I was comparing our two young, bright-futured pitchers and I was surprised to find that their careers mirror each other's so closely, and yet they're still such different pitchers. It's actually kind of ridiculous. That's why I'm writing this fanpost.
Brett Anderson was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round of the amateur player draft in 2006, 55th overall. His father is the head baseball coach at Oklahoma State, and it kind of seems like he was born and bred in baseball--a real natural freak. He earned an all-state selection in 2006 in Oklahoma.
He didn't see any time in 2006, but dominated the first half of 2007 for Arizona's low-A affiliate, going 8-4 and posting an FIP of 2.01. After being moved up to high-A Visalia, he slowed a little bit, perhaps due to fatigue, perhaps due to the higher level of competition.
Nevertheless, he was ranked by Baseball America as Arizona's #3 prospect, behind Carlos Gonzalez (hey!) and Jarrod Parker. In a trade that benefitted both sides, Arizona moved Anderson along with five others for Danny Haren and Connor Robertson. BA also ranked him as Oakland's #3 prospect behind CarGon and Gio Gonzalez.
Anderson split time in 2008 between Stockton and Midland, dominating at both stops, putting up FIP's of under 3.00 in both leagues. His numbers at Stockton were slightly misleading, as his ERA of 4.14 was due to a handfull of bad outings caused by a thumb injury.
2008 also saw Anderson pitch a scoreles sinning in the Futures Game along with two starts for the USA Olympic team, putting up an ERA of 4.98, while still striking out 10 and walking only 3 in 12.2 innings.
Anderson's control has really been his calling card. Lord knows his stuff is always in question by somebody. He can occasionally dial the fastball up into the mid-90s which could be considered "plus" for a lefty, but none of his curve, slider or change rate as "plus," though all are well above average.
Even if you argue his stuff, you cannot argue his makeup. He is fun to watch in the Glavine/Maddux way (I'm not comparing him to them performance wise) in that he is able to disect a hitter and not get flustered when things go poorly. His first start against the Mariners (two broken bat hits that could have been the third out) could easily have gone the way of his second start against Boston.
Trevor Cahill's story is not unlike Andersons. Cahill was born on March 1, 1988, one month after Anderson. He was also selected by Oakland in the second round of the 2006 MLB Draft at 66th overall (11 spots after Anderson). He appeared in a handfull of games in 2006, putting up promising numbers.
In 2007, Cahill spend the entire season at Kane County, going 11-4 with an ERA of 2.73. It was not a fluke as his FIP was nearly identical at 2.74. Also in 2007, Cahill was ranked 10th among Oakland's prospects by BA.
Cahill followed up a stellar 2007 with a fantastic 2008 between Stockton and Midland. He went 5-4 at Stockton with an FIP of 2.63. He earned a call up to Midland late in the year and in 37 IP, he saw his ERA lower and his peripherals rise.
Like Anderson, he also pitched a scoreless inning in the MiLB Futures Game and saw 8 innings on the Olympic team before being shut down for precautionary reasons with an oblique strain.
Although the path was similar, the scenery was anything but. In terms of style, Cahill is anything but like Anderson. While Anderson relies on his control and natrual instinct, Cahill's stuff is off the charts. He did have a scholarship to Dartmouth, so the A's are relying on his intelligence to help him get to where he could go. Cahill is an incredibly controversial prospect, though in my opinion his sinker is already on the same tier as Webb and Lowe, but his control is not. His slider, knuckle-curve and change-up are all also very good pitches.
Hopefully his Dartmouth scholarship was deserved and he can use his head to figure it all out. So far I have noticed a tendency to overthrow in certain situations where he should just let his sinker do its sinking. He doesn't have the velocity or control to overpower hitters, but his sinker his enough to induce some pretty awkward swings.
Unfortunately, posting a K/9 of 2.6 threw his first 17.1 IP isn't enough to warrant the nickname K-Hill, so I think you should all hold off before awarding such lofty monickers.
I didn't include Vince Mazzaro in this discussion because it's clear that he even though there was much talk of MAC and the second coming of the next Big Three (the Little Three), Mazzaro isn't even close to being on the same level as Cahill and Anderson.
So far this year, Anderson has basically done what he usually does. His walk rate sits at 2.8 BB/9, along the line of his minor league walk rates, which has never been above 3. His strikeouts have taken a dip, but his H/9 is also in line with his minor league numbers, although all of this can be chocked down to sample size.
Cahill's numbers are a little stranger. His ERA sits at 2.60 but his periphals (and all A's fans) say that it shouldn't be that low. He benefits from being a groundball pitcher. His minor league GO/AO rate has been around 2ish. He will get double-play inducing grounders more often than other pitchers, but he cannot rely on this. He's walked 13 batters in 17.1 IP and has yet to allow a homerun. Those numbers should eventually catch up to him, but who knows? He could fluke his way through the season.
I have been openly pessimistic about throwing these two directly into the rotation this early in their careers. They are two of the youngest players in the MLB (I believe they are only behind Rick Porcello, but I could very well be mistaken), and I don't think 21 year olds should be 40% of our rotation.
However, if they continue to pitch well, they would easily be one of the biggest stories in baseball. Though if I wasn't a fan of the A's, I would never know--Thanks, ESPN.
This is your place to share your thoughts on the future of Oakland's two best prospects. What are your worries? What are your hopes? What are your expectations?
Finally... everybody loves polls!