Gushing reports on Porcello

While the Tigers received bad news in the form of Casey Crosby’s Tommy John surgery, the news is ridiculously upbeat concerning Rick Porcello. Lynn Henning chats with Glenn Ezell (director of player development) and Jon Matlack (roving pitching instructor) and has all kinds of praise for the first rounder.

“I don’t know what he’ll pitch at, but he hit 97 (mph) numerous times and worked comfortably at 94-95,”


“He has two quality breaking balls (overhand curveball and slider), which are occasionally above-average, and one of which I believe will become better than average.

“And he has a plus change-up,”


“He can do things with his fastball: sink it, run it in, ride it. He is far, far advanced beyond just about anyone 18 years old I’ve ever worked with.”

Now keep in mind these are very early reports and are based solely on the instructional league. But it is far better than hearing that he sucks, or that is stuff is pretty good.

At the end Henning mentions that Porcello is likely to start the season at West Michigan, which was to be expected. But he also throws out the nugget that he could finish the year in Lakeland. Don’t know if that is speculation on Henning’s part, or if the Tigers will look to really challenge him – provided he fares okay for the Whitecaps


  1. Walt

    November 27, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Very encouraging commentary. It won’t be long before about twenty teams will be wishing they paid above slot.

  2. Eric Jackson

    November 27, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Jim Callis at BA says pretty much the same thing in their mailbag:

    I might have to make a ride over to Grand Rapids to watch him pitch if he’s in West Michigan.

  3. Adam

    November 27, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Boo. I want Kuroda.

  4. Rings

    November 27, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    I will see him in GR this spring…

    Keep stockpiling pitching, keep ’em healthy, and good things will happen.

  5. grant

    November 28, 2007 at 12:15 am

    WM games are nice. Ten bucks for the on-deck circle seats. I’m lucky enough to live in GR and I’m glad that I’ll have someone to go watch now that Gorkys is gone.

  6. Mike R

    November 28, 2007 at 12:55 am

    I need to get up there. I said the same thing when Maybin was in WM and never made it out to a game. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the jump to Lakeland by the end of the year. All reports on him pre-draft were that he was far more polished then a typical High school arm and he should elevate in the levels rather quickly not because a team is pushing him, but because the results dictate it. That said, if he’s at West Michigan all next year, that’s not a bad indication either.

  7. Kathy

    November 28, 2007 at 6:08 am

    Well, this is good, good news, but I’ll believe it when I see it. And, Eric, I might be joining you in GR this summer to see for myself.

  8. Scott

    November 28, 2007 at 7:03 am

    The word is that Dan Haren and Joe Blanton are available in Oakland …. do we dare trade Porcello for Haren? Perhaps Blanton would be a better fit in terms of what we’d have to give up, but Haren is an excellent young pitcher under contract through 09, I believe. I’m glad I’m not DD having to make these decisions!!

    P.S. The Free Press reports that Kevin Hooper has left the Tigers organization for Houston, where he has a real shot at making the Astros as a utility guy. I hate to loose Hoop … not too many guys the same size as me make it to the Bigs!!

  9. Don

    November 28, 2007 at 8:26 am

    first of all, if oakland had wanted porcello, they could have drafted him before the tigers had a chance to. billy beane has a notorious aversion to high school pitchers. Absolutely no way porcello gets traded, at least not for a couple years.

  10. Mark in Chicago

    November 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    We should trade Porcello for a reliever at the deadline. After all, that’s what the ‘trade Maybin’ crowd wanted us to do for Gagne, even after similar gushing reports.

    I love the way DD is using the farm system. He’s got 3-4 guys who are untouchable, possibly future stars in Maybin, Porcello and Miller. Build around those guys going forward (hopefully). He uses the depth of the system to trade for “win now” players like Sheffield and Renteria, and then restocks those players in the draft. Striking just the right balance between trying to win now and trying to build for the future.

  11. Joey the K

    November 28, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    My cousin faced Porcello, here was his review. “Damn that guy is good!” – I cannot vouch for my cousins hitting skill tho! hahaha

  12. ron

    November 28, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Bring him up ASAP and quit babying these kids. They made of porcelain or something these days? If he’s that good, he should be in the big leagues by years end. They paid enough for him. Lets see some return.

  13. BobS.

    November 28, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    You’re a parody of a grumpy old man,right ron?

  14. Don

    November 28, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    When I read ron’s posts, I hear grandpa simpson’s voice in my head…

  15. Mike R

    November 28, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    When I read ron’s posts, I hear grandpa simpson’s voice in my head…


  16. David

    November 28, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Bring up Porcello now? Hope you aren’t serious Ron…

    He is out of HS and has never faced even college or A hitters – only HSers.

