Prospect Retro: Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling was drafted by the Red Sox in the second round of the January 1986 draft, out of Yavapai JC. He signed in May, then was assigned to Elmira in the New York-Penn League, where he went 7-3, 2.59 in 15 starts with a 75/30 K/BB ratio in 94 innings. He needed some command refinements, but his arm strength was impressive...I'd probably give a similar pitcher nowadays something like a B- or perhaps a C+.
Schilling moved up to Greensboro in the Sally League in 1987. He went just 8-15 with a 3.82 ERA in 184 innings, but with a 189/65 K/BB. . .his strikeout rate was impressive, and he held up well under a heavy workload. Nowadays people would throw a fit if a 20-year-old pitcher threw 184 innings with 7 complete games in the Sally League. His command was an issue and I think I'd rate a similar pitcher as a Grade B prospect right now.
Promoted to New Britain in the Eastern League in 1988, Schilling went 8-5, 2.97 in 106 innings with a 62/40 K/BB. His strikeout rate was not impressive, especially considering the quality of his stuff, reflecting the need for more pitching refinement. On July 29th, he was traded to the Orioles, along with Brady Anderson, for veteran pitcher Mike Boddicker. The Orioles sent him to Double-A Charlotte for August, where he went 5-2, 3.18 in 7 starts. He made four starts for the major league team in September and was terrible, going 0-3, 9.82. However overall it was a good season, and he'd retain a solid Grade B rating.
Schilling spent most of 1989 with Triple-A Rochester, going 13-11, 3.21 in 27 starts with a 109/59 K/BB. He pitched in nine innings for the Orioles, allowing six runs and 10 hits. Note that his strikeout rate was still not overly impressive in the minors, and his general reputation at this point was as a guy with a very good arm who was underachieving a bit but still had time to turn things around. Still a Grade B by current standards.
Schilling split '90 between Rochester and Baltimore, posting a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings in the major league bullpen. He was traded to Houston and posted a 3.81 ERA and eight saves in '91, then went on to Philadelphia and began to emerge as a top starter, though injuries slowed him at times.
Schilling is 207-138, 3.44 in 3110 innings, with 3015 strikeouts to his credit. While his minor league career was good, he was never as dominant in the minors as he proved to be in the majors, and to be honest there was no reason to think he'd be a 200-game winner or 3,000 strikeout guy. Sometimes the Grade B guys really pan out.