Today is a big day for two important Reds pitching prospects. In the big league game, Mike Leake will make his professional debut, becoming the first drafted pitcher to make his pro debut in the majors since Darren Dreifort did it for the Dodgers in 1994. Other notables who have made the jump straight from the draft are Jim Abbott, Mike Morgan, Dick Ruthven, and Burt Hooton. Hooton had probably the most successful career of anyone to make his debut in the bigs, going 151-136 with a 3.38 ERA during his 15-year career coming out of the University of Texas. The thing about Hooton is that despite pitching very well his debut season, he only made one start for the Cubs before he was sent down to the minors until September.
In fact, most of the pitchers that have attempted this feat have spent some time in the minors in their first two seasons. One obvious exception is Abbott, who didn't see the minors until his 8th season and even then it was only 4 starts.
Who knows what the future holds for Mike Leake? Given the amount of pitching depth the Reds have at the Triple-A level right now, it is unlikely that he'll be given a chance to struggle much in the majors. Hopefully he'll put together a much better career than the last pitcher from Arizona State to make the leap - Eddie Bane, who went just 7-13 with a 4.66 ERA in parts of 3 seasons in the majors and was out of baseball by the age of 29.
The other big pro debut today belongs to Aroldis Chapman who will be starting for the Louisville Bats in Toledo. Somehow I think there may be as much, if not more, media coverage of that start as there is for Leake's start. Maybe that's a good thing since Leake might be able to fly under the radar a little until he gets his legs under him. You can watch Chapman's professional debut as it streams live on MLB.com at 2pm today. There is no indication that you need MLB.tv or MiLB.tv to watch the game, so forget going outside, there is baseball to watch!
Thanks to the Sports Pig for the list of pitchers who went straight to the majors.