"Pitching has got to be the foundation in the organization. Everybody wants a good pitcher. The more pitchers we have, the stronger our organization will be."
- Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2008 Kansas City Royals Organizational Depth Report

1. zack greinke, RHSP
2. luke hochevar, RHSP
3. leo nunez, RHSP
4. dan duffy, LHSP - 2010
5. joakim soria, RHRP
6. kyle davies, RHSP
7. dan cortes, RHSP - mid 2009
8. jason godin, RHSP - late 2008 *sleeper*
9. rowdy hardy, LHSP - mid 2008
10.jarod plummer, RHRP - mid 2008

my tepidness on rowdy hardy should probably disavow any notion that i'm just a stat geek with a magic algorithm. hardy has a very accomplished minor league profile with an excellent BB rate and a quality hit rate. i don't think either of those will hold up at the major league level. kevin slowey learned a lesson this year that rowdy hardy should take to heart: there is a HUGE difference between command and control when you get to the top level of the profession.

i don't know what to think of hochevar. statistically, the only thing to like about his 2007 was that he was adequate in AA in his first full professional season. however, there is something in the back of my mind about his performance. i've heard rumors that hochevar was instructed by the royals organization to not throw his 2 seam fastball in the minors. that seems to be substantiated when his flyball tendencies in AA and AAA did a 180 during his september stint in the majors.

godin had back surgery in college, and lost the 2005 season as a result, but that just means two things to me: 1) there's one less year of wear on his arm and 2) he's gone through the pains of rehab, and has likely learned the importance of prevention. he seemed to tire out at the end of this season, but i'm not too concerned about that at this point. i see him peaking in 2009, so hopefully he'll get his feet wet in the majors in 2008.

Spotlight: Leo Nunez

nunez works quickly and has a loose arm. he throws a FB which hits 95 MPH and sits 90-92 with good lateral movement. his slider sits in the mid 80s with more downward tilt than lateral movement. his changeup actually has very similar movement to his slider and comes in at a few ticks slower, which could cause some trouble for hitters.

nunez featured his changeup more during his string of relief appearances in september, and i think that helped him to throw hitters off. the development of this pitch, and his still young age will allow him to make the transition to the rotation, IMO. the problem is that he hasn't started for any appreciable length of time since 2004, and that was in low A.

i'd like to see him continue in his role as a long reliever for the next year. with the royals rotation being what it is, there will be plenty of innings for him to soak up in that role, and he'll continue to gain more confidence as next year wears on. his stuff is most definitely MLB ready, and despite the way he's been handled, i think he could be a better than league average starter as soon as 2009.

this kid's on his way up.

Monday, October 29, 2007

back in the mood

i admit, i fell behind writing up these reports in the last two weeks. instead of pushing through it and not really giving this project my full attention, i took a week off and got my head out of the statsheet, but now, i'm getting back into the mood.

i've kept my ears perked, listening up and looking out for some good baseball analysis, but aside from dan szymborski's zips projections, i've found my itch for good reading unsatisfied.

so, i'll be posting two articles in the next two days, and hopefully 3 more by the end of the weekend. the chicago cubs and the kansas city royals appear to be the next two teams on the dockett, so spread the word.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

2008 Florida Marlins Organizational Depth Report

1. scott olsen, LHSP
2. aaron thompson, LHSP - mid 2008
3. rick vandenhurk, RHSP
4. josh johnson, RHSP
5. brett sinkbeil, RHSP - september 2008
6. renyel pinto, LHRP
7. sean west, LHSP - 2009
8. anibal sanchez, RHSP
9. gaby hernandez, RHSP, late 2008
10.ryan tucker, RHSP, mid 2009

i love what this system is doing. the 2005 draft infused a great deal of high school aged pitching to the organization. the dividends have yet to be paid, but florida seems to be timing their run for early 2009. at that time, josh johnson and anibal sanchez will be coming back from injury and should be nearing 100%, as will sean west. brett sinkbeil will be 2 full years out of college, and primed for his debut.

anibal sanchez had good value and looked to be the premier piece in florida's long term plans, but a torn labrum has d ropped his value like a rock.

this list, in particular is quite useless because of the uncertainty surrounding josh johnson, sean west, and anibal sanchez. were there no injury concerns, the top 5 would probably be johnson, west, olsen, thompson, vanden hurk.

