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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Taking Notice

Iguchi gets congratulations from Ben Davis after scoring in the first inning.The White Sox got some national TV exposure on Tuesday. They played an ESPN2 game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, presently residing in Central Arizona, (LAAEMWGPRCA for short) sending top prospect Brandon McCarthy to the mound.

Even though the game was broadcast on CSN, I decided to take in the ESPN2 broadcast because I wanted to see what they had to say about both the Sox and Brandon McCarthy. Plus Steve Stone was making his ESPN debut. (He's hinted that he left his schedule open on Wednesdays, and it's a pretty simple conclusion that it because he's doing the color commentary for the ESPN Wednesday package.)

The beginning, middle, and end of the story from today's game was the performance of Brandon McCarthy. He improved to 3-0 on the spring, going five innings, giving up 2 unearned runs. On the Spring his ERA is nonexistent in 10.1 innings pitched.
Spring         IP     H  R ER HR BB  K
McCarthy 10.1 7 2 0 0 1 5

Brandon McCarthy delivers.  Click for a bigger picture The Scouting report on McCarthy (for those who haven't been able to see him): In today's game, I thought he had better stuff than he did in his previous outing. He features three "plus" pitches, the fastball, change, and curve. Seems simple, doesn't it?

His fastball is not overpowering by any means. Today it topped out at 92, and I think I only saw that once on a throw well out of the zone. He can locate the fastball wherever he wants. He makes up for the lack of speed with late movement, in to the right handers, and down to the lefties. As you can see from clicking on the picture, he's a lanky fellow at 6'7" and 190lbs., so there might be some added velocity when he completely fills out.

His change up is supposedly his best pitch, his out pitch if you will. As with the fastball he is able to locate in anywhere in the zone. He's not afraid to throw it in any count, evidenced today by inducing a strikeout on a 3-2 count. I didn't really take notice as to what the change was hitting on the gun, but it was clear that he had quite a few hitters fooled with his long body and big motion.

His curveball was supposed to be his weakest pitch, but it looked very strong to me. If his curve is working like it was today, he is major league ready right now. It was a nice tight 11-6 curve. Just like the change he showed a willingness to throw it in any count. He had Chone Figgins struck out on a back door curve to finish the 5th, but appeared to catch umpire Jim Wolf by surprise also being called a ball. Figgins later walked, McCarthy's first of the spring.

There are some pitchers who you hear about having electric stuff and they don't amount to anything. Then there are those like Mark Buehrle, who are never descried as having "good stuff," and yet all they do is get people out and string together zeros on the scoreboard. It's about knowing how to pitch, how to challenge the hitters. It's clear that McCarthy is in the latter category.

I'm not the only one with such high praise for McCarthy, Ozzie Guillen is very impressed also.
"He's the best pitcher in camp right now. There's no doubt about it," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who seems more amazed by McCarthy with each trip to the mound. "I wish I had this kid last year. I would have had one less headache.

"It's fun to watch this kid pitch. It's amazing that he's a baby and he does what he does. You won't see too many kids pitch at the big league level the way he does now."

All the praise aside, I can't see the Sox putting McCarthy on the 25-man roster. His place, when he eventually makes the Sox, is in the rotation, and that's blocked with old Cubans and established major leaguers. He's not on the 40-man roster, and there's really no reason to get his service clock started already, unless he throws a perfect game in spring and you can shift Contreras or El Duque to the pen. It's extremely likely that at least one member of the White Sox rotation is going to hit the DL this season. (I'm looking in your direction El Duque.) It sure is nice to have someone you have confidence in waiting in the wings.