Prospect Retro: Aaron Harang
Aaron Harang was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round in 1999, out of San Diego State University. I was impressed with him in college: he's a tall guy with a good slider and good control. I picked him in my Minnesota Twins "Shadow Draft" that year, so I have been following him closely ever since.
Harang went 9-2, 2.30 in 78 innings for Pulaski in the Appalachian League after signing, with an 87/17 K/BB ratio. I gave him a Grade C in the 2000 book, with the following notation: "I need to see what he can do against better competition before giving him a high grade, though my instincts says he could develop into something interesting."
Moved up to Charlotte in the Florida State League in 2000, Harang went 13-5, 3.32 with a 136/50 K/BB in 157 innings, allowing just 128 hits. I raised his grade to C+ in the 2001 book, and noted that "my instincts say that he will survive at higher levels, but I don't have anything empirical to back that up." There are many college-trained pitchers who do well in the Florida State League and then struggle at higher levels, but for some reason (and even today I'm not sure why), I thought Harang was going to make it.
He was traded to Oakland for Randy Velarde before the 2001 season. He went 10-8, 4.14 with a 112/37 K/BB in 150 innings for Double-A Midland. It was a tough environment, but he did enough to warrant more chances. I dropped him back to Grade C due to the slippage in his strikeout rate, but warned that he was still capable of surprising.
Harang was brilliant in Double-A to begin 2002, pitched well in Triple-A, and ended up going 5-4, 4.83 in 15 starts for the Athletics. He was a bit less effective in 2003, both before and after a trade to Cincinnati. He had an OK year in 2004, then a pretty strong year in 2005, and is now a pretty solid major league starting pitcher, off to a strong start in '06.
Harang's minor league career was marked by sharp K/BB ratios. His strikeout rates went up and down, but he adjusted to better competition and is on a nice path for success. I'm not sure why my intuition liked him so much, but in this case it worked out.
Comparable Pitchers to Aaron Harang
Bobby Jones the Righthander