There is no such thing as a pitching prospect

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I’m really, really excited about Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndegaard. But, when I think of them together, I get flashbacks of “Generation K,” Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher.

I know, I know, one has nothing to do with the other. In fact, I’m constantly reassured by people outside the organization that Sandy Alderson and his staff are handling their pitching prospects the right way. I’m told Alderson is methodical in how his crew tracks innings, amp up workouts, manage stress and promotions, and assign tasks.

“Those kids weren’t close to ready, mentally or physically, for what they were being asked to do for that team,” a former Mets executive, now with another team, once told me about Generation K, indicating they were rushed to compete with what was happening in the Bronx during the late 90s. “That’s not going to be an issue for Sandy,” he concluded.


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Syndergaard is looking like a special pitcher, as Terry Collins put it. He’s right. I talked to a handful of smart, experienced, baseball people while I was in St. Lucie and they all essentially said the same thing: Noah is solid, strong and focused like Harvey. He’s level-headed, poised and he repeats his delivery like a veteran.

“He hammers like [Dwight] Gooden,” one talent evaluator said, which I assume was referring to Syndergaard’s 80 mph curve ball and how he uses it alongside his 97 mph fastball.

Every expert concluded by telling me to always be cautious of pitching prospects, pointing to Harvey’s recent elbow surgery as an example. Harvey will be fine, I assume, but no one will know for sure until 2015, when he may suffer a bit of a dip in his velocity before gaining full strength in 2016.

In other words, “There is no such thing as a pitching prospect,” as baseball people like to say, often using the shorter TINSTAAPP.

This is not always the case, of course. Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and David Price, among countless others, were all highly touted minor leaguers. However, so were Luke Hochevar, Clint Everts, Todd Van Poppel and Ben McDonald, not to mention Scott Kazmir, Isringhausen, Pulsipher and Wilson. And that’s the point, you never really know how a pitcher will translate to the big leagues, and anything can happen — from burn out to injury — along the way.




28 comments
Mike Lee
Mike Lee

Is it me or does Cerrone lack basic comprehension skills?

Sylvan Migdal
Sylvan Migdal

The irony of the "Generation K cautionary tale" is that the Mets' highly touted farm system of the mid-90s did actually produce the foundation for a winning team, including very productive Mets players like Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez and Bobby Jones, as well as the prospects who brought us Mike Piazza, Al Leiter and Mike Hampton in trade. It may not have turned out exactly how Mets fans were hoping, but it brought us a pennant.

Steve Currlin
Steve Currlin

This year  is 1984 for us...2016 should be our 1986.

sylow59
sylow59

I no longer come here often, but when I do I get flashbacks as to why I stay away.

Kevin Brazee
Kevin Brazee

Instead of generation K let's think, Seaver, Koosman, Matlack.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

A prospect is, by definition, someone that has x probability of being a y player.  So yes, there are pitching prospects, you just don't understand the vernacular.

mets1973
mets1973

These young men were rushed to the majors. They didn't have the proper number of innings in the minors and then they were subjected to a vastly increased workload in late '95 and in '96. They just couldn't physically handle the workload and broke down.

Chris
Chris

I hate when Kazmir gets lumped in with the busts. He wasn't a bust. He was injury prone & spent 3 years in the wilderness, but he was excellent in his first 3 seasons, and has put up 2 or 3 more pretty solid seasons since then. And he just signed a $22M contract.

justinb
justinb

Remember that Halladay was dropped from the Majors to low minor league ball.  He came in with an holier than thou approach, was lit up, and almost out of the game.  He had to go back to the minors to actually learn how to pitch before he became the guy he was for the rest of his career.

mets2891
mets2891

To be fair, the only guy that flat out sucked was Pulsipher.  Izzy had his moments and became a very good closer, and Wilson just got hurt.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Paul Wilson did have good stuff ..I think he was rushed to the big leagues too fast.

gregsasso
gregsasso

@metsblog @AVSNY The post is all true, but the TINSTAAPP is usually used specifically for the high injury rate.

zoddie
zoddie

@Travis Walls TINSTAAPP was a half-joking meme around the sabermetric community a few years ago.  It is an exaggeration of the fact that we really have NO idea which pitchers are going to get hurt or end up succeeding in the majors or have a long career.

zoddie
zoddie

@Steve Currlin   I love that analogy.  I think Granderson is the Gary Carter of 2014.  Good leadership, getting a bit older, probably only a few good years left.  All we need is Keith Hernandez and we're set for 2016!


To take the analogy even further, we can also lose to the Cardinals after a good year in 2015.

Who-LeeOh Zee
Who-LeeOh Zee

@sylow59  lmao kinda true..I stayed away because of the whole comments section change.

sayhey24
sayhey24

Nice although it is ST and it is Houston.

crafalko17
crafalko17

@dreamer3kx Wish I was watching...but apparently there is a sun outage(whatever that means in broadcasting) which has interrupted the broadcast and I missed it all...

zoddie
zoddie

@Victor Triguero   How do you know which highly touted pitchers are going to became good MLB pitchers, which will be hurt, and which will never develop?  Yes, we made an IDIOTIC trade when we dealt Kazmir (no one thought it was a good idea at the time), but we also traded pitchers to get Johan and none of them had careers.


That's why we can wait a bit to make trades.  Use this year to better understand the holes in our lineup and then make a trade at the deadline or during the offseason.

completely
completely

@Victor Triguero  This. Bank on a decent percentage of these guys not fulfilling their promise (the numbers certainly bear that out) and use these assets while they're still so attractive. If you're thinking hitter-who-could-help-now though, they'd cost something vs. the pittance being paid to these young arms, so that's a problem.

zoddie
zoddie

@Chris   I was going to post the same thing.  If we had kept Kazmir from 2005-2008 the Mets would have almost definitely gone to the playoffs two more times and maybe even won a World Series.


He's a little guy who had some arm trouble.  Nowhere close to a bust.

Mr. SERCH
Mr. SERCH

@mets2891  i never saw the fascination with Pulsipher. Guy was garbage. Wilson had real good stuff. We really messed him up

Anthony Perez
Anthony Perez

Finally some real excitement and we miss it, lol

golflady7
golflady7

Do you honestly think we can't see where the holes in the lineup are by now?

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

@zoddie @golflady7  I don't get this logic with Tejada. He's either had two horrible years and two decent years or he's had one horrible year and one decent year. He's a 50/50 shot. I just love the logic of only looking at his last three years and not all four years because it doesn't support your argument

zoddie
zoddie

@golflady7  Not really, no.  What happens if Tejada ends up returning to being a 2 WAR player like he was in 2011 AND 2012?  What if he's one of the worst starting shortstops in the league again like in 2013?

What if Ike actually doesn't suck in the first half and actually puts together a full season?  And Satin is an effective platoon partner?

What if Lagares hits .285 with league leading defense?  What if he hits .235 and his D comes back to earth a bit?