I'm travelling today, so here's a discussion topic for you: Rick Porcello.
Jeff Erickson and I discussed Porcello on BlogTalkRadio yesterday. On the positive side, you have to be impressed with a 20 year old pitcher who can jump from the Florida State League to the majors and not get killed. Overall, he's 9-7, 4.36 in 19 starts, with a 55/35 K/BB ratio in 105 innings, 114 hits allowed. That's not great, but he could have done a lot worse than that. On the negative side, his FIP isn't hot at 5.18. His month-to-month consistency hasn't been good. . .he had a great 1.50 ERA in May, but other than that he's been below average every month (6.23 ERA April, 4.60 June, 8.79 July). Even considering his ground ball tendency, hIs strikeout rate is disturbingly low. Still, the fact remains that he IS jumping from the Florida State League, and is keeping his head above water overall considering the circumstances.
His pre-season PECOTA comps are all over the place: The top ten are Roy Halladay, Matt Drews, Jamie Arnold, Sean Burnett, Jon Garland, Mark Eichorn, Don Schulze, Chris Volstad, Joe Fontenot, and Yorman Bazardo. I actually think this is about right: he could turn into a terrific pitcher (Halladay), or a decent inning eater (Garland), or nothing at all. It will be interesting to see what PECOTA makes of him after this season.
As for my opinion, well I'm still not sure what to think. I criticized the Tigers for rushing him to the majors, and I still think it was a high-risk move, though as Jeff pointed out on the radio show, they didn't really have a lot of other internal options going into spring training. In an alternate universe somewhere, he's spent the year in Double-A and has put up strong numbers, and would still rank as a Top Ten pitching prospect. 2009 is the equivalent of his sophomore year at college; if he'd been pitching at North Carolina this spring, he would have been utterly dominant and would be entering 2010 as a Top Five draft candidate. That helps keep things in perspective.
So, what do YOU guys think of Porcello? Future superstar? Decent inning eater? Or does he get hurt or just fade out in some other way? To put a point on the question, if you were the Tigers, would you be looking to lock Porcello up long-term? Or would you wait and see what happens?