Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers wants to build the franchise on the backs of his young starting pitchers, something Ian Kennedy warned this weekend he should be cautious about.
Kennedy understands what it's like to play for a team with overhyped young starters, since he was part of the disappointing trifecta of young pitchers with the New York Yankees alongside Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes.
The hype in the desert, brought to you by Republic reporter Nick Piecoro, is that Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Jarrod Parker are going to be very good pitchers for a fairly long time.
The truth is far more complicated than that.
Parker is coming off major arm surgery and is only 22 years old. He has always been much better than his peers, which will likely lead to growing pains when he gets lit up for the first time in the major leagues.
Piecoro relays that scouts have "few concerns" about Parker, which sounds good until you realize that the biggest concern is that he may not be able to throw his slider anymore without risking his health.
The slider is one of his greatest assets, especially against right-handed hitters. It is also a source of tremendous pressure on his arms. Parker may be able to continue throwing it but he will probably have to scale it back, affecting his entire pitching game. Some pitchers, like Francisco Liriano, make the adjustment without major problems. But every pitcher is different.
The idea that Parker might earn a spot on the main roster this spring, broached by Paola Boivin at the Republic, is ludicrous. You can count on him to pitch for the Diamondbacks at some point this season but he needs to work in the high minor leagues with his new arm and arsenal.
Daniel Hudson was astonishingly good for the Diamondbacks last season but probably can't be counted on to repeat those numbers -- 2.45 ERA on the year, 1.69 ignoring his stint with the Chicago White Sox -- and who knows how far back he's going to regress as hitters adjust to him.
Kennedy, on the other hand, lacks control. Since he does not have Nolan Ryan's fastball, that will always be a problem for him and limit his ability to lead a team.
Good young starting pitching is great to have, especially when they're consistent or other-worldly. But the problem with pitchers is that they're generally unpredictable, and the problem with young pitchers is that they're especially so.
These guys should be fun to watch, and Parker in particular seems like he has a bright future ahead of him. Which does not mean a thing in the history of baseball, a game that has seen far more busts on the mound that successes.