Welcome to The Hope of the Franchise. Today, we'll highlight two young pitchers who their respective teams are pinning their hopes on. Why? Because it's a lot better than watching this depressing Reds/Yankees game. Jose Arredondo can suck it.
First up is the hapless Arredondo's teammate, Mike Leake. The first player from his draft class to make the major leagues (suck it, Stephen Strasburg!), Leake is now entering his second full season as a big league player. He didn't mess around with the minor leagues. What's the point in blowing away single-A batters in Hagerstown? The Reds didn't worry about making Leake a "Super Two" arbitration eligible player. If he's ready, he's ready.
And Leake was ready. He beat out future big-league teammates Travis Wood, Aroldis Chapman and Micah Owings (outpitching two of them, and outhitting the other). He went his first ten career starts without losing a single game. And even though he was eventually optioned to Triple-A in his second season (damn you, Jose Arredondo!), he still has a career record of 14-7 and is back in the big leagues, hopefully to stay. No, I don't know why he shoplifted those shirts, either.
Fun fact: Because Leake grew up in Southern California, the conference that his high school played in is called the "Avocado League." That's awesome.
Fun fact #2: Leake grew up as a Seattle Mariners fan. So did I. We also both took the field in Cincinnati, albeit at different stadiums.
Our second featured star is the bright young hope for the Baltimore Orioles, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta and his teammates, Brian Matusz and Zach Britton, have been called the new Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz. Or perhaps it's the new Hudson/Zito/Mulder. Or maybe the new Halladay/Carpenter/Escobar. No matter who you compare them to, big things are expected from these three guys. Let's hope they're not the next Isringhausen/Pulsipher/Wilson.
Arrieta's best feature, so far, as been a career winning percentage over .500 - hey, it might not seem like much, but remember, he pitches for the Baltimore Orioles. This is a team that has been below .500 since 1998, yet he's five games over .500 for the season (9-4) and his career (15-10). The guy is good, and he's only getting better. Last season, he struck out 52 batters in 100 innings. This season, he's struck out more (71) in less (88). Even though the team, let's face it, stinks, Arrieta isn't letting it bother him. He just goes out and does his job, every fifth day. Good on him!
Fun fact: He was a fan of Nolan Ryan when he was growing up. So was Mike Leake, and so was half the power pitchers in Major League Baseball today. That's how long Nolan Ryan pitched.
Fun fact #2: There was nothing else I could find on Wikipedia. Wikipedia sucks.