Spotlight: Scott Olsen

scott olsen is fucked as a marlin. he is a very talented pitcher, but he runs his mouth like a little shit, which cuts his legs out from under him when he has a valid complaint. because of his run ins with marlins management, the marlins would be best off getting rid of him. but because of inherent problems in the makeup of their team, olsen's on field value is as low as a healthy, hard throwing lefty's value ever should.

those inherent problems in the makeup of the marlins are H. ramirez and M. cabrera. both are at the bottom end of the defensive spectrum at their respective positions, and neither appear likely to get much better. unfortunately for marlins pitching, those two "problems" are incapable of being worked around because of their tremendous offensive talent.

olsen throws a 2 seam fastball that sits at 90-92 MPH. his changeup comes in at around 83, and between these two pitches, olsen can flat out dominate. he's at his best when he challenges with his fastball down in the zone. again, though, the problem with approaching the game this way is that the left side of the marlins infield is swiss.

unless olsen, cabrera, or ramirez is moved, i don't see olsen getting his ERA below 5.00. he still has good stuff, and he still has good enough control, but i don't think his pitchability problems will be solved until the defense behind him is sured up.

What is pitchability? You’ll get a lot of differing opinions, depending on who you talk to. Some will tell you it’s the understanding of how to exploit a hitter’s weaknesses. Some will tell you that it’s the knowledge of your own limitations and the ability to stay within your constraints as a pitcher and maximize what you have. Some will tell you it’s the ability to ignore pressure and throw the best game of your life when it really matters. I’ll tell you it’s all of the above and a whole lot more. It is what makes a pitcher successful, and everything else is secondary.
- david cameron

Saturday, October 20, 2007

2008 Los Angeles Angels Organizational Depth Report

1. jered weaver, RHSP
2. nick adenhart, RHSP - 2008
3. ervin santana, RHSP
4. sean o'sullivan, RHSP - 2009
5. jordan walden, RHSP - 2010
6. nick green, RHSP - late 2008
7. ken herndon, RHSP - 2009 *sleeper*
8. brok butcher, RHSP - early 2009
9. chris resop, RHRP
10.rich thompson, RHRP - april 2008

the angels deserve a vast amount of credit for bringing into their organization as many legitimate prospects as they have, but i don't much like the career prospects of many of these pitchers if they continue along this path. sean o'sullivan threw 160 innings this year as a 19 year old. ken herndon threw 152 as a 21 year old. nick green threw 180 innings as a 23 year old.

i believe that a pitcher's major league debut should be timed to his peak in development during his age 22, 23, or 24 season. in this system, i see a lot of players peaking at that age, but i see them doing it in A and AA. i like nick green a lot, but for him to throw 180 minor league innings this past season is completely unnecessary.

there are a bunch of other pitchers in this system that deserve to be mentioned as guys to watch in 2008. those names include: aaron cook, felipe arredondo, jeremy haynes, robert fish, young-il jung.

Spotlight: Ervin Santana

santana's fastball sits 91-94, and is a 60 on the 20-80 scale. he has a bad habit of leaving it up in the zone, and he also has a tendency to reach back for some extra velocity when he is having trouble finding the zone. his slider comes in at 83 and is a decent swing and miss pitch. it has a fairly pronounced downward spike, but it's his only offspeed pitch.

my first impression of both pitches were that they were fairly mediocre. his fastball's velocity and movement is negated by it's placement, and the effectiveness of his slider is negated by the lack of any other secondary pitch. on the plus side, he does vary the velocity of his fastball, but it's not such a good pitch that he can get away with throwing the 85% of the time that he did last season.

i'd like to see him throw a changeup, but if he doesn't already at this point, i doubt that he's going to in the future. what santana really needs is a pitch that can come in 15 MPH under his FB that would just end up making his fastball pop that much more.

as it is, i don't much like his future. starting pitchers that throw sliders generally develop arm problems at some point in their career. arm trouble in santana's case could cost him 2-3 MPH off his fastball, and that would pretty much end his major league career. that's a problem for all pitchers, regardless of repertoire, but i don't see anything from santana that would lead me to believe that he could adapt if that situation were to rear it's head.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2008 Washington Nationals Organizational Depth Report

