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Prospect Retro: Aaron Harang

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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

Doc Medich
Pete Vuckovich
Mark Clark
Danny Cox
Bobby Jones the Righthander
Jon Lieber