This article was actually set to publish last night, but somehow didn’t get posted after I hit “publish”. Nevertheless, here it is now.
The Phillies rookie right-hander Vance Worley has pitched well enough lately to earn this award every fifth day. Over his last six starts (38.1 IP), Worley has gone 4-0 and has allowed just four earned runs and has a 16 BB/31 K ratio. Tonight’s sterling outing improved the Long Beach State alum’s record to 6-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.02 for the season.
The Phillies drafted Vance Worley in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft and have moved him quickly through their farm system. Aside from a poor showing at AA in 2009 (7-12 5.34 ERA in 153 IP), he’s performed quite well at each stop. At 6-2 230 lb., Worley is powerfully built and has demonstrated the ability to be a durable, high inning workhorse. With a fastball that sits at 91-93 MPH, Vance is not overpowering, but he has shown the ability to command three other pitches that each profile to be at least MLB-average pitches.
The market for his cards has picked up significantly over the past couple of weeks. Playing for the Philadelphia Phillies doesn’t hurt, especially when it’s been noted that he’s often outpitched the other four aces in the rotation. The most popular cards on the market right now, in terms of volume, is the 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft cards. These are flying off of eBay right now in bulk and single quantities for $1.50-2.50 each right now. That’s about a 1000% increase over what they were going for about a month ago. The autographed cards from 2008 have experienced less market helium but are still doing quite well. His 2008 Donruss Elite (#/219) and Playoff Contenders autos are selling for $25-30 each. The demand for his various 2008 Razor autos are all over the board as there is so many variations out there. The Letterman autos can be had for $15-25 each and his metal autos command about the same return as the Letterman autos.
This is a classic seller’s market for Worley’s cards. A closer look at his performance to date shows that, with the exception of a fine outing at home against Boston, he’s fattened up on weaker offenses (Seattle, Florida, NY Mets, Oakland). His success has been due in large part to his ability to get hitters out when he needs to, but he hasn’t shown the same excellent command with the Phillies that he did in AAA. Worley doesn’t have frontline pitcher stuff, and it seems to be just a matter of time before he gets touched up again like he did May 29th against the Mets (8 runs, 12 hits in 3 innings). A couple of consecutive outings like that would spell the end of Vance Worley’s bull market run a la Zach Britton.
There’s also been some rumors that he could be a feature piece in a deadline deal, much like J.A. Happ was last year in the Roy Oswalt trade (how’s that working for you Houston?). The Phillies have reputatively been searching for another top-tier outfielder and names like Hunter Pence and Carlos Beltran have been bandied about. Any location that Worley goes to will diminish his market appeal simply because he’d be leaving a contender to go to a bad or mediocre team, but a move to the pitching friendly confines of Citi Field and playing in another big market city like New York wouldn’t be as bad as joining former his former Phillies teammate in Minute Maid Park.
Worley’s upside is as a #3 or 4 inning-eating starter much like his predecessor, Joe Blanton. While any club would like to have that kind of guy in their rotation, the market isn’t as kind. If you have Worley’s cards, especially his autos, sell now and smile later.