We hain't even started our POTD on the lad yet, but amigos want to skip to the bottom line. What could Jose Campos be, if everything worked out right? Is he a future number one?
Well, as you know, SSI aims to provide yer a data-rich environment. ;- ) Light first, heat later.
=== THE LIST, Dept. ===
So we thumbed through BaseballHQ's 2011 Minors Analyst, cataloging every starting pitcher who was (1) a teenager, 18-19, and (2) graded as one of the top 75-100 pitchers in pro baseball.
Hopefully you guys will follow on and track what these guys did in 2011. G-Moneyball of course will know before checking an almanac... anyway, the HQ teenage blue-chippers were, before the season:
- Ardonis Cardono, TOR, 17-year-old Venezuelan
- A.J. Cole, WAN, 19-year-old 4th-rounder
- Ismael Gillon, CIN, 19-yr Venezuela
- Luke Jackson, TEX, 1st-round Supp, age 19
- Tyrell Jenkins, STL, 1st round, age 18
- Zach Lee, LAD, 1st round, age 19
- Carlos Perez, ATL, Dominican Republic, age 19
- Tyler Skaggs, ARZ, 1st-round Supp, age 19
- Peter Tago, COL, 2nd round, age 18 (G-Money got this guy)
- Taijuan Walker, SEA, 1st-round Supp, age 18
That's the whole list of teenage blue-chippers coming into the season, all ten of them among 30 baseball teams.
And there aren't many other teenagers in HQ's book of any grade -- blue, red, white, or purple. That's because 18-year-old kids do not have the physical development to play quarterback in the NFL, heavyweight prizefighter on the Don King Network, or starting pitcher against college-graduate adult men.
=== What Do You GET From the Kiddies?, Dept. ===
If you look at HQ's summaries on these teenage phenoms, it is the same thing time after time.
LUKE JACKSON, TEX
FB 90-95 ... ultra-projectable righty with ideal frame for adding ticks to already-quick FB. Has ingredients for frontline SP.
TYRELL JENKINS, STL
FB 90-93 ... Athletic 3-sport HS star ... Tall, lean and projectable ... FB sits 90-93 topping out at 96 ... if everything breaks right, could be an impact starter ...
ZACH LEE, LAD
FB 90-93 ... Tall, strong athlete was two-sport star ... Features good 90-93 FB touching 95 ... velocity and secondary pitches project to improve ... upside here is very high.
TAIJUAN WALKER, SEA
FB 89-94 ... Explosive raw arsenal... as much upside as any pitcher in minors ....
And like that. One teenager after another: if he sits 91-94 touching 96, that means 96 mph is the norm once he grows up.
Which is exactly what Taijuan Walker did. He came out of school throwing 93, and everybody panicked :- ) and boom. One day we hear he just throws 95-97 all the time.
=== Teenagers Are ALWAYS About Projectability ===
Lesson learned? Jose Campos has the upper-90's arm .... the way that arm looks when the arm is eighteen years of age.
As G-Money has patiently intoned at least five times, Michael Pineda at age 18-19 threw 90-94 mph, touching 95. With teenagers, the speed they touch is the speed they'll later own!
An 18-year-old simply does not have the body that he's going to have at 21. He really doesn't.
Exceptions, Caveats and Quid Pro Quo's: Felix Hernandez threw 96 mph routinely at age 18. But then again, Felix Hernandez threw 94 mph routinely at age 14. Don't try to learn target shooting with hot-load .44 mag rounds. You don't learn a subject by starting with the freakazoids.
I thought there was one 2011 teenager that HQ credited with a 97 fastball, but I can't find him now...
All this is old hat to scouts who actually work in the business. When they draft teenaged high school pitchers, scouts are accustomed to having to visualize the finished product.
If you're looking at Jose Campos and thinking, "this is his stuff, this is what he'll throw in two years" congrats. You've got a new light bulb. In two years, teenagers will be throwing a lot harder.