See that kid? The one over there, to the right, with me imploring Ned Colletti not to trade him? The one with a name that suggests he ought to be playing banjos in the Yonder Mountain String Band? (that’s a thing, right?) Or possibly suggests that he ought to be whittling and helping Brandine raise Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dylan, Dermot, Jordan, Taylor, Brittany, Wesley, Rumer, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendall, Caitlin, Noah, Sasha, Morgan, Kyra, Ian, Lauren, Q-Bert, and Phil? (that’s a reference, right?)
Well I’m betting most casual Dodger fans have no idea just who that is. In fact, I’d say that the most casual of those fans actively dislike him, because all they know of that 19-year old kid is that whoever he is, he’s an enormous part of why Miguel Cabrera, Johan Santana, and Erik Bedard won’t end up in Dodger Blue.
“Who? That kid’s a teenager! Trade him for someone I recognize NOW! I demand immediate satisfaction!”
And that, friends, is why baseball history is littered with the corpses of Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano and Jeff Bagwell-for-Larry Andersen.
But fret not! This is exactly why Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness is here – to try and shed a little light on why this 19-year old appears to be more than worth the wait.
So who is this kid? Well, MiLB.com just named him their #4 overall prospect in the minors, and the #1 pitcher. So, uh, yeah – he’s got that going for him. Says the article,
Clayton Kershaw is so good that he’d likely still be the highest-ranked pitcher on this list even if he were right-handed. His combination of size, mound presence and stuff was the best the Minors had to offer.
Well, that’s a pretty good start. Okay, but what about Baseball Prospectus (before the 2007 season)?
The ideal high school lefthander: Tall, long-armed, with clean mechanics. His fastball already sits at 92-94 mph, touches 96, and there is room for more. The curveball is also a true plus offering, and his change has progressed by leaps and bounds since being all but non-existent during his prep career. Beyond the stuff, his command and understanding of his craft is well beyond his years.
Alright, okay, I like where we’re going here. Let’s spin the wheel and get some stats!
As an 18-year-old in rookie ball, in 2006:
10 games. 1.95 ERA. 0.89 WHIP. And a simply astonishing 54-5 K-BB ratio, in 37 innings, for a 13.14 K/9 ratio. Whoa.
But fine, rookie ball, big deal. How about against some higher competition?
As a 19-year-old in A-ball, in 2007:
20 games. 2.77 ERA. 1.25 WHIP. And 134 more strikeouts in just 97.1 innings.
But then when he got bumped up to AA Jacksonville on August 6, things would have to go downhill. 19-year-olds can’t handle that kind of competition. Right?
As a 19-year-old in AA-ball, in 2007:
5 games. 3.65 ERA. 1.38 WHIP. Okay, so he didn’t dominate there, but he more than held his own, plus – still more than a K per inning, 29 in 24.2 IP. Oddly enough, of his five starts, two were against the Montgomery Biscuits, and they were both bad, combining for 7 runs in 7.1 innings. But in his other starts, he threw 6 scoreless innings (8 K), 7 two-hit innings with 10 K, and 4.1 three-hit innings in his debut. That’s two real solid gems there – for a teenager in a talented league.
But stats and reviews are all well and good, right? Dammit, I want hardware!
Picked for 2007 Futures Game
2007 Midwest League Prospect of the Year
2007 Southern League Pitcher of the Week (Aug 27)
2007 Midwest League Mid-Season All-Star
2007 Midwest League Pitcher of the Week (June 4)
2006 Gulf Coast League Player of the Year
And we wonder why everyone, and I mean everyone, is asking for this guy? So maybe, just maybe, could the newspaper reporters knock it off when they dump on the Dodgers for not being willing to trade this kid? We all know there’s “no such thing as a pitching prospect”… but this is as close as you’re ever going to the real deal.