Where do starting pitchers come from?

The Twins starting pitching situation this year is in dire straights. Coming into the 2012 season the Twins starting pitchers were expected to be Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis. Not a great group of starters by any means but you had to think they would keep the Twins near the .500 mark. But things don’t always go as planned and after Monday’s game the Twins have played 35 games and their record stands at 10-25, the worst record in all of baseball.

The Twins starters are rated as last in the American League with a 7-20 record and a 6.30 ERA. The starters are pitching just slightly over 5 innings per start with no complete games. Opposing batters are hitting .315 off the Twins starting staff and the the next closest starting rotation is the Yankees starting staff and opponents are hitting them at a .282 clip, a huge difference. On the other end of the spectrum, the Chicago White Sox opponents are only hitting .226 against the Mighty Whities starters. Twins starters have given up 234 hits in just 187 innings. If you combine the hits and the walks, the Twins starting rotation has a 1.55 WHIP. Twins starters have also given up the most runs, most home runs and they have struck out the least amount of opposing hitters.

So why is Minnesota starters pitching so bad as compared to the AL teams? Where did the Twins starting pitchers come from? I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the starting staffs of the AL teams and see what we come up with.

New York Yankees

 1. CC Sabathia (31) – signed by the Yankees as a free agent in December 2008. Was originally a 1st round pick, 20th over all of the Cleveland Indians in 1998 and made his major league debut in 2001.

2. Ivan Nova (25) – signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 2004, drafted by the San Diego Padres as a Rule 5 pick in December 2008 and returned to the Yankees in 2009 and made his major league debut in 2010.

3. Hiroki Kuroda (37) – signed by the Yankees as a free agent in January 2012. Was originally signed by the Dodgers as a free agent in December 2007 and made his major league debut in 2008.

4. Phil Hughes (26) – drafted by Yankees in round 1 and 23 over all in 2004 and made his big league debut in 2007.

5. Andy Pettite (39) – drafted by the Yankees in round 22 of the 1990 draft and made big league debut in 1995.

 Boston Red Sox

1. Jon Lester (28) – drafted by Boston in the 2nd round of the 2002 amatuer free draft and debuted in 2006.

2. Clay Buchholz (27) – drafted by Boston in the 1st round and 42 pick over all in the 2005 amatuer free agent draft and made his big league debut in 2007.

3. Felix Doubront (24) – signed by Boston as an amateur free agent in May 2005 and made his big league debut in  2010.

4. Josh Beckett (31) – acquired via trade. Originally a 1st round pick and 2nd over all by the Florida Marlins in 1999. Made big league debut in 2001.

5. Daniel Bard (27) – drafted by Boston in 1st round and 28 pick over all in 2006 and made big league debut in 2009.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Jake Arrieta (26) – Orioles 5th round pick in 2007 and made big league debut in 2010.

2. Tommy Hunter (25) – acquired in a trade and was originally a 1st round pick and 54th over all of the Texas Rangers in the 2007 amateur free agent draft and made his big league debut in 2008.

3. Jason Hammel (29) – acquired in a trade and was originally a 10th round pick by Tampa in 2002. Made his big league debut in 2006.

4. Wei-Yin Chen (26) – signed as a free agent in January 2012 and made his big league debut in 2012.

5. Brian Matusz (25) – drafted by Orioles in 1st round and 4th over all in 2008 and made his big league debut in 2009.

Tampa Rays

1. Jamie Shields (30) – drafted in round 16 by Tampa in 2000 and made his big league debut in  2006.

2. David Price (26) – drafted 1st over all in the 2007 draft by Tampa. Big league debut in 2008.

3. Jeremy Hellickson (25) – A Tampa 4th round pick in the 2005 draft. Made big league debut in 2010.

4. Matt Moore (22) – Tampa’s 8th round pick in 2007 and made his big league debut in 2011.

5. Jeff Nieman (29) – Tampa’s 1st round pick and 4th over all in 2004. Made big league debut in 2008.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Henderson Alvarez (22) – signed by Toronto as an amateur free agent in 2006. Big leaqgue debut in 2011.

