The Best Pitcher You’ve Never Heard of…

by Chuck

…and, no, it’s not Jimmy Scott.

His name is Kyle Gibson.

Baseball America ranked Gibson as the sixty-first minor league prospect heading into the 2010 season, ahead of other more well-known, established pitchers such as Dan Hudson, Mike Leake, Drew Storen, Phillippe Aumont and Andrew Cashner.

All without having thrown a professional pitch.

Heading into the 2009 draft, Gibson was considered the second best pitching prospect in the country, behind San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg. A senior at the University of Missouri, Gibson went 28-10 during his three years with the Tigers and was hoping to join fellow UM alumni Max Scherzer (2006) and Aaron Crow (2008) as first round draft picks.

Then he got hurt.

During his final start, against Monmouth College in an NCAA Regional a few weeks before the draft, Gibson’s velocity suddenly dropped from the low to mid-nineties to the mid-eighties. Team doctors subsequently diagnosed Gibson as having a stress fracture in his right forearm, which is sometimes viewed as a precursor to a more serious injury.

Gibson volunteered to take, and passed, a physical shortly before the draft, yet enough concerns remained that he dropped all the way down to the Minnesota Twins at #22. Acting in good faith, the Twins signed Gibson for an amount about $600K higher than MLB’s recommended slot amount, although still quite a bit less than what a few other pitchers taken higher ended up getting.

Gibson’s a 6′6″, 210 pound righthander who throws a four-seam fastball, (92-94 avg, projects to 96), a two seamer, (92 avg), a slider that sits in the 82-85 range with a good, late break and a consistent plane, and a plus change. He has good command of all his pitches and is so confident in his secondary stuff he has to be reminded at times to throw more fastballs.

The Twins held Gibson back after he signed, giving him a chance to work himself back into game shape at his own pace, albeit under the guidance of their Instructional League medical staff. Gibson pitched without pain during Instructs, and reported to Spring Training at 100%.

Gibson already ranks as the third best prospect in the Twins system, behind five tool outfielder Aaron Hicks and the soon to be departed Wilson Ramos. He began his pro career for the Twin’s Class A Fort Myers affiliate in the Florida State League. He made seven starts, going 4-1 with one complete game (a shutout), allowing 33 hits in 43.1 innings while striking out 40 and posting an impressive 3.89 GO/AO* ratio and a .213 OPPBA.

Promoted on May 13th to the Double A Eastern League’s New Britain Rock Cats, Gibson has picked up where he left off in Florida. He’s made two starts, (he’s on the mound tonite), going 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA with sixteen strikeouts in 14.1 innings while allowing 8 hits and a .157 OPPBA.

The arm injury derailed Gibson only briefly. Unlike Strasburg, Gibson probably won’t see the major leagues this season, especially if the Twins are still in the Central Division race come September. He will, almost certainly, be part of the Minny’s 2011 rotation.

One similarity with Strasburg remains, however.

Kyle Gibson will be a true, legitimate number one starter.

Gibson’s MiLB stat page.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=P&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=502043

*GO/AO: Is a stat measuring the ratio between groundball and flyball outs.

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47 Responses to “The Best Pitcher You’ve Never Heard of…”

  1. Bob Says:

    “Soon to be departed Wilson Ramos.” Where is he going?

    Bob O

  2. Chuck Says:

    Not sure, Bob, but with Mauer on board for another ten years, there’s no place for him to play.

  3. Josh Says:

    Kyle Gibson an unheard of? Are you kidding? He was a first-round prospect last season until the stress fracture.

  4. Raul Says:

    Jimmy Scott?

  5. Raul Says:

    Keith Law, in his infinite wisdom ranked Gibson the 89th best prospect back in January.

