Ok, so things aren't perfect in the system. We have injuries, disappointments and some disappointing injuries, but it isn't all bad. Let's look at some pitching prospects that have performed well this year and give us hope for the future.
After lasting six or more innings in just three of his first 16 starts, Ryan Webb has matched that in his last three starts. Over that span (19 IP) he has given up three runs while walking two and striking out 21. At 20 years old, Webb is one of the few young prospects being pushed in the system. His command has been solid throughout the season, never giving up more than four walks in a start. He has, however, given up 135 hits in 95 2/3 innings. A decent K/9 (79 in 98 2/3 IP) and just nine home runs makes me believe his .335 average against may be very inflated. Even more odd is the right-hander's 7.08 ERA against righties compared to a 2.86 ERA versus lefties.
19 year-old Vincent Mazarro tossed one of the best games of his young career on Sunday in Kane County's 7-4 win. Over eight innings he gave up two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out a career-high nine batters. Last year's third round pick has a 4.86 ERA over 113 innings with the Cougars. His strikeouts rate (76 K in 113 IP) isn't ideal, but Keith Lieppman commented at the beginning of the season that he may be the best of the pitchers drafted in 2005, and was the most impressive among them in instructs.
Acquired at the beginning of the season for outfielding prospect Ramon Alverado, pitcher Kazuhito Tadano stumbled out of the gate for Sacramento. He went to the disabled list after just five appearances with an injured knee. His first four games back didn't go so well either. Combined in his first nine appearances spanning more than two months, he gave up 25 runs in 24 1/3 innings. Since then he has been outstanding, surrendering just four runs in 20 innings, striking out 23 and walking just four. At 26 he isn't a prospect, but may be a useful arm if needed. The right-hander, who came over from Japan in March of 2003, has struck out nearly a batter per inning in his minor league career while maintaining a low walk rate.
The relief duo of Connor Robertson and Marcus McBeth were lights out for Midland in July. They combined to allow just seven earned runs in 32 innings, striking out 45 and walking 11. Midland's closer, McBeth, started his career as an outfielder, but after posting a .233 career average, converted to a pitcher last season. Since taking over the closer role mid-season, he has thrived. The 26 year-old has a 2.68 ERA with Midland, striking out 45 in 40 innings while posting 13 saves. Robertson is also a converted position player, but did so late in his college career. At the age of 24, Robertson has put up some very impressive numbers since being drafted in the 31st round of the 2004 draft. In 109 1/3 innings coming into 2006, he struck out 171 batters and posted an ERA of 2.30. He has nearly identical rate stats against both lefties and righties this season, striking out about 10 per 9 innings.
See? Not so bad. What's that? Hitters? Uh... ask your mother.