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Minor League Matters: Right Handed Pitcher Depth Charts

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Back with another installment of the depth charts. You know the routine by now- lets get to it!

Statistics used: IP, FIP, K/BB, K/9, BABIP, GB%- and adding HR/9 (oops)

MLB

Justin Verlander- 27 years old

2009 (MLB): 240 IP, 2.85 FIP, 269/63 K/BB, 10.9 K/9, 0.8 HR/9, .327 BABIP, 37% GB

Jeremy Bonderman- 27 years old

2009 (MLB): DNP (enough)

Rick Porcello- 21 years old

2009 (MLB): 170.2 IP, 4.82 FIP, 89/52 K/BB, 4.7 K/9, 1.2 HR/9, .280 BABIP, 56% GB

Max Scherzer- 25 years old

2009 (MLB): 170.1 IP, 3.83 FIP, 174.63 K/BB, 9.2 K/9, 1.1 HR/9, .316 BABIP, 43% GB

I won't bore you too much with my takes on these four guys- Verlander's an ace, Bondo needs to learn to pitch after his injury, Kid Rick is overrated but still has all the potential in the world (and is improving) and Max Scherzer is underrated (but needs to learn to adjust to the AL). Onto the prospects!

AAA/AA

Armando Galarraga- 28 years old

2009 (MLB): 178.2 IP, 5.52 FIP, 126/61 K/BB, 6 K/9, 1.4 HR/9, .306 BABIP, 41% GB

The difference in Armando's production between 2008 and 2009 was due to regression of his BABIP, a decrease in groundballs, increase in walk rate and decrease in strikeout rate. Armando will never put up another season like 2008 again- but he has a chance to be a #4 or a #5 if he can get his non-BABIP numbers back to 2008's levels.

Alfredo Figaro- 25 years old

2009 (AA): 80 IP, 3.63 FIP, 69/23 K/BB, 7.8 K/9, 0.9 HR/9, .268 BABIP, 46% GB

I like Alfredo- he's a righty with solid velocity- a sinker that sits at 92-95, with a change, curve and slider. BA and Sickles disagree on the quality of his secondary pitches- Sickles hates his breaking balls and hypes his changeup, and BA hates his changeup and hypes his breaking balls. Regardless, he's got a small frame and a lot of scouts believe that that will force him into the bullpen. He'll either end up a setup guy or a 4th starter, and while I'm hoping he starts, I'm not quite convinced.

Thad Weber- 25 years old

2009 (AA): 75.1 IP, 4.07 FIP, 44/18 K/BB, 5.3 K/9, 0.8 HR/9, .303 BABIP, 43% GB

2009 (A+): 67.2 IP, 3.67 FIP, 40/11 K/BB, 5.3 K/9, 0.8 HR/9, .236 BABIP, 60% GB

I looked for about 15 minutes for a scouting report on Mr. Weber, and I can't find one that's not behind a paywall. So if anyone knows anything specific about his stuff, I'd appreciate a heads up. It seems to be average- that would explain the low strikeout rate, which to me is the big red flag. Otherwise, his numbers aren't bad, but there's nothing in his profile to expect anything besides a #4 or #5 starter if everything breaks right.

LJ Gagnier- 25 years old

2009 (A+): 134 IP, 3.93 FIP, 123/40 K/BB, 8.3 K/9, 1 HR/9, .299 BABIP, 35% GB

A righthander with a high flyball rate, Gagnier has an average fastball and a decent change. His numbers show a good FIP and decent strikeout rate, but he was a 24 year old beating up on kids in A ball, so the numbers mislead here. He's probably going to slide into the bullpen at the upper levels, and if he makes it, that's where it'll be.