    On May 18 he ranked Gibson 20th, behind:
    19. Michael Taylor
    18. Tyler Matzek
    17. Zack Britton
    16. Logan Morrison
    15. Brett Wallace
    14. Mike Trout
    13. Aaron Hicks
    12. Casey Kelly
    11. Jeremy Hellickson
    10. Aroldis Chapman
    9. Jesus Montero
    8. Dustin Ackley
    7. Domonic Brown
    6. Martin Perez
    5. Desmond Jennings
    4. Mike Stanton
    3. Buster Posey
    2. Carlos Santana
    1. Stephen Strasburg

    Personally I don’t like Keith Law. But it’s an “interesting” list. I guess I’ll just be nice and keep my thoughts to myself.

  6. Raul Says:

    By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player make a jump of almost 70 spots in a baseball ranking after a mere 6 or so weeks of a season.

    So there’s something fishy going on there. I mean, either you know prospects or you don’t. Because if you know them, you rank them accordingly. You don’t jump them all those spots.

  7. Hossrex Says:

    Raul: “2. Carlos Santana”

    *grumble grumble grumble*

  8. Chuck Says:

    Keith Law is no different than anyone else..he’s trying to show everyone he’s hip and up to date so he can sell subscriptions to his website.

    Jumping 59 spots is a bit much.

  9. Cameron Says:

    Hm… Where the blue hell did Law put Heyward then?

    And personally, I hope Gibson does well. >_> I just have a slight distaste for him, and Scherzer, and Kinsler… And now Crow.

    Grandfather was medical dean of the University of Kansas. Love the Royals and KC but there are WAY too many Tigers fans here. If they were good at anything, I’d take ‘em seriously. …Don’t mention that basketball win they had. Fluke, FLUKE!

  10. Hossrex Says:

    Chuck: “…and, no, it’s not Jimmy Scott.”

    Whatever happened to that irascible scamp?

    I’ve never before seen a writer to adept at making a career out of Mad-Libs.

    Typical Jimmy Scott Outline: “It was a sad day for (insert proper noun of notable sports athlete), as he’s dealing with (insert sex/drug/violence problem). Unfortunately for him his (insert family member) has tried to help him, but his addiction has just proven too difficult to manage. Was it the fame that drove him over the edge? Was it the money? We may never know. The only thing certain is, it’s difficult to be a professional (insert type of sport) player.

    Then he’d get all butthurt when someone would point out the inanity of the whole thing, as if he really didn’t understand what the problem was.

  11. Raul Says:

    Jimmy Scott and Tyler Hissey apparently went elsewhere.
    Probably to ESPN.

  12. Shaun Says:

    Law had Heyward number one in January. He’s not listed in May because he’s in the majors so he’s no longer a prospect.

    I think he ranked Gibson so low in January because of the injury and he says he lacked a real “knockout” pitch; but mostly because of the injury, I’m sure.

  13. Shaun Says:

    “Keith Law is no different than anyone else..he’s trying to show everyone he’s hip and up to date so he can sell subscriptions to his website.”

    I think Law probably does want to increase subscriptions and his readership. But why would he do that by being wrong on purpose? Wouldn’t the best way be to try to be as right as possible every time you do rankings? Sounds like there is some jealousy and envy. Funny how there is so much obsession with Keith Law and ESPN in general.

  14. Raul Says:

    Shaun writes:

    “But why would he do that by being wrong on purpose?”

    Shaun, you missed Chuck’s point.

  15. Shaun Says:

    Raul, I guess his point was that Law ranked Gibson much higher in May so that he can keep up with all those other hip sites that rank baseball prospects. There are so many out there. Rolling Stone magazine has done so many features on hip baseball prospect websites.

    To me it doesn’t seem out of the question that a guy would make a huge jump in someone’s prospect rankings after 6 weeks of baseball and after four months time, especially if the guy had a pretty significant injury and has shown that he seems to be over it.

  16. Max Power Says:

    I saw Gibson throw at a game in AA Harrisburg a couple of weeks ago and he was dominant. Although the Senators’ offense is so anemic it doesn’t take much to look like that.

    He’s a big, strong kid that could be the horse (said in the niecest way possible) of the Twins’ staff for years to come.

