Giants Top 50: #13 - Pat Misch

When Noah Lowry was promoted in 2004, Giants fans looked forward to another left-hander who was reportedly even better, but a 2005 hiccup in his career has turned him into someone passed over frequently. But with his celebrated changeup, can he make a comeback and break into the majors? #13 is Pat Misch!

#13 - Pat Misch
Date of Birth: 08/18/1981 Position: P Height: 6'2" Weight: 195 Bats: R Throws: L
Acquired: Drafted in the 7th Round (#213 Overall) of the 2003 Draft
2006 Stats
Connecticut - AA 5 4 2.26 18 17 0 103.2 95 32 26 7 24 79 .247 1.32
Fresno - AAA 4 2 4.02 10 10 0 65.0 74 32 29 7 11 57 .287 1.17
San Francisco - MLB 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 1.0 2 0 0 0 0 1 .400 1.00
Scottsdale - AFL 1 1 2.79 13 0 0 9.2 8 3 3 0 5 11 .222 2.17

A demotion isn't usually the kind of thing you see a top prospect go through.  So it was easy to see why a number of people wrote off Misch when he went through a horrific season in Triple-A and was sent back to Norwich.  But it may have been a good thing for Misch.

Misch's troubles were reportedly because he did not take time to adjust to the new level, and hitters adjusted to his pitch routine.  He recovered back in Connecticut, but his numbers still didn't match his impressive 2004 numbers.  And thus, a supposed ‘bust' was born.

That said, Misch starting the 2006 season in Norwich, and making a midseason promotion back to Fresno, was remarkably still on a solid pace.  The reason for this is that Misch, who was drafted in 2003, made the rare jump from short season-A ball straight to Double-A.  The hiccup upon the move to Triple-A was shockingly bad, but that it happened shouldn't have been a surprise.

Misch's performance in Connecticut in 2006 shouldn't be a surprise either.  He was a relative veteran in the Eastern League, and he dominated much as he should have.  The performance in Fresno later in the year was neither good nor bad.  A 4.02 ERA in the hitter-friendly league is not bad, and the improvements in his peripherals from his 2005 time in Triple-A are remarkably encouraging.  His walk rate was cut by more than half, and he struck out nearly 2 more batters every 9 innings.

Misch does it with ‘stuff' that is considered sub-par, but he has a good arsenal.  Former Giants manager said that Misch had ‘three real good pitches' in Spring Training in 2006, and that is highlighted by his changeup.  His changeup was rated better than Noah Lowry's in 2004, and remains one of the best in the system.  He pairs it with an above average curveball, but his fastball is stuck in the high-80's, and has often been compared with another former Giant's, Kirk Rueter.

Misch gets by in much of the same way as Rueter did; he doesn't blow hitters away, but he changes speeds on his fastball, uses his superb changeup, and then mixes in his plus control to get people out.

Can he continue to do it, but up in the majors?  In 2006, he made his major league debut, a solitary inning where he gave up a couple of hits.  And that has been his Achilles heel.  He is prone to giving up hits at a rate that many would consider bad, giving up about a hit an inning (and sometimes more).  Facing major league hitters, his hittable pitches will be hit harder.  Misch has managed to keep the home runs down, after he gave up much higher rates in 2005.

Misch still profiles as an above average starter, looking like an effective back of the rotation guy.  The question is whether he can be that with the San Francisco Giants.  The Giants have a rotation that is pretty tightly packed.  Tim Lincecum seems to have dibs on the final rotation spot after Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Matt Morris and Lowry, and there's also power-lefty Jonathan Sanchez in the wings.  Misch's style doesn't fit in well with a rotation that already features two left handers who rely more on their offspeed pitches than their fastball.

The suggestion is that Misch may best help the Giants in relief.  The good news is that he doesn't profile as just a left-handed specialist.  In 2006, Misch had remarkably similar batting averages against both right handed and left handed hitters.  Predictably, right handed hitters slugged better, but the difference wasn't so much that a team should be afraid of using Misch against them.

Misch's future may also rely on the future of the guy he's most compared to, Noah Lowry.  Lowry has often been mentioned in trade rumors, as the Giants try to improve the team.  If Misch shows in 2007 that he has adapted, Lowry may be that much more expendable, and Misch could be counted on to replace Lowry on a rotation anchored by a couple of right handed flamethrowers.

Either way, Misch has little breathing room left.  Now on the 40-Man Roster and 25-years old, he needs to prove his worth to the Giants.  Don't be surprised to see Misch used at least in relief during the 2007 season, particularly if he handles Fresno as well as he did in 2006.

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