100 MPH Isn’t All That
I recently read an article where a columnist was detailing how one team had acquired several solid players in a trade. He noted that one of the pitching prospects was “hitting 100 MPH on the farm”.
Power pitchers are fun to watch. And the prospect that the writer was referring to may become one of the greats of the game. But 100 MPH isn’t the be all, end all. To wit, here are some flamethrowers that have high ERAs to go with their high radar gun readings.
Anderson was the first hurler that came to mind. I’m not exactly sure where he is now, but I know last year he was in the White Sox minor league system. He was the first overall pick in 1997. Anderson had one season with an ERA under 4 — his rookie year, and hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2005. He could blow away hitters but he walked 157 in just 257 career innings.
As current White Sox analyst Steve Stone likes to say, The Farns is “wild in the strike zone”. He can throw the heck out of it, but in the bigs you better locate or your fastball is going yard. The Farns has had a decent career — you don’t make it to a decade of service if your horrible — and certainly earns a nice wage. But he’s another in the long line of Cubs pitching prospects that were supposed to be the next greatest thing — then never fulfilled their potential. He was pegged to be a top of the rotation starter or dominant closer. He has been neither, and owns a career ERA near 4 and a half.
Liz was considered a top prospect in the Orioles organization and could light up radar guns. Now he’s looking like an absolute bust. In parts of 3 seasons he has an ERA of 7.50. This year he made 2 appearances and gave up 10 runs in just 1 1/3 innings. He was sent down after the second game.
McClung was a 5th round pick by the Rays in 1999, right out of high school. He has shown some promise since he became a Brewer. I just saw him pitch against the Cubs and he looked really good. But his first 3 years in Tampa were rough. He have up a lot of homers and struggled with control. He still has trouble with the latter. He has more walks than Ks this year.
Turnbow has had some success and was an All-Star in 2006. But he ended that year with an ERA of 6.87. Most recently he was with the Rangers in spring training. He did not make the team and was sent to AAA. There he had 9 walks and just one K in 6+ innings. He was released on May 1st. He had several teams interested in his services over the winter, but now it may be over for him.
League is another hard-throwing, high draft pick that hasn’t yet panned out. Like many of the pitchers on this list League has battled control problems. He has had some decent seasons, but has yet to eclipse more than 33 games or 43 innings in any season. And he made his debut back in 2004.
Julio has been on a world tour of sorts. He’s on his 8th team in 5 years. This year he’s with Milwaukee and he’s off to a bad start. He’s had some solid seasons, but he owns a career record of 17-33 and an ERA of almost 4.50.
Almost made the list: Mark Wohlers, Kerry Wood, Rafael Soriano, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jose Mesa, Armando Benitez
Can you think of any other flamethrowers to add to the list?