Friday, August 14, 2009

TPC in Retrospect: 2009 Top 20 Pitching Prospects #1-5

Finally, I got past my national board exam, and don't have to spend my days and nights memorizing anatomical anomolies of the head and neck and random biochemical metabolic mechanisms. At last, I can get back to reading and writing about baseball, and hopefully there are still a handful of people out there interested in reading my posts.

At the beginning of the 2009 season, I put together my list of the top 20 pitching prospects in baseball, and though the season isn't over, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at how accurate or inaccurate my list was. I'll just post the names of the first 5 pitchers that made my list, and maybe make a comment or two. Over the next few days I'll work my way down the list.

1. Brett Anderson -- Although he got shelled this week facing the White Sox, at 21 years old, Anderson has displayed the capacity to be a very good pitcher. Not counting his start against the White Sox, over his last 58 innings Anderson has allowed just 16 earned runs, with 56 strikeouts, 18 walks, and 41 hits. According to, Anderson has hit 95 mph or better on the radar gun in 9 of his last 11 starts, and his evolution as a pitcher has been much faster than I ever expected. If I could travel back in time and recreate my top 20 list, I'd still have Anderson at the #1 spot.

2. Trevor Cahill -- Cahill began the year with some very good starts, but has since keep runs off the scoreboard. His walk rate hasn't been great, and his 1.50 WHIP doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the Oakland faithful, but like Anderson, he's just 21 years old, and is still many years away from reaching his full potential. Even Hall of Famer Greg Maddux posted a 1.64 WHIP as a 21 year old with the Cubs, so don't write off Cahill just yet.

3. Brett Cecil -- Looking back, I don't know if Cecil would still be at #3 on my list, but I'd still have him in my top 10. Maybe I'd switch him with Rick Porcello, who I ranked #7 going into the season. Cecil hasn't been terrible, but he allows a lot of base runners and will need to make a lot of adjustments over the coming years. However, if you take the time to look, Cecil's numbers at the age of 22 compare very well with guys like Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, and Zack Greinke. Keep an eye of Cecil.

4. Madison Bumgarner -- Bumgarner gets a lot of attention, so I don't feel like I need to talk about him too much. He hasn't blown away AA hitters, but at 19 his 1.04 WHIP and 1.98 ERA over 82 innings would still land him in the top 5.

5. David Price -- At the start of the season, every top 10 prospect list had Price in their top 3, and had him as the #1 pitching prospect in the nation. I wrote a ton of posts illustrating why Price was undeserving of such accolades, and I feel a bit vindicated now that Price has proven himself to be very human, and is currently the owner of a 5.13 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, both of which are higher than the corresponding stats put up by Anderson, Cahill, and Cecil. Price is still a very talented pitcher, but if I could do it all over, I might consider dropping him down to as low as #7 or #8, and put Rick Porcello and Neftali Feliz ahead of him.

So that's my take on my top 5. I'd give myself a solid 'B+' with this list, with the exclusion of Rick Porcello as my biggest blunder. But I kept David Price out of the #1 spot, which up to this point in baseball history makes my list a lot better than a bunch of the other top prospect lists I saw heading into 2009.

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