On Trading Alderson

It seems that many people around here want to trade Alderson.  And there are a ton of legitimate reasons for wanting to do so (including injury risk, which is always a concern).  But among them is not the idea that he's a back of the rotation starter at best (AT BEST I TELL YOU!).

When we drafted Alderson, he was seen as a potential #2 starter.  So far, he has dominated high A ball as a 19 year old, posting the league's lowest ERA and FIP.  He has been promoted to AA as a 20 year old and is currently one of the youngest players in the league.  He's posted a B/9 of under 2, a K/BB ratio of almost 3.5, and a WHIP of under 1.2.  His BABIP is normal (.293) and his GO/FO ratio isn't incredibly skewed either (0.99).  The only concern is his K/9 rate of 6.09.  There is nothing to indicate that he isn't performing exactly like he should be. 

So why don't people think he'll be a solid #2?  Probably because of the quote from a scout in a Baseball Prospectus article which basically said, "yeah, I don't get the hype - he's a sure fire major leaguer, but probably a back-of-the-rotation guy."  This is a sentiment with which I completely agree.  If Tim Alderson never improves or changes one little bit, he's a #4 or #5 starter. 

But he's 20 years old and has a lot of room for improvement.  He already has plus-plus control (very few walks) and plus command (average to low hit rates) as well as a plus curve ball.  He has a fringe-average fastball and change-up, which are both hindering him from developing further.  His change is relatively new, as is the case with almost all high school pitchers who never have to throw it.  It seems like he'll develop it to the point where it's at LEAST an average major league pitch. 

His fastball, on the other hand, seems to lack movement and velocity, despite throwing a 2-seemer (someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm almost positive he mostly throws the 2-seemer).  Will either of those two things change?  My inclination is to say yes (thus, my opinion of him as a #2 starter).  He's 6'6" and from the time we drafted him, scouts seemed to think that he'll add velocity.  Adding 2-3 MPH will give him an average FB.  Adding 4-5 MPH will give him a plus FB.  Will that translate into a better K/9?  Dunno.  But I'm also inclined to think that he'll have the opportunity during the offseason to experiment with new grips to add sink to his FB, resulting in higher GB% in the future (something key to watch in his development).  He also will probably work on something new like a cutter this year or next to throw into his arsenol. 

There are lots of reasons to want to trade Alderson, many of which I agree with - but declining value and unliklihood of being a very good major league pitcher is not one of them.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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