Chris George, starting pitcher
Years ago, the Royals had a hot pitching prospect named Chris George. This can’t be the same guy, can it?
Yes, it can; and yes, it is. Chris George is a left-handed pitcher, drafted out of a Texas high school by the Royals as a 1st-2nd round sandwich pick in 1998 (as partial compensation for the loss of Jay Bell.) He shot through the minor leagues and reached AAA in his second full season. In 2001, he pitched great in his first look at AAA, and the Royals called him up. He didn’t pitch well, with a 4-8 record and a 5.59 ERA.
That was the best ERA of his major-league career. In 2002, he had a 5.87 ERA in AAA and a 5.60 in six major-league starts. In 2003, he poorly both in AAA (7.29 ERA), and with the Royals (7.11 ERA in 18 starts, with a 9-6 record, go figure). In 2004, he pitched well in AAA (3.42 ERA) but his major-league ERA increased to 7.23.
He was still only 24, but ruined his chances of a major-league career with four remarkably consistent years in AAA. From 2005 through 2008, he had ERAs of 5.63, 5.62, 5.56, and 5.85 in AAA. His 5.85 ERA in 2008 was as a relief pitcher. He pitched 12 games in Pawtucket in 2009; got released; and then got signed by the Orioles. He pitched well in five late-season starts, and was in the rotation most of 2010.
He is what he is, an innings-eating AAA roster filler.
Can he improve? Does he have a chance to pitch in the major leagues?
His control is much better now than it was before. His BB/9 ratio has gone from roughly 4.5 in the pre-2008 period to roughly 2.5 now. It wouldn’t shock me if he got an emergency start, and if he pitched well he might be able to get a few more starts. It would shock me if he did anything with them.
Chris George is, as much as anything, a cautionary tale about high-school pitchers. His career is a pretty good track for Chris Tillman’s up to this point. With this track record, I’m concerned about Zach Britton too.