Poreda may be option for fifth starter
Pitching coach not sure if 21-year-old is ready for Majors
OAKLAND -- With a much-discussed opening in the White Sox starting rotation coming up again Tuesday night at home against Seattle, Aaron Poreda's name has been thrown out in the media as a possible replacement.
Poreda, who turns 22 on Oct. 1, was the team's top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He made enough of an impression on manager Ozzie Guillen during B game performances in Spring Training that Guillen joked how he was ready to take the 6-foot-6 left-hander with him when the team broke camp.
That level of success continued on for Poreda during the course of the 2008 campaign. He has made 12 starts apiece for Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham, posting a 7-8 record with a 3.38 ERA. His performance includes 102 strikeouts, 37 walks and 133 hits allowed over 144 combined innings.
But is Poreda ready to compete in the Majors after a mere 36 games pitched in the Minors? According to White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, parts of Poreda's game are there.
"His fastball is ready," said Cooper of Poreda. "His fastball velocity is ready, but we have to work on the command of that pitch and certainly his secondary pitches.
"Whether he's ready or not, that's to be determined. We are in a pennant race, and it's very difficult to dip down to the Double-A thing. But we've done it before with [Wilson] Alvarez, [Mark] Buehrle.
"The bottom line is we have a lot of possibilities, but to tell you the truth, nothing has been discussed in depth yet," Cooper added. "We have to play each game one at a time, as corny as that sounds. We are trying to win today's game and go from there."
In regard to Poreda, Cooper added that he has talked to J.R. Perdew, the pitching coach for Birmingham, and heard words of solid progress being made by Poreda with the secondary pitches. Cooper also talked to Perdew about Poreda's makeup, receiving positive reports in that category, also.
Ultimately, a final decision to promote Poreda, which still stands as a bit of a long shot, will deal with his mental preparedness as much as the physical side. The White Sox want a pitcher who can handle the playoff pressure, along with the pressure of playing in Chicago, even if it's in a secondary role.
"Let's just say you move him from high A to Double-A or from Double-A to Triple-A," Cooper explained. "If a guy is mentally tough and he goes out there and doesn't do well, it's not going to be like he thinks he stinks and you lose him forever.
"When a guy is mentally tough, it's a lesser risk to ever move him. I'm open to anything. We've got options and we will figure them out and go from there.
"He's a part of our future," added Cooper of Poreda. "We just aren't sure if the future is next Tuesday or later this year."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.