1. collin balester, RHSP - mid 2008
2. john lannan, LHSP
3. matt chico, LHSP
4. ross detwiler, LHSP - 2008
5. jordan zimmerman, RHSP - 2010
6. jon albaladejo, RHRP
7. zech zinicola, RHRP - 2008
8. garret mock, RHSP - late 2008
9. shairon martis, RHSP - 2009
10.jhonny nunez, RHSP - 2011

ross detwiler, josh smoker, jack mcgeary, and jordan zimmerman headline an excellent draft for washington. before the draft, i wasn't very high smoker or detwiler, but the combination of those two and the higher risk duo mcgeary and zimmerman form a very solid draft. only texas could claim to have brought in more pitching talent than via the 2007 draft than washington, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. i was not a jim bowden fan before he took over as the national's GM, but with what he's done to rebuild the organization's pitching depth, i have to give him an A for his effort.

albaladejo and zinicola are two more relievers in the mold that i love, good control, high GB%, low hype. i don't quite know where each fits in with washington's future plans, though.

Spotlight: Matt Chico/John Lannan

chico's fastball can touch 89, but it mainly sits in the 85-88 range, which isn't much of a problem, as he spots the pitch very well. his changeup comes in a few MPH under his fastball at 81-84 MPH, and he also throws a slurve that comes in at about 77 MPH. chico is completely underwhelming, and if the nats' new park plays just league average, chico could see his ERA skyrocket. there is nothing about chico that is impressive, and though his numbers look solid, i cannot see him having a long successful career.

john lannan throws a mid 80s fastball which he does a pretty good job of keeping down and spotting on both corners. like chico, his changeup comes in just a few MPH under his FB. his breaking ball is real slurvy, and not a true swing and miss pitch.

neither pitcher is a real good bet for success in 2008, but lannan's got a slight advantage because of the deception that comes with having a 6'5" frame. both lannan and chico should fit into washington's 2008 rotation as slightly below league average to slightly above replacement level type starters.

Monday, October 15, 2007

2008 Atlanta Braves Organizational Depth Report

1. joey devine, RHRP
2. kris medlen, RHRP - august 2008
3. jamie richmond, RHSP - mid 2009
4. tommy hanson, RHSP - late 2009
5. anthony lerew, RHSP
6. jo-jo reyes, LHSP - late 2008
7* cole rohrbough, LHSP - 2010
8* jose ortegano, RHSP - 2012
9* edgar osuna, RHSP - 2012
10.jose ascanio, RHRP

the fact that the top two arms in this system are both relievers should be a big concern for anyone with a stake in the team's future. i like both devine and medlen, but neither is a lights out option, and both have their warts. medlen gets the nod over richmond and hanson because i view him to be more likely to be an above average player.

i've been searching for a legitimate justification for ranking richmond ahead of hanson, but i can't really come up with anything. i guess the best support i could use is that i think hanson's BB rate will start to drag him down when he reaches AA. i just think richmond is the better bet to be a solid starter.

lerew had TJ surgery in june, and will likely be out of action until that time in 2008.

the three short season pitchers are included with asterisks because including them goes against what these lists attempt to do. but i don't see any better options for inclusion.

to put it bluntly, this is an organization that is primed for a steep decline. the major league rotation is mediocre overall, and downright horrible in the 3-5 spots, but even worse is that there are no reinforcement's coming. i like jamie richmond, but i don't think he's particularly close to being ready to debut. ditto for tommy hanson.

Spotlight: IOU

i could do joey devine here, but i don't see any pressing need. after i'm done with these lists, i think i'll take some time to look at chuck james to make up this missing piece.

Friday, October 12, 2007

2008 Seattle Mariners Organizational Depth Report

1. felix hernandez, RHSP
2. brandon morrow, RHRP
3. kam mickolio, RHRP - april 2008
4. chris tillman, RHSP - 2009
5. eric o'flaherty, LHRP
6. nathan adcock, RHSP - late 2009
7. robert rohrbaugh, LHSP - 2008
8. kyle parker, RHSP - late 2009
9. roman martinez, RHRP - 2009
10.nicholas hill, LHRP - 2011

felix hernandez is still a stud. give him time to grow into his role, and just realize that he is doing what he is at a time when most of us would be juniors in college. enjoy him while you have him, because in 4 years, he'll be in pinstripes.

i don't much like the way that seattle is handling chris tillman. i don't think he should have thrown as many innings as he did, and i don't think he should have thrown those innings at the level he did. but considering the relative success of adam jones, brandon morrow, and wladimir balentien, maybe i could learn something from bavasi and company. then again, there is a case to be made against this manner of promotion, which is typified by asdrubal cabrera, so maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle. maybe they've just learned their lessons from the ryan anderson years, and decided to push their pitchers fast, so that even if said pitchers break down, the organization would have gotten some use out of them

mickolio is 6'9", and pitches as such. he gets a lot of sink on his fastball, and should be a successful middle reliever for the next 6 years.

roman martinez is a reliever in the seattle mold. i like him, but i don't see a clear path for him to advance to the majors, so he might just be trade fodder.

