On Tuesday March 6th, I watched Baylor play at TCU.
Brandon Finnegan started the game for TCU, and he had a goofy delivery in which he turned his back to the hitter (although not drastically):
He was throwing decently hard it seemed, and the radar guy agreed with a 88-89 MPH fastball (he touched 90 MPH a few times and hit it in the fifth a few times). He also threw a moving fastball (really a back door cutter to righties) at 85-86 MPH, with a 75-78 MPH breaking ball. He had very little to no control, especially in the 3rd when it got away from to an amazing proportion. How bad did it get? He end up hitting 6 batters (3 on breaking balls, 2 on fastballs, and I didn't write down which was the first one) before he was taken out (in all, there were 13 hit by pitches, which turned out to be an NCAA record). When things were going good, he had a nice breaking ball that was outside to lefties and in on righties (in which he got a nice strikeout looking). He got some help from Baylor, as the lefty got to face lefties as the 2 and 3 hole hitters, but he really didn't have much swing and miss (he did get one strike out swinging). He gave up 1 walk, with 2 ground-balls, an infield pop fly, 2 fly-balls, and a line drive. One positive was that he could field his position pretty well. He is just a freshman (I was disappointed neither starter is draft eligible), and while his short (5-11) stature is annoying, if he can ever find control he may be valuable in the future (especially if he figures out how to add a couple MPH to his fastball).
Dillon Newman started for Baylor, and you can see the 6-2 sophomore right hander throw here:
In a game with a big strikezone, Newman's pitches were everywhere and he was struggling to throw strikes (especially early on). He wasn't throwing real hard at 88 MPH with a 79-80 MPH breaking pitch. He brought his arm back in a way you wouldn't really expect with his delivery, and his plan was to throw outside to righties. He gave up a walk, a line drive, and 2 ground-balls to start the game, and had a great fielding play with an okay pickoff move. His breaking pitch was unimpressive (he got a strikeout with it but it was off Davy Wright, who as you will see later, looked awful at the plate). He really seemed to lack a put away pitch. He was getting hit pretty hard in the 3rd inning. Newman was definitely a contact pitcher as a freshman, pitching in 13 games and walking less than 2 per 9 innings and striking out less than 6 per 9 innings.
Josh Elander is the big prospect in TCU's lineup. However, and it's just my luck, he was injured in the first (not expected to be anything serious) and was taken out of the game (Kyle Von Tungeln, a junior outfielder was diagnosed with a mild concussion the day of the game and obviously didn't play). Braden Mattson, a freshman, replaced him at catcher. Defensively, he was very poor, missing a ball he should have had and having a bad arm. Offensively, he didn't display much patience, chasing a low and outside pitch, then chasing a breaking ball to strikeout. When he did make contact (even on a pitch out of the zone), it was for hard line drives. He is very unpolished like you would expect from a college freshman. Jason Coats is a senior outfielder with a 954 career OPS. He has been drafted in the 12th round (2011), and in the game he set the record for doubles at TCU. He has power rated at 80 by Baseball Cube with 62 speed and 51 patience. I saw him as a guy with value tied entirely to his bat (Jim Callis of Baseball America believes I am basically right and that his stock has really slipped). He is not a good athlete and misjudged a ball out in left field. He has a power swing if he can control it, and worked long at-bats, but I didn't see him as a patient hitter (which is confirmed above). TCU had him bunting for some reason, and he hit a couple ground-balls. Derek Odell was TCU's lead-off hitter despite being just a freshman. He had decent patience, working 2 walks, and the 6-0 infielder could make nice contact with a big swing (it produced a double). Davy Wright is a red-shirt junior, and he started at 3rd base. He did not look good at the plate, fooled terribly on the breaking ball twice. He did have a fly-ball to center in a 1 pitch at-bat, but he also made a bad throw on defense. Wright has been downright awful at TCU with an OBP of just .185 in 38 games (58 at-bats). Josh Gonzales is a junior who is listed as an infielder but played DH (despite being small at 5-9 185). He had a long-AB that turned into a walk, along with a strikeout looking where he didn't swing during the at-bat. So it is safe to say he is a passive hitter. Brett Johnson played first, and like a prototypical first-baseman, he was slow (although he weighs just 180). Defensively, he had a nice pick and then missed a ball I thought he should have picked. The Sophomore showed some promise as a Freshman, with a .812 OPS with 73 Power. His Baseball Cube contact rating of 18 showed big time in the game though, as he had a big whiff and then a strikeout looking later on. Freshman Michael Resnick came in as a pinch hitter, and he had a big whiff but did earn a walk. He is 6-0 205, pretty big size. Zac Jordan is the rare 5th year senior type, and the outfielder was pitched outside for the most part. He end up chasing a breaking ball for a strikeout, and also reached for a weak ground-ball. He did show some power potential though, just missing a home run. Power is his best attribute, but it is just rated at 58. As one would expect from a player that has been in college for 5 years, he is really just kind of average with a career OPS of .803. Keaton Jones is another freshman, but he started at shortstop, and he did have a walk and a ground-ball. Lastly, freshman Jerrick Sulter was built like a safety at 6-4 235, and played CF. That is the kind of athlete you want, or so you would think. He was actually pretty slow, and really too big to play center anyway you would think. He hit a line drive off a pitch down the middle, but fell for a breaking ball and rolled over on it.
