Earlier this month, we discussed Athletics southpaw Brett Anderson and his surprising polish for such a youthful starter. It’s only fitting that we now turn our attention to right-hander Trevor Cahill, as Oakland’s lefty-righty prospect duo has been inextricably linked since Anderson’s arrival in the system last year. Cahill is peanut butter to Anderson’s jelly; they just go together.
While Anderson was brought in as part of the freighter of talent acquired from Arizona in the Dan Haren deal, Cahill was a second-round draft pick out of Vista, California in the 2006 amateur draft. The A’s paid Cahill $560K to eschew a scholarship to Dartmouth, valuing an emerging arm that Baseball America claimed had “surprising feel and command for such an inexperienced pitcher.”
You would have thought that Cahill polished his game and got that Ivy League diploma, judging from the way he pummeled opposing batters in his full-season debut in 2007. In 105.1 innings with Kane County, Cahill struck out exactly 10 batters per nine innings, while inducing a boatload of grounders (56.4 GB%) with an arsenal including a low-90’s sinker, a knuckle-curve, a slider and a changeup. His control was just moderate (3.42 BB/9), but the combination of whiffs and worm-burners was exciting, to say the least.
The 6-3, 195 pounder began the 2008 season in what can often be pitching purgatory: the High-A California League. Undeterred, Cahill bested his ’07 FIP (2.74) by posing a 2.63 mark with Stockton in 87.1 IP. You name it, and Cahill improved upon it: his K rate climbed to 10.61, he slightly shaved down the walks (3.19 BB/9), and he was downright Webb-esque in keeping the ball in the dirt (61.4 GB%).
Passing that test with flying colors, Cahill was bumped up to AA Midland, where he tossed 37 frames. He hit the first rocky path of his career with the RockHounds, though you wouldn’t know it from a cursory look at his ERA (2.19). Not that he was bad by any stretch, but Cahill walked 4.62 batters per nine, with 8 K/9 and a 3.90 FIP. The grounders kept coming, however, at a 61.8% clip.
Cahill has always been considered an integral part of future A’s contenders, but his time in the big leagues came a year before most anticipated that he would grace the Coliseum. Cahill’s major league debut versus the Angels on April 7th was turbulent (5 IP, 5 walks, 1 K), but he turned in a quality outing on the 12th versus the Mariners (7 IP, 1 R, 2 hits).
Cahill might not be as major league-ready as his southpaw partner in crime (his control can desert him at times). But, the 21 year-old looks an awful lot like a Brandon Webb starter kit: a good number of swings and misses, coupled with a ground-based attack that makes it difficult for opponents to loft the ball out of the infield. That represents the best-case scenario, of course, but Cahill could entangle hitters for years to come as the A’s synthesize yet another formidable rotation.