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Rice Pitchers Hurt Often in Pros

John Sickels over at Minor League Ball penned an article this morning looking at the history of pitchers to be drafted out of Rice. He went back 20 years and only looked at guys who had either reached the majors or been drafted in the top six rounds.

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He found a lot of injuries. Lots of them.

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That tends to gibe with what I've read from scouts on Rice guys. They don't have a lot of faith in them because they tend to get hurt so much. Just look through that list. Starting with Kenny Baugh, there's about six straight guys drafted highly who suffered through big injuries in their careers. Only Jeff Niemann has been able to overcome them to some degree. There's also the relievers like David Aardsma, who didn't pan out with the team who drafted him, but has done well enough in Seattle.

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It'd be easy to jump on Wayne Graham for this, claiming he runs his pitchers into the ground. But, you don't see Texas fans yelling at Augie Garrido or Aggie fans talking about Rob Childress, who has seen two straight highly drafted pitcher suffer arm issues.

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This may just be a product of usage patterns in college. It's not so much about how many innings the pitcher throws. We know now it's about not throwing when a pitcher is fatigued or falling into bad mechanics. It's also a stress on a pitcher to go from pitching once a week in college to every five days in the big leagues.

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That's the big change in usage and may be a factor in why college guys get hurt. The switch from high school to colelge is easier, since they still only get used once a week. But, those first couple of years in college, a pitcher may be moved into a relief role, pitching shorter turnarounds over the course of a weekend. Then, he gets stretched back out to start every Friday night before getting drafted into the pros where he's pitching in a rotation.

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I'm sure coaches will say that's not a huge deal, but it's different stresses on a pitcher's arm. I don't know if it means college pitchers get injured more than high schoolers, but I do know it's not localized to one or two colleges.

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