Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scouting Reports on UT of Arlington and Stephen F. Austin

I went and saw Stephen F. Austin play at the University of Texas at Arlington on Sunday February 26th.

UTAs starter was Lance Day, who threw 86-88 MPH (I was sitting around a couple of scouts with radar guns). Day is a senior right hander who went to Midland Community College previously. As a Freshman, he had 11 bad innings, but recovered as a sophomore, and had struck out 6.54 batters per 9 innings in his two years there. His first year at UTA (2011), he had a 3.62 ERA, .279 BAA, and 5.94 K/9IP (with a 2.29 K/BB ratio). At just 6-1, you would like to see more size to generate better velocity. He gave up lots of fouls early, but he got 4 strikeouts (2 looking and 2 swinging). He could throw his breaking ball for strikes (and he loved his breaking ball), but it seemed like he liked the strike zone a little too much considering his stuff. He had lots of short at bats. He could get some swing and misses, and kept the ball away consistently. He had a great two batter sequence in the 4th against two righties by keeping the ball away. He lost control in the 8th, and even though he had decent control most of the game, but when he hung the breaking ball it would be crushed by power hitters. Defensively, he didn't have a great route to the ball but made a good throw, and covered first well. He really reaches back in his delivery, as you can see here:

While he was able to get some hitters to chase off the plate, his low strikeout total was pretty consistent with his career averages, and the ball was really being hit hard. He left a lot of runners on base, and threw a wild pitch with runners on. His fastball did get high, and with his velocity, it seems unlikely he can live up there.

Cameron Gann was the starter for Stephen F. Austin, and the small freshman was throwing 84-86 MPH. He didn't get any of the first 3 hitters to swing and miss, but hothing was hit hard either. His plan was to go low and away to lefties, but it didn't always work. Overall, he kept the ball pretty low, but had a ball crushed for a ground rule double (the hardest hit ball of the game). His wild breaking ball wasn't fooling a lot of people, and it couldn't throw it for strikes consistently. His fastball was high and mostly unimpressive (as the velocity shows, it didn't look like he was throwing hard either). One scout really liked his potential, but he had control problems through out. He wasn't helped by a little zone from the umpire for the most part, but he couldn't make the ball go where he wanted. He did have a good pickoff move, and fielded the ball back to him perfectly (even though it was soft off the bat). Like Day, he was clearly a contact pitcher, and he end up having a high LOB %. Here is some video of Gann:
It was a low scoring game, and as I wasn't really impressed with either starter, I wasn't impressed with the hitting either for the most part.
Preston Beck was one of the more impressive hitters, as the 6-2 190 RF had long at-bats that I really liked. The Junior had a really long at-bat before grounding out, a decent-length at-bat that lead to a fly-out, a walk, and another reasonable long at-bat that ended in an infield fly-ball. Beck had a team leading 31 walks in 2011, and lead the team in hits in 2010 as a freshman. He is a legitimate prospect with that bat of his, and you can watch him here:

Brent Bollinger was another guy I liked, as the junior 3rd baseman made 2 great plays at 3rd, one on a spike then a great throw. He was hitting the ball harder than anyone else, and smacked a ground rule double after one long at-bat. He had a good eye, and wasn't falling for the breaking ball. He did strikeout on a pretty nasty pitch, probably Gann's best pitch of the game, but he creamed another double as well. He also had decent speed, meaning he could do everything you can do on a baseball field pretty well. He originally went to Midland for Junior College, and amazingly had to walk on to UTA. Here is him batting:

Daniel Garcia played catcher for UTA, and he had a nice arm, and a walk and a 1 pitch ground-out before being pinch hit for. The red-shirt sophomore hit just .214 last season. Cody Dyvig was the pinch hitter, and he grounded out, seeing just 2 pitches. Dyvig was actually better in 2010 than 2011, hitting just .243 last year. Greg Mccail caught after the pinch hit, but didn't bat.
The 2nd base/shortstop combo for UTA was pretty weak defensively. Michael Guerra was the 2nd baseman. He starts open stanced but then closes it to normal as the ball approaches. He couldn't lay off the breaking pitch, and hit 3 ground-balls, 1 for a double play. Ryan Walker played short, and he had a bouncy stance at the plate, and could foul off pitches outside the zone. The sophomore is small at 6-0 155 with decent speed (he stole 11 bases in 2011). He was also tempted by the breaking ball, but had a long AB that turned into a grounder. He hit .322 as a freshman, with an OBP of .387 as a freshman. He may be a guy to watch out for next year. Jordan Vaughn played first base, and they had him trying to bunt, which probably tells you what you need to know about his bat. He did get a hit to the left side on a long at-bat for an infield single. He grounded out both to pitcher and catcher, as well as having an infield pop up.
Derek Miller usually plays in the middle infield, but played DH on the game I saw. He is listed at 6-1 175, but seemed small. He seemed to have a decent eye, but had a 1 pitch flyball out, and a pop foul out. They also had the freshman bunting. Phillip Incaviglia is the nephew of former Astro and Ranger Pete, and the senior had a fielders choice ground-ball, a ground-ball, and a nice lineout. He is a passive type hitter, and that cost him when he watched a hanging breaking ball he should have crushed. He is really small, at 5-10 170 (or so he is listed) and was picked off.
Brandon Lawrence played center field and is a little bigger at 6-0 185. He had a big arm and runs pretty well, but wasn't a very smart baserunner. He had a sac bunt, a walk, and a double:

At Blinn Junior College in 2011, Lawrence hit .444, giving you a lot of confidence in his bat to go along with his other tools.

