Rick Porcello won his fifth straight start yesterday, which ensured the 20-year-old a long season of being inaptly compared to Doc Gooden. He'll probably finish the year reminding everyone of Zach Duke instead, but there's a reason to hope he doesn't, and it has to do with the amateur draft.
Go back to 2007. Porcello was far and away the best high schooler in the draft and very likely a top-five prospect overall. It's proof that the system is irrevocably broken that he fell to the Tigers, who had the 27th pick. This was largely because of "signability issues," which is a baseball euphemism for "Scott Fucking Boras" and which doesn't exist in other leagues, where salary caps mostly free teams from the burden of lying constantly about their finances.
Porcello, as expected, wound up signing for a fat pile of money — four years, $7.3 million, the largest contract ever granted a prep player signed out of the draft — just about busting the openly collusive slotting system whereby Major League Baseball, in suggesting how much teams pay their draft picks, tries very earnestly to protect owners from themselves. The Tigers merrily flouted the slot recommendation, a reported $1 million, annoyed Bud Selig in the process, did Tigers fans a favor by investing in their product, and got a very good prospect at a still-considerable discount. And since then, more and more teams have followed suit.
Porcello wasn't the first time a team — or even the Tigers — had gone over slot. But the size of his contract and his early, if unsustainable success on the mound (3.48 ERA but only 32 strikeouts against 16 walks in 51.2 innings) have made him the face of a small triumph of good sense over greed and institutional stupidity, an enormous upset in the baseball world. I see no problem in overhyping someone like that.
Rookie Rick Porcello wins fifth consecutive start as Tigers beat Kansas City [MLive.com]
Porcello, Jackson have 20-20 vision [Yahoo]
How good can Rick Porcello be? [Nick Underhill]
Tigers ink Rick Porcello, irritate Selig [Detroit Tigers Weblog]