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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gavin Floyd Update

Could he be this generation's version of Fergie Jenkins, on whom the Phils' gave up as a young hurler over 40 years ago, only to have the lanky Canadian turn into a Hall of Fame pitcher?

Floyd was the number 4 draft pick overall about 7 years back, but he struggled mightily in the City of Philadelphia, a kid with about 2 1/2 pitches who didn't know how to close out hitters and pitch as precisely as you have to in the majors. Did the Phillies rush him? Probably, but patience and an abundance of good hurlers in Philadelphia necessitated the Ed Wade-led front office to rush him to the bigs, hoping that his talent would transcend. As one-time Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty was quoted as saying, "Potential means you ain't done it yet." And, despite plenty of opportunities, an ill-prepared Floyd didn't get it done in Philadelphia.

The Phillies traded him to the ChiSox a few years ago for iffy-winged Freddy Garcia, the biggest bust in Philadelphia since Morganna stopped trying to kiss Mike Schmidt. Garcia is history, and now Floyd is pitching very well under Ozzie Guillen. Right now, Floyd is another in a long line of examples of how the Phillies have been inept, historically, at developing young pitchers. (Cole Hamels, in contrast, is a refreshing example that they can develop a young pitcher).

Why did Floyd fail in Philadelphia? Was it because the Phillies were impatient? Was he ready? Was he immature? Did he not listen to coaching? Did he need a change of scenery? Were too many expectations placed upon him too early? Did he think he could get by on too few pitches, on talent alone? Did he fail to realize that he couldn't simply blow the ball by hitters the way he did in high school? Or, was it just a "bad situation" for both the team and the player?

At the time, the Garcia trade looked great for the Phils, a case of the team shedding a disappointing high draft pick and getting a 17-game winner (albeit with only a year left on his contract). Garcia, as it turned out, was hurt, spent almost the entire season on the DL and is now in baseball oblivion. Floyd, meanwhile, looks like he's starting to tap into the great talent that made him such a high draft pick.

I'm happy for Gavin Floyd and wish him well. Somewhere, though, deep in the bowels of Citizen's Bank Park, some folks are shuddering that the team has once again goofed on evaluating and developing pitching talent.


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