Before writing about this year's Tigers draft crop, I thought I'd post a note on last year's first-round pick, Rick Porcello. I haven't seen many people say anything about the article in Tuesday's Detroit News about a possible misconception over what kind of pitcher Porcello might actually be, and think it could be worth discussing.
I knew Porcello wasn't necessarily a fire-balling rocket launcher that threw upwards of 95 m.p.h., but I was under the impression - as I'm sure many of you were, as well - that the kid consistently threw hard. Not so fast, say the Tigers' roving pitching instructor, Jon Matlack.
"This isn't a flame-throwing, 95(-mph) kid," Matlack said. "He'll touch 95 and touch 96, and most of those are thrown when he's behind in the count, which I find interesting. He's more of a sinker-ball guy at 91-92, and that's not bad.
"I'm not so sure that the world hasn't had a misconception about this kid. He was touted as this flame-thrower, but he told me in Oneonta when I first met him last summer, 'I need you to understand that they think I throw harder than I throw.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'Yeah, I can throw hard, but it's usually pretty straight. I don't always get favorable results. I'm a sinker-ball thrower.'"
Well, how about that? When I first read those quotes, I got the same twinge in my stomach that I felt when Alan Trammell once said that he thought Curtis Granderson might eventually be a left fielder, not a center fielder. That was a bit more dire than this, however, so it's not really a good comparison.
That's not to say that this revelation should alter how Porcello is viewed as a prospect. He's still obviously the gem of the Tigers' farm system. Maybe fans and media were guilty of presuming that Porcello had to be a fireballer since he was so highly regarded and drew such a big contract.
And maybe the Tigers are also trying to cool down the expectations for this kid, making sure to dispel the idea that he should be lighting up triple digits on the radar gun and scoreboard.
So what do you think? Were you surprised to read this about Porcello, too? Did you have a different perception of him as a pitcher? Or does this not really change anything in your mind?