Can Mark Prior make it all the way back?

by ThomasWayne

This is on the wire from FOX SPORTS:

Right-handed pitcher Mark Prior, who came out of USC with a hype along the lines of Stephen Strassburg, is still trying to piece his injury-plagued career back together.

Prior, 29, will work out for major league clubs at USC on Wednesday. Prior, who has not pitched in the big leagues since going 1-6 in nine games with the Cubs in 2006, has been working with USC pitching coach Tom House, the former big-league pitching coach who has worked with Prior since his high school days in San Diego.

Most major league teams are expected to have a scout in attendance.
Prior was the second player selected in the 2001 draft, Minnesota opting for high school catcher Joe Mauer, and then Twins general manager Terry Ryan being criticized at the time for passing on a pitcher that many claimed was ready to step directly into a big-league rotation.

Prior did receive a then-record $10.5 million signing bonus, and appeared to validate the Cubs decision in 2003, his first full big-league season, when he was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA. Prior, however, developed shoulder problems that required surgery after that season, and has made only 57 big league starts since.

What say you dear reader? Can this once great young arm make it all the way back to achieve greatness once again? What teams would be a good fit? Exercise your first amendment rights and speak freely, loud and proud!

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39 Responses to “Can Mark Prior make it all the way back?”

  1. John Says:

    He should play for the Reds. It’s just not enough that his arm metaphorically fell off. A few more months with Dusty Baker and it might actually be removed from his body.

  2. skip Says:

    how much success and dollars did Dusty Baker cost this guy?

  3. Hossrex Says:

    WTF?!?

    Sometimes I swear *I* could make a Major League roster.

  4. Raul Says:

    I think it would be nice if he could resume a major league career.
    I don’t know about returning to glory. You would think that Mark Prior could work his way up to being at least a decent #4 starter, no?

  5. Joseph DelGrippo Says:

    Mark Prior is working with Tom House? You mean the pitching guru who developed Prior’s horrible pitching mechanics which led him to develop severe shoulder issues? Shoulder issues which ended up with multiple shoulders surgeries?

    You mean the admitted steroid use Tom House?

    Wow!

    They say the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over again, but expecting different results. Mark Prior is stupid and so are the scouts going to see him pitch.

    Oh, and for the last time, Mark Prior said BEFORE that draft (in his best John Elway impersonation) that he would never play for the Minnesota Twins if they selected him.

    So the Twins did the next best thing, and took the local kid who was the best overall athlete and hitter.

    The only player decision the Twins had that draft was what hitter to take first overall? Mauer or Mark Teixeira out of Georgia Tech.

    Good choice by the Twins. Do you think Teixeira would be in Minnesota today?

    Bad choice by Prior (again) in playing with House money.

  6. Raul Says:

    According to Wikipedia, Tom House admitted to using steroids int he 1970s.

    Is there evidence he still uses them, or provides them to players?

  7. Patrick Says:

    I’d like to see him come back, but if he does, I don’t think he’ll last long. That’s a helluva hurt shoulder to miss 4 years of throwing. Good luck to him though.

  8. Chuck Says:

    Dusty Baker didn’t cost Mark Prior anything.

    Bad mechanics cost Mark Prior everything.

    Same with Kerry Wood.

    I saw Wood pitch in high school and all I could think of was it was a matter of when, not if, he had Tommy John.

    “..playing with House money.”

    Great line, Joe.

  9. Cameron Says:

    Chuck, with Wood’s mechanics, do you think he would have been better as a reliever from the start then?

  10. Chuck Says:

    Honestly, no. I think he would have been better off if he had spend extra time in the minor leagues correcting what was wrong.

    Look at him now, he’s much different now than he was then.

    It could have been done.

  11. Yu-Hsing Chen Says:

    It is sad that he is only 29.

  12. Shaun Says:

    Before Prior reached the big leagues, there were a ton of scouts and pitching coaches quoted as saying Prior’s mechanics were sound and effortless. After he got hurt there are a ton of scouts and pitching coaches saying his mechanics were flawed.

    I’m skeptical of anyone who says a pitcher is “can’t miss” and I’m also skeptical of anyone who says a pitcher is destined to get hurt.

    I don’t think even the smartest pitching experts have much of a clue as to whether a young pitcher will be durable or get injured. Pitching a baseball is going to cause injuries in a lot, perhaps most, people who are lucky enough to give pitching a serious shot as a career.

    One good thing about the economics of the game and players making significantly more money now than in the past is teams are much more willing to protect their investments. Sure, it’s probably gone too far but also I think more pitchers are going to live up to their potential.

    Also, we live in a time of great medical advancement. There are surgeries that can solve a lot of injury problems. Not all injury problems, of course, but many that couldn’t be solved in the past.

    To get back to Prior, I think it’s worth it for some team to take a chance. Who knows?

  13. Raul Says:

    I don’t have too much of an issue with Shaun’s post.

    But one thing.
    When rating players, there are always differences of opinions. Scouts disagree all the time.

    Some guys probably thought Prior was sound and great. Others thought he was going to be injured.