2. Ricky Romero (27) – 1st round pick by Toronto and 6th over all in 2005. Big league debut in 2009.

3. Brandon Morrow (27) – acquired in trade from Seattle who picked Morrow in the 1st round and 5th over all in 2006. Big league debut in 2007.

4. Kyle Drabek (24) – acquired in trade from Philly where he was their 1st round pick and 8th over all in 2006. Big league debut in 2010.

5. Drew Hutchinson (21) – Toronto 15th round pick in 2009 and made big league debut in 2012.

Texas Rangers

1. Derek Holland (25) – Texas 25th round pick in 2006, big league debut in 2009.

2. Colby Lewis (32) – Texas 1st round pick and 38th over all in 1999. Big league debut in 2002.

3. Yu Darvish (25) – purchased from Japan and signed as free agent in January 2012. Debuted same year.

4. Matt Harrison (26) – acquired in trade from Atlanta. He was the Braves 3rd round pick in 2003. Made debut in majors in 2008.

5. Neftali Feliz (24) – acquired in trade from Atlanta. He was signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent in 2005 and made big league debut in 2009.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Jered Weaver (29) – Angels 1st round pick and 12th over all in 2004. Big league debut in 2006.

2. Dan Haren (31) – acquired via trade. Was a St. Louis Cardinals 2nd round pick in 2001. Big league debut in 2003.

3. CJ Wilson (31) – signed as a free agent in December 2011. Rangers 5th round pick in 2001 and made big league debut in 2005.

4. Ervin Santana (29) – signed by Angels as an amateur free agent in 2000 and made big league debut in 2005.

5. Jerome Williams (30) – signed as free agent in June 2011. Originally picked in round 1 and 39th over all by San Francisco Giants in 1999. Big league debut in 2003.

Oakland A’s

1. Bartolo Colon (39) – signed as free agent in January 2012. Originally signed by the Cleveland Indians as amateur free agent in 1993. Big league debut in 1997.

2. Brandon McCarthy (28) – signed as free agent in 2010. Originally picked by the White Sox in round 17 in 2002. Big league debut in 2005.

3. Tommy Milone (25) – acquired via a trade with Washington. Was originally a Nats 10th round pick in 2008. Big league debut in 2011.

4. Jarrod Parker ar(23) – acquired in a trade with Arizona. Was originally drafted by D-Backs in 1st round and 9th over all in 2007. Big league debut in 2011.

5. Tyson Ross (25) – drafted by A’s in 2nd round 2008. Big league debut in 2010.

Seattle Mariners

1.  Felix Hernandez (26) – signed by Seattle as an amateur free agent in 2002 and made big league debut in 2005.

2. Jason Vargas (29) – acquired in a 3 team trade in 2008. Was originally a Florida Marlins 4th round pick in 2004. Big league debut in 2005.

3. Kevin Millwood (37) – signed as free agent in January 2012. Originally a Braves 11th round pick in 1993. Big league debut in 1997.

4. Blake Beavan (23) – acquired in a trade from Texas. Originally a Rangers 1st round pick and 17th over all in 2007. Big league debut in 2011.

5. Hector Noesi (25) – acquired in trade with the Yankees. Originally signed by Yankees in 2004 as an amateur free agent. Big league debut in 2011.

Kansas City Royals

1. Bruce Chen (35) – signed with KC as a free agent in 2009. Was originally an Atlanta Braves amateur free signee in 1993. Big league debut in 1998.

2. Luke Hochevar (28) – was drafted by Royals in 1st round and 1st over all in 2006. Big league debut in 2007.

3. Danny Duffy (23) – Royals 3rd round pick in 2007. Big league debut in 2011.

4. Jonathan Sanchez (29) – Acquired in trade with the Giants. Originally was the Giants 27 round pick in 2004 and made big league debut in 2006.

5. Felipe Paulino (28) – Purchased from Colorado Rockies in May 2011. Was originally signed by the Astros as an amateur free agent in 2001. Big league debut in 2007.

Detroit Tigers

1. Justin Verlander (27) – was the Tigers 1st round pick and 2nd over all in the 2004 draft. He made his big league debut in 2005.

2. Rick Porcello (23) – was the Tigers 1st round pick and 27th over all in 2007. Made his big league debut in 2009.

3. Max Scherzer (27) – acquired in trade with Arizona. Was originally drafted in 1st round and 11th over all by Arizona in 2006. Made his big league debut in 2008.

