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A Look At Rick Porcello

20 year-old Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello was given a spot in the big league rotation today.  He'll attempt to make the jump from High A ball to the Majors.  Let's start with the scouting reports.

ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Porcello, who posted a 5.2 K/9 and 64.1% groundball rate at High A last year:

He doesn't miss a lot of bats with the new approach, but generating ground balls keeps the pitch count down, and pitchers who throw strikes and don't give up home runs can be very successful. But bear in mind that Porcello has the raw stuff to be more of a strikeout pitcher, and when he reaches the majors, he could blend the two approaches and be one of the top pitchers in the game.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus admits Porcello is "incredibly difficult to project" due to the Tigers' mandate last year to work efficiently.  He says Porcello's "readiness is debatable."

In other words, throw projection systems out the window (although Baseball Prospectus' top comp of Roy Halladay is intriguing).

So here we are with a prospect all the gurus love and no ability to project his stats.  What to do?  My usual recommendation is to draft/pick up now and ask questions later.  That applies, but don't be cutting anyone you drafted in the first 18 rounds or so for him.  I think Porcello will hold his own in the Majors, but he may only go five innings in a lot of his starts and the Tigers' bullpen is questionable.  So he may not win games.  And he doesn't profile as a guy who will rack up Ks like Tim Lincecum did, even if he does bump his K rate in the Majors.  It's probably best not to get seduced by Porcello in a mixed league, especially one with 12 teams or less. 

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