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AMP Mailbag: Kent>Thurman?

Subber10 looks at the recent promotion of Kent Emanuel and the implications it might have had with Andrew Thurman.


This week's question comes from Donito Burgess

Why did Kent get the nod over Thurman? I (falsely) assumed Thurman was ahead (especially after Luhnow praise) in the pecking order.

This is a reference to the recent promotion of Kent Emanuel to High-A Lancaster from Low-A Quad Cities. Emanuel was a 3rd round pick last year while Andrew Thurman was a 2nd round pick and remained behind in Quad Cities.

Based on draft status and the many reports about how Thurman was looking very impressive on the back fields during spring training, Thurman appeared to be the big man.  Reports were that he was hitting 97 on the mound and was overpowering competition.

So, why not Thurman?

There's a difference between potential and polish. Emanuel was the guy with more polish coming out University of North Carolina last year. Thurman was the guy with more potential coming of UC Irvine. Speaking in complete generalities, polish moves you up faster, potential moves you up further.

As far as prospect status goes, Thurman absolutely is higher. He's middle of the rotation upside kind of pitcher. Emanuel is a back of the rotation upside.

Thurman has better stuff, so he should be doing better right? Let's look at small sample of stats.

Emanuel 2.45 3.97 4.6 19.5 8.18 0.27 40.9
Thurman 5.4 2.6 9.1 26.4 10.8 0.414 43.7

Actual results (ERA) paint the picture of Emanuel being more prepared to move up. Advanced stats (FIP) disagrees. Component stats are all over the place. Thurman's stuff shows up in his ability to get more strikeouts, but Emanuel limits base runners much better with less hits and a walk rate at less than half of Thurman. Thurman has been unlucky though, I'll give him that.

The key here is that based on Emanuel's walk rate and lower H/9, he seems better prepared to go to Lancaster right now. Doesn't mean he's a better prospect, just that he's potentially only slightly more "polished" at this juncture.

There's a whole lot more to it than stats and stuff though. A lot of these decisions are based on stats we don't have available and coaches opinions. We have no idea what each pitcher is working on. Thurman could be working on something with mechanics that Quentin McCracken wants him to continue working with Dave Borkowski with. When you have pitchers making changes, working with that one coach for consistency is sometimes more important than your competition. One coach may recognize the improvement while another thinks it doesn't need to be improved anymore. Changing eyes is not always a good thing.

Thurman is still definitely the better pitcher in my opinion.

P.S. Leave questions in the comments…the AMP returns this week!