Monday, May 11, 2009

Bowden & Bard

We previously wrote in this space about how impressed we were with Red Sox pitching prospect, Michael Bowden. (I heard it pronounced "Bo-den" instead of "Bow-den", like Bobby Bowden.)

Over the weekend, Bowden's teammate, and Pawtucket closer, Daniel Bard, was recalled to make his Major League debut presumably some time this week. Incidentally, I think Bowden & Bard sounds like an ambulance chasing law firm.

We've always been intrigued by what we can expect from talented, but inexperienced, arms of the future. Much has been written and said about guys like these two guys under Red Sox control, their comrades Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, Phil Hughes, Rick Porcello, David Price, Luke Hochevar, Jeff Samrdzija, Tommy Hanson, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and even amateurs like Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, and Michael Ynoa have become household names in mothers' basements around the world.

We quickly wanted to compare Minor League pitching stats for Bard and Bowden, at least. Quickly referencing their Baseball Cube (www.thebaseballcube.com) pages, we found...

At first glance, one would think that Mike Bowden is the superior pitcher because one can't help but cringe when seeing Daniel Bard's career minor league BB/9 at 6.03. Upon closer inspection, however, we see that Bard's minor league career should be seen through two different prisms.

His first professional season, split between the South Atlantic League (A) and the California League (A+) in 2007, he was a starter. He struggled mightily with his control as a starting pitcher. That season, in 22 starts & 75 innings he walked 78 batters.


Last season, 2008, used exclusively in relief, Bard made 46 appearances between A and Double A, totalling 77 2/3 innings and showing improved control by walking "just" 30. This season, as the closer for the AAA team, he has pitched 16 sparkling innings, allowing just 6 hits and 5 walks, with 29 strikeouts. As we can see, Bard's numbers are more impressive when including his propensity to strike hitters out.

Daniel Bard's strikeout to walk ratio in the minors, as a starter: 47/78 or 0.60. As a reliever, the K/BB ratio improves to: 136/35 or 3.89. That's more than a world of difference.

Michael Bowden has been a starter his entire career. Even though he has much more professional experience, he is actualy younger than Bard. Bowden came out after high school, which Bard spent three seasons pitching for the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Bard turns 24 next month, while Bowden doesn't turn 23 until this September. Michael Bowden's number are right there with Bard. In 432 1/3 minor league innings, his K/BB is 408/117 or 3.49.

I would like to think that a 3.49 as a starter may be even more impressive than a 3.89 as a reliever.
We will go more in depth with these guys and others later, but for now, we must open the floor to discussion in our virgin comment section and move on.

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