On Tuesday, March 13th, I went and watched Oklahoma play at Dallas Baptist
Andrew Elkins was the starter for Dallas Baptist:
Elkins had a violent, jerky delivery with a slight pause. It was extremely effort filled, and he was grunting pretty loudly with each pitch. The delivery is really complicated and one could imagine him having problems repeating it, and one would think it would wear him down faster than a normal delivery (making him perhaps a bullpen prospect, which would diminish his value greatly). He has to vary the delivery with runners on (with a big leg kick), and it seemed to hurt his command (making him a candidate to consistently have a low left on base percentage). Elkins is a pretty small junior, listed at 5-10, perhaps creating the need for such a delivery. He threw a lot of strikes early, but also threw a breaking ball that went 58 feet. His breaking ball was decent when he could make it low and away though. There was no radar gun, but it appeared he was throwing decently hard. He had some swing and miss stuff, with some success on a wild breaking ball which made his fastball look better. In the first, he gave up mostly soft contact, with a line drive on an outside pitch being the exception. He gave up a monster home run on a pitch that I didn't think was that bad, but also had another one hit really hard in the 3rd, and another warning track shot in the 5th. He lost command late, and end up hitting a batter and throwing 56-58 feet breaking balls in the 5th. He didn't really seem to move well defensively
Jacob Rhame was the starter for Oklahoma, and the right handed freshman had a reach back over the top delivery with a mediocre pick off move:
Rhame was throwing really soft in warmups and wasn't throwing really hard in the game either. He struggled to throw strikes early and hit a batter, but he was for the most part keeping it away from both sides, and got a swing and miss on an otherwise pedestrian fastball this way. He did walk the #9 hitter, and the runner end up scoring on a homer. He got 2 strikeouts early looking on a corner breaking pitch, and even though his breaking pitch wasn't exactly aesthetically pleasing, he was getting a ton of strikes and fooling hitters. The breaking pitch was getting some huge swings and misses and it was clearly the pitch he was most comfortable with. He fielded his position well, and while it was impressive to see this breaking pitch on a freshman, it is not like he is going to add much velocity. It is hard to imagine that this soft tossing righty can have consistent success in higher levels. He gave up some solid contact in the 2nd, but DBU helped him by bunting into outs. He wasn't able to make it out of the the 3rd.
Some notes on Dallas Baptist's lineup (I have already written about DBU here before, so this will just be some scattered notes rather than looking at each hitter):
First, it is clear that the Oklahoma starter was better than the Corpus starter I saw this lineup destroy last time, so even with the run friendly environment of Patriot Field, it gives us a better look at the hitters (it is worthy to note that the umpire had a rather large strike zone)
Austin Elkins (evidently a brother of the starting pitcher) didn't play the last time I saw DBU, but started in this one. He had extremely slow bat speed, struggled with pitch recognition, and had a hole in his swing. He did have okay speed, as Baseball Cube rates it as a 80 out of 100. That is his best attribute, but has decent contact, power, and patience ratings. He had a big time freshman year at DBU, with a .985 OPS, but fell back to earth as a sophomore with a .741 OPS. The Elkins I saw looked closer to the later than the former. Boomer Collins was more impressive this time (and I said some good things about him last time), as he made some sparkling defensive plays. He is a very good defender in right field, with 2 nice diving grabs. Offensively, he took some pitches I thought were balls but were called strikes, and then had a good eye walk in a later at-bat. He also lined a home run, and at the very least has line drive gap power.
Dustin McAlpine was far less impressive this time, and I am extremely pessimistic at his ability to stay at catcher. Here is him throwing:
He wasn't able to block a throw from right field, and then couldn't block the breaking ball basically through out. His size sure doesn't help him. He also displayed some major contact and bat speed problems, and hacked hard and missed on the low breaking ball (which gives you pause, because if his eye isn't there, then its all over). I was disappointed and puzzled that Ronnie Mitchell didn't play, but K.J. Alexander did DH again (which makes me toss out the idea that he can play catcher, because if he is not good enough for the coach to want him to play catcher over McAlpine, then there are some serious deficiencies with his catching or the manager's brain). Ryan Behmanesh played first again, and did have a nice knock down of a ball, but really struggled defensively again. Offensively, he was better than last time, showcasing a nice cut, really a line drive swing, and shortened his strike with 2 strikes. However, his eye fooled him several times on breaking balls.
Eric Ross lead off, and he had some speed, but wasn't a "burner" (Baseball Cube disagrees and lists it at 98). He had a nice other cut on a ball that was high and away, but really had a lot of swing and misses for a lead-off hitter. He is also pretty small, at 5-8 157. He has yet to show a whole lot as a hitter, with a .659 OPS in 2010-2011. He has walked almost as much as he has struck out with a contact rating of 82, but that doesn't seem to be the hitter I saw. Perhaps he has made some kind of adjustment in his swing to generate some power (just a 3 ranking!), or perhaps I just saw him on a bad night, we will see as the season plays out.