  17. Chuck Says:

    Gibson’s line from last night;

    7 7 1 0 0 4

    Lowered his ERA to 0.84 and his overall season W/L record to 7-1.

  18. Raul Says:

    I don’t know of any instance where injury causes a player to drop from a possible Top 10 pick, to 89th.

    Hell, Sam Bradford was probably going to be a Top 5 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft even with his injury.

  19. Shaun Says:

    Raul, it was prospect ranking not draft rankings. Big difference.

    Some of the guys ranked in January graduated to the majors and the prospects that were ranked and were still in the minors played some games since then, may have gotten hurt or proven themselves more worthy sense then. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to believe and such a travesty that prospect rankings change after four months and about a month-and-a-half worth of games.

  20. Chuck Says:

    “I’m not sure why it’s so hard to believe and such a travesty that prospect rankings change after four months and about a month-and-a-half worth of games.”

    Then explain why Tyler Matzek is ranked 18th and ahead of Gibson, considering he has made ONE appearance this season?

    Why are there two guys in the top ten not hitting their own weight?

    If one assumes Gibson jumped 59 spots because he’s having a good season, wouldn’t it go to credibility to drop someone because he’s not?

    Where’s Pedro Alvarez?

  21. Shaun Says:

    Then explain why Tyler Matzek is ranked 18th and ahead of Gibson, considering he has made ONE appearance this season?

    Quote from Law on Matzek: “Pitching well for Colorado’s extended-spring club in Tucson, so he’ll be on a minor league roster by late June, although I wouldn’t be shocked if he went to full-season Asheville.”

    Quote from Law on Alvarez from his pre-season rankings: “Conditioning has always been an issue for Alvarez dating back to his freshman summer with Team USA, and it’s the main reason he’s likely to end up at first base.”

  22. Raul Says:

    My mistake on the wording. I shouldn’t have mixed “draft” and “ranking”.

    Still, that’s a significant difference.

  23. Chuck Says:

    Thanks for the quotes, Shaun, although neither answer my question or explain anything.

  24. Raul Says:

    In that May 18th ranking posted above, Law posted his Top 25.
    So to pick up where I left off:

    25. Mike Moustakas
    24. Lars Anderson
    23. Eric Hosmer
    22. Josh Vitters
    21. Shelby Miller
    20. Kyle Gibson

    To answer Chuck, Law had Pedro Alvarez 35th in January, just behind Eric Hosmer and before Christian Friedrich of the Rockies.

  25. Raul Says:

    Jesus Montero ranked 10th in January, and as a Yankees fan, I hope he does well.
    But he’s having a pretty bad 2010 season, and as of May 18th still ranked 9th.

    If the health and performance 6 weeks into the season allows Kyle Gibson to make a jump, I think it would be fair to put Jesus Montero a few slots down.

    But that’s just me.

  26. Shaun Says:

    Chuck, I don’t think Law’s ranking are completely based on what players have done this season. I think the rankings are based on what Law saw in Spring Training, what he’s seen this season, a player’s track record, his injury history and whether he’s shown that he’s over an injury, etc….all of the above.

  27. Chuck Says:

    “Chuck, I don’t think..”

    No kidding.

    While he’s not my favorite, I have a bit more respect for Law than the other talking heads, because he was part of baseball and is more versed on how things work.

    He agrees with me, (or me; him, whatever) on Pedro Alvarez…I never liked him and thought he was a terrible pick for the Pirates.

    I notice Law doesn’t have Madison Bumgarner ranked very high, either, which I again agree with.

    But make no mistake, Law is now media, and it is his job to sell himself and the company he works for.

    And there are inconsistencies in his list(s) for no other explainable reason.

    Raul’s point about Montero’s rankings completely justifies these inconsistencies.

  28. Shaun Says:

    It seems the thinking is 6 weeks of baseball don’t justify moving a player significantly up or down in the rankings unless it’s a case like Gibson where all the tools were there to begin with and he’s proven that the health concerns are probably behind him. That’s just a wild guess.

