• HaroldHecuba: Mike Mussina is EASTERN EUROPEAN, not Italian....

So here it is at last, ladies and gentleman. Today at last the no. 1 pitching prospect in baseball, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, will make his major league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals.

claytonkershaw.jpgThe 6-3, 210 pound righthander, who was dubbed “The Minotaur” by the Dodgers blogosphere for his near mythical status as a can’t miss prospect who nobody had ever seen, is now set to become, at 20 years and 67 days old, the third youngest pitcher to make his major league debut since 2000, after Felix Hernandez of the Mariners (19), and Edwin Jackson, then of the Dodgers, who outdueled Randy Johnson on his 20th birthday.

In many cases (see files Hughes, Phil and Bailey, Homer), these pitching prospects don’t live up to the hype, but Dodger fans are optimistic about Kershaw, who gets high marks for his upper 90s fastball, his clean mechanics, and the fact that he has struck out 262 batters in 201 1/3 career minor league innings.

But what Kershaw is most famous for is his over the top power curveball, which drops so much it has been described as “13 to 6,” and has already earned its own nickname from Vin Scully: “Public Enemy No. 1.” Take a look for yourself:

11 Responses to “Today’s Game to Watch: Clayton Kershaw vs. the Cardinals”

  1. Lynniemac says:

    Amen.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Yeah, I wish teams would just play the better player. I mean seriously, does anyone really show up to the ballpark because they want to watch Carlos Ruiz??

    The fans are ready to embrace Coste’s “everyman” story of grit and stick-to-it-iveness. Especially those fans in Philly – they love that working class schtick. I say let him play every day, until he sucks.

  3. Yeah but Ruiz had 6 stolen bases last year while Coste has none. That definitely makes up for 59 points of career batting average.

    “Money, it’s gotta be the shoes!”

  4. Paul Moro says:

    TINSTAAPP

  5. Nick Kapur says:

    Do you really believe that, Paul?

  6. Sarah Green says:

    Let’s first be clear on what that means.

  7. Paul Moro says:

    Depends on how literally you’re going to take it. Yes, some pitching prospects do pan out. But really, how many of them actually even win 50 games over their career?

    Mark Prior, Kurt Ainsworth, Juan Cruz, Ryan Anderson, Nick Neugebauer, Jon Rauch, Dennis Tankersley and Carlos Hernandez were the top arms a few years ago. Hasn’t exactly worked out for them. The only guy among this crop who has succeeded up to expectations is Josh Beckett.

    No matter how good Kershaw appears to be, the odds are simply against him to win 50 games in his career.

  8. Nick Kapur says:

    Well, I definitely see what you are saying, and I agree, but I guess my counterpoint would be that there’s no reason not to be excited about these prospects when they do come up, and that there’s no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy what games they do win before the inevitable arm injury. I mean, Kershaw’s curveball really is a thing of beauty:

    http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200805252772678

  9. Sarah Green says:

    But it seems like the acronym has perhaps lost its original meaning—thus I’m a little surprised/confused about what you guys mean. Do you mean “there is no such thing as a pitching prospect” because big league hitters know how to hit breaking balls and make adjustments and because pitchers are fragile, or do you mean it in the sense that Nate Silver talks about it, as in, “there are no pitching prospects, only pitchers”—that a good pitcher who is 20 years old is a good pitcher, period, and not a prospect? It sounds like you mean it in the former (and newer) sense.

  10. Paul Moro says:

    I mean it in the sense that pitching has way too many variables and therefore, it’s nearly impossible to predict that any young pitcher is going to succeed, individually speaking. If you took the top 20 pitching prospects in baseball, chances are that a couple of them go on to have nice careers. Maybe one of them becomes an All-Star. But the vast majority of them is not going to win 50 games, either due to injury or ineffectiveness. And not even the best scouts or most brilliant stat heads can figure out who those are going to be beyond simple guessing. Pitching is such a violent and unnatural motion that most arms just can’t handle it or can’t repeat it.

  11. Paul Moro says:

    And Nick, you’re right. Didn’t mean to crash the party. If you were a Dodger fan and NOT excited at the prospect of Kershaw, then you probably do need to get your arteries checked.

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