    If he has the posibility of the golden 4-pitch-arsenel I say start him at Erie and see how he fares. A 95-97 FB and a great change with 2 other breaking balls that at least 1 should develop I would like to see him Double A.

    Maybin? I could be wrong but I still think it would be smart to trade him away, but now his value is probably lower than it was before he came up.

    Still he looked terrible in the OF and not much better at the plate.

    And good OF although do not fall off of trees even in very weak FA years – have a couple that produce.

    I mean is he going to be a better fielder than Torii Hunter? Andruw Jones? or be a better hitter?

    and REMEMBER Jones although doesn’t have a great career BA his production – career average of 34 HRS, and 103 RBIS +( 13 Steals) or

    Hunter – career AVE 93 RBIS, 25 HRS, 17 Steals

    Plus we have Grandy for along time at Center and also have Clevlen and Raburn.

    I mean and this is supposed to a relatively weak FA class

    Unless they project he is going to be Granderson’s equal or better but at an earlier age (which doesn’t look like it in my eyes) I say package him for one of our needs and 2 good prospects…

    I just hope we dont regret drafting him for quite a few players on this list


    Maybin: Maybin projects as a potential Gold Glove outfielder with power and speed, perhaps similar to Jermaine Dye with more speed, or Torii Hunter with a higher batting average.

  17. billfer

    November 28, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    David – Maybin is projected to be Granderson’s equal or better and at a younger age. Granderson is 5 years older than Maybin. Curtis was still in college at the age where Maybin is now, and then worked his way through the farm system one season at a time.

    I don’t know how good Maybin will end up being, and there are a couple things that raise some eyebrows with him (gbs, k’s) but at the same time look at his age relative to his level and he stacks up quite well.

    Saying we have Raburn and Clevlen and Jones are 3 of the worst reasons to make Maybin expendable.

  18. Eric Jackson

    November 28, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    If Clevlen doesn’t improve exponentially this next season his chances of ever being at the big league level for any period of time is next to nothing.

    Raburn is a great bench player.

    Maybin is exceptional. It is unfortunate that Maybin was left at the major league level once it was clear he wasn’t ready. But his performance there was not indicative of his true talent level. When he plays against those at the lower levels it’s clear how much better he is.

  19. greg

    November 28, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Maybin wasn’t ready, but in my humble opinion a lot of people have overreacted to the decision to call him up. I’m not convinced its necessarily this huge disaster to bring someone up and have them struggle. He’s still raw, but I see the tools and enormous potential there. He gained experience. He’s learned. In many cases, some ‘humble pie’ can provide the impetus to even greater focus and determination in a player. He was only up here a short time anyway. To say he looked terrible is a little misleading in my view. He just looked raw, not ready. Next time he comes up, whenever that is, they’ll be a sense of familiarity with the whole experience that could be quite beneficial.

  20. David

    November 29, 2007 at 12:52 am


    from what I’ve seen from Clevlen he has a Higgi type arm and good range

    My main points are

    1) We have Granderson

    2) Unless Maybin will end up being a top 5 MVP candidate at least 3 times in his career, good OF (ie 100 RBIS) are easier to find than good IF or good SP/RP as evidence even this year – Jones, Hunter, Rowand?

    3) I really have a hard time seeing him being better than Hunter and Crawford but then again he is only 20 so…

    4) I just think we really have quite a few depth issues and really with our team are looking to win now. By the time he is ready which I would assume at the earliest (but with DD I should never assume ;)) would be in 2009 when he is 22… Shef will be 40, Guillen, Polanco 33, Magglio 35, Inge 32

    5) As they have the previous 3 years they can draft talent above their slot and sign them b/c other teams are scared off…

    6) He looked terrible in the OF last year, not much better at the plate, has already had problems at his age with his shoulder, underage drinking.

    I didn’t include Jones Billfer but, he is supposed to be a pretty good fielder from what I’ve seen/heard.

    I’m more excited about Porcello and Miller personally.

    But I do hope Maybin becomes an awesome OF and a top-MVP candidate and helps to bring a WS win to Detroit, but as you guys all point out he could be a big trading ship and IMO FROM WHAT I think not too hard to replace – production wise.

    Also probably I’m alittle bitter that we give up on guys – Pena and Young who were great this year and I think Infante, Shelton who are entering their prime years and I think both had a chance to help us now.

