Saturday, May 24, 2008

Kershaw, 20, to make debut Sunday

Two years ago, Clayton Kershaw was a senior, pitching for Highland Park High School in Texas.

In 64 innings, Kershaw struck out almost everyone he faced (139 batters)and finished with a 0.77 ERA.

So, it may not come as a big surprise that as a 20-year-old lefty, after just 201 minor league innings pitched, is getting the call to start for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But what can you expect from this prodigy, picked 7th overall in the 2006 draft?

  • A fastball in the mid-90s.
  • A plus curve in the low-to-mid 70s.
  • A circle change.
  • Nearly flawless mechanics.

So, naturally, you should sprint to your waiver wire to grab Kershaw, right?

Well, not so fast.

Sure, if there's an obvious SP drop, Kershaw's a no-brainer. And in all shallow mixed-leagues and NL-only jobbers, you almost have to take a flier.

But Kershaw is as inexperienced as he is gifted, and the Dodgers are going to handle him with extreme caution, limiting his pitches by either skipping starts or shutting him down at some point.

And, the kicker: He's not even available on Yahoo! leagues right now.

When will Kershaw show up? Nobody knows for sure, but it will likely be after his expected 4:10 p.m. start against the Cardinals tomorrow. It could very well be Monday.

But if you're in need of a power arm (and who isn't, right?), then you might wanna check in hourly over the weekend. Or, if you have a life, at least a couple times a day.

Kershaw is likely the best remaining power arm prospect out there, so it makes sense to use a high waiver position, in case you're in a waiver setup.

But keep the expectations real. He compiled a 2.64 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, but has only limited AA experience with the Jacksonville Suns.

He's very untested and while his 11+ K/9 inning ratio is probably something that will help any team, Kershaw has never faced Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick before.

Still, half the fun is rolling the dice on young guys so put the Kershaw Watch on high alert this weekend.

After all, with gas prices at $4 a gallon, who's leaving home for Memorial Day anyway.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Kershaw is now available in my Yahoo! league...however, he is not listed as a probably pitcher for today yet.

David McKnight said...

Trevor--

You can scout your minor league prospects before they even reach the majors by listening to minor league broadcasts for all leagues from Class A to AAA on the Minor League Baseball web site:

www.milb.com

You can hear radio broadcasts of games involving such Cubs farmhands as the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League, the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League, the Daytona Cubs of the Florida State league, the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League, the Boise Hawks of the Northwest League and the Mesa Cubs of the Arizona League.

I'm glad they didn't have milb.com when I was growing up because I enjoyed minor league baseball so much in Charlotte that I probably would have spent too much time "scouting" the other Sally League games on the radio and would not have finished my Charles Dickens reading assignments for English class.

I might have concluded that Oliver Twist was a curve-ball ace for the Asheville Tourists.

Sure, I love big-league baseball like most other fans, but when you follow the minors, you're learning about players who are going all out for a shot at the bigs, and you get the wonderful detailed crowd reaction sounds of minor league parks plus some really brilliant and entertaining play-by-play broadcasting and analysis by announcers associated with the teams.

Then you can finally satisfy your curiosity about what a minor league baseball game must be like in Pawtucket, Akron, San Antonio or Tacoma.

Having had fond memories of attending first grade in Nashville as a youngster, it is a real kick to tune in for Nashville Sounds games in the Pacific Coast League. If only they played the Charlotte Knights or the Durham Bulls of the International League every now and then.

Best of all, I can hear Knights games even though I haven't been back to Charlotte in years.

So all the fantasy leaguers out there and all the Observer Fastasy Baseblog faithful who want to get a leg up on the competition should visit the Minor League Baseball website every now and then to see how all their top prospects are doing "down on the farm."

Can you imagine, you can be living in Raleigh or Durham in the Research Triangle region and still listen to the Hickory Crawdads playing their South Atlantic League opponents in exotic locales such as Greenville, S.C., and Augusta and Columbus, Ga.

Yes, it brings back memories of seeing the Augusta Yankees come to Charlotte to take on the Hornets in a game at Griffith Park which went into so many extra innings that my father suggested that we might wish to take our leave after the 15th inning. This was not an unreasonable recommendation under the circumstances, so I read about the final outcome in The Observer and, as I recall, Charlotte bowed to Augusta in 17.

Now that's civilization!