Now that we have several appearances worth of information to examine, this seems like a good time to take a brief look at some of the high-profile rookie pitchers in the majors this spring. How are Anderson, Porcello, Cahill et. al faring so far? Let’s start finding out, beginning with Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry of the Tigers.
Porcello, a 2007 bonus baby we chronicled earlier this spring, jumped straight from the High-A Florida State League to the majors. Thus far, the 20 year-old has shown flashes of the worm-burning, efficient style that earns him some optimistic Roy Halladay comparisons. In 18 innings, Porcello has struck out 11 batters while issuing 3 walks, posting a 52.5 GB%.
His Pitch F/X data backs up the scouting reports perfectly: Porcello throws a heavy, sinking heater with an abundance of tailing action in on righties (his “fastball” has 9.6 inches of tail with just 5.3 inches of vertical movement, and his “two seamer” bores in on the hands with 11.2 inches of inward break and just 3.9 inches of vertical movement). His curveball has shown a little more depth than most (6.3 inches of dropping action, compared to the 5.5 major league average), and the changeup mirrors the fastball in terms of horizontal movement (10.7 inches of tail) while actually coming in higher than either the regular fastball or two-seamer (6.7 inches of vertical movement).
Unfortunately, Porcello has struggled with the long ball, surrendering 5 taters already (2.5 HR/9). Given the groundball tendencies and the wacky HR/FB rate (27.8%), that figure will trend down significantly in the coming months.
Perry, a 2008 first-rounder out of Arizona, is basically Porcello’s polar opposite on the mound. While Porcello relies on sink and movement on his cheese, Perry rears back and fires mid-90’s gas that’s straight as an arrow. Perry’s hopping four-seam fastball (thrown in excess of 80% of his total pitches) has just 4.2 inches of tail, while averaging 95.7 MPH. Supplementing his cheddar with a mid-80’s slider, the 22 year-old essentially dares opposing batters to display quick enough reflexes to make solid contact.
Perry has surrendered one run in 5.1 frames, whiffing five while issuing four free passes. Not that you can put a whole lot of stock in seven early-season appearances, but the former Wildcat has experienced his share of difficulty in keeping the ball over the plate. His 31.8 first-pitch strike percentage is last among relievers, and just 44.9% of his pitches have been in the strike zone (49% average). Consequently, hitters are content to keep the bat on the shoulder against the wild rookie, taking a cut at just 38.2% of Perry’s offerings (44.5% average).
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 email@example.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.