    Montero ranked 10th in January, a couple of players that were ahead of him are no longer prospects, so he moves to 9. So basically it seems Law doesn’t think any more highly of Montero and may in fact think a little less of him, it’s just that he is now comparing him to slightly fewer prospects.

  29. Raul Says:

    Shaun,

    The rankings are inconsistent and you know it. Stop trying to play Law’s advocate.

  30. Cameron Says:

    I saw Montero’s kinda struggling. Which is sad because a guy ranked 16 spots behind min (Mike Moustakas) is outproducing him at a rate that’s not even funny at the moment. Unless you’re a Royals fan, then you’re probably laughing your ass off. …Once the shock that we have prospects that are actually spending time in the minors. Think we finally learned after we rushed Hochevar and Gordon.

  31. Shaun Says:

    “While he’s not my favorite, I have a bit more respect for Law than the other talking heads, because he was part of baseball and is more versed on how things work.”

    “But make no mistake, Law is now media, and it is his job to sell himself and the company he works for.”

    So basically you think anyone in the baseball media simply spews nonsense in order to sell themselves and their companies? What’s the point? I can understand disagreeing with something the media says, lord knows I think the mainstream baseball media can be wrong lots of times, but how would intentionally spewing nonsense help anyone in the media with regard to baseball.

  32. Shaun Says:

    “The rankings are inconsistent and you know it. Stop trying to play Law’s advocate.”

    I’m not trying to advocate for anyone. I’m saying Law’s rankings, whether you agree or disagree, seem to make sense. There is absolutely no reason for me to advocate for Keith Law except that his rankings seem to make sense.

    You’re evidence is that a player moved up one spot, and you are completely ignoring the fact that a couple of players ranked ahead of him are now in the majors. Do you want him to rank Monetero in the same spot then just leave those two spots blank, for the sake of consistency?

    Also you are ignoring that Gibson probably showed Law that his arm injury is likely no longer a concern or at least not as big a concern as he thought in January.

    I’m so sick of disagreeing just to disagree or just because you hate ESPN or “sabermetrics” or people with advanced degrees or whatever. It’s becoming a tired act on this site.

  33. Raul Says:

    Dude, the rankings make no sense clearly because they are inconsistent.

    The only guy ahead of Montero at the time of the #10 ranking that touched the major leagues was Jason Hayward, so what the hell are you talking about players above him no longer being prospects?

    Every single player ahead of Montero in January is still in the minor leagues. So ok, he moves up one spot to #9. But Montero has sucked so badly this season you would think he’d get bumped back to at least 12 or 13.

    There’s no way you can justify it based on performance and you know it.

  34. Raul Says:

    The only way you keep Montero in at #9 or #10 is if he performs at a similar level and he’s not even close to last year’s performance.

  35. Shaun Says:

    Raul, you keep Montero and virtually the same spot because 6 weeks is not much of a sample and because he’s not completely embarrassing himself as a 20-year-old catcher in Triple-A. That’s another thing you are ignoring, the age factor. If Montero was doing what he is doing as a 25-year-old in Triple-A, you start to get worried, or even if he’s 22 or 23. But he’s 20.

    It’s like if Pujols or Mauer were to make some rehab appearances and hit like Jason Heyward in the minors, you wouldn’t think much of it. But when you see a teenager or a player who just turned 20 performing like a major leaguer in a rehab appearance, you pay attention.

  36. Raul Says:

    Fine, 6 weeks.

    But if 6 weeks isn’t enough to move Montero (and it probably isn’t), then it’s not enough to move Kyle Gibson from #89 to #20.

    Gibson shows he’s not injured, pitches well. Great. Move him up. But that many spots? Kiss my ascot.

  37. Raul Says:

    Either he blew it by ranking Gibson so low to begin with, or he blew it by moving Gibson so many spots now that he’s healthy.

    You can’t have it both ways or else the consistency is not there.

  38. Shaun Says:

    Raul, my guess is he would say he blew it by ranking Gibson so low because he thought his injury was more a concern in January than he thinks it is now. I think it’s completely reasonable to rank a young pitcher with all the tools in the world who is coming off a stress fracture fairly low and once you see he’s fine, move him up. Is that inconsistency or self-correction?