Spotlight: Brandon Morrow

morrow's got a fastball that gets easily into the high 90s. it sits in the 94-96 range, but it's mostly straight, and if you can catch up to it, it'll go a mile, as sean casey can attest (7th inning, 7-13-2007). his curve sits in the mid 80s and has a decent late break. i get a pretty strong feeling that he's overthrowing it, though. his changeup also comes in at 84-87 MPH, and is apparently refered to as a splitter by baseball america and the mariner's announcing crew.

the big question for morrow going into next season is whether he will start or relieve?

based on what i've seen of morrow throughout the 2007 season, i can honestly say i have no idea whether he would be a successful starter. his fastball is nice, but is relatively straight, his curve is average, and his splitter is a nice out pitch, but i don't think it can be relied upon 12-15 times per game, as would be necessary if morrow is converted to a starter.

there are two comparable pitchers that i've looked at already, whose situations were parallel to what morrow is facing going into '08. those pitchers are brandon mccarthy and mike pelfrey (convenient, huh?).

mccarthy started out his major league career in the bullpen for the sox 2005 world series winning team. his profile was as a fireballing righty with a good curve. he was moved into the rotation in 2006 and then traded to texas for john danks and nick masset in 2007. when i watched him pitch this year, his high 90s 4 seamer from october 2005 had turned into a 90-92 MPH 2 seamer. this relates to morrow because, as mccarthy found out in 2006 after being converted to starter, you can't expect your high 90s heat to work if you can't maintain the velocity or location into the 5th, 6th, or 7th innings.

mike pelfrey is a name i bring up because, at the time he was drafted, he was said to have a plus-plus fastball and a plus curve. i don't believe that report is entirely dissimilar to morrow's scouting report out of college and through his first year and a half in pro ball. as it turned out for pelfrey, his curve was inadequate at the professional level, and this past year, he scrapped it altogether, opting instead to throw a slider.

this is as good a case as i can make against morrow moving into the rotation. i'd be interested in hearing a counter argument in favor of changing morrow's role, inserting him into the rotation.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

2008 New York Mets Organizational Depth Report

1. mike pelfrey, RHSP
2. phil humber, RHSP
3. kevin mulvey, RHSP - may 2008
4. jon niese, LHSP - 2009
5. eric brown, RHSP - 2009
6. deolis guerra, RHSP - 2012
7. joe smith, RHRP
8. jacob ruckle, RHRP - 2009
9. german marte, RHRP - 2009
10.bobby parnell, RHSP - 2009

i really like eric brown. i'm not sure that he'll make the show as a starter, but i think, at the very least, he will be a quality major league reliever in the mold of another guy i've looked at on this site, sean green.

parnell and ruckle should be followed next season, as i think both are possibilities for a step up in performance.

i'm not a huge fan of deolis guerra, though he does show a lot of tendencies that i like. i don't think he's particularly close to being ready to pitch at the major league level, and i think there is way too much time between now and his major league debut for him to experience a significant injury. that's true for any pitcher, but for an 18 year old in A+, the fact sometimes gets lost.

mulvey is close to being ready to take the ball every 5th day for the mets, but i'm not quite sure he's there yet. humber and niese are in the same boat. all three are solid bets to be average major league starters, and none really stands out above the others, but that's a bit of a problem when the team across town has three pitchers that are looking to be studs, in the form of phil hughes, joba chamberlain, and ian kennedy. those three starters combine substance and flare to take their spots atop most minor league prospect rankings.

but there is one guy who has shown that level of flare in the mets organization...

