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The Knuckler

Deep in the Rays' farm system, perhaps more undercover than J.J. Abrams new movie is the knucklerballer Diego Echeverria. Okay so maybe not, and I was just looking for an excuse to post that trailer, but in reality Echevereria is of rare bread, and I'm not even talking about the possibility that he becomes the first Argentinean born MLBer, but rather that he is, indeed, a knuckleball pitcher. They've became nearly an extinct species, joining left handed third basemen and catchers.

Tim Wakefield and Tom Candiotti were the last two full-time knuckle throwers, along with Dennis Springer, the only one that I know of in the minors if Charlie Zinc of the Red Sox, and well Echeverria. At this point Echeverria is 22 and struggling with walks in A ball, but that's to be expected for a knuckler, and he's relatively young. Candiotti didn't have his first full season until turning 28, Wakefield until he was 26, even Echeverria's late mentor, Joe Niekro, is the exception, not the rule, at age 22 he began his pro career, each pitched into their 40's, which is something we can only hope Diego does.

Echeverria is 22, and thus far on the young Hudson Valley season has a 15 walk to five strikeout rate and an uninspiring 8.66 ERA. The good news is only 18 hits allowed in 17.2 innings pitched, so he's not getting hit out of the building, and only one homerun allowed speaks well for him.

So, the question is, what percentage of probability would you place on Echeverria throwing more than 500 career big league innings? Over / Under 50%?