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Not-So-Ancient Mariner

By Alan Schwarz
March 24, 2005

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 Seattles 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, As

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, As

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 Vaughan, 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

Georges 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 generations 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.

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