Baylor played its share of freshman too, such as right fielder Logan Brown. The relatively small player had a nice arm and gunned down a runner at home. He had a walk and a strikeout looking. Michael Howard played left field, and this freshman (who can also pitch), was awful at the plate. He struck out on a check swing, chased a breaking ball (even though he ended up walking in the at-bat), and had a hard time catching up to a 90 MPH fastball. Logan Vick, a junior, played center field, and had a nice arm but threw it to the wrong base once, allowing a runner to take an extra base. Offensively, he didn't have any patience, swinging at first pitches and low pitches out of the zone. There is some potential in that bat, as he hit a ball hard, had another fly-ball eaten up by the wind, and drove a fly-ball to center. It appears I caught Vick on a bad day though, as patience is his best attribute, walking a stunning 18 percent of the time in his first two years at Baylor. He had a huge +1.000 OPS year as a freshman but was awful his sophomore year, with an OPS barely above .600. The Vick I saw was the later, but this is why you should pay attention to both what you see with your eyes (and you should watch as many games as possible) and statistics.
Josh Ludy was the catcher for Baylor, and the senior had a plus arm. Here is him batting:
He had some nice long at-bats, one with fouls, but the results weren't always good. He did have an ugly check swing strike-out though. None of his attributes are rated very high, and he didn't really get regular playing time until he was a junior, and that wasn't really impressive. He has just a .785 career OPS, but I do see some potential in his bat and patience and I like him being the plate.
Jake Miller played shortstop for Baylor, and the junior had nice size at 6-3 200. Defensively he missed an easy ground-ball, and looked bad out there. Offensively, he was very hack happy, but did hit a line drive, a good fly-ball, and a long at-bat with a hard foul ball (before being pegged by the pitch). It is not shocking that his contact rating is just 6, with a 42 patience rating. He does have 82 power though and that is hard to find in middle infielders. He has to get better defensively though. Max Muncy played 1st base, and was pretty unimpressive with a big ugly swing and miss on a big swing and a ground-ball. Muncy has 80 power though according to Baseball Cube, and was listed as a catcher last year. His career OPS is fringy for MLB prospects at .907, and is basically worthless if he can only play first. Nathan Orf played DH, but is also listed as a catcher. He seems really small to play catcher, at 5-9 180. The junior batted lead-off for the Bears, but I am not a big fan of his swing. He had a line drive to center and a hard ground-ball. He did have decent speed with a stolen base. Cal Towey played 3rd, but can evidently play outfield as well. The Junior was absolutely fooled at the plate.
Out of the bullpen, Trae Davis was the first reliever for Baylor. The sophomore was short at 5-11, but had some weight and a violent jerk back delivery that allowed him to hit 90 MPH (he hit 91 MPH once for a strikeout looking) a lot. Overall, he was about 87-88 MPH with a 77-78 hanging breaking ball (he threw one about 55 feet). He did get a strikeout swinging, but he was getting fouled and hit hard, giving up a fly-ball. He then really lost control, getting a HBP and a walk. He was drafted in the 29th round by the Rangers out of high school, but really struggled as a freshman, walking as many as he struck out for a WHIP of almost 2.
For Nick Frey, I thought I would do something a little different and catalog his pitches. I just used approximate estimates, and it didn't quite come out like I wanted, but I think it is helpful nonetheless. The donut circles are fastballs (he was throwing 89-90 MPH on his fastball), while the arcs are breaking balls (he was throwing his breaking ball for 76 MPH). Blue is just the standard color, meaning nothing of note happened, while yellow means either HBP, wild pitch, or that he missed his intended spot big time. The dark orangeish color is swinging strikes, green is ground-balls, and red is fly-balls.
Joe Kirkland was probably the most effective reliever and pitcher overall in the game. Like the majority of the pitchers in the game, he was throwing about 89-90 MPH on his fastball, but his fastball had some kind of sink and nasty movement. He struck out Jason Coats on a really long at-bat, which you can see here:
His breaking ball was around 77-79 MPH, and he got 3 strikeouts on it, including one looking outside to a lefty (Kirkland is right handed) that was just nasty. He was certainly making hitters swing and miss, and he is just a freshman! He was keeping the ball outside to righties, it was when he started losing control and it drifted to the middle he was hit hard. He balked, and also lost control in the bottom of the 7th and had back to back walks before he was finally taken out.
Justin Scharf broke the trend of cookie cutter pitchers with cookie cutter fastballs by being a submariner who was throwing anywhere from 70-81 MPH in warmups:
It appeared he could live in the middle of the plate against righties but he did vary locations. You could see how he could have serious control problems on a bad day but be a ground-ball machine on a good day. He was brought in to face a lefty and was successful, it doesn't appear that he is just a platoon righty. He gave up 3 ground-balls and a hard liner to Logan Vick, who he couldn't put away despite dominating early in the count. Both inherited runners ended up scoring, and he also hit a batter. Scharf previously pitched at Paris Junior College, and had quite a bit of success, with an ERA under 3.
Kevin Allen is a big (6-1 210 seemed a little conservative I thought) junior right hander who was throwing 89-90 MPH with an 80 MPH breaking ball. His breaking ball was getting some really nice swing and misses, as he got 3 strikeouts swinging on it. He also hit a batter (it seemed like everyone did), and was really reaching back in his delivery. He spent the previous 2 seasons at Weatherford College, where he posted good ERAs with almost a strikeout an inning over just over 100 innings.
Doug Ashby was another sidearmer who didn't get even close to 80 MPH in warmups. He did get a swing and a miss, but it is really hard to imagine this stuff is going to work on a higher level, especially against righties (who were the first 3 batters he faced). He gave up a hard hit liner and a walk.
The last pitcher I saw was Kolt Browder:
Browder had a herky jerky delivery with a strange "pull-back" arm motion. He had control issues early on and walked the first hitter. He was throwing about 97 MPH, and evidently pitched terrible. I left after he pitched to the first batter (the game had already lasted 3 hours, it was getting late and I had everything I needed), and Baylor was winning at the time but ended up losing by a few runs.