  21. David

    November 29, 2007 at 1:09 am

    One guy’s name who is on the block who I’d love to see us trade for – Rich Harden

    His health aside he could be one of the most dominant SP in MLB.

  22. Eric Cioe

    November 29, 2007 at 1:47 am


    1. Granderson is only one guy. It takes three to cover an outfield.

    2. & 3. You’re right, he’s only 20. What was Granderson doing at twenty? I think he was still trying to make the basketball team at UIC. Even if it takes Maybin until 2010 to develop fully, he’ll still be decently young.

    4. What does “win now” mean? Lord that is a dumb phrase. The most you can do is build a team to be in contention perpetually. There is far too much of a luck factor involved in getting to the World Series to hock the farm for a 2 year window. What if we traded all of our great prospects for guys so we can “win now”? What if Sheff or Maggs or someone else important is injured in one of those two years? No. I’d rather be a team that is in contention year in, year out in the division. There are way too many variables to just say “let’s trade everyone right now and get a bunch of 33 year olds.” There are injuries (Sheff, Rogers), slump years in offense (Inge, Pudge, Monroe), slump years in pitching (Robertson, Bondo) … how are you ever going account for that?

    5. You can’t always count on that. There are drought years in the draft.

    6. You’re judging a player based on a handful of experiences. Scouts have great things to say about him, and they’ve seen him more than any of us. Go look at Vlad’s 1996 season. He was 20 years old and hit under .200, with one homer and a couple of strikeouts. I’m not saying that Maybin will be Vlad, but for every bad thing you have to say about him, I can point to a current major league hitter that did just as bad as Maybin did this year at MLB. Give the kid a chance.

    As a side note, the underage drinking concern is kind of bogus. It’s not like he’s doing coke like Dwight Goodin was, or steroids like any number of guys were.

    And you’re right to be more excited about Miller and Porcello. They are pitchers, and pitchers win games. But hitters sell tickets, and both of those things are necessary.

  23. David

    November 29, 2007 at 2:49 am


    I’m not saying trade him for a 33 year old I’m saying trade him away for a guy who is a SP or RP with a relatively young age about to enter his prime to complement Bondo/Verlander and add depth.

    Guys that would be FA in 2009 that I think our team really could use and would not mind giving up Maybin + all of these guys aren’t old – most are between 25-29

    Sheets (hmm)
    Oliver Perez (another hmm)
    AJ Burnett
    John Lackey



    Plus there are plenty of hitters that will be up there

    Yes I want to be competitive year in and year out, but the way our team is set up we need to win now and I really think that even if they sign Kenny we really could use another good or better SP.

    If Miller is ready fine, good… But what if there are injuries again?

    As many of you glow over Maybin, your starting to prove what I think – he would be a good trading chip for a good SP, who is about to enter or is entering his prime…

  24. Ryan

    November 29, 2007 at 9:50 am

    David – Really? Sheets, Prior, Perez, Harden, and Burnett? Four guys who can’t stay healthy and one guy who has two good years in a six-year career? For Maybin? Assuming Santana will get an extension from the Yankees (or whoever signs him) and Lackey from the Angels, that leaves only Sabathia. I’d consider that trade, but with Verlander, Bonderman, Miller and Porcello in the fold, the 2009-2010 staff should have three to four really good arms already. Given the current state of the minor league system, there has to be some thought about the major lineup turnover in 2010-2011; there aren’t a lot of highly regarded position prospects other than Maybin. Looking a year into the future, starting pitching should not be a need, prospects at every non-CF position will be. DD seems to feel (and I agree) that the inefficiency in the current market is the undervaluing of the draft and trades to build a team, and an overvaluing of free agents. Being willing to spend big on the draft, DD can accumulate top-notch prospects either to directly fill holes or spin into the guys he wants. Point being, I don’t think you consider trading Maybin when you can ‘overspend’ on a draft pick next year and spin him into an incredibly valuable trade commodity a year later. If it were legal, I bet you could get Harden and Blanton for Porcello right now. And it only costs a couple million for the trade bait.

  25. ron

    November 29, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Hey, I am a grumpy old man. I might have 20 or so years left. You think these guys can put together a championship team before Porcello retires?

  26. ron

    November 29, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Talk about grumpy. Attending a game at Yankee Stadium last year [Maybin’s first game, a disaster], I asked Leyland to sign my cap. Standing next to me were three little boisterous guys wanting his autograph. Giving them a nasty look, Leyland told them to quiet down or he would’nt sign anything. I remember thinking ,what a grump.