Spotlight: Mike Pelfrey

i've done 3 of these writeups to this point, and i assume that i'll be doing 26 more afterwards. in that time, i don't think that i will find a fastball with better movement than mike pelfrey's. if there is a better example of a plus-plus fastball than the one he throws, i haven't seen it.

but there is a downside to having this amount of movement: pelfrey has trouble spotting his fastball for strikes. when i looked at kyle kendrick, i made a point of mentioning that his fastball could tail inside, dart outside, or sink straight down. pelfrey doesn't have those different faces. his fastball has one look, and only one look.

now, getting behind hitters is always a bad idea, but for pelfrey, it takes on a higher level of importance because of his reliance on getting hitters to swing at his fastball. if pelfrey gives hitters the advantage of a first pitch ball, they are then able to sit back, and wait for his mediocre offspeed offerings.

teams that approach pelfrey with sustained patience will have the most success against him. they might not win every game, but more often than not, they will get ahead in the count and force pelfrey to throw a lot of pitches early in the game, leading to an early exit.

one thing i'd like to see pelfrey start doing next year is throw his changeup as a first pitch offering. his fastball is an excellent swing and miss pitch, but he can have problems locating it. getting ahead 0-1 with his changeup would allow him to really let loose with his fastball, and put hitters at a real disadvantage.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2008 Oakland Athletics Organizational Depth Report


1. trevor cahill, RHSP - 2010
2. chad gaudin, RHSP
3. henry alberto rodriguez, RHSP - 2010
4. huston street, RHRP
5. andrew bailey, RHSP - late 2008
6. jason glushon, RHSP - ???
7. jason windsor, RHSP - late 2008
8. jason fernandez, RHRP - 2010
9. jerry blevins, LHRP - 2008
10.dallas braden, LHRP

this organization really has no depth. the top three of cahill, gaudin, and rodriguez are very solid, but beyond that, street has questions about how effective he can be returning from injury and glushon is an undrafted free agent, about whom i can't find any biographical information. windsor hasn't pitched since may, and braden and blevins are the definition of mediocre.

andrew bailey is intriguing, though it's hard to get excited about a college senior in A ball.

it should be noted that three players not eligible for this list, dan haren, joe blanton, and rich harden make the lack of pitching depth in the A's organization a minor concern. they, along with chad gaudin, form the makings of a very strong pitching staff.

Spotlight: Chad Gaudin

Gaudin has an odd profile. he pitches off of a low 90s 2 seam fastball, which he tends to leave up in the zone. it's got good movement, so most hitters have problems driving it, but it can be a liability if he throws up a dud. his slider generates a lot of swings and misses, as does his changeup.

there;s a saying about how to approach hitting a knuckleball: "if it's high, let it fly; if it's low, let it go." for gaudin, this saying also rings true. he generally throws his fastball up in the zone, while his offspeed stuff is released down in the zone. it's a lot easier to jump on his high fastball early in the count than it is to take a more laid back approach, and risk getting behind, giving gaudin an opportunity to showcase his quality slider.

but here's the thing: this works to gaudin's advantage. it allows him to get through some innings in 5 or 6 pitches. it allows him to get ahead of hitters who are aggressive early in the count. it allows him to get into the 7th and 8th innings, even though his BB rate is horrid, and his hit rate is pedestrian.

i don't much like gaudin's stuff. i don't much like gaudin's control. i don't much like gaudin's approach to pitching. but it's pretty damn effective, and i think it'll continue to be, so long as his slider remains effective at generating swings and misses.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

2008 Philadelphia Phillies Organizational Depth Report

1. cole hamels, LHSP
2. carlos carrasco, RHSP - late 2008
3. josh outman, LHSP - mid 2008
4. kyle kendrick, RHSP
5. edgar garcia, RHSP - 2010
6. drew carpenter, RHSP - may 2009
7. james happ, LHSP - mid 2008
8. antonio bastardo, LHSP - 2010
9. fabio castro, LHSP
10.scott mathieson, RHSP - mid 2008

the phillies organization has created a lot of depth by finally diving into the latin american markets. carrasco, garcia, and bastardo were all products of the team's latin american academies, and the pipeline has only just started, as the organization's dominican summer league affiliate had a conglomerated ERA more than a half a run lower than league average, with their rotation having players aged 17, 17, 18, 19, 21. unfortunately, none of those prospects appear to be ready to head stateside in 2008, so while this is the tree that keeps on giving, the fruit might not start ripening until 2010.

