Friday, January 11, 2008

Young Trio

It's rare to have a young trio of top pitching prospects all breaking into a rotation at the same time. Depending on how long Mussina can hold off one of the Yankees' big three, chances are all three will be a prominent part of the Yankee rotation.

I was able to think of three other recent teams to do this.

The 1990 Braves
The 1996 Mets
The 2000 Athletics

I decided to not include the 2006 Marlins, even though their young pitchers pitched quite well that season. The reason I didn't include them was because the Marlins were really playing their AAA team in the Majors. The three above teams all chose to use their three young pitchers because they thought they were truly big-league ready.

The '90 Braves
Steve Avery - 20 Years Old (1st Round, 3rd overall Pick)
John Smoltz - 23 Years Old (22nd Round pick of Tigers)
Tom Glavine - 24 Years Old (2nd Round Draft Pick)

Steve Avery was baseball's top prospect according to Baseball America coming into the season. This is a little differrent as Glavine and Smoltz had significantly more innings under their belt than any of this Yankee trio. Smoltz threw over 200 innings in '89 and Glavine topped 185 in both '88 & '89. Avery was brand new to the Majors. Still, the young trio didn't overly impress during the 1990 season. Smoltz had the best year going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA. Glavine was 10-12 with a 4.28 ERA. Avery was 3-11 with a 5.64 ERA.

Veteran Presence on Team: Charlie Liebrandt

Result: Last Place, but quite a turnaround by 1991

The '96 Mets
Paul Wilson - 23 Years Old (1st Overall Pick)
Jason Isringhausen - 23 Years Old (44th Round, Draft and Follow, signed in May)
Bill Pulsipher - 22 Years Old (2nd Round Pick)

This is the better comparison, experience-wise. Isringhausen pitched 14 games in '95, Pulsipher 17, and Wilson none. Pulsipher had a 3.98 ERA during the '95 campaign while Isringhausen went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA (although struck out just 55 batters in 93 innings). In 1995 Pulsihper and Isringhausen were Baseball America's 12th and 37th top prospects, respectively. Paul Wilson was #2 in 1996.

The trio completely flopped. Pulsipher was hurt in Spring Training and missed the entire season (and season after that). Paul Wilson went 5-12, while Isringhausen went 6-14.

Veteran Presence on Team: Pete Harnisch

Result: 71-91, 4th Place in NL East

The '00 A's
Tim Hudson - 24 Years Old (6th Round Draft Pick)
Mark Mulder - 22 Years Old (1st Round, 2nd overall Pick)
Barry Zito - 22 Years Old (1st Round, 9th overall Pick)

Of the three, only Tim Hudson had been tested in the big leagues. Hudson, who never made Baseball America's Top 100, went 11-2 in 1999. Mulder was #12 on the list that year, and Zito was #41.

Hudson picked up right where he left off in '99 and won 20 games. Mulder went 9-10 with a 5.44 ERA. Zito came up for the second half and went 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA.

Veteran presence on team: Kevin Appier

Result: First Place after a weak first half of the season. By 2002, all three had become 20-game winners, and the A's made their 3rd straight playoff appearance.

The '08 Yankees
Joba Chamberlain - 22 Years Old - (Supplemental Pick - 41st Pick Overall)
Phil Hughes - 22 Years Old (not until June) - (1st Round, 23rd Pick Overall)
Ian Kennedy - 23 Years Old - 1st Round, 21st Pick Overall)

All three of them had a cup of coffee, with Phil Hughes even picking up a postseason win, giving up just 1 run in 5.2 innings, of 0 walk, 6 K ball. Chamberlain ran into his only big-league trouble in the postseason, although it had nothing to do with the other team's ability to hit. He should still have some confidence with his 0.38 ERA from the bullpen. Kennedy pitched to a 1.89 ERA in his 3 starts. Hughes topped out at #4 on Baseball America's list, as Chamberlain probably will as well, and Kennedy somewhere on it.

Veteran Presence: Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina

There are two big advantages the Yankee trio has over the past combinations. One, is obviously the veteran presence. The second is that they've experienced a pennant race and the postseason. They wouldn't have even gotten to the postseason without them. Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera went to the postseason in 1995, and in '96 they finished #2 & #3 for the Cy Young Award, respectively. Pettitte topped out at #49 on Baseball America's list, and Rivera never made it.

Of the other three teams, only Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher never became All-Stars. I like the Yankees chances going forward with these three.

1 comment:

Ross said...

I thought it was interesting that despite there being 40 players chosen before Chamberlain in the 2006 draft, and Chamberlain only throwing a little big of Hawaiian League ball by the time Baseball America came out with their list, he was already ranked #75 last year. That's pretty high when you look at it. The #2 overall pick of that same '06 draft was ranked #76. Only 8 picks from '06 were ahead of him, and nobody lower than #14.