Not-So-Ancient Mariner

Assuming the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez gets called up to Seattle
this season, he will become one of the youngest pitchers signed since
the amateur draft began in June 1965 to make his debut. (Hernandez was
born April 8, 1986, and will be 19 years and 177 days old when the
season ends Oct. 2). Should he make Seattle’s Opening Day roster, he
could become the first 18-year-old pitcher since Jose Rijo in 1984 to
throw a major league pitch. Some other notable teen phenoms:

Pitcher, Team Debut Age Skinny
David Clyde, Rangers 6/27/1973 18 years, 66 days Archetype of burnout phenom, emotionally and physically.
Tim Conroy, A’s 6/23/1978 18 years, 81 days Charlie Finley P.R. stunt resurfaced four years later.
Jay Franklin, Padres 9/4/1971 18 years, 172 days Got hurt following spring, never pitched in majors again.
Joe Coleman, Senators 9/28/1965 18 years, 237 days Went 2-0 in ’65, 142-135 in 15-year career.
Mike Morgan, A’s 6/11/1978 18 years, 246 days Survived Finley hoopla to last 22 years in bigs.
Ed Nunez, Mariners 4/7/1982 18 years, 315 days Poor control led to middling set-up career.
Gary Nolan, Reds 4/15/1967 18 years, 323 days Real deal went 14-8, 2.58 as rookie; injuries felled him.
Jose Rijo, Yankees 4/5/1984 18 years, 327 days Yankees’ answer to Dwight Gooden was soon traded.
Charlie Vaughn, Braves 9/3/1966 18 years, 332 days Won first major league start; never won again.
Ken Brett, Red Sox 9/27/1967 19 years, 9 days George’s bro had three hits and HR in first big league win.
Mike McQueen, Braves 10/2/1969 19 years, 33 days Pitched briefly in just five seasons.
Britt Burns, White Sox 8/5/1978 19 years, 58 days Won 15 games in “real” rookie season of 1980.
Bert Blyleven, Twins 6/5/1970 19 years, 60 days Helped Twins to division title as a rookie.
Terry Forster, White Sox 4/11/1971 19 years, 87 days Effective early closer ballooned into “fat tub of goo.”
Don Gullett, Reds 4/10/1970 19 years, 94 days Nolan counterpart also succumbed to arm woes.
Lloyd Allen, Angels 9/1/1969 19 years, 116 days Pitched just seven years of middle relief.
Balor Moore, Expos 5/21/1970 19 years, 116 days

Expos’ first-ever draft pick soon blew out arm.

Wilson Alvarez, Rangers 7/24/1989 19 years, 122 days Threw no-hitter for White Sox two years later.
Rich Garces, Twins 9/18/1990

19 years, 123 days

Grew to become his generation’s Terry Forster.
Dwight Gooden, Mets 4/7/1984 19 years, 142 days Went 194-112 lifetime, amazing for wasted talent.
Edwin Correa, White Sox 9/18/1985 19 years, 142 days Soon traded to Rangers, who burned him out fast.
Larry Christenson, Phillies 4/13/1973 19 years, 154 days Control artist won 19 games in ’77.


Bold
indicates international player who did not go through the draft. Debuts/ages courtesy of retrosheet.org.

Minors | #2005 #Prospect Bulletin

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