The Orioles’ Brad Bergesen, making his major league debut tonight against the Chicago White Sox, is far from a sexy name when it comes to prospects. If you are looking for a pitcher to help boost your strikeout totals, look elsewhere. Over his 490-inning minor league career, he has posted an unimpressive K/9 of 5.7. His best season came in 2007, pitching between two levels of Single-A, when he struck out 108 batters over 150.2 innings.
Obviously, with the lack of strikeouts the ball is going to be put in play quite often when he takes the mound. In 2008 he posted a groundball rate of 54.0%. In 2007 it was 56.5%. Not that it is the best comparison, but in the Major Leagues last season there were only five pitchers who posted a groundball rate of 54% or better. That tells me has the potential to be elite in that regards.
Is the Orioles defense up to the task? Currently they rank in a tie for eighth in the league with 8 errors, though their feilding percentage is twenty-second at .982.
What he does bring is elite control, with a career BB/9 of 1.6. The righty drafted in the fourth round of the 2004 draft has never walked more then 33 batters in any season.
In an interview with the Washington Times in August of 2008 (click here to read), Bergesen described his arsenal:
“I throw a fastball; I throw a four-seamer and a two-seamer. I throw a split-changeup, and I throw a slider and curveball. And just kind of depending on what’s working that day, I try to go along with it. My changeup is usually my go-to pitch; I feel most comfortable throwing that in any count, and I feel like I have the best control of it.”
I have my concerns with a pitcher like this in his rookie season. I could easily see him developing into a solid backend pitcher, but it likely will take him time to adjust to the major league game. Look at Kevin Slowey, for instance. He has a bit of a higher strikeout potential then Bergesen, but is a control artist. During his 2007 rookie campaign he pitched to an ERA of 4.73.
I would avoid Bergesen in all formats at this point until he proves otherwise. There is a ton of risk involved in a pitcher who consistently puts the ball in play, especially when the defense behind him is far from elite. Throw in the fact that if he sticks in the rotation he’ll be routinely facing the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, all unusable starts, and it just doesn’t make much sense.
What does everyone else think of him? Is this a pitcher you are eying closely or are you avoiding him at all costs?
To read the previous article, click here.