Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prospect A to Z Day 1: Chris Archer

This is a new feature on the site, mainly because we're still in the doldrums of prospect season and we want to get discussion going. We'll be going through the alphabet in October and November to pick one prospect a day before our top prospect coverage starts in December. There's no real rhyme or reason to who we'll talk about, and we're open to suggestions for some letters.

Before the season, it seemed that Montgomery could boast arguably the best rotation in the minors, headlined by Matt Moore and Chris Archer and with Nick Barnese and Joe Cruz ready to break out. But while Moore exploded onto the season to pitch seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the ALDS, the other three failed to take off.

After finished 2010 in the Southern League as a member of the Cubs organization, Archer was primed for a mid-season jump to Durham. But he struggled with his control: 86 walks, 10 hit batters, and 18 wild pitches in 134.1 innings with the Biscuits, and got bumped to Durham only for his final two starts. In some ways, it wasn't surprising. With Tennessee in 2010, he had walked 5 batters per 9 innings; his overall "improvement" in that department was solely from his time in the Florida State League.

Additionally, Archer's strikeout rate was a career-low 7.9 per innings. The good news here is that he's still got the potential to dominate. His fastball and slider both rate as at least plus pitches, though unsurprisingly he needs to do a better job of getting ahead with the fastball so he can unleash the slider. His change-up made some progress but still grades out below-average. He showed what he can do in his final start of the year, in the playoffs with Durham, when he struck out 11 in 5.2 innings.

One comparison that jumps to mind is Edwin Jackson. The two have similar stuff (hard fastball, power slider, iffy changeups), both are athletic, and both had trouble throwing strikes. Jackson did limit the walks to 3.2 per 9 as a 19-year-old in the Southern League, but obviously had some issues at other points in his career. He made the big leagues at age 20, but wasn't a regular starter until age 23 and probably wasn't truly "ready" until age 24. I think you'll see the same thing with Archer. He'll pitch all of next season at age 23 and be ready for a big-league spot in 2013 as a 24-year-old.

What do you guys think of Chris Archer?


  1. I'm wondering why he is with his third organization at 22 years old.

  2. Scatch that...."Chris loves to read...his favorite is the autobiography of Malcolm X."

    Yep, I know why.

  3. I have no idea what point you're making. Cleveland traded him away because he wasn't throwing strikes and they made a stupid trade for Mark DeRosa (though to be fair, they flipped DeRosa for Chris Perez later). Chicago traded him because he was a highly-rated prospect which they needed to give up to acquire Matt Garza.

    To draw my Edwin Jackson comparison out more, he's pitched for six organizations now. Doesn't make him a bad pitcher.

  4. That's your take in the situation but it doesn't make it any more accurate. Not throwing strikes at what age? Yep, ok.

  5. Randy Johnson: 5.4BB/9 (age 25); 4.9 (age 26);
    6.8 (age 27); 6.2 (age 28)

    Sandy Koufax: 6.0 (22); 5.4 (23); 5.1 (24)

    Bob Feller: 5.1 (22)

    Jon Lester: 4.82 (22 in AA)

    Ricky Romero: 5.20 (22 in AA); 4.22 (23 in AAA)

    Gio Gonzalez: 4.46 (22 in AAA)

    Ubaldo Jimenez: 4.91 (22 in AA); 4.94 (22 in AAA);
    5.42 (23 in AAA)

    Alert! Alert! Alert! I am not comparing Archer to any of these pitchers. And there are various differences in the environment of each. Some were doing it in the majors, some in extreme hitters leagues et al.

    And further Alert! This proves nothing. I know that.

    But...a bald statement or suggestion that because at age 22 Archer has had poor control he can be dismissed as a prospect is also invalid. Since most pitching prospects fail you are safe to guess that he may not succeed, but your reasoning is faulty.

    Like Kevin, I have no idea what point you are trying to make in the comment about his reading, but your last statement makes no sense either. Of course it is Kevin's take, but it is accurate to note that changing organizations early in one's career does not indicate a lack of faith in a prospect. Why not turn it around? How come 3 different organizations seemed so interested in acquiring him?

    Heck, Johann Santana was a rule 5 pick who was then traded-with cash!- for Jared Camp. He was with 3 organizations by the time he was 20.

  6. He handles the press quite well for such a young guy who isn't a super-prospect. As a hometown lad (nearby Clayton), he can expect a bit more press coverage next year in Durham than he's had so far. And there will be the distinct oddity of, reportedly, living at home while playing professional ball. On an admittedly very, very, very small sample he was impressive in AAA at the end of the season.

  7. Wow, anonymous racist just got OWNED!!!

  8. Or perhaps I'm suggesting racism. Nice try

  9. I've never really been high on Archer, but he has as much upside as anyone

  10. Unless his command and change doesn't get better, he will end up in the pen.With his fastball and slider combo,he could be very good there.

  11. i am so happy yall have finally started to post some info again about prospects. :) it has been a big break. of course I know yall are plenty busy with other stuff like the winter leagues, but i am very happy to see some more prospects information.

  12. I met Chris right before this season started. He began to struggle in Montgomery. He cut his hair off. He finally got his first W. Later on he told me That somehow all the Top 50 prospect hype Got in his head more than he expected it to & he started putting a lot of pressure on himself trying to live up to the expectations. About mid-season he realized it, talked about it, he got his focus back and started kicking butt again. Especially against his former team. Then he decided he missed his hair & started to let it grow again. He is such a sweet, polite, intelligent, respectful young man. Professional & Athletic. Awesome attitude. From how he interacts with his teammates, I can only assume he is a guy you want in your clubhouse. He will have a different season next year. I know it. By the time he gets called up, he will be his own person & not like all the "He pitches like _____" comparisons.

  13. I have to second what the last post said about Chris. He had a rough time in Montgomery, but the kid is solid and definitely has the potential to play up.

  14. Jim,
    I noticed that the Rays "activated" Archer on 10/6/11. Most of those transactions were for players that are playing ball in the off season leagues, but Chris isn't one of them. Since he's already on the 40 man roster I was wondering What is that transaction all about?