i am very high on carlos carrasco, but i have a slight concern that he's been overused these last 2 years. he's thrown 300 combined innings since 2006 opened, and i never like to see that many innings on a teenage arm. scouting wise, he varies the speed of his fastball, so it sits from 88-93, but he has little problem revving it up to 95. his changeup is his best pitch, and when he's on, he is flat out dominating, not just because of his stuff, but because of his insistance on varying the speed of his best two pitches. the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of it's parts.

james happ had a relatively horrible season in 2008, and that is mostly due to the collapse of his BB rate. he is not a good enough pitcher, and he is not a good enough thrower to be able to succeed with a BB rate around 4.5/9 IP. i think his BB rate will regress to about 3.5/9 IP, but if it doesn't get under 3, he has very little value.

scott mathieson received inclusion to this list based on his tremendous fastball-slider combination, but it should be noted that he is still recovering from TJ surgery, and he likely won't be fully healthy until september of 2008.

also receiving consideration were kyle drabek and mike zagurski, who both underwent TJ surgery during this season *edit: zagurski had season ending surgery for a torn hamstring, not TJ surgery.* drabek would have slotted in at 4 if healthy, and zagurski would have fought for the 10th spot, but would likely have fallen short.

i did not include savery because i don't have a good enough feel for him. as a philly resident, i was against the pick at first, because of the torn labrum that he suffered as a result of a bone growth in his shoulder, but i have since been assuaged of that feeling. if the phillies team doctor's did their jobs (which considering the joe borowski and freddy garcia situations is a big if) savery should be a very good acquisition for the phils. savery would rank behind outman, but ahead of drabek, if i included him in this list. my reasoning for not including savery can be found on the sidebar to the right.

Spotlight: Kyle Kendrick

Kendrick's fastball is his bread and butter. whereas carlos carrasco, kendrick's 2006 teammate at low A lakewood, creates unease in the minds of opposing hitters by changing speeds on his fastball and changeup, kendrick creates unease by sinking, cutting, and running his low 90s fastball in, down, and off the plate versus left and right handed batters.

kendrick also features a slider that sits in the mid 80s. he doesn't really use it as a strikeout pitch, but instead as more of a show me pitch. his changeup is also a show me pitch, at best.

getting runs on the board against him doesn't seem to be that difficult a task if batters have the right mindset stepping up to the plate. short compact swings will have the most success against kendrick because of his propensity for pitching to contact, and their willingness to take it. players with longer swings will have more trouble against kendrick as a result of their having significantly less time to identify and react to whichever variation of his fastball is coming. this leads to exactly what kendrick wants, weak contact and foul balls.

kendrick pitches most every game, every inning in the danger zone, but so long as he pitches his home games in a bandbox, where hitters are preoccupied with sending a ball over the wall, he should be a quality starter, and a quality innings eater.

Monday, October 8, 2007

2008 Texas Rangers Organizational Depth Report


1. eric hurley, RHSP - mid 2008
2. blake beavan, RHSP - 2011
3. brandon mccarthy, RHSP
4. kasey kiker, LHSP - 2009
5. michael main, RHSP - 2011
6. douglas mathis, RHSP - april 2008 - sleeper
7. omar poveda, RHSP - late 2009
8. edinson volquez, RHSP
9. luis mendoza, RHSP - late 2008
10.daniel ra herrera, LHRP - mid 2008

the depth of this system has been helped greatly by the last two drafts. kiker, beavan, and main all have tremendous potential. beavan's best pitch is his turbo sinker, kiker's is a power curve, main's is a 100 MPH 4 seamer. also added through the past two drafts are danny ra herrera and brennan garr. another young pitcher, omar poveda flashes an above average changeup, and would be featured more prominently on this list if he had less propensity for flaring up. as it is, he's probably the pitcher that i underrated most on this list.

douglas mathis is the exact type of pitcher that has been undervalued in the last decade. pitchers with his profile, mediocre stuff, low K rate, average K/BB ratio, and high GB%, don't tend to get a lot of recognition until they have a few productive seasons at the major league level. i think mathis will have his first such season in 2008.