    It’s hard to go back and find out who was ultimately right since most of us don’t personally know many scouts.

    Now recently, I’ve seen Chuck and a few others come down pretty harsh on Pittsburgh Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez. And I’m sure many scouts project he’ll have a great career. With regard to injury, more specifically, Andrew Brackman comes to mind. There’s also a lot of questions about Tim Lincecum. In fact, many thought Lincecum wouldn’t even be the Giants’ best pitcher WHILE he was winning the Cy Young Awards these past few years. It remains to be seen although it should be noted that Lincecum doesn’t appear as dominant this year as he has in the past.

  14. Shaun Says:

    When rating players, there are always differences of opinions. Scouts disagree all the time.

    Yeah, I think that’s why I’m skeptical when a scout or any other baseball person says that a pitcher is either can’t miss or is an injury waiting to happen.

  15. Raul Says:

    Well it depends on which scouts you believe.

  16. Chuck Says:

    What made Brackman’s situation so bad is he was hurt BEFORE he was drafted.

    And the Yankees STILL gave him $4 million.

    But if you look at him objectively, other than Randy Johnson and maybe JR Richard, name a tall pitcher who had a long, consistent career?

    Sabathia?

    OK.

    Anyone else?

    I don’t think Prior’s mechanics were so bad there was a definitive opinion he would get hurt.

    Shit happens.

    When he came out a couple of years ago, Jordan Zimmermann was thought to have mechanics as perfect as possible for a young pitcher. NO ONE foresaw him needing Tommy John. Same with the Parker kid in Arizona.

    Shit happens.

    In the “old” days you used to hear the term “slider speed” when talking about a hitter’s bat speed.

    Now it’s common to hear “aluminum bat speed”.

    Aluminum are more barrel weighted, meaning you can hit the ball harder and farther with a slower bat speed. The sweet spot, even the contact spots, are bigger with aluminum.

    Alvarez, (and Brett Wallace) were great aluminum bat hitters.

    Now those opposite field doubles they hit in college are broken bat popups or routine fly outs.

    Let’s see a spreadsheet identify that.

  17. Lefty33 Says:

    “Anyone else?”

    John Candelaria 6’ 7”

    Steve Carlton 6’ 5”

    Lee Guetterman 6’ 8”

    Bob Scanlan 6’ 7

  18. Chuck Says:

    Hahaha..Lee Guetterman.

    Good one Lefty..

    By consistent, I meant good.

    Who’s Bob Scanlan?

  19. Lefty33 Says:

    “Who’s Bob Scanlan?”

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/scanlbo01.shtml

  20. Lefty33 Says:

    “Hahaha..Lee Guetterman.”

    Now his “fastball” made Jaime Moyer look like J.R. Richard.

    I doubt anyone not throwing an eephus has thrown slower in MLB history than big Lee.

  21. Chuck Says:

    OK, Lefty, you got a great sense of humor.

    I say “consistent” and you interpret that to mean “career”

    Shaun’s rubbing off on you, pro.

  22. Lefty33 Says:

    “OK, Lefty, you got a great sense of humor.”

    Thanks Chuck.

    I love bringing the obscure to light.

    But for real how about Drysdale? He was 6′ 6″.

  23. Chuck Says:

    When I said tall, I meant like freakishly tall.

    I even mentioned Johnson and Richard, both over 6′8″, because Brackman’s 6′10″.

    Sure, there have been some..Carlton, Fergie Jenkins and Sam McDowell were 6′5″, so was Herb Score.

    I’m just saying the bigger a guy is, the less likely he’ll have any career to speak of, and the Yankees dropped four million on a guy who was damaged goods BEFORE they drafted him.

    Surprised nobody mentioned Jon Rauch..

    Twins have a kid in their system who is 7′1″

  24. brautigan Says:

    Frank Sullivan, Gene Conley, Dave Debusschere, and Chris Young come to mind. And it looks like Chuck is right, none of these guys were consistently good.

  25. Yu-Hsing Chen Says:

    Well, if Brackman has Jon Rauch’s career it wouldn’t be terrible for a guy drafted at the very end of the first round……

    (but it isn’t good for someone who was paid more like he was drafted up at the front)

    Chris Young (who is 6′10 like Brackman) had a pretty solid 4 year run from 05-08, though he was still having health issues as well. still , I’d take 4 year run like that from Brackman. as long as he doesn’t practice Chris Young’s logic in holding runners on . (aka, don’t give a shit at all)

  26. Raul Says:

    Well Brackman has been…..I’m trying to be polite but…he’s been terrible.

  27. Mike Felber Says:

    I understand that mechanics are tougher to develop porperly when you are extremely tall, like in R. Johnson. But I wonder how much harder it is to be good, or avoid injury when you are very tall. Recall that it is both much less common to be over 6 & 1/2 feet tall, & those players are sucked up disproportionately by other sports, chiefly basketball, volleyball sometimes…

    So if you have many times the # of pitchers competing within a few inches over 6′, compared to about a 1/2 foot taller, the much greater # who make it at the former height is likely mostly due to a far greater # of those even trying.