    Hey, I tend to agree. I think it’s odd that someone could move that far up in the rankings. Seems to me his health concerns wouldn’t go away after 4 months. But I do think it makes sense for him to jump significantly in a person’s rankings. Not saying I would do the same thing, just that it’s understandable why someone would.

  39. Shaun Says:

    With young pitchers with a history of a seemingly serious injury, who could blame someone for being skeptical then changing their mind drastically once he’s shown he’s healthy?

    I mean you don’t know if that pitcher is going to blow his arm out before Opening Day or if he’s going to become what looks like a future ace. Can you blame anyone for wanting to see that pitcher get through Spring Training and a few weeks of the season unscathed?

  40. Hossrex Says:

    Shaun: “So basically you think anyone in the baseball media simply spews nonsense in order to sell themselves and their companies? What’s the point?”

    What’s the point? You’ve got to be kidding me, have you watched Sports Center/Baseball Tonight/any of the shows on MLBtv lately?

    It’s all simply inanity, said quickly with little/no extrapolation, covering the talking points of the day… and the whole thing is done in a homogenized, non-threatening, “make friends with everybody” sort of way. They’re afraid of taking a controversial opinion, they’re afraid of taking an opinion which MLB would find inconvenient, and they’re afraid of targeting their show to the only damned people who watch the show.

    I was watching one of those shows (doesn’t f’ing matter which, they’re all exactly the same) today, and I was trying to enjoy some great defensive plays of the day… the the whole “bit” was ruined by a terrible pop song (Stone Temple Pilots… who I enjoyed when I was 13… LITERALLY EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO), and bizarre editing which made the whole thing unwatchable.

    Blake DeWitt makes the play of the week today at second base… and I’m watching it through a blurry haze filter, with frames cliped out to make the scene seem faster.

    Who the hell do they think is watching these shows? It’s the same thing as when I watch Star Trek (shut up), and they have a commercial for tampons. WTF? Sure girls watch the show… but enough that you think it would be worth dropping a tampon commercial into the mix? Not even close.

    So… to sum up… Bert Blyleven should really be in the hall of fame.

    Yeah. I made the same exact joke twice. Screw off.

  41. Raul Says:

    Hossrex needs his own segment on a tv show. Maybe not The Daily Show, but something similar to Back in Black.

  42. Shaun Says:

    Hossrex, I think corny marketing gimmicks and analysts spewing outright lies are two different things.

  43. Chuck Says:

    “analysts spewing outright lies are two different things.”

    So you won’t have any trouble explaining Buster Olney’s fabrication of the Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols rumor.

  44. Raul Says:

    LOL @ Chuck

  45. Hossrex Says:

    Shaun: “Hossrex, I think corny marketing gimmicks and analysts spewing outright lies are two different things.”

    Yet they’re always, inextricably, found together.

    It’s like two disparate symptoms of the same illness. The cough, and the fever might be two separate problems, but they’re both caused by your immune system trying to cleanse your body of the virus that is Steve Berthiaume.

    “Fill thine horn with oil” my ass.

  46. Chuck Says:

    I watched Gibson pitch on MiLBTV today against Casey Kelly…neither looked all that great..Gibson got the W and Kelly the L.

    Very disturbing trend in baseball is trickling down to the minor leagues, it appears.

    NESN did the broadcast.

    Upper corner of the screen had the normal stuff..inning, score, outs, count, runners on, etc.

    And pitch count.

    How many people watching a Double A game on TV would care about pitch count? Or even understand what it means?

    My guess would be not many.

  47. Hossrex Says:

    I was watching a game on MLBtv a couple weeks ago, also a Nesn broadcast and they were running the pitch count there as well.

    It cracked me up that when a relief pitcher was brought in, the pitch count wasn’t reset, and continued to rise.

    As if the person DOING the pitch count for Nesn doesn’t even understand the purpose of it.

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