Prospect Report: Porcello, McCutchen

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Rick Porcello – P – Detroit Tigers
Drafted #27 overall in the 2007 draft, that was due to his expected money demands as opposed to his talent.  He has the talent and potential to make quick work of the minor leagues and make an impact at the major league level in the not too distant future.  At just 20-years old, that’s not to say that he’s going to be up in 2008, but there certainly is an opportunity for him to get some starts next season.

He did not make his major league debut until 2008, thanks to his signing taking until 8/15/07 to get finished.  Still, despite never throwing a professional pitch, Baseball America had him slotted as the team’s top prospect prior to 2008, and #21 overall.

Reports are that he throws in the low 90’s and that he has the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark.  In 114 innings pitched thus far this season at Single A, he has allowed just 6 HR.  He has not shown the ability to get many K’s, striking out just 66, while walking 30 batters and allowing 107 hits.  He’s 6-6 with a 2.84 ERA over 22 starts.

He was brilliant in his debut, throwing 71 pitches en route to 5 shutout innings.  He allowed just 1 hit, an infield single, will walking 2, hitting 1 batter and striking out 3.

Owners in long-term keeper leagues should certainly be monitoring his progress.  The low strikeout total has got to worry you a little bit, especially since he is pitching against generally young, inexperienced players.  As he moves up the ladder, he’s going to be standing in with hitters with much more experience.  That could lead to significantly worse results.  This is his first professional season, however, so he should mature and learn how to get a few more swings and misses as time goes on.

All we’ve heard about is the significant talent that he has.  He’s certainly worth keeping your eye on and see how he develops. 

Andrew McCutchen – OF – Pittsburgh Pirates
Looking for a player who is considered a top prospect yet could have an opportunity to make an impact towards the end of this season?  Look no further then McCutchen, who certainly is eyeing an opportunity after the team traded both Xavier Nady & Jason Bay around the trade deadline.

I know we’ve spoken about him some in the past, but I wanted to take a little bit of a deeper look at him.

Granted, Brandon Moss is going to remain in the line-up the rest of the way, I would think, but if Steve Pearce struggles there is no reason for the team not to give McCutchen a look.  The teams first round pick back in 2005, he has made a steady climb through the Pirates system, showing some speed but not extensive power, at least not yet.

Last year he spent the bulk of the season at Double A, getting a cup of coffee at Triple A as well.  Overall he hit .265 with 11 HR and 53 RBI, but he did steal 21 bases.  Thus far this season he’s hitting .280 with 9 HR, 41 RBI, 83 R and 28 SB.

Those numbers are good, but he has been caught 17 times.  Obviously, that makes you wonder how successful he may be swiping bases in the major leagues.  Last season, he went 21-25, though, so that certainly gives you a little bit more hope.

He turns 22-years of age this October, and sooner or later the Pirates just need to give him a chance and find out exactly what they have in him.  That’s what they are doing with Steve Pearce now, and thus far he hasn’t responded, hitting just .179 in 28 AB (only 1 extra base hit).

It those struggles continue, it should become more and more clear that there is another young outfielder in the minor leagues waiting for his opportunity to prove his worth.  I would expect him to be up in September, at the latest, and given a chance to play.  That makes him a great option for keeper league owners, because if he emerges he could have value for next season.

I wouldn’t look for a ton of power, while he’ll probably hit in the .265-.280 range, but if they can work on his base stealing ability, he’ll have plenty of value.  The problem is, given his success rate this season, that’s no guarantee.  Even as it is, I would think he could steal at least 20-25 bases in the major leagues, but that’s going to depend on where they hit him in the line-up.  If the team can get him successfully stealing at a 75% rate, that number could be even higher.

Don’t get me wrong, he has a ton of talent, I just think he’s still a little ways a way from showing it.  Sooner or later, he will probably develop into a 20/20 option every single season.  I just don’t see the power coming in ’09 for him to get there quite yet.

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