  28. Mike Felber Says:

    I understand that mechanics are tougher to develop properly when you are extremely tall, like in R. Johnson. But I wonder how much harder it is to be good, or avoid injury when you are very tall. Recall that it is both much less common to be over 6 & 1/2 feet tall, & those players are sucked up disproportionately by other sports, chiefly basketball, volleyball sometimes…

    So if you have many times the # of pitchers competing within a few inches over 6′, compared to about a 1/2 foot taller, the much greater # who make it at the former height is likely mostly due to a far greater # of those even trying.

  29. Yu-Hsing Chen Says:

    @Raul

    Actually, Brackman’s been surpringly good so far this year. the ERA mask the fact that he had a 56/9 (!!) K/BB ratio in 60 IP . and it’s not like he was getting homered to death either. but singles were falling at a unstainable rate against him in Tampa. There were perfectly good reasons why they promoted him to Trenton (though obviously his age was also a big factor.)

    essentially, he is doing everything you want to see him do except dominant in terms of ERA. staying healthy, striking guys out, not walking anyone, and keeping the ball on the ground and in the park. his last few starts in Tampa was pretty awesome.

    His scouting report also improved massively as the season went on, so this is certainly the most encouraging season for him so far . hopefully he can stay healthy had make the jump to the next level smoothly.

  30. Hossrex Says:

    Yu-Hsing Chen: “Chris Young (who is 6′10 like Brackman) had a pretty solid 4 year run from 05-08, though he was still having health issues as well. still , I’d take 4 year run like that from Brackman. as long as he doesn’t practice Chris Young’s logic in holding runners on . (aka, don’t give a shit at all)

    Chris Young was well on his way to being a premiere #2 starter type guy until he came face to face with an Albert Pujols line drive.

    I’m not saying he would definitely have kept on the track he was on, but when a major decline in talent coincides with a “tragic” (hey, it did play for San Diego afterall… I’m not exactly mourning his career) event, it’s reasonable for that to at least be the FIRST place you look.

  31. Yu-Hsing Chen Says:

    yeah but even before the line drive meet face thing he still didn’t pitch 200 IP in any of those years, so it’s not like he was a bastian of health before that event.

    Still, yeah, if Brackman have anything like Chris Young the Yanks should be thrilled. his much improved control so far this year is certainly a very promising sign. but he would need to do quite a bit in quite a short span .

  32. Hossrex Says:

    Yu-Hsing Chen: “even before the line drive meet face thing he still didn’t pitch 200 IP in any of those years, so it’s not like he was a bastian of health before that event.”

    Plot his career onto a graph.

    Make a BIG RED “X” where the Pujols line drive happened.

    What does the “before” part look like, and what does the “after” part look like?

    164, 179, and 173 innings pitched might not be an apex to which a pitcher should shoot for… but it’s certainly not something that indicates a major problem.

  33. Dean M Says:

    Chuck: “When I said tall, I meant like freakishly tall.”

    So as to say, let’s make the database real small so my point is unimpeachable.

  34. Chuck Says:

    So, mentioning two guys over 6′8″ wasn’t enough of a clue for you, Dean?

  35. Dean M Says:

    It just struck me funny that you had to qualify tall with “freakishly” when you realized there actually were tall pitchers who had long, consistent careers. I respect your baseball knowledge, Chuck…it just seems to me there have been nearly as many good tall pitchers mentioned (freakishly or otherwise) as those who have washed out. Besides Johnson, Richard, Drysdale, Candelaria and Sabathia there’s also David Price who is obviously just getting started and at 6′ 6″ does fall short of the “freakishly” standard, but do you think 2 inches really matters all that much? Or do you foresee problems for Price down the road?

  36. Mike Felber Says:

    What is extremely tall has gradually morphed over the years. Other sports sucking up the vertically blessed must be secondary to the fact that there are SO few extremely tall folks as a % of the population, by definition. Let us take a 1/2 foot swing: from a typical height for a modern pitcher, to a “typical” extremely tall height, 6′9″. Would there not be MANY times more men even attempting to pitch at the former height than the latter? Is there any indication that relative giants succeed at a lower RATE than the merely quite tall?

  37. Chuck Says:

    “It just struck me funny that you had to qualify tall with “freakishly” when you realized there actually were tall pitchers who had long, consistent careers”

    Not true at all.

    I qualified tall with “freakishly” when it became clear some of you didn’t get the reference.

    Why don’t we have Price actually have a career first, or didn’t you grasp that part either?

    There are 66 pitchers in the HOF.

    Drysdale is the tallest at 6′6″. Three others, Jenkins, Carlton and Eppa Rixey were 6′5″ or more.

  38. Hossrex Says:

    Six foot four isn’t “particularly” tall for a Major League Baseball player (at least a modern player). I’d have a hard time calling someone “freakish” who’s just two inches taller than that.

    I remember some athlete (I don’t even remember which sport) who always referred to himself as six foot twelve… since he didn’t want to be some seven foot tall freak.

  39. Dean M Says:

    Bingo, Mike. The sample for “freakishly” tall is far too small to judge. I can grasp that much.

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