A+/A/SS

Luke Putkonen- 24 years old

2009 (A): 149.1 IP, 3.43 FIP, 115/47 K/BB, 6.9 K/9, 0.2 HR/9, .319 BABIP, 63% GB

I like Putkonen. He's not the greatest prospect in the system, and a 24 year old in A ball is a bit worrisome, but his groundball rate pops- 60% is Porcello territory, and while that doesn't mean he'll be as good as Rick longterm, it profiles well for his future. He has a sinker that he throws in the low 90's, and a good slider as well as a change and curve. If he does well at Lakeland, I'd love to see him try his stuff at Erie in the second half of the year. He could turn out to be a solid #4 inning eater type, and that's nice to have around.

Brayan Villareal- 23 years old

2009 (A): 103.1 IP, 3.29 FIP, 118/34 K/BB, 10.3 K/9, 0.4 HR/9, .325 BABIP, 42% GB

Another pitcher I like. It's easy to see why- that K/9 is in Verlander territory, and he doesn't give up many homers at all. He's small and a Tommy John survivor, but his stuff is really good. He's got a fastball that hits 97 (but sits in the mid 90's), a great slider (BA says it's the best in the system) and a changeup in progress. He also features great control. If you want a breakout player, it's this guy. Sure, he may not be a Verlander in the future, and BA seems to think he'll head to the bullpen, but I'd say he ends up as a #2 starter if everything breaks right- and he stays healthy.

Mark Sorensen- 24 years old

2009 (A+): 34 IP, 5.64 FIP, 17/7 K/BB, 4.5 K/9, 1.9 HR/9, .370 BABIP, 51% GB

2009 (A): 92.1 IP, 3.66 FIP, 52/20 K/BB, 5.1 K/9, 0.3 HR/9, .289 BABIP, 50% GB

Sorensen isn't a great prospect, but he put up a decent line in A ball and has good stuff, so I figured I'd include him. He's a groundball pitcher but doesn't strike a lot of guys out. His fastball sits in the low 90's and draws him grounders, and he has a pretty good slider and average change. His numbers in A+ are inflated by a bad home run ratio, probably an issue with sample size, but he's got potential provided he can draw a few more strikeouts or grounders. He's a #5 starter if everything breaks right.

Jacob Turner- 19 years old

2009: DNP

Jacob Turner is one of my favorite pitching prospects. He's a power arm of the highest caliber, with a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90's but touches 97-98. His curve is very good for his age and profiles as a plus pitch, as does his changeup. His command is also good for his age, and all he really needs is time to develop. And get healthy- health is Turner's biggest enemy. Provided his forearm tightness isn't a major problem, he'll be a good one- he's got the ceiling of an ace, and has been called a "Justin Verlander starter kit". Here's to hoping.

Ramon Lebron- 21 years old

2009 (GCL): 50.2 IP, 3.93 FIP, 55/37 K/BB, 9.8 K/9, 0.2 HR/9, .349 BABIP, 49% GB

First, those numbers are meaningless. 500 innings in the GCL would be useless, let alone 50. Factor in that Lebron was beating up on kids younger than him, and the numbers are especially useless. Lebron has a great fastball- it sits in the mid to upper 90's, which is great. His curveball has a ton of potential and his change is average. The one interesting number in that set is his strikeout ratio- which is good even for 50 innings in rookie ball. 2009 will be a big year for Lebron- if he can put up a line like that at West Michigan, we may have something.

Nate Newman- 23 years old

2009 (A-): 42.1 IP, 3.45 FIP, 34/20 K/BB, 7.2 K/9, 0.0 HR/9, .278 BABIP, 66% GB

Newman can draw the grounder, all right. His fastball is fringy- it sits in the low 90's- but it sinks pretty well, thus meaning that the ball stays on the ground. He's athletic, and also features a curve with potenital and an average changeup. He has potential- he went in the 10th round in 2008 but did not sign- but don't bet the house on him.

Final Thoughts

The Tigers are always deep in pitching, and this group is pretty good. Jacob Turner is a wonderful prospect if healthy, and there's plenty of live arms in here. I'm particularly high on Brayan Villareal, Luke Putkonen and Alfredo Figaro (though he'll probably head to the 'pen and disappoint me). There's some good stuff to be found here if you look for it.

Up next (and sooner than 2 weeks this time), relievers in the high minors!