Dickey, Shields And Why Elite Prospects Changed Hands
Four-win pitchers are difficult to find, but even harder to develop. In 2012, 18 qualified starting pitchers surpassed four-wins. Two of those, R.A. Dickey and James Shields were dealt this off-season for packages including two of the top-6 position prospects in baseball.
In each deal, the acquiring team “lost” the deal by popular opinion and prospect followers were left scratching their collective heads. Having spent four-plus seasons scouting the best pitching prospects in baseball, my perspective is a bit different. No pitcher I’ve scouted has accumulated four-wins in his career, let alone as single season.
Of prospects scouted who have pitched Major League innings, a number will accumulate additional value in time. The two points to take from this are:
- Four years of pitching prospect evaluation is a surprisingly small sample size when assessing Major League results
- Of the 41 players I’ve scouted who have surfaced (including negative value players not included), 22 (52.4%) have changed organizations at least once.
For me, the numbers provide a bit of insight as to just how difficult it is to develop a talented pitcher from within. In James Shields and R.A. Dickey, the Blue Jays and Royals acquired the caliber of pitching each organization might not be able to develop on its own.
For the Royals, Luke Hochever never fully developed as a number one overall pick should. The organization also drafted left-handed pitching talents in Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and Will Lamb. A prospect collapse and two Tommy John Surgeries has resulted in Montgomery being dealt to Tampa Bay and both Lamb and Duffy being on the mend. Add in Tim Melville, a fourth round pick with a first round arm who fell due to bonus demands, and the Royals have yet to Reap much value from five top organizational arms.
The Blue Jays have had similar difficulties developing pitching. In the starting five, only Ricky Romero is homegrown. After a 4.1 win 2010, his value has evaporated in 2011 and 2012. Once a rotation anchor, Romero enters 2013 as a question mark. Drew Hutchinson and Henderson Alvarez were also expected to be rotation mates by now, but Alvarez was dealt to Miami in the Jose Reyes trade, while Hutchinson is recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Plus, two of the Blue Jays top-three pitching prospects (Justin Nicolino and Noah Syndergaard) were dealt as a part of their off-season rebuild.
My only question is if the Blue Jays or Royals considered Kyle Lohse as a viable option. For as impressive as Shields and Dickey are, Lohse and his 2011-2012 average of 3.05 wins is tempting when first round picks are protected. If an extra win or two costs six years of a potential franchise cornerstone with Lohse on the market, I might opt for rolling the dice on Lohse.
With each organization struggling to internally develop starting pitching, the result has been the flurry of trades and free agent signings to solidify their respective starting rotations. After seeing many top pitching talents and few Major League results, I understand why both deals were made from their perspective regardless of whether the prospect package was heavy or not.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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