I wrote last week that The Hardball Times rated Matt Garza as having "good upside" (as opposed to excellent) and being "close to prime." Only a few right-handed pitchers were ranked higher than Garza. Kevin Slowey wasn't mentioned.
Garza is known for having better stuff than Slowey. Garza throws harder--in the mid-90s--while Slowey tops out at 90. Neither one has dominant second and third pitches, but Garza probably has better stuff overall.
Over at Baseball Prospectus last Friday, Nate Silver wrote about how PECOTA rated right-handed pitcher in 2007. PECOTA is defined as the following:
[PECOTA] stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. PECOTA is BP's proprietary system that projects player performance based on comparison with thousands of historical player-seasons. Analyzes similarities with past player-seasons based not only on rate statistics, but also height, weight, age, and many other factors.
Interestingly, it was Slowey who came out on top over Garza. In fact, Slowey came in fourth overall, behind only Tim Lincecum, Philip Hughes, and Yovani Gallardo. Scouts may not be overly impressed with Slowey, but PECOTA loves him. It loves his super low walk rates and decent K rates. He has maintained solid K rates as he climbed the organizational ladder. In fact, his PECOTA card lists Justin Verlander as his number two comparable.
Silver makes several qualifications about Slowey, and I think they are accurate:
It’s easy to be a bit skeptical about Slowey's ranking, starting with his fastball topping out at about 90. Nevertheless, let’s keep a couple of things in mind. Firstly, PECOTA is not mistaking Slowey for a power pitcher (as it might have done with someone like Yusmeiro Petit last year). It expects his strikeout rate to be only about league average in the majors. Secondly, it recognizes that finesse pitchers have less upside than power pitchers....
Guys like Slowey are the pitching equivalent of Dustin Pedroia, players who are unlikely to be remembered 40 years from now, but could produce a surprisingly high return on investment for their clubs in the meantime.
Being compared to Pedroia isn't a bad thing, but it isn't great either. However, I think the comparison is accurate. Slowey should be very solid, if not spectacular, for the Twins for a while.
PECOTA likes Garza too. He came in at number five. Hopefully, Garza will be the pitcher that all the scouts have raved about and settle in as at least a very good number two starter. And hopefully Slowey will defy the naysayers and ride his exceptional control over his fastball to the same level of success as Garza. Who is better is not that important. What is important is tha the Twins have two outstanding pitching prospects that should become mainstays in the rotation by 2008, if not sooner.