A Pitcher Once and Young
Young Pitcher Symposium Finale
The last ten days, we've taken a look at ten top young pitchers, looking at historical parallels and where these guys might end up down the road. The ten pitchers range in age from 21 for Greinke to 26 for Webb. The one with the strongest set of comparable pitchers right now is Zambrano, although he's also had a heavy workload and his injury risk may be on the high end. I think most would agree that Beckett and/or Harden have the highest physical "ceiling," while Greinke and Peavy seem to have superior command. Both lefties Willis and Perez are a lot of fun to watch, though both also have some durability questions in the long run.
Josh Beckett Book Grades: B+, A, A
Rich Harden Book Grades: B-, A-
Jake Peavy Book Grades: C+, B+, A-
Carlos Zambrano Book Grades: C+, C+, B-
Zack Greinke Book Grades: B+, A
Dontrelle Willis Book Grades: C, B+
Oliver Perez Book Grades: C+
Jeremy Bonderman Book Grades: C+, B+
Jerome Williams Book Grades: C+, B+, B+, A-
Brandon Webb Book Grades: C+, C, B
What I've done here is gone back and looked up the grades I gave each player in the Baseball Prospect Book and the Minor League Scouting Notebook. Grades are listed in chronological order, oldest first, so you can see how they progressed up the ladder. To review the grading scale, remember that I don't give out A or A- grades very easily. The grades are just shorthand. Cut-and-pasting from my 2005 book,
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Almost all Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don't make it at all.
A major point to remember is that grades for pitchers do NOT correspond directly to grades for hitters. Many Grade A pitching prospects fail to develop, often due to injuries. Some Grade C pitching prospects turn out much better than expected.
Even with this in mind, the weirdest looking grade was Oliver Perez at C+. He was basically promoted to the Majors before I thought he would be.
To wrap this up, if you could have TWO of the pitchers on this list, for the next five years, who would they be? I will post my own answer in the comment thread, but please come up with your own before peeking.