When talking about the Indians starting rotation for 2010, you know that Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, and most likely Justin Masterson are locked in. After those three, there are Shaquille O’Neal size questions marks for the last two spots. Sure, we know the names Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey, David Huff, Carlos Carrasco, and Hector Rondon. But the name we don’t know anything about Mitch Talbot.
You may want to get to know the name, because he will end up making the opening day roster, one way or another.
How is that you ask? Talbot was acquired as the player to be named later in the Kelly Shoppach trade to Tampa Bay. He is a 26 year old, late-blooming right-hander who is out of options. The Tribe brass is said to be very intrigued by him, despite the fact that he is already 26 and only has three major league appearances under his belt, all coming in 2008.
Assistant GM Chris Antonetti, on the day Talbot was brought in, lauded his “above-average change-up and cutter” when selling him to the media. “He’s another upper-level starting option for us,” Antonetti said. “He’s a guy we’ve had interest in for quite a while. He’s logged close to 400 Triple-A innings, and we’re adding him to our mix to come in and compete for a spot.”
Here is the real question; why should we be impressed that he logged over 400 innings in AAA? Doesn’t that mean that he probably isn’t good enough to cut it in the majors? 4A if you will? Looking at his AAA stats, the one thing you can say is that they are on par with one-time phenom prospect and now Indians prospect Carlos Carrasco:
AAA 2007: 161.1 IP, 29 starts, 13-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
AAA 2008: 161.0 IP, 28 starts, 13-9, 3.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
AAA 2009: 54.1 I, 10 starts, 4-4, 4.47 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (coming off an elbow injury)
AA 2007: 70.1 IP, 13 starts, 6-4, 4.86 ERA, 1.58 WHIP
AA 2008: 114.1 IP, 19 starts, 7-7. 4.32 ERA, 1.34 WHIP
AAA 2009: 157.0 IP, 26 starts, 11-10, 4.64 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
Minor League Baseball.com’s John Sickels lists Talbot as the Indians #17 prospect for 2010 and had this to say about him:
Grade C+: This is a good pickup from Tampa. An older prospect, but assuming his elbow is OK, he could pull a Randy Wells in 2010. Has nothing left to prove in Triple-A.
Wells was a Rule 5 pick of the Toronto Blue Jays from the Chicago Cubs and was returned before the season started. Wells, out of options, stuck with the Cubs and was the surprise of their rotation, going 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA.
Talbot could sneak in as the 5th starter or most likely the long man to start the season. I will stop short of saying he is a right-handed Zach Jackson for 2010, but that is precisely what I expected of The Attack last year. But the reality is nobody really knows what Talbot can really contribute at this point. He is just another in a long list of guys that will battle for a spot at the bottom of the rotation.
For what its worth, today, On January 14th, I predict Laffey’s bullpen successes last year may have him ticketed there unfortunately. Huff will make the rotation as the #4 man and they will give Sowers one last shot as the fifth starter since he too is out of options. Talbot will start the season as the long man.
(photo via mlb.com)