Besides Clayton Kershaw, there aren't many pitching prospects getting as much attention as David Price, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson. Of those 3, Price is garnering the most hype, but Cahill and Anderson have been putting up some great numbers this year, and they are both beginning to draw some national attention.
With all the attention comes some good natured arguments about which pitching prospect has the most potential. A lot of prospect ranking sites are giving the #1 spot to David Price, but Cahill and Anderson are both very talented and deserve to be in the same sentence as Price.
So, let's play a game. I'm just going to put up each pitcher's minor league numbers from this year all at once, but I'm going to throw in a twist and explain what it all means in a minute.
Here's how the game works. I marked out the player names and ages so that we could first have an unbiased discussion about where each player would rank if they were all at the same level, and the same age. I'm also assuming that none of you have memorized each pitchers' stat lines before reading this (if you look at the stats for just a second you can probably figure out which stat line goes with which pitcher, but that would ruin the fun of this exercise). Take a quick glance at the stats, and then make a mental list ranking Pitchers A, B, and C as either the #1, #2, or #3 pitcher you would want on your team.
Just looking at the A+ ball stats, Pitcher A would be the guy I would want on my team. He has good control, a good K/9 rate, and a very healthy GB%. After that, I would have a hard time choosing between Pitcher B and Pitcher C. If you go with B, you sacrifice control for a higher K/9 rate and GB%, but if you go with C, you get fewer walks at the cost of a significantly lower GB%. I would probably go with Pitcher B simply because BB/9 rates come down easier than K/9 and GB% rates go up.
And now we move on to AA stats. We don't have a great sample size to work with, but I would still go with Pitcher A. His K/9 is much better than the other 2, his GB% is also the highest of the 3, and his control is very close to being the best. After that, I would once again be stuck between Pitcher B and Pitcher C, but I would probably still go with Pitcher B simply due to the high GB%.
You may or may not have a list similar to mine, but let's move on and put some names and ages next to our stat lines.
When I first looked at each player's stats, I thought I was going to go with Cahill as my #1 choice. But I was surprised to learn that I'd actually pick Anderson if I went off of a nameless list of stats. Another interesting point to make is that once you throw in the age factor, the difference between Pitcher B (Cahill) and Pitcher C (Price) is much greater than it was when we were ignoring age in our consideration of the #2 and #3 spots.
While the popular consensus is that Price is the #1 pitching prospect, once you look at the stats, there really is no logical reason to say that Price is better than Cahill or Anderson. In fact, I feel very confident in saying that Anderson and Cahill are considerably more talented than Price, and that Price easily ranks well behind the other 2 pitchers. I'll go so far as to say that Price ranks behind other guys like Madison Bumgarner, Jaime Garcia, Jeremy Jeffress, and Gio Gonzalez.
I don't want anyone to think that I'm down on Price. I think he'll be a very good major league pitcher, but he won't be great. He hasn't dominated hitters at any level, and his numbers are slowly regressing as he moves closer to the majors. Meanwhile, younger pitchers are posting better numbers with much less fanfare.
To conclude, I'd like to give comparable pitchers for Anderson, Cahill, and Price, as well as a score on my "Dirty, Nasty, Filthy" chart and leave it at that.
Comparable Pitcher: Brandon Webb
Score: Nasty (85/100)
Comparable Pitcher: Francisco Liriano
Score: Nasty (84/100)
Comparable Pitcher: Justin Verlander
Score: Dirty (71/100)