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Young Pitcher Symposium: Jeremy Bonderman

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Jeremy Bonderman
Similar Pitchers by Sim Score

  1. Ed Correa (970)
  2. Red Ruffing (962)
  3. Billy Crowell (958)
  4. Mike Morrison (954)
  5. Buttons Briggs (950)
  6. Jeff D'Amico (946)
  7. Jose Rijo (944)
  8. Dave Morehead (941)
  9. Billy Hoeft (938)
  10. Josh Billings (936)
Other Comparables

Bob Friend
Pedro Ramos
Jack Fisher
Camilo Pascual
Glen Hobbie
Bob Moose

You have a stark contrast at the very top: a well-known burnout case in Correa, followed by a Hall-of-Famer in Ruffing. Then you have 19th century guys in Crowell, Morrison, and Briggs, which doesn't tell us much other than that the raw Sim Score method needs work. The other names include several men who had long and successful careers, but aren't Hall-of-Fame guys.

Bonderman pitched great down the stretch last year, and many baseball people (both stathead and traditional) that I respect are projecting a breakout in 2005. The Tigers have been cautious with Bonderman's workload, and the improvement in his strikeout rate last year is another good marker.

My own guess (and this is an educated guess, not a formal projection) is that Bonderman will cut another half-run off his ERA this year, say an ERA of 4.40 or so. His wins would depend on team support, but he'll be around .500 or maybe a little over. The exact shape of his career will depend on if he can stay healthy, but he'll make at least one All-Star team in his career. A sign of trouble would be a drop in his strikeout rate or deterioration in his overall K/BB, but there is no sign of that; indeed, his ratios improved last year.

Book Grades:

2002 Minor League Scouting Notebook: Grade C+, a very conservative grade since he was a high school guy who signed late and we had no professional experience to look at. I'm more aggressive about rating pitchers directly out of high school nowadays, and gave similar low-data pitchers slightly higher grades in the 2005 book.

2003 Baseball Prospect Book: Grade B+, based on his 2002 work in the California League at the tender age of 19. I rated him the ninth-best pitching prospect in baseball, and the highest Grade B+ prospect.

I thought it was suicidal for the Tigers to push Bonderman into the rotation in 2003, and had severe doubts about the impact it would have on his career. So far, it looks like those fears were unfounded, although I still question whether it was a wise decision on service-time grounds.

We will finish up the Pitching Symposium with Jerome Williams and Brandon Webb tomorrow, followed by a summary of where I think these guys are going.