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Young Pitcher Symposium: Carlos Zambrano

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Comparable Pitchers to Carlos Zambrano

  1. Ray Culp (983)
  2. Andy Benes (968)
  3. Dizzy Dean (967)
  4. Bill Gullickson (967)
  5. Mickey Hughes (966)
  6. Jim Maloney (966)
  7. Bill Stafford (965)
  8. Robin Roberts (965)
  9. Don Sutton (964)
  10. Dave Rozema (963)
Other Comparables
Jerry Reuss
Dean Chance
Don Drysdale
Larry Dierker
Ismael Valdez

OK, now THAT is a list. Think about this one, folks: three of the most comparable pitchers to Carlos Zambrano at this stage of his career were eventual Hall of Famers, and most of the rest were real good pitchers for some time. Take that, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Wouldn't that be wonderful, if Zambrano ended up having a better career than his more-heralded teammates. It's quite possible.

Beckett, Harden, and Peavy can't match him yet, granted they all have less experience and innings on their resume than Zambrano does, so the comparisons are not exactly fair at this stage.

So, all hail Carlos Zambrano.

We have a lot of very smart baseball observers here, including many Cubs fans. Can anyone give some reasons why Zambrano won't live up to these heavy historical parallels? Can he hold up under his current workload? If you had to win ONE GAME RIGHT NOW, would you want Zambano on the mound? Or Wood, Prior, or one of the other young pitchers we've discussed.

UPDATE: I went back and looked at my comments regarding Carlos Zambrano in the old Minor League Scouting Notebooks I used to do for STATS. I wrote about him three times, in the 2000, 2001, and 2002 editions. Here are the grades and a general summary of what I wrote.

2000: Grade C+. I was concerned about his poor K/IP and K/BB ratios in Class A. He impressed with his arm strength, but his secondary pitches needed a lot of work. At this point he was basically a guy who threw hard but didn't really know how to pitch. I stand by this grade given the data available at the time.

2001: Grade C+. After nine good starts in Double-A, Zambrano was promoted to Triple-A and converted to the bullpen, for possible training as a closer. Again, command, control, and lack of any good pitch but his fastball were serious problems. His K/BB was horrible at 46/40 in Triple-A. Best attributes were arm strength and age-relative-to-league. Again, I think this grade was appropriate.

2002: Grade B-. Converted back to the starting rotation, he pitched much better in Triple-A. His strikeout rate shot way up and he made major improvements with his slider. Given his age relative to league (20 in Triple-A), his Grade B- was too low. He should have been a B or B+.