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2010 Prospect Preview: Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta seems to have fallen in favor behind Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz (he didn’t even get to sit near them or step-father-figure Kevin Millwood in Spring Training!), and that’s surprising to me. Arrieta had a dominant half season in Bowie before struggling in Norfolk last year, though Dave Stockstill claimed that Jake had simply been working on his secondary pitches and his mechanics, giving all the weight of Spring Training games to his AAA performance. Which is good – Arrieta still needs work primarily on his command and control, which lag far behind the other members of “Tillreittusz”, and the minor leagues are made for exactly that kind of polishing.

When I had the chance to see Arrieta pitch at the end of the season last year, he was a terrifying force on the mound: a fastball that touched 96, the ability to consistently miss bats (his contact rate on that one night in AAA was a well above average 76.3%), limited walks, and some devastatingly-timed breaking balls. Overall though, his numbers in AAA are disappointing. He did lower his walks to a career-best 3.3/9, but perhaps at the cost of overall quality: fewer Ks, more home runs, more baserunners, more runs in general.

We’ve all seen the bad brew that bad command and high power make in starting pitchers, and Arrieta is certainly closer to Daniel Cabrera than Josh Beckett, though neither comparison is fair. If Arrieta can consistently pitch like he did when I saw him – if he’s finished working on his polish – then there’s no doubt that he’ll belong in the majors very soon in a way that the DC Cab never really did. But if he can’t, then perhaps it is fair to stick him in the corner away from the Orioles’ rotation.

(photo via)

6 comments to 2010 Prospect Preview: Jake Arrieta

  • dan the man

    He’ll be interesting to keep an eye on. He’s not exactly making a great impression in ST 2010 as Mr. Fallback Plan should one of the five starters go down this year. A guy like Erbe did seize that opportunity to, I think, get on the same level as Arrieta in terms of the next wave.

    I think the O’s are playing it the right way with Jake, though. They are pulling a D-Cab on him and calling him up after that sizzling half-season in AA. Find that control and then we’ll talk.

    I still think he’s a top prospect and deserving to be a part of that Tillrietusz trio, although I’m mostly going by what I read. I like his cocky attitude and his big arm, but he’s gotta get over that whole overthrowing thing.

  • dan the man

    Crap, that should say, “They aren’t pulling a D-Cab on him…”

  • Miles

    We certainly did DCab no favors, but I’m not sure anything would have saved DCab from his fate as a AAAA fringe starter (and that might be giving him too much credit… an Atlantic Leaguer?)

    It’s encouraging that we don’t have to rush guys like Arrietta into on-the-job training. God willing, it’ll pay dividends in the near and distant future.

    Less than a month to the home opener!!!

  • dan the man

    It’s pretty incredible how much D-Cab fell off. I mean, he doesn’t throw heat anymore. Low 90s, if that. And if he’s not injured, what exactly happened? Did his arm just give up on him? No one has been able to really explain it, and he only says stuff like, “I’m trying to gain more control and pitch to contact.” Sure. I think he did steroids, but that’s just my opinion and of course that’s just wild speculation on my part.

  • I am also a little shocked that Arrieta isn’t receiving that much attention. He really didn’t struggle at Norfolk, his K rate was around 7.7 (I think) and like you said, his walk rate was lower. His performance at Norfolk wasn’t on par with Bowie, but I wouldn’t call it struggling.

  • Andrew

    @Jordan – True, his overall numbers aren’t awful, but they are down across the board substantially from AA, which either meant that the competition caught up to his level, or he was “working on stuff”, or he was just struggling in general. To wit:

    K/BB: 3.04 then 2.36

    ERA: 2.59 then 3.93

    FIP: 3.08 then 4.15

    WHIP: 1.15 then 1.42

    HR/9: 0.61 then 0.88 (this despite moving to a ballpark that gets an overwhelming majority of the blame for Brandon Snyder’s struggles).

    The dude struggled while Tillman and Matusz both completely dominated all levels of the minors and were promoted. It’s easy to sort of get lost in the shuffle and excitement. But I do believe that Arrieta is completely possible of being The Man in the IL and getting up to Baltimore. It’s just a matter of him going off and doing it and not trying to overdo it, which is what I’ll blame his poor Spring numbers on. That’s what he said was happening and he would probably know best.

    A pitcher like Arrieta really can’t survive if he’s overthrowing because his control will bottom out in a hurry, causing him to press more and before you know it it’s 10-2 in the third inning with runners on and nobody out and Mark Hendrickson coming in.