Saturday, August 22, 2009

Power Arms of the Future

This post began as a prospect report on Giants' farmhand, Madison Bumgarner. We started out thinking about him but couldn't find anything to really write about. Well, other than he's a tall, hard-throwing lefty.

It made us want to compare his promise to that of other young pitchers. We started thinking about ranking a subgroup of guys that included Brandon Morrow, Edwin Jackson, Phil Hughes, and even Randy Wells. Considering whether we included some guys, like Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez, made it too tough to quantify any qualifications for making the list.

Since we didn't want to get into who's a rookie and who isn't, we're going to keep it clear and rank the Top 25 pitchers who made their Major League debut this season...

25.) Daniel Schlereth
24.) Matt Daley
23.) Koji Uehara
22.) Brad Bergesen
21.) Ryan Perry
20.) Kenshin Kawakami
19.) Vin Mazzaro
18.) Brett Cecil
17.) Marc Rzepczynksi
16.) Jordan Zimmermann
15.) Brian Matusz
14.) Andrew Bailey
13.) Aaron Poreda
12.) Trevor Cahill
11.) Ricky Romero

10.) Junichi Tazawa
My first instinct was to think that Tazawa was not a true youngster and that he had already enjoyed a successful run as a pro in Japan. However, actually looking it up shows me that he's just 23 years old and he did not play professionally in Japan. Scouting reports on Tazawa show that he can be a solid Major Leaguer. He lacks a mid to upper 90's fastaball, but he has movement on his two seamer and seems to throw enough offspeed pitches to make him successful. I think he'll have some growing pains and some bad starts, but he should get run support for the next few seasons, at least.

9.) Brett Anderson
I have been a slow adopter to the values of Brett Anderson. I think it's because of his white bread name that I've never been intrigued enough to consider his efficacy. He still makes me think of Brian Anderson, who stinks. But, look at Anderson's stats, and his 39 BB's to 109 K's speak volumes.

8.) Derek Holland
Here's a guy that I have been following all season. First, they started him off slowly, in the bullpen. He became the swing man/6th starter and finally got a firm spot in the rotation after the Rangers got rid of Vicente Padilla. He's had tremendous moments, and some awful stinkers. So, he's the ultimate risk/reward guy on this list. I'm thinking that he will continue his success throwing ground balls and striking out enough guys to overcome the Rangers' home ballpark.

7.) Daniel Bard
Bard is one of those guys with a fastball that jumps out of his hands. As we've shown in this space over and over again, our eyes can deceive us. Bard has had some stretches of inconsistency, while showing brilliant stretches where no-one can even get a good swing on him. We have no doubt that he will have a succesful career. He's been put in the bullpen at a young age, which reduces the innate risk of injury that all these guys have. Don't tell that to Joel Zumaya, but it's true.

6.) Chris Tillman
Apologies to Brian Matusz, but I am in the Chris Tillman camp, if I had to pick one. Matusz will probably also have a great career, and these guys are two of the many reason I think the O's will compete in 2011. Chris Tillman looks like a tall power pitcher who's going to get better and better. I saw him two starts ago, and he reminded me of Josh Johnson, the way he fearlessly threw his fastball for strikes. In his past game, he got touched up for 3 solo HR's. You're not gonna get killed giving up solo HR's. He's on the right track.

5.) Bud Norris
The future of the Astros is in good hands if this guy keeps progressing. He's shown to throw a lot of sliders (almost 40%), and his changeup has also been effective about 5% of the time. ZiPS has him for a 5.50 ERA the rest of the way, so they aren't too favorable on him. I think that probably has a lot ot do with his 4 BB's / 9IP, which needs to be lowered.

4.) Mat Latos
This guy has a chance to be the Chris Anderson of baseball. He's inked up, and he has a cockiness that his manager euphemistically termed "confidence". I love his potential in Petco Park. He's shown the ability to strike people out, and his flyball rendencies should play well in home games.

3.) Rick Porcello
Had baby faced Rick Porcello stayed in school, he'd be a sophomore in college. The fact that he's been the #3 starter for a division leading Tigers team is amazing. The Tigers gambled a lot that he could make the jump from Single A. Hearing the legend of Porcello grow during Spring Training, we had very high hopes. He hasn't disappointed at all for the Tigers, but as for being a fantasy ace, he lacks the strikeouts. We have him here because he is young enough to learn a strikeout pitch, maybe tighten up the slider or learn to locate it and his fastball a bit better.

2.) Neftali Feliz
Hearing scouts talk about any young fireballer can often lead itself open to hyperbole. Watching this whiz kid effortlessly get big league hitters out makes the grandest exaggeration seem possible. I'm trying not to spout out something I'll regret later, so let me just show that going into Saturday night's game, Neftali had faced 39 batters, gave up 4 hits, walked no-one, and struck out 17. He's great, and he has yet to even learn how to pitch.

1.) Tommy Hanson
The Braves waited and waited... people scoffed, "the Braves don't have five pitchers better than Hanson."... Clearly, the Braves were hedging their bets. They were seasoning the prospect in Triple-A, while kicking the tires of old friend, Tom Glavine. Once it was irrefutable that Hanson was better than Glavine and the majority of the Braves' staff, the kid got the call. He has not disappointed at all. His poor starts are above average, and he's shown the skills to battle and win when his stuff is less than sharp.

Did we leave anyone important off the list? Probably, and... please let us know in the comments section.

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