A month into the season, although the big club has not been doing too well thus far, I can't help but feel a sense of optimism because of the performance of two of our top pitching prospects. Dustin McGowan and David Purcey have always had the stuff, but have never been able to piece it together for their talents to show up in the box score. However, they have both dominated their respective leagues this year. Here is their line thus far this year.
Record ERA K/9 K/BB WHIP Opp .AVG
Dustin McGowan (AAA) 0-2 1.69 13.5 4 1.19 .220
David Purcey (AA) 3-0 0.89 10.6 12 0.44 .111
Although it is only a couple starts in, but the results are nonetheless encouraging. The stuff of either pitchers have never been questioned. Their biggest question is whether they can locate their pitches often enough to have success. Historically, both pitches have had problems with their control. Although McGowan is still giving up walks at a higher than ideal rate, his ability to generate swing and misses more than compensate for his walks. His K/BB ratio is still at a very healthy 4/1. Purcey, on the other hand, looks like a completely different pitcher this year. Throughout his minor league career, Purcey has averaged over 5BB/9, with a K/BB ratio just a tad under two. Those are ugly numbers; it is nearly impossible to have any sustained success with control (of lack thereof) like that. This season, Purcey has only issued 2 free passes in 20 1/3 innings. Purcey's improved control has clearly shown up in the box score. The big left-hander is finally becoming the pitcher J.P. Ricciardi envisioned him to be when he drafted him in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft.
McGowan and Purcey are both projected as front-end starters. If they continue to dominate the minors over the next few months, don't be surprise to see one or both of these pitchers up with Toronto mid-season. Teams that takes it to the next level usually have some young players break out during contention (think Josh Beckett '03). Toronto is long overdue for breakout rookie performances. Hopefully McGowan and Purcey can push them over the edge.