ChiSox Fifth Starter Candidate: Aaron Poreda

With Javier Vazquez now residing in Atlanta and Jose Contreras (achilles) likely on the shelf for at least the first half of the season, the Chicago White Sox entered the winter looking to fill two spots in the club’s rotation. One of those openings will at least temporarily be occupied by oft-injured Bartolo Colon, but the competition for the fifth slot remains wide open. The candidates for the job: Clayton Richard (check out Richard’s piece here), Jeffrey Marquez, Lance Broadway and Aaron Poreda.

My original plan was to profile each player in an individual post, but rather than boring the reader with lengthy accounts of Marquez and Broadway, I’d like to present the following 2009 forecasts for the two:

Jeffrey Marquez, RHP
Age: 24
CHONE: 92 IP, 6.33 FIP, 4.3 K/9, 3.28 BB/9
PECOTA: not listed on team depth chart

Lance Broadway, RHP
Age: 25
CHONE: 143 IP, 5.80 FIP, 5.29 K/9, 3.71 BB/9
PECOTA: 40 IP, 6.22 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 3.82 BB/9

Suffice it to say, you’re more than likely going to want to avoid both of these fellows. Neither Marquez (5.36 FIP at AAA) nor Broadway (4.89) offer much in terms of upside. Fantasy owners might consider the previously profiled Richard, but most are probably rooting for today’s subject: Aaron Poreda.

While the club has since had a change in philosophy, the South Siders were extremely conservative in the amateur draft during the middle part of the decade. 2005 first-rounder Broadway, as previously mentioned, does not project well into the majors and was ranked as just the 28th-best White Sox prospect by Baseball America. However, Broadway’s brand of mediocrity surpasses the level of production received from right-hander Kyle McCulloch, Chicago’s 2006 first-rounder out of Texas. Unranked by BA, McCulloch struck out less than five batters per nine in AA last season, walking nearly three and a half per nine as well.

Dissatisfied by minimal returns from “safe” college picks the previous two years, the White Sox attempted to hit a home run in 2007 by selecting Poreda. A towering 6-6, 240 pound southpaw out of San Francisco, Poreda was considered less refined than many college products. He pumped easy gas, hitting the upper-90’s with his heater, but the quality of his secondary pitches lagged behind. Here’s BA’s scouting report on Poreda from June 2007:

“Poreda works off the fastball almost as much as UC Riverside’s James Simmons (No. 47), and like Simmons, it’s his only above-average pitch. While his fastball was flat and 89-90 mph in his 2007 opener, he has been consistently in the low 90s since then, touching 96-97 and regularly hitting 94. He throws plenty of strikes (though he lacks true command), and with his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame, he should prove durable. He doesn’t pitch as downhill as he should at his size, in part because of his low three-quarters arm slot. Poreda’s arm action and lower slot make his breaking ball a fringe-average pitch at best, though it has improved. He has the makings of a changeup but hasn’t thrown it much, sticking to his fastball.”

Poreda began his professional career in Rookie Ball, tossing 46.1 frames for the Great Falls White Sox of the Pioneer League. His easy velocity was no match for that level of competition, as Poreda fanned 48 and walked 10 while posting a 2.06 FIP. Following his impressive debut, the plus-sized lefty was dubbed Chicago’s third-best farm talent. BA noted that while “he’s raw for a college pitcher”, he “could wind up as a bigger version of Billy Wagner coming out of the bullpen.”

White Sox brass must have been plenty impressed with Poreda, as they bumped him up to Winston-Salem of the High-A Carolina League to begin the 2008 season. He performed decently there by limiting the free passes (2.21 BB/9), but his strikeout rate (46 K in 73.1 IP, or 5.65 K/9) was rather low for a guy noted as possessing a high-octane fastball. Poreda’s K rate did rebound upon a promotion to the AA Southern League, as he whiffed 72 batters in 87.2 innings (7.39 K/9) while allowing a 2.26 BB/9. Following the season, BA once again named Poreda as the third-best Pale Hose Prospect (though in a much-improved system).

Aaron Poreda has the highest upside of Chicago’s fifth starter candidates, and it’s not particularly close. However, one has to wonder if the big southpaw is ready for a major league assignment at the point. With scarcely 200 minor league inning under his belt, Poreda has not missed quite as many bats as his power arsenal would suggest, and his slider and changeup largely remain works in progress. Both CHONE (6.09 FIP) and PECOTA (5.74 ERA) suggest that Poreda could be in for a rude introduction if he is shoved up into the fifth slot or placed in the bullpen. The 22 year-old southpaw looks like a fine long-term prospect, but the most reasonable scenario entails the ChiSox deploying Poreda to AAA in order to give him the necessary time to round out his repertoire.

Poreda should certainly be on fantasy radars, but this might be one of those rare cases where owners should root against the top prospect making the club out of spring training. Poreda still has work to do.

We hoped you liked reading ChiSox Fifth Starter Candidate: Aaron Poreda by David Golebiewski!

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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.

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