Caleb Bushyhead, while having a fun name to type, is a 5-11 185 senior infielder. He had a long at-bat his first time around buy looked a little overwhelmed at the plate (he was really fooled by the breaking ball, swinging and missing on it and also getting under it). He did make some decent contact. His best rating according to Baseball Cube is his speed which is just 66. He has a career OPS of .808 at Oklahoma. Max White is listed as both an outfielder and an infielder, and the good sized (6-1 203) junior had a weak swing in his first at-bat. He did get a double of the wall in his second at-bat, but really struggled with the breaking pitch. Last season, White struck out almost 17 % of the time, and walked just 4.2% of the time. His patience rating is just a 10, with 86 power. It is hard to imagine he will see the ball well enough and hit the ball enough to really bring out his power potential. Jack Mayfield can pitch, but he can also play the infield, and that is where I saw him. He had a long at-bat with a lot of fouls, and then hit a home run on a decent pitch in his next at-bat (he actually bunted in his first at-bat). The homer was just the 2nd of his career, and he is not big, at 5-10 170. The junior makes phenomenal contact, with a 98 rating but none of the rest of his ratings are really any good. While there is some potential with his approach, he is going to have to hit more, with just a .681 career OPS. Pitching may be his real calling, as he has a 2.88 career ERA with about twice as many strikeouts as walks.
Evan Mistich is a senior outfielder with not much bat speed, and not much real speed either (he is listed at 210 pounds). However, it looked like there was some power potential there, even though he had an ISO of just .103 last year. Baseball Cube ranks patience as his best attribute at 79, while his power sits at 53. He did make a nice play in left field though. Garrett Carey is a junior who played 3rd base, and had really poor pitch recognition. In the field, he couldn't handle a hard grounder. Tanner Toal is a rather hefty looking catcher, with a solid arm (he gunned down a runner on a nice throw). He has a big cut (he hit one ball to the wall), but also has the ability to totally whiff on pitches. The senior showed flashes of brilliance in a limited number of at-bats last year, but looks like a guy who may walk some and hit some balls hard, but also swing and miss a lot. Cody Reine has not what you would call a normal outfielders build at 5-11 220, but he showcased a decent arm out there. He also can run decently well (ranking of 54 may be a little low), but wasn't an intelligent base runner. He really wasn't hitting he ball real hard, which is disappointing for a big outfielder, and while he has a 88 power ranking, his OPS was just .754 last year (after a really nice freshman year).
Ty Talor is listed as a pitcher, but came in as a pinch hitter and couldn't get a bunt down. Chase Simpson pinch hit as well, and the sophomore hit a line drive the other way on the first pitch he saw. He was then pinch run for by Dylan Raper, a 150 pound outfielder.
Steven Bruce is a 5-11 sophomore right hander:
Bruce starts his hands high, but I can't really figure out why, he just ends up slowly bringing them back down and then starts his windup. He had a nice pickoff move, and his first pitch was a GIDP. He wasn't throwing real hard, and gave up a warning track flyball to Joel Hutter. His breaking ball was unimpressive, although hitters were clearly getting under it. The pitch was slow and mostly for strikes, and got mashed when it did stay up. His fastball was high in the zone at times, and was lined hard. He throws a lot of strikes, and actually got another double play. He started bouncing the breaking pitch in the fifth inning, and it was more effective this way. He pitched in 6 games last year, and even though he struck out less than 6 batters per 9 innings, his ERA was just 2.93.
I had already seen Jordan Staples pitch before, but I had problems with video that day and didn't have one on him, so here is Staples:
His fastball was really staying up, and he didn't have any put away stuff (there were a lot of fouls). He gave up a lot of fly-balls, and his breaking ball was really wild this time (even in warm-ups). I really don't think his delivery takes advantage of his size.
Michael Smith is not a big pitcher at 6-0 187, but his leg kick gives him a pretty long stride:
He had an unimpressive fastball that was definitely his secondary pitch. He did have a really good breaking pitch that he kept low (even though it occasionally went just 55 feet), and he got 2 big time whiffs on it. He really is a long reliever, as he pitched over 3 innings, and hitters starting figuring him out and started to hit him pretty hard. They clearly left him out there too long. Smith in 22 games as a reliever last season and averaged over 2 innings an outing, earning a 4.87 ERA and 1.77 WHIP.
Dillon Overton is a 6-2 160 lefty sophomore who was drafted in the 26th round out of high school:
Overton threw a high breaking ball that got a looking strike, but there is no way he can do that consistently. He was getting some swing and misses, with a nice strikeout looking on a low and away breaking pitch to a lefty. But he wasn't just a platoon lefty, as hitters on both sides of the plate were way late on his fastball (even though I didn't think his fastball was all that impressive). Overton threw 74.1 innings last year as a freshman, and while his control rating was low, he got some strikeouts and was good against power hitters.
Steven Okert is a 6-2 219 junior lefty, who was another not just platoon lefty for the Sooners:
He slings the ball ball with a 3/4ths delivery with a nice breaking ball that had batters chasing and off balance. He also had a pretty deceptive pick off move. He got 3 strikeouts and 2 ground-balls.
Jordan John is another lefty with a nice breaking ball. Although he has a short arm motion, he throws harder than either Okert or Overton.
John was drafted by the Astros in the 28th round in 2011 as a junior but came back to pitch his senior year. Last year, he was really nice with a 7.92 K/9IP and 2.64 BB/9IP. All 4 of his ratings are in the 70-79 range.