In 2009, Scott Gorgen split 130 innings between High-A Palm Beach and AA Springfield. He began the year in Springfield again and threw 46 innings before being shut down with elbow issues.
In his 2009 campaign, Gorgen was, quantitatively not a very good pitcher. He had tRA’s above league average. When Gorgen was pitching well, he was striking out batters at a good clip (7-8 per 9 IP). He’s somewhat uncommon for the system in that he doesn’t feature a heavy sinking fastball in his repertoire but instead relies on an excellent changeup.
The result is a pitcher who generates a significant number of flyballs and not many groundouts. His groundball rate has generally hovered a bit below average in Springfield.
Gorgen’s fastball sits 89-90 and he’ll throw a curveball to complement his outpitch changeup. Given the quality of his changeup, he’s prone to overusing it. For a pitcher of his type, he’d do better with slightly improved control. The strikeouts he’s generated have been in line with pitchers like Lance Lynn but he’s had a little more trouble handing out free bases. With fewer groundballs, he’s not as likely to generate double plays.
On 5/19, Gorgen pitched his last start for the Springfield Cardinals before being shelved for an extended period of time due to elbow pain. Gorgen returned to Springfield and pitched primarily out of the pen. He was excellent during his 40-odd innings in May flashing an improved command and the continued ability to strikeout batters. His relief role was less inspiring after his return in August though it’s difficult to know what his rehab schedule was like and where his arm strength was not to mention the simple case of rust from not being on the mound.
For 2011, it would make sense to push Gorgen despite an abbreviated season at Springfield. He’s pitched about 100 innings there across 2009 & 2010. They’ve been quality, productive innings and it’s unclear what advantage there would be to holding him there for another season. Potentially, there’s a bit of extra depth in starters for Memphis next year. Lance Lynn, Brandon Dickson, Ryan Kulik, Brian Broderick, David Kopp and Scott Gorgen are all viable candidates for the AAA rotation. The Cardinals may have interest in retaining the services of Evan MacLane or another minor league vet as well though that seems increasingly unlikely. Unless one of Lynn and Dickson starts in St. Louis, Kulik seems like the best candidate to transfer to the pen and use as a spot starter/long reliever.
Long term, Scott Gorgen still has a chance to be a back end starter with a plus changeup, an average fastball and a slightly below average curveball. He’s not a world beater and we’ve seen players with tepid velocity stall out in Memphis (PJ Walters most recently) but 2011 will be an important season in determining Gorgen’s long term outlook.
(Note: tRA is a DIPS based batted ball statistic meaning that it tries to isolate pitcher performance independent of the fielding using inputs like strikeouts, homeruns, walks and batted ball types. I have a general preference for FIP when evaluating pitchers but statcorner has excellent minor league stats including averages relative to level. It is scaled to RA so divide by .92 to get an approximate scale to ERA)