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Call it luck or scouting or whatever you want, but the A’s have a unique ability to churn out high quality starting pitching prospects and the newest member of that ever expanding group is Rich Harden. The A’s took Harden in the 17th round of the 2000 draft as a "draft and follow" and eventually signed him after he had a great sophomore season in junior college.
Harden has a great fastball that resides in the 93-95 range and a very good changeup. In addition to those 2 plus-pitches, Harden also works with a slider and splitter/sinker that are improving.
Right now, Harden’s lack of control is his biggest problem. He started 28 games last season, but only managed to pitch 153 innings (5.4 per start) because the A’s have strict pitch count limits and Harden often reached them very early in games.
Harden appears to be on the same path as Tim Hudson and Barry Zito - start the season in Triple-A and, if all goes well, make a second half Major League debut, pitch around 100 innings with the A’s and then join the rotation full-time the next year.
Rich Harden is a legitimate #1 starter in the making, which would give the A’s 4 of those, I guess.
May 20, 2003
SACRAMENTO (ATHLETICS) 5, TACOMA (MARINERS) 3
TACOMA, Washington (Ticker) -- Dave McCarty drove home three runs and Rich Harden threw six solid innings to help the Sacramento River Cats beat the Tacoma Rainiers, 5-3. McCarty tied the score at 3-3 in the fourth inning with a bases-loaded triple and scored directly after on an error by second baseman Chad Meyers. Harden (4-1) allowed three runs and eight hits, walking four and striking out three, for his second consecutive win. Graham Koonce, who recorded an RBI when McCarty scored on the error, also reached home to cap a five-run fourth for Sacramento, which improved to 5-2 on its current road trip. Chad Harville yielded a hit and fanned one in the ninth for his fourth save. Adrian Myers went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Meyers added two hits and plated a run for Tacoma, which dropped to 2-5 vs. the River Cats. Rafael Soriano (2-2) surrendered five runs -- four earned -- and five hits, fanning five and walking one, in six innings for the loss.
Harden (4-1) allowed three runs and eight hits, walking four and striking out three
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