Monday, March 3, 2008

Looking at the Johan Santana trade: Philip Humber

Philip Humber
Starting Pitcher
Throws: Right
Age: 25

2005 A+ 14 14 4.99 70.1 74 6 65 18
2006 A+ 7 7 2.37 38.0 24 4 36 9
AA 6 6 2.88 34.1 25 4 36 10
2007 AAA 25 25 4.27 139.0 129 21 120 44

Humber was selected by the Mets with the third overall pick in the 2004 draft. Humber pitched just 15 starts into his pro career when he suffered a major arm injury, so he had to have Tommy John elbow surgery in mid-2005.

He pitched again the next year, he had a 2.83 ERA, 79-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .199 opponent's batting average in 76.1 innings between high Single-A and Double-A. The problem was that his fastball lost a lot of it’s velocity and it hurt him a lot the next year. Humber had a 4.27 ERA in 25 starts at Triple-A, striking out just 120 batters in 139 innings while giving up 21 homers.

It seems that Humber will be a mid-rotation starter, not the ace the Mets thought they were drafting. He has an excellent curveball but his fastball no longer overpowers hitters. Humber was one of four players the Twins received for Santana, although he was once considered untouchable. His stock has fallen, and I doubt he could end up being the ace everyone thought he could be. In fact he might end up in the bullpen if he doesn’t pan out as a starter, since the Twins have tons of pitching prospects who should be ready soon. But being in the bullpen he still could be valuable, and the Twins always produce one of the best bullpens in the majors. So Humber might be the least valuable player the Twins received in the Santana trade. Had they made this trade two or three years ago he would have been the best player in the package but his stock has dropped a bit.

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