Spotlight: Brandon Mccarthy

Mccarthy appears to have changed his profile from pitching off of a high 90s 4 seam fastball when he was in the white sox bullpen to throwing a low 90s 2 seam fastball for texas in the rotation. seeing as his ERA went from being near 10 through april, to the mid 3s from may to august, i think this change has had the desired effect. mccarthy also employs a high 70s change, and a loopy mid 70s curve.

his stuff has taken a step back since moving from chicago to texas, and he still misses with his location too often to be relied upon as a top of the rotation starter. his curve is average, his change is average, his fastball is average.

but he's big, and when at his best, hitters look uncomfortable against him, taking half swings, and just missing hitting the ball on the nose. unfortunately, in texas, even a half swing can turn into a round tripper on a regular basis, so the next step for mccarthy is to make sure that when he misses, he misses down.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Organizational depth reports: TOP 10 Pitchers under 25 years old

my philosophy for evaluating young pitchers is based on three assumptions:

1) Age is unimportant. i don't much care about age as a standalone evaluator of talent. there are too many chris sampsons, too many chris carpenters, and too many jason schmidts, gil meches, and tommy johns for me to exclude or downgrade a pitcher's stock based solely on age. that being said:

2) in terms of stuff, all pitchers peak from ages 18-25. that qualifier means more than the statement in my mind, but i feel that this assumption creates an accurate approximation for timing a young minor league pitcher's arrival to the major leagues.

3) innings are a warning sign, not an asset. when i see a 21 year old that has thrown 300+ innings in his first two professional seasons, i cringe. it is not a sign of durability, it is a sign of overuse.

that being said, using innings as a proxy for determining overuse is about as effective as cost plus pricing has been in iraq.

cole hamels is an amazing athlete, but just as amazing as his athleticism is the way that he developed into being an excellent pitcher. he did not pitch as a junior in high school because he broke his arm before the season started. he threw only limited innings as a senior as he recovered, and after being drafted, he did not throw any innings in short season ball.

in his first full season in the minor leagues, hamels threw only 101 innings, and was limited by soreness in his back. in his second full professional season, he was limited to 16 IP because of back and elbow soreness. before his third professional season he broke his pitching hand in a bar fight, and once healthy, was limited to 35 innings, again due to back soreness.

going into 2006, hamels had an interesting track record. he had thrown ~150 minor league innings with an era ~2.00. he had an injury history a mile long, but when he was on the mound, his potential was staggering. he was going to be 22 years old, 4 years removed from high school, with a devotion towards a training, stretching, and throwing regime that can only be cultivated by having your future flash before your eyes as you lay on a table in the trainer's room getting treatment for your ailing back.

nothing interesting happened between the end of the 2005 season and the start of spring training in 2006. hamels was the same as ever, only healthy, and with the determination to stay that way. he started the year in high A clearwater for the 3rd straight season. he was there for all of 20 innings before he was promoted to AAA. at AAA it was more of the same, his fastball-change combination was electric, and he was near unhittable for the 23 innings he spent there before getting called up to the show.

since then he's thrown 315 innings, with more than a 3:1 K:BB ratio, and more than a K/IP. he's been the best starter in his division since the time he was called up.

what does this narrative have to do with my third point of innings being a warning sign, not an asset? sometimes a feel for pitching can only be learned on the field, but in my opinion, the most important lessons are learned off the field. nursing a kid through his first seasons as a professional is a lesson that i don't see exhibited by many organizations.

if you draft an 18 year old high school pitcher, what is more important than him throwing 160 innings in his first three minor league seasons, taking his lumps at the minor league level, learning to harness his stuff when it's at his best, and how to pitch like a veteran when it's not?

these organizational depth reports will be my takes on each of the 30 major league baseball teams. i'll try to feature one player in each organization and give my honest take on what i like, or what i don't. i'll try to outline one sleeper in each organization. for the most part these sleepers will be guys in the mold of chien ming wang and aaron laffey, guys who exhibit strong ground ball tendencies and low BB rates. organizations like the mets and the mariners might not have a sleeper indicated, but teams like the white and red sox have a few guys that i feel are underrated. if i've seen these pitchers throw i'll include a scouting report that is what i see, not what i've heard. for the most part, such pitchers will be guys on the fringe of the 25 man roster, not the cream of the crop, such as scott kazmir or cole hamels.

for the most part, 2007 draftees will not be included, however guys that i really like (blake beaven and david price) or guys that are flat out dominant (adam mills and dan duffy) will be included.

after i go through all 30 orgnanizations, i will publish my top 75 pitchers under the age of 25. these will be the cream of the crop, the guys who will dominate baseball for the next decade.

so, with all that being said, the first list, which will be published monday afternoon, will be the texas rangers.