Expectations are a b - - - h. That's the simple, yet straight forward truth that we all face on a daily basis. For three youngsters in particular – Cole, Cingrani & Myers – expectations have reached a fever pitch (I'm not even going to waste my time talking about Yasiel Puig since people are trading him straight up for Prince Fielder and claiming he is the next Willie Mays. I've seen a lot of crazy rookie love in my more than a decade covering fantasy sports full time, but I don't ever recall seeing a bigger blitz to add a player than the hype surrounding Puig, and that includes Mike Trout last year just to be it in comparison). Can any of this trio possibly live up to expectations in 2013? I think you know the answer to that, or you should at least. The answer is likely no, because even if they perform like some solid veterans I'm going to compare them to, I bet those that add the young guns would be disappointed if that's all they got as a return on their rookie investment.
GERRIT COLE OR YOVANI GALLARDO?
The Pirates have decided to call up Gerrit, two R's one T, Cole to start for them Tuesday against the Giants. Cole, the first pick in the country in 2011, boasts an impressive arsenal. With a heater that can touch 98 mph he can bring fear, and his changeup and slider are also quality pitches. However, command can be an issue, and he often times throws that fastball pretty flat – i.e. it doesn't have a lot of running movement. Those issues have been on display in the minors this season (more on that in a moment). His future is exceedingly bright, no doubt about it, but that does not mean he's going to hit the ground running in the big leagues and dominate from day one.
You obviously read this intro and think I'm nuts with the following comparison. Well, let's see.
(1) Comparing minor league numbers to the bigs is dangerous. People, such as Bill James with his MLE's, spend an awful lot of time trying to figure out the best way to do that. Clearly I'm going to bastardize that process right here as I'm merely taking a point and shoot approach.
Here we go.
Cole (AAA): 6.22 K/9, 3.71 BB/9
Gallardo: 7.33 K/9, 3.30 BB/9
Both arms are capable of generating big strikeout totals. The main difference? Gallardo has more than a K per inning since the start of May this season, and over the past four years he is one of three hurlers with 200 Ks each season – in the majors. The other two arms by the way are Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander. Cole was able to generate a K per innings at A and Double-A ball last year, but that's a level of competition that some guys simply cannot handle the stuff that Cole has. Where have those punchouts gone this year? Speaking of that, for an arm this “big” a K mark under 6.50 per nine is embarrassing. Remember, the big league average is about a full batter above the mark Cole has at Triple-A.
As for the walks, you know how you love to hate on Gallardo for all his walks and what it does to his WHIP each year. Not only is Gallardo walking about half a batter less per nine innings this year than Cole, in the big leagues remember, but his career mark is 3.46. Are you ready to be frustrated with Cole who often has a hard time locating his pitches out of the stretch?
That was cheap, admittedly, to compare Cole to Gallardo based off a handful of starts at Triple-A, but I think it illustrates the point clearly. Cole could dominate. He throws hard, has K per inning stuff, and over the past two years in the minors is the owner of a solid 47.5 percent ground ball rate leading to a solid 1.35 GB/FB ratio (just for the heck of it – for his career Gallardo owns a 1.31 mark). Be wary of expecting too much from the phenom from Pittsburgh though who hasn't thrown one big league pitch that counts.
TONY CINGRANI OR TIM LINCECUM?
Cingrani will be called up to take the rotation spot of Johnny Cueto, just like he was the last time Cueto was hurt – we think (It's not official yet, but we all know it's coming). A dominating young arm, that's what Cingrani is, he's still relatively raw.
I actually made this above comparison when Cingrani was called up the first time in By The Numbers: Rookie Hot Shots or Veterans? It was an insightful piece (giving self props). I may not have been right about everything I wrote about Lincecum, but I still think it's valid and worth a read. As for the moving forward aspect of things with Cingrani...
(1) We do not know how long Cingrani will stick around. The Reds rotation seems set, and with Mike Leake on fire – four earned runs allowed over five outings – when Cueto is healthy enough to return from his side issue I still don't see a spot for Cingrani in the rotation. At least Lincecum gets the ball every five games.
(2) Though Cingrani has an out of this world 11.18 K/9 mark it's pretty foolish to think he will keep that up since it's a huge number (Justin Verlander's career best is 10.09).
(3) He throws his fastball too much. In his 38 inning big league career Tony has thrown his fastball 84 percent of the time. You can get away with doing that if you throw a power sinker, but that's not the type of fastball that Cingrani throws. Cingrani has a great heater, one that can lead to tons of whiffs, but it's also his only plus pitch. As a result, major league hitters have been sitting on it. Here is what has happened.
A – Cingrani has allowed eight homers in 38 big league innings. With no fear of off speed stuff batters sit dead red, and when he makes a location mistake Cingrani's pitches get hammered.
B – Though he's walked only 2.61 batters per nine in his career, that number could climb if he's unable to locate his pitches expertly. Even though he walked only four batters in his last two big league starts he lasted a total of nine innings as he threw 185 pitches in those nine innings. 185. We like guys to throw nine innings at about, what, 110-120 pitches right? He continued to have some control issues over his last three minor league starts walking nine guys in 17 innings – that's 4.76 walks per nine innings.
Cingrani is a great talent, but I'm of the opinion that he's better suited at the moment to fill the role of reliever until he develops his secondary pitches. Regardless, even if I'm totally off there remember – there's no place for him in the Reds' rotation if everyone is healthy.
WIL MYERS OR NICK SWISHER?
The next great hitter according to everyone, Wil Myers was Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year last season as he hit .314 with 37 homers, 109 RBIS, 98 runs an a .987 OPS in 134 games at Double and Triple-A. This year he started very slowly but he's picked up his play tremendously of late and is now hitting .287 with 12 big flies and 52 RBIs in 58 games at Triple-A for the Rays. With the Super 2 deadline for arbitration likely past, the Rays will call up Myers any day now. Or so that is the common belief. However, it may be not accurate. According to a report in The Tampa Tribune:
The Rays do not have any plans to call up Durham OF Wil Myers within the next week or so despite what's been reported by some national baseball media outlets.
Point #1 that is so often forgotten with rookies is – DO THEY HAVE A PLACE TO PLAY?
Point #2 – WILL THE TEAM CALL THEM UP TO FILL THAT VOID?
Point #3 – HOW IS THE PLAYER PERFORMING – IS HE WORTHY OF BEING CALLED UP?
Without a “yes” to both of the first two questions talking about a player is a moot point. It also kind of helps if we get a “yes” to point three. As I noted Myers has come around after a slow start and his numbers look good, but he's still got a nearly 25 percent K rate leading to 65 punch outs in 58 games, and that has to be a concern for the Rays.
I stand by my Myers vs. Swisher comparison that I led off with. If Myers hit .270 with 15 homers and 55 RBIs the rest of the way that would be an impressive rookie run in two thirds of a season. Those numbers also look like the type of production we could see from Nick Swisher. Of course, Swisher has been in the big leagues for years as a productive player and he also has a spot in his teams daily lineup. Myers does not. If Myers were to go .270-15-55 the rest of the way you would be... ? If the answer is disappointed then I just don't think you're being realistic.
Sorry folks, but even the great Yasiel Puig isn't going Trout on everyone.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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