A few months ago, the Cal baseball team’s pitching situation looked a lot more certain than it does now. In the past month, pitching coach Dan Hubbs has taken a job at alma mater USC and lefty Louie Lechich has transferred. That leaves the Bears very thin experience-wise in the bullpen. Just three returning pitchers have any substantial amount of innings on the mound.
Luckily for Cal, one of them has already shown that he’s pretty damn good. Freshman (now sophomore) Kyle Porter had a quiet first half of the season, but dominated the latter stages to win Freshman All-American honors. Porter finished the year with a 6-0 record and an ERA of 1.89. He struck out exactly 57 in as many innings of work.
With Erik Johnson, Kevin Miller and Dixon Anderson all gone to the MLB Draft, there’s no doubt Porter will step into the starting rotation (which, if you’re keeping track, gives Cal two lefties in its weekend trio). Based on his 2010 season, Porter’s obviously got the skill set to succeed as a starter in the Pac-12, but there’s still a lot of learning left for the young southpaw.
Most importantly, Porter has to hone his control. He’s not an overpowering guy (fastball’s in the high 80s, low 90s), so when he’s not hitting his spots, the results can be a bit messy. In 57 innings, he’s walked 15 and hit 11. That’s 26 free baserunners right there. Add that to the 49 hits he’s given up, and those are some full bases.
Porter throws a variety of pitches for a college guy (change, curve and slider) which will be a big factor in his success as a full-time starter. If he’s able to mix his pitches effectively, he won’t need his very best stuff (like Justin Jones) to keep hitters off-balance.
We already know Porter’s got a big upside. Now the question becomes: What will his career look like without Dan Hubbs? If Porter can avoid a sophomore slump, he could be one of the best the Bears have had on the mound in quite some time.
Image Source: Allyse Bacharach/Daily Californian