- Full name Frederick Alfred Porcello
- Born 12/27/1988 in Morristown, NJ
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Seton Hall Prep
- Debut 04/09/2009
Drafted in the 1st round (27th overall) by the Detroit Tigers in 2007 (signed for $3,580,000).
View Draft ReportThe top pitcher in the long awaited, much anticipated high school Class of 2007, Porcello was tabbed as a can't-miss prospect by the time he was a 15-year-old on the showcase circuit. His maternal grandfather, Sam Dente, played shortstop in the majors, appearing in the 1954 World Series with the Indians. Porcello has shown steady improvement during his prep career, and was pitching at his best heading down the stretch, tossing a seven-inning perfect game for the nation's No. 1 high school team in May. He's long, lean, athletic and projectable with a clean delivery. His fastball sits at 93-95, touching 98. He holds his velocity deep into outings. He throws a tight curveball at 74-76 and a harder, sharp-breaking slider at 80-82. He shows feel for his changeup. He can spot his fastball to both sides of the plate, and mixes his pitches effectively. He tends to finish his delivery across his body, and if he improved his extension, his stuff could have better life, which would make him profile as a true top-of-the-rotation pitcher. He still is likely to be the first high school pitcher selected.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Universally regarded as the top high school pitcher in the 2007 draft, Porcello slid to the Tigers at No. 27 overall because of signability concerns. A strong student, Porcello committed to North Carolina but agreed to terms with Detroit shortly before the Aug. 15 deadline. He signed a $7 million major league contract, matching Josh Beckett's record for guaranteed money for a high school pitcher and including a club record $3.58 million bonus. Porcello is rapidly justifying the investment. Just one year removed from a decorated career at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J., he led the high Class A Florida State League with a 2.66 ERA in his 2008 pro debut. The only hitch came in August, when he missed two weeks with tonsillitis. His grandfather Sam Dente played for the Indians in the 1954 World Series. Porcello has all the stuff to be a frontline pitcher in the major leagues. His four-seam fastball has reached 97 mph, but his best pitch is a heavy two-seamer that averages 92 mph and ranges up to 95, with boring action in on the fists of righthanders. With his sinker and tall, athletic body, Porcello is reminiscent of Roy Halladay. Like the Blue Jays ace, Porcello often keeps the ball on the edges of the plate and down in the zone, and he gets a lot of groundouts. Though he has little pro experience, his fastball command is already better than average. He also has shown good feel for his changeup and can throw it in any count. At the Tigers' suggestion, he shelved his slider last season in order to focus on his curveball, and the results were encouraging. Detroit placed him on a 75-pitch limit for each start, and Porcello easily adapted by enticing more swings early in the count. He had an impressive stay in instructional league, a tribute to his strength and endurance. Porcello has earned consistent praise from club officials and teammates alike for his work ethic, humility and ability to assimilate instruction. He's poised beyond his years and has strong, competitive makeup. Porcello overthrew his 12-to-6 curve at times and therefore struggled to command it. During instructional league, though, he demonstrated an ability to throw his curve for strikes. He should strike out more hitters once the curve is fully developed, but it's difficult to argue with the success he had while pitching to contact. He got nearly 2.5 groundball outs for every air out, an impressive ratio. At the time Porcello was drafted, many said he was the best high school pitcher since Josh Beckett. After one full season, it's hard to argue with that opinion. Porcello should start 2009 at Double-A Erie, and it's possible--like Beckett in 2001--that he'll reach the majors before the end of his second full pro season. The Tigers rotation was a major weakness in 2008, and their emphasis on winning now could push Porcello to Detroit by midseason. By all indications, he'll have an important role with the big league staff by 2010 at the latest.
Porcello first was tabbed as a can't-miss prospect as early as age 15, and he maintained that status for the rest of his high school career. He entered 2007 ranking with Connecticut's Matt Harvey as the top prep arms in the draft class, then clearly separated himself. Porcello went 10-0, 1.18 with 112 strikeouts in 71 innings, leading Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, N.J.) to a 32-1 record, a state championship and a final No. 2 national ranking. Porcello was considered the best high school pitching prospect since Josh Beckett, but signability concerns caused him to drop to the Tigers with the 27th overall pick in the draft. Detroit hadn't planned to exceed MLB's slot recommendations again but decided it couldn't pass on Porcello. He and Harvey had planned to room together at North Carolina, and while Harvey became a Tar Heel, Porcello signed on the Aug. 15 deadline day. The Tigers made the decision easy for him, doling out a club-record $3.58 million bonus as part of a $7 million major league contract, matching Beckett's record guarantee for a high school pitcher. By MLB calculations, Porcello received the richest deal in the 2007 draft. Though No. 1 overall pick David Price got an $8.5 million big league contract, it's so backloaded that it's net present value was $4.8 million--which pales next to the $6.1 million present value of Porcello's pact. Now he'll try to become the second member of his family to reach the majors, following grandfather Sam Dente, who played for the Indians in the 1954 World Series. Porcello could be another Justin Verlander in the making. His clean, repeatable delivery resembles Verlander's, and his power stuff is also reminiscent of the Tigers ace. Porcello's fastball rides up on righthanders and sits at 94-97 mph. He's able to keep that velocity deep into games. He throws two breaking balls, a power slider in the low 80s and a big-breaking curveball at 70-74 mph. He also shows good arm speed on his promising changeup. For a teenager, he has very good feel of multiple pitches and mixes them effectively. He has a tall, athletic body and good mound presence. The Tigers believe very strongly in Porcello's makeup, and he reinforced all the lofty comparisons with a strong showing in instructional league. Porcello's command isn't major league average yet--but he's also 19 and has yet to throw his first official pro pitch. He harnesses his fastball better than his secondary offerings at this point. He tends to throw across his body slightly, and with better extension out front he could add more life to his pitches. The Tigers are looking forward to the day when they can pitch Porcello and Verlander in the same big league rotation, giving them two youngsters with filthy stuff. Porcello didn't sign in time to pitch in the minors last summer, but there's no reason he can't handle an assignment to a full-season club. Low Class A West Michigan would be a logical fist step, though Detroit may send him to high Class A Lakeland so he can pitch in warmer weather. While the Tigers won't rush him, it will be difficult to hold his undeniable talent back. Beckett reached the major leagues at the end of his second minor league season, and Porcello could do the same.
Minor League Top Prospects
Porcello may have been one of the youngest pitchers in the FSL, but it didn't show. Lakeland made four errors behind him in one start, but he showed no emotion and just kept working. That maturity was one of the reasons the Tigers felt comfortable having Porcello make his pro debut in high Class A, and he rewarded their faith by leading the league in ERA (2.66). At 19, Porcello is close to a complete package. He has a classic pitcher's frame (6-foot-5, 200 pounds), a mid-90s fastball with tremendous sink and a pair of plus breaking balls in his hard slider and big-breaking curveball. He has no trouble throwing strikes or keeping the ball down in the zone, as his excellent 2.5 groundout/airout ratio attests. Porcello had just 72 whiffs in 125 innings, a surprisingly low number for a pitcher with his stuff, but that's attributable to Detroit's desire that he work on his changeup and limit the use of his curveball and slider. He also was kept on tight pitch counts, so he focused on being efficient rather than going for strikeouts.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Changeup in the Detroit Tigers in 2009
- Rated Best Curveball in the Detroit Tigers in 2009
- Rated Best Slider in the Detroit Tigers in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the Detroit Tigers in 2008