4. Doug Fister (28) – acquired in trade with Seattle. Was originally picked by the Mariners in round 7 of the 2006 draft. Made MLB debut in 2009.

5. Drew Smyly (23) – was the Tigers 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft. Made big league debut in 2012.

Cleveland Indians

1. Justin Masterson (27) – acquired in a 2009 trade with the Red Sox. Was originally a 2nd round pick by the Red Sox in 2006 and made big league debut in 2008.

2. Derek Lowe (39) – acquired in a 2011 trade with  the Atlanta Braves. Was originally picked in the 8th round of the 1991 draft and debuted in the big leagues in 1997.

3. Ubaldo Jiminez (28) – acquired in a trade with Colorado. Originally signed as a amateur free agent back in 2001 with the Rockies. Made big league debut in 2006.

4. Josh Tomlin (27) – was drafted by the Indians in the 19th round of the 2006 draft. Made big league debut in 2010.

5. Jeanmar Gomez (24) – signed as an amateur free agent with the Indians in 2005. Made his big league debut in 2010.

Chicago White Sox

1. Jake Peavy (31) – acquired in a trade with the Padres. Originally picked by San Diego in round 15 of the 1999 draft. Big league debut in 2002.

2. John Danks (27) – acquired in a trade with Texas. Was originally a 1st round pick and 9th over all in 2003. Big league debut in 2007.

3. Gavin Floyd (29) – acquired in a trade with the Phillies. Was originally a Phillies 1st round pick and 4th over all in 2001. Made big league debut in 2004.

4. Chris Sale (23) – drafted by the White Sox in the 1st round and 13th pick over all in 2010 draft. Made big league debut just 2 months after being drafted and after pitching in just 11 minor league games.

5. Philip Humber (29) – selected off waivers from Oakland in January 2011. Originally drafted in 2004 in the 1st round and 3rd over all pick by the New York Mets. Made big leage debut in 2006.

Minnesota Twins

1. Francisco Liriano (28) – acquired in trade with San Francisco in November 2003. Was originally signed for the Giants as an amateur free agent in 2000. Made big league debut in 2005.

2. Carl Pavano (36) – acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Indians in 2009. Originally drafted in the 13th round by the Red Sox in 1994. Made big league debut in 1998.

3. Nick Blackburn (30) – drafted by the Twins in round 29 of the 2001 draft. Made big league debut in 2007.

4. Jason Marquis (33) – signed by Twins as a free agent in December 2011. Was originally an Atlanta Braves 1st round pick and 35th over all in 1996. Made big leaague debut in 2006.

5. Liam Hendriks (23) – signed by the Twins as an amateur free agent in 2007 and made his big league debut in 2011.

6. Anthony Swarzak (26) – drafted by the Twins in round 2 of the 2004 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2009.

7. Scott Diamond (25) – A Rule 5 pick by the Twins from the Atlanta Braves in December 2010. Was originally signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent in 2007. Made big league debut in 2011.

8. PJ Walters (27) – Signed with the Twins as a free agent in December 2011. Was originally a St. Louis Cardinals 11th round pick in 2006 and made big league debut in 2009.

9. Scott Baker (30) – out for the 2012 season with TJ surgery. Was a Twins 2nd round pick in 2003 and made big league debut in 2005.

The Twins current starting rotation of Pavano, Marquis, Blackburn, Diamond and Walters is made up of  one 1st round pick, an 11th rounder, a 13th rounder, a 29th rounder and an amateur free agent.

If you look at the rest of the current 5 man starting rotations for the 13 other AL teams you have a total of 65 pitchers and here is how they break down.

