In reading a recent, spirited debate on here (The Cahill thread) my pal, and sometime rival, Bleedjaxblue's description of a couple of pitchers as "puss arms" made me laugh and got me to thinking about Inman, specifically. It seemed to me, intuitively, that only really, really good pitchers could put up the kind of season he is having in the Texas League (8-3, 2.96, 6.7 Hits/9, 9.7 K's/9). So, I got ambitous and decided to check!
Baseballref.com's stats for the Tex League go back to 1992 and I though I'd go through and find guys who were A) 21-22 years old. Inman is 21 but for the sake of argument I thought I'd look for guy who were his age or OLDER since someone might complain that a guy who was 19-20 wasn't truly comparable B) Guys who have his specific, statistical profile.
Basically I didn't want to include guys who were sucessful by COMMAND, ie: guys who didn't walk guys or k guys so those kind of guys were left out. There isnt anybody in that group who was a 5-6 K per inning guy in that above group but there were guys who allowed a hit or two more per inning. Without going through EVERY guy who was close. The guys who were MOST similar were...
1993 Duff Brumley: Was 22, Allowed few hits 7.12, K'd slightly more 9.9, and walked a about a walk less 2.86. Similar but he DID allow more hits and less walks.
1993 Rick Helling, 22 Similar K's 9.5 but again allowed more hits and less walks.
1997 Scott Elarton 21 Pretty darned close. Low hits, high K's, walks just above 3.
1998 Freddy "The Chief" Garcia was pretty dang close also...low hits, higher walks and lower k's.
1999 John Patterson 21. He was very similar in K's and walks but gave up about 2 more hits per
1999 Eric Gagne might be the MOST similar statistically which I'll mention but he was 23 years old.
2000 Roy Oswalt was the first guy I found who fit the profile of Inman but couldn't be counted as similar because he was BETTER. Which makes sense. Even Inman's biggest fans, like myself, aren't thinking he'll be quite THAT good.
2001 Tim Redding, who was 23, was another guy who fit the mold but was BETTER. More K's, less walks, less hits. What happened?
2002 Jesse Foppert 21 was very similar
2003 Bobby Jenks second go round in the Tex League was pretty similar but with, of course, more walks.
2003 CH Tsao 22 was similar but BETTER. As dominant but with mush better control.
2003 Clint Nageotte 22 was similar but a little worse in hits, walks and K's.
2006 Ubaldo Jimenez 22 was pretty darned close...more walks.
2008 The last guy who is pretty close to Inman is pitching with him there this season, Daniel Cortes.
Ok, what does this prove? Nothing, I admit. Inman may become as good as Freddy Garcia, or Rick Helling, become a good closer like Gagne or Jenks orrr the likely option ( I prey not) based on the data...get hurt! Of all the guys who were REMOTELY similar to Will the amount of injuries to them is staggering! it's almost a who's who of great pitching prospects who got hurt...
Alan Benes, Scott Karl, John Patterson, Bud Smith, Carlos Hernandez, Jesse Foppert, Rick Harden, Chin Hui Tsao, Travis Blackley, Clint Nageotte, Fernando Nieve, Thomas Diamond. Don't forget that Elarton and Redding were a great prospects too, got hurt, have come back, but have never been the same guys.There are many, many more as well. Those are just the guys I was complaring to Inman.
The Cal League gets mentioned as the toughest for pitchers but it looks like if you just SURVIVE pitching in the Texas League you have accomplished something. Good luck Will. I think he's special. Interesting that most all the players who are close to him statistically had or have great stuff and Inman supposedly doesan't. He may not HAVE power but he gets results like a power pitcher...always has. I thuink its likely he has a fastball like Chris Young or Micah Owings...one that measures at 89-92 but gets swing and misses like it's 94-95.
Last Note: Jeff Francis should get a special award for surviving (and being truly great) the Texas League AND 3 and a half years in Coors. The kid from my hometown (Vancouver, BC) is 27 but in Texas League years it's gotta be 37.