2010 FutureSox Preview: Right-handed starters, Part I

Our 2010 preview continues with starters from the right side. Since there are so many, we start with those in the high minors, highlighted by Dan Hudson.

Best prospect
: Dan

Thumbnail image for dhudson.jpg

2009 in review:  Hudson was one of the big breakout prospects in
all of baseball. He pitched in five levels, finishing the season in the
Majors. All that in just his first full season as a pro, too. It’s hard
to top that.

What he needs to improve: His minor league numbers were
sparkling, but in the Majors he had issues with consistency and control.
Much of this can probably be attributed to nerves, but it’s still
something to watch out for. Hudson has good stuff, but not good enough
to be effectively wild.

What to expect in 2010: Hudson
will almost certainly start in AAA as part of the rotation, and odds are
he will be pitch the same days as Sox 5th starter Freddy Garcia. Ozzie
Guillen said he thinks it’s better for Hudson to start and pitch
consistently than to be the last reliever the Sox use and I think
he’s right. As a reliever he wouldn’t get enough work and could struggle
when he does pitch as a result. Barring a trade, Hudson will pitch for
the Sox this year. Injuries happen and Garcia could struggle.

What makes a successful season: Hudson gets a spot in a
rotation, whether it be with the Sox or not, and shows he is ready to
start in the Majors. If the former Old Dominion pitcher can be an
average starter, have some great starts that flash future potential and
show more consistency, Sox fans should be ecstatic.

2009 Breakouts

Carlos Torres


2009 in review: Torres didn’t have quite the success of Hudson,
but was probably more of a surprise last season. Entering the season at
26 years old and having only a taste of AAA under his belt, he was an
afterthought. However, Torres changed that by dominating the
International League. He posted the best ERA of his career, 2.39, and
earned a couple call ups to the Sox. His ERA was north of 6 in the
Majors, but he did dominate the Cubs for his only win. That counts for
something with South Siders.

What he needs to improve:  Like many pitchers, it’s his control.
He walked an okay at best 3.9/9IP in Charlotte and, of course, that
ballooned in the Majors to 5.4. He won’t survive in the Majors with that
kind of control. He struck out 22 in his 28.1 innings with the Sox so
there is some room for error. Mediocre control could make him a
serviceable long reliever.

What to expect in 2010: Torres is probably going to be up and
down between AAA and the bigs like last year, but he won’t get many
chances to start with a full rotation and Hudson ahead of him. He has
been used as a reliever in his minor league career and that’s probably a
role he’s going to have to get used to.

What makes a successful season: The former Kansas State Wildcat
throws more strikes when he is in the Majors and finds a niche as a long
reliever. He’s not going to magically turn into a good Major League
pitcher. He’s going to have to hang on as a mop up/6th inning guy. It’s a
very good season for him if he capably takes on this role for the White


Charlie Shirek

2009 in review:  The 24-year-old started ’09 at High-A
Winston-Salem, where he put up numbers
similar to his previous year in Low-A: 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, .251 AvgA
and no home runs allowed. His strong control (2.21 BB/9) and ability to
induce ground balls (2.09 GO/AO) helped earn him a mid-season promotion
to AA.
At Birmingham, his core numbers were good (3.39 ERA, 1.26 WHIP), and he
continued to maintain that solid control (1.69 BB/9). But hitters
started seeing more success against him (.279 AvgA, 8 home runs in 15
games), and his strikeout numbers dropped off noticeably (6.09 K/9 in
A+, 3.19 in AA).

What he needs to improve: Given his very good velocity for a
starter (mid-90’s), and the
movement his pitches are said to have, Shirek should be striking out a
lot more batters. He’s not been a high K/9
pitcher in his pro career to date, but returning to at least the 6-7
range of that measure would be a good sign. Also, after not giving up a
home run in his 65 innings against High-A hitters, he gave up 8 in 90
innings at AA, and the average against him jumped by nearly 30 points.
These numbers need to improve in 2010 for him to stay on track.

What to expect in 2010: Charlie has moved through the system
quickly for a pitcher with only two
years of college experience. He went
straight to Low-A Kannapolis, then spent only half a season in A+ before
going to AA. Given some of the weak points this exposed, it’s likely
that he will return to Birmingham’s rotation. If he can
start 2010
in AA and return to the type of performance he showed in A ball, he’ll
be looking at a mid-season promotion to AAA Charlotte.

What makes a successful season: 2010 is Shirek’s chance to show
he’s a legit starting pitching prospect
for the Sox, and to do that, he needs to show he can dominate AA and AAA
hitters. That means striking more guys out, while maintaining his
stellar control. If he can do that and keep his core numbers as solid as
they’ve been throughout his pro career, then he’ll spend at least part
of 2010 at Charlotte and be knocking on the door.
-Written by Matt

Lower on
the Pecking Order


Lucas Harrell

2009 in review: Last year was Harrell’s first
healthy season since 2005. He missed parts of ’06 and ’08 and all of ’07 from Tommy John surgery. Harrell put together probably his best season
as a pro, putting up ERAs in the 3.2s at Birmingham and Charlotte.

What he needs to improve: He doesn’t have good enough control for
a sinkerballer. There is obviously a trend here that most pitchers need
to improve their control, but Harrell certainly fits that mold. In his
11 starts in AAA he walked 5.1/9. He was able to keep the ball in the
park and induce enough grounders to succeed in AAA, but the room for
error is low with that many walks.

What to expect in 2010: Most likely more of what we saw in ’09.
The Missouri native is going to start in AAA, probably do fairly well
with mediocre peripheral stats and not get much of a look in the Majors.
If he’s lucky he will get a September call up, but he’s behind too many
guys to be thought of as an in-season promotion.

What makes a successful season: Harrell improves his control
while still getting hitters to beat the ball into the ground. This could
give him a serious chance to make the Majors, but his chances are
better elsewhere. There has been talk that he would be better as a
reliever. That’s probably his best avenue of getting to the


2009 in review: Hynick came over from Colorado for Jose Contreras
in August. Like Harrell he doesn’t have top tier stuff, but had a good
season in AAA. Hynick is a control pitcher with a good change up.

What he needs to improve: A little bit of everything except
control. Hynick doesn’t walk many (1.9/9 in his pro career), but he
doesn’t strike out many, get ground balls like Harrell and he is prone
to giving up home runs.

What to expect in 2010: Like Harrell, probably more of the same.
He’s behind Torres and Hudson and Shirek is closing quickly. Hynick
doesn’t have good enough stuff to be less than perfect with his control.
He has the look of a ‘AAAA’ pitcher.

What makes a successful season: Near perfect control in AAA
setting himself up for spot starts if a couple Sox starters get injured.
He could out pitch Torres and be the ‘7th starter’ if Torres is sent
back to the minors.

Other notables/Overall
Jeff Marquez is trying to bounce back from a shoulder injury that shut him down for almost all of last year. He doesn’t seem to have the stuff or control to be a good prospect anyway. Former first rounder Kyle McCulloch is probably going to continue to put up mediocre results and a few others in Birmingham are fringe prospects at best (Anthony Carter being the best of the bunch).

Starting in the Majors, the White Sox have a lot of starting pitching depth. In the minors, it’s almost all from the right side, but there is still depth. Hudson looks like a solid MLB starter and a few others are close to the Majors if they can make the jump.


Leave a comment
  • I'm excited to see what Hudson and Shirek can do. But long-term, the Sox best pitching prospect outside of Hudson will enter the system in the summer (ie, whomever we draft in the 1st round).

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