Braves system, but might sneak into Houston's Top 10 prospect list now. He has good stuff, but it's also not overwhelming. He's put up good numbers but not eye-popping ones. In short, he's done everything to show he can be a major leaguer without doing anything to show he'll be a special major leaguer.
That's not to say we should be pessimistic about him. Clemens may have the best upside of any prospect in the Braves trade. His stuff puts him slightly ahead of a guy like Brett Oberholtzer, but his control also makes his success at the next level is slighlty less likely than the lefty.
Clemens' fastball is good, sitting anywhere from 93-96 MPH. With that velocity, you'd expect more raves, which leads me to believe it may not have great movement to it. His curveball is good but he has problems controlling it. His slider is also a solid pitch while his change needs work. That gives Clemens three solid pitches right now, but none of them seem like future "out" pitches. That explains why his strikeout rate is solid but not outstanding. It also gives Houston some hope that he can develop that change into a big pitch down the road.
With his repertoire right now, Clemens could easily fit into the back end of a bullpen quickly. That's why many of the prospectors have him slated for a 7-8-9th inning role in the future. However, I'm sure Houston will keep him in a rotation for as long as possible, which leaves his floor as a fourth or fifth starter.
The guy that Clemens reminds me of a bit is Bud Norris. He's got the three pitches he works well, but could use a fourth. If his change develops, his upside is pretty good, despite his less-than-brilliant strikeout rates. Norris did a good job adjusting to the majors and has seen his walk rate fall this season in the majors. If Clemens can do the same while raising his K rate up to about 8 per 9 innings, he's got the same upside as a guy like Norris. He could be a very solid No. 3 starter for a good team.
ETA To Majors
Clemens has passed the big test, pitching just as effectively at Double-A this season as he did in the lower minors. That was a big step forward and shows that Clemens is close to the majors. If Houston wanted to use him as a reliever, he might be able to break camp in the bullpen next season. However, Houston will most likely exhaust all options on keeping him as a starter, which means he's going to need at least another year in a rotation. Maybe by the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013, we may see Clemens with the Astros.
Bibliography and video after the jump...
A 23-year-old right-hander, he works with a 92-95 MPH fastball, along with a curveball, slider, and changeup. The changeup is his worst pitch and some scouts think he'll fit best as a reliever in the long run, although there's enough promise here that letting him start as long as possible makes sense
After hearing positive buzz from scouting contacts, Clemens broke out this season and his stat lines began to match the reports of plus velocity on his fastball. Whether in the back of a rotation, or out of the pen, Clemens should have some sort of contributing big league role in his prime.
He’s a right-hander with three solid pitches who can start or relieve down the road.
Right-hander Paul Clemens has a power arm, throwing 91-96, and will flash an above-average curveball, but the command and control aren't there and he has shown a huge reverse split for two years, getting rocked by right-handed hitters this season to a .284/.370/.460 line.