25 of the 65 (38%) were first round picks

12 of the 65 (18%) were signed as amateur free agents

5 of the 65 (8%) were 2nd round picks

3 of the 65 (5%) were Japanese baseball free agents

2 of the 65 (3%) were 3rd round picks

2 of the 65 (3%) were 4th round picks

2 of the 65 (3%) were 5th round picks

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 7th round pick

2 of the 65 (3%) were 8th round picks

2 of the 65 (3%) were 10th round picks

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 11th round pick

2 of the 65 (3%) were 15th round picks

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 16th round pick

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 17th round pick

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 19th round pick

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 22nd round pick

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 25th round pick

1 of the 65 (2%) was a 27th round pick

The AL team with the most first round picks in the starting rotation is the Chicago White Sox with four starters in Danks, Floyd, Humber and Sale and the Cleveland Indians are the only team with no first rounders in their starting rotation. But just because you are a first round pick does not mean that you will make the teams starting rotation that drafted you as only 13 of the 25 or only 52% of the first round picks end up starting for the teams that drafted them in round 1. Of course many other 1st rounders either do not make the starting rotation or do not make it to the big leagues at all.

Since 1972 the Minnesota Twins have drafted 27 pitchers in the first round, 8 out of high school and 19 out of college. Three of their picks did not sign with the team. RHP Dick Ruthevan was picked in round 1 and 8 over all in 1972 but did not sign and went on to start 332 big league games. RHP Tim Belcher was the Twins 1st round and the first over all pick in 1983 but he did not sign and he went on to start 373 big league games. The Twins drafted RHP Derek Parks in round 1 and 10th over all in 1986 and turned him into a catcher. The Twins picked RHP Aaron Heilman in round 1 and 31st over all in 200o but Heilman did not sign and went on to start 25 big league games pitching maninly in relief. This may be hard to believe but since the draft started in 1972, the most career starts that any Twins 1st round pick has ever had in a Twins uniform is 45 and that pitcher was Willie Banks who the Twins picked in round 1 and number 3 over all in 1987. Banks started 45 games with a 16-17 record before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Dave Stevens and catcher Matt Walbeck. The next higest number of starts for a Twins 1st rounder is 44 and that belongs to Minnesota native Glen Perkins who is currently a Twins top reliever. Only 10 of 27 first round pitchers picked by Minnesota in the first round ever started a game in a Twins uniform. Only 5 of 27 Twins first rounders have started 100 or more career big league games and they are Dick Ruthven, Tim Belcher, Todd Ritchie, Mark Redman, and Matt Garza. 15 of the 27 Twins first round pitchers have never started a single big league game.

With that kind of a record in taking pitchers in the first round, I have to wonder if the Twins should even try. Then again, you could argue that they are due to get a good one…..

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2 Responses to Where do starting pitchers come from?

  1. Oldgoat_MN says:

    Lots of information here. Thank you.

    The inability to sign first round draft picks has probably been alleviated by the new agreement with the Player’s Union. Still, I didn’t see any names that I expect to see in the Hall of Fame soon.

    The ‘pitch to contact’ and ‘draft tall pitchers’ ideas are clearly not working (well, the ‘pitch to contact’ thing is working too well). Tall pitchers? Like Johan?

    Really wonder what these guys are looking at when 38% of the starting pitchers in the league are 1st round draft picks.

  2. Kevin says:

    Excellent article, very comprehensive!

    Obviously the Twins have not done well dafting pitchers. However, Scott Baker “was” the Twins best pitcher before his injury last season, so they should get kudos for picking him. Time will tell if Baker can come back to his form, my guess is “Yes” sincce he’s more of finese pitcher, even though he did throw 93-94. I think we all knew Liriano would not last with his herky-jerky style, just too much torque on his arm, elbow and shoulder.

    The Twins problems though really come from the lack of intelligent spending; 23 million on Mauer, 9 million on Pavono, and 7.5 million on Blackburn, that’s nearly 40 million of a 100 million team. The Twins invented being wise with $’s, but in the last 3-4 years they’ve really blown that idiology. Just look at the players that are holding this team together this year and most of them are making very little. Pavano has pitched alot of innings for the Twins but 9 million is just too much. Nick Blackburn has never had a good season, why we would pay him is incredible, and Joe Mauer was the best catcher, but the Twins knew they couldn’t invest that in a single player, just look at Tori Hunter. I loved (love) Hunter, and miss him dearly, but it was the right move, and time has proved that.

    If the Twins had the 7.5 for blackburn and the 23 for Mauer and the 3 million too much we are paying Pavano they would be fine. Letting Nathan go last year was the right move, and the first player in a while they’ve made a good decision about.

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