August 15, 2002
I have seen the future...
...and its name is Mark Prior.
I saw a 4-time Cy Young Award winner pitch today.
This 5-time league ERA champion only went 6 innings.
But the Cubs' all-time leader in strikeouts and wins did manage to strikeout 12 Astros in those 6 innings.
However, this 4 time 20 game winner didn't even get the victory.
Yeah, that's right, I saw Mark Prior pitch today.
A couple of days ago I talked about the Marlins' own young pitching stud, Josh Beckett, who, like Prior, is a former #2 pick.
I discussed his great minor league stats and how, despite some homerific tendencies, he has been pretty good in his first full major league season.
I like Josh Beckett and his future so much that I have him on my Diamond-Mind keeper league team and next year I will pay $37 for the honor of having him on my roster, despite the fact that he will likely only throw about 110 innings this year.
My friends, Mark Prior makes Josh Beckett look like Pat Mahomes.
Including today's game, here are Prior's MLB numbers:
And keep in mind, Mark Prior doesn't turn 22 until next month and this is his first season in professional baseball.
Now, the problem with Prior being so good and so young is that he appears to be in the wrong organization if he wants to avoid an arm injury.
When he first came up he had Don "What's a pitch count?" Baylor as his skipper. Baylor was, of course, fired (good news for Prior!).
Then Bruce "Pitch counts are for sissies" Kimm took over the Cubs' managerial position (bad news for Prior!)
All of that has added up to Mark Prior, 21 years old and in his 1st season of professional baseball, throwing an average of 108 pitchers per game.
Now, 108 pitches per game isn't something I would suggest to a young pitcher, but it isn't that horrible.
The worst part (at least in my opinion) is this:
124 pitches on June 7th
118 pitches on June 12th
114 pitches on July 19th
115 pitches on July 30th
and the icing on the future-arm-surgery-cake...
136 pitches on August 4th.
And that is just in the major leagues.
With that lack of concern for pitch counts and a young pitcher's arm at the major league level, I can only imagine how many pitches Prior threw in his 9 minor league starts.
And I don't even want to think about his pitch counts last season at USC.
There does seem to be a bit of good news in all of this.
Mark Prior said last week that he was only going to be throwing 40 more innings this season.
So, counting the 6 he tossed today, he is down to only 34 more.
So, it sounds like Prior knows what is best for his career, even if his managers and the rest of the Cubs don't.
I think I speak for a lot of baseball fans when I say, Bruce Kimm or whomever takes over as the Cubs' manager, please be careful with what you have in Mark Prior.
You've got something very special and it would be nice to see what he could do with about 15 (healthy) seasons in major league baseball.