Toeing the rubber for the Tigers tonight is a lanky 20 year old righthander named Rick Porcello. For those unfamiliar, Porcello was a high school phenom who entered the 2007 draft and was projected to go in the top five picks, with some forecasts placing him as high as number two. His senior year at Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey included a perfect game, a 14.7K/9IP ratio and he was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player Of The Year.
Porcello chose Scott Boras, and as a result, concerns of signability allowed the Tigers to draft him with the 27th overall pick, just three slots ahead of where the Yankees drafted Andrew Brackman. His total contract was worth over $11M, making him the highest paid high school prospect ever. After spending only one year in High A-Ball, Porcello is already in the Big Show. While he had a solid 2.66ERA in the minors, his strikeout ratio dipped to just 5.2/9IP. Clearly, the Tigers felt pressured by the massive contract they extended to him, along their lack of depth in the starting rotation, to give Porcello some Big League burn.
So far this year, he has made three starts. Sandwiched between two outings where he gave up 4 and 5 earned runs respectively, Porcello threw seven innings of one run ball against the Mariners last Sunday. By far the youngest starting pitcher in baseball at the moment, just over two decades old, Porcello makes a 23 year old Joba Chamberlain look like a seasoned veteran.