Saturday, July 09, 2005

Joel Zumaya: Kid K

Unhittable. That's one way to describe Joel Zumaya's pitches when he is on. In case you didn't know, Zumaya is the "other" elite Tiger pitching prospect in Erie right now. Of course you've probably heard of Justin Verlander as he recently made his big league debut. Well, Zumaya is the 2nd youngest pitcher in the Eastern League this year at 20 years old. But you wouldn't know it by watching him pitch. And you can watch him pitch in the Minor League Futures All Star game at Comerica Park during the All Star break this upcoming week. Here's a writeup by MLB.com on this future star.

Let's take a look at his stats on the season:

8-3, 2.77 ERA, 107.1 IP, 71 Hs, 52 BBs, 143 Ks

That translates to a K/9 IP rate of 11.99, a K/BB ratio of 2.75, a BB/9 IP rate of 4.36, and a WHIP of 1.15.


A couple things jump out here. First of all, his K rate is simply amazing for such a young kid in AA. Players a few years older than he is swing and miss quite frequently when he toes the rubber. The next thing that jumps out is his BB rate. It's not good. His lack of control is more than a teeny bit concerning for somebody with so much ability. But it is improving. To be major league ready, though, he probably needs to get it down in the range of 3 BBs/9 IP.


So how has he done in his last few starts? Awesome would be how I would describe it.


In his last 11 starts, he has put up a 6-0 record in 72.1 IP with a 1.24 ERA, a K rate of 11.82, a BB rate of 3.36, and a WHIP of 0.97.


In just his last 5 starts, he's 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA in 32.0 IP, a K rate of 10.13, a BB rate of 2.81, and a WHIP of 0.86.



What does this all mean? If he can continue to improve his control, he has the potential to be flat out dominant in the majors. Despite the poor BB rate, his WHIP is very good because he gives up so few hits. He is very young for the level he is pitching at and he is blowing everybody away. I look for him to start next season in Toledo and be in Detroit perhaps no later than 2007 at age 22.

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