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  1. I’ve been keeping a close watch on Richmond for a few weeks now, but I can’t seem to get myself to add him because I can’t get passed his minor league numbers.

    4.39 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 isn’t horrible, but compared to the guys who tend to make in the majors, it isn’t very good.

    I don’t see him continuing to strike out 1 an inning and that ERA isn’t going to stay that low. His .261 BABIP and 82% LOB% agree. I’m rooting for him, but I can’t even get myself to add him as a speculative add.

    Good article.

    Comment by Mike Clay — May 6, 2009 @ 8:28 pm

  2. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brett Cecil has the best year of all American League rookie pitchers. I hope I assume correctly that this article will be revisited periodically throughout the year, with, of course, Cecil included.

    Comment by richieabernathy — May 7, 2009 @ 8:54 am

  3. I think Porcello is head and shoulders above the other guys on this list. I don’t know enough about Romero, but the others don’t have what Porcello does in terms of pure stuff and, thus, ceiling… the clincher, however, is that Porcello is probably better than all these guys right now.

    I agree his stats don’t back it up just yet, and I haven’t/won’t do Pitch F/X analysis right now… but I am pretty sure his 2-seam fastball is going to give major league hitters a headache for the next decade.

    Porcello has looked incredible to my eyes… If he begins to throw any off-speed pitch for strikes, he’ll be a legit major league starter right now.

    Most hitters already make poor contact with the 2-seam pitch from what I’ve seen, but they are waiting for it because he can’t really throw off-speed pitches for strikes. Even while waiting for it, they rarely make solid contact…

    Porcello also has a legit 4-seamer with movement and velocity that gets strikes, but he uses it to balance his 2-seamer. The 4 seamer is hittable, as demonstrated at Yankee Stadium. That night Porcello walked a couple guys instead of inducing ground balls with the 2-seam fb. The Yankee hitters just sat on his 4-seamer and crushed it. It’s the only time I’ve seen hitters confident against him.

    I’ve watched him regularly, including the collapse against the Yankees, and I’m convinced he’s ready for the Majors right now.

    Often I think Leyland is too quick with his young guys, like Ryan Perry this year, and Andrew Miller last. But as long as Porcello doesn’t feel pressure to do things he cannot (strike out everyone, throw complete game shutouts) he’ll develop and have an impressive year at the same time. From all accounts, his demeanor is just right for this scenario… Plus, his ground-ball tendencies will keep him in games, and he can probably go 6ip/start if he doesn’t walk too many guys.

    His strikeout ceiling is pretty high, but this year I’d be satisfied with a low walk rate and high GB/FB rate.

    He’s the pitcher with both the highest ceiling and the best pitch right now of anyone on this list. To me, it’s really not close.

    (Disclosure: I’m a Red Sox fan, my biases are not for Detroit)

    Comment by divakar — May 7, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  4. also his contact% is only 70% making him 3rd in the league. That makes the top 6:

    Harden
    Santana
    RICHMOND
    Greinke
    Haren
    Lincecum

    That looks like a top 5 with an outlier.

    Somehow or another, the contact% will probably sky-rocket, and all other relevant pitching stats will adjust accordingly. I’m guessing the advance scouts just didn’t pay any attention to Scott Richmond until now. Once they know what he’s doing, the hitters will adjust (and so will Richmond’s stats).

    This is, I think, classic/text-book small sample size excitement.

    Comment by divakar — May 7, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  5. More on Richmond being in a “pre-adjustment” phase:

    Right now hitters are swinging at his pitches outside of the zone at a tremendous rate, 2nd highest in the league. They are, however, swinging at his pitches in the strike zone as well.

    The key will be when the hitters lay off the pitches outside the zone, as right now Richmond has the lowest O-Contact% in the league. That won’t last unless Richmond has a new and nasty pitch that hitters simply cannot decipher.

    I’m assuming that as hitters become more selective with his stuff outside the zone, the O-Contact will go up, the O-swing will go down, and he’ll regress significantly. I sense corrections coming.

    Comment by divakar — May 7, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  6. I think, if you consider him a rookie (and I don’t blame you if you don’t) Koji Uehara deserves a look. He’s posted a 4.42 ERA (4.02 FIP ERA) despite 4 of his 6 starts coming against offensively monsterous teams (Rangers x2, Red Sox, Yankees).

    He drops off pretty bad after about 85-90 pitches but he’s been really effective thus far. It’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain it for an entire season.

    Comment by Dennis — May 8, 2009 @ 2:36 am

  7. Adding to the sentiment of pitchers not included in the above list, Derek Holland has a spot on the Rangers’ 25-man roster, if not the starting rotation yet. He’s definitely near the top of my list of interesting AL rookie pitchers for 2009–can’t wait until he cracks the starting rotation.

    And I’ll vociferously disagree with Porcello being the best on this list. As of now, he may be, but I believe Cahill and perhaps Anderson both have higher ceilings.

    Comment by Jim — May 9, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  8. … and I stole him in my keeper league for $2 last Monday :-)

    Comment by JCA — May 10, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

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