Stephen F Austin's lineup:

Zach Benson was a junior that spent time at San Jacinto Junior College where he was pretty good as a freshman with a .373 batting average, but regressed to .287 as a sophomore (5 homers in those 2 years). He was a hacker falling for breaking balls, and had a short compact swing that robbed power but pulls the ball for medium strength liners. He got a weak grounder on a huge breaking ball, with a fly-ball out, and a ground-ball that snuck through. Hunter Dozier played shortstop, and reminded us of Hunter Pence with his build and look. He doesn't run well at all the scout near me complained, and he has a hole in his swing.

He struck out on a 5 pitch at-bat on a breaking ball, and had a 1 pitch ground-out
and flied out on a pitch down the middle. He did have a nice throwing arm, and the combo of him and the 2nd baseman turned a very good double play.

Fola Lajide is a junior outfielder who doesn't have great speed. I do wish he was bigger, but he hit the ball almost to the wall. He also struck out swing and had a hard ground-out. Max Lamantia played 1st, and it looked like he did a decent job getting to grounders. It did look like he had a hole in his swing, but struggled with breaking pitches. He struck out three times with a ground-ball. The DH Jordon Lenaburg could spoil pitches off well, and had a line drive out. He did whiff on a breaking ball, and had a good luck ground-ball. He was then pinch run for. The pinch runner was Corey Bartkowiak, a freshman outfielder. He is really small, at 5-6 150, and he walked in his at-bat. Bobby Loveless pinch hit, and was jammed and flied out to the infield.Adam Mann also pinch hit, and even though he is listed as a catcher, he played 1st base. He had an ugly check swing on a breaking ball, and the senior eventually had an ugly swinging strikeout. Rene Moreda, the 2nd baseman, had real nice speed, but is pretty small at 5-9 150. He had 2 long drive singles, and a ground-ball up the middle. Michael Ruiz was another small infielder, and was a small ball type play. He fouled off a bunt, but then finished off the sacrifice later in the at-bat. He grounded out on a hit and run, and had a shallow fly-ball out. Ricardo Sanchez is a 6 foot outfielder, at 185 pounds. He had a full count ground-ball, an unsuccessful sac bunt, a ground out back to pitcher, and a short swing line-out.

Jarid Scarafiotti was the most impressive Stephen F. Austin hitter:

He was stocky at 5-11 230 (and was probably bigger than that) and played catcher. He had a bad throw early on, but made a good one later in the game, and it appeared he had a pretty good arm. He blocked the plate well on a play at the plate, but he really wasn't able to move well enough to block pitches. In my opinion, while it would enhance his value greatly if he was, he isn't a real catcher. With the bat, he was fooled on his first pitch and had a ground out on his first at-bat. However, he pulled a single, and had a relatively deep fly-ball, and another 1 pitch fly-out. The Senior has struggled so far this year, but has hit at least .306 in the 3 previous years. He hasn't ever slugged .500, but has an OBP of around .400. He is going to have to either hit for more power, or improve his catching, but if he can do one of those things, he will be a nice prospect for the draft.

Now for the bullpen pitchers:

Cody Priest threw 87 MPHs out a sidearm. 3-5ths type of delivery (reminded me of the way Scott Feldman used to throw when he was a reliever):

It looked like he was trying to put the ball low, but it stayed pretty high. His breaking ball was for strikes, but high strikes. It seemed the ball went everywhere but low, as his major control problems led to 2 HBPs.

Alex Moshier was throwing 92 MPH, and keeps his hands high and hides the ball well:

His delivery has a slow start, as did his outing as Bollinger, the first hitter he faced, creamed the ball off of him on the first pitch. His second pitch was a nice swing and miss, but 2 of his first 3 pitches turned into hits. His breaking ball did have swing and miss stuff, his fastball just isn't as overpowering as he thinks it is.

Michael Morales:

Morales was throwing 87 MPH, and was kinda hefty and turned to hide the ball (Brian Fuentes like, but not quite as drastic):

He got a strikeout swinging, but I am afraid that delivery won't work against lefties.

Adam Westbrook was throwing a measly 83 MPH, and was brought in to face a lefty:

However, the lefty was pinch hit for and Westbrook jammed the right handed pinch hitter. He got another grounder, and had a goofy kind of curve-ball that sits inside on lefties.

Kasey Merck was throwing 90 MPH on his fastball, and 80 MPH on his breaking ball:

He has a violent delivery where he throws his whole body around, and seems to sacrifice control for velocity (and he had no control, throwing one in the dirt, and then one down the middle).

Freshman Chad Nack can hit 95 MPH, but I didn't see him pitch, plus he is a freshman, so there is no reason to focus on him yet.

Big thanks to UTA RHP Sam Hansen, who I sat next to at the game, for giving me some radar speeds and some other information. Good luck and best wishes to him on recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scouting Reports on Abilene Christian and East Central

We went and saw Abilene Christian (again) play East Central University. The main reason I wanted to go see them was because Jordan Herrera, the reliever that impressed us last time, was starting for ACU. Here is one video of him:
Like any normal person, I obsessively categorized nearly every pitch and made half a page full of jumbled notes. His fastball tended to stay high and to the left (that is inside to right-handed hitters, and outside to left-handed pitchers), but he left the fastball down the middle for a sac fly. As one would expect in a transition from a reliever to a starter, he had less swing and miss stuff, giving up quite a bit of fouls. He got 3 strike outs on 7 swinging strikes with 15 looking strikes. He had some problems with his breaking ball, as he left it up too many times and got hurt when he left it down the middle. When its good, its nasty and low and away from righties, but you would like to see more of it acting like that. He was also able to locate one of his breaking pitches on the low inside corner to righties. Control problems were notable, as he had 3 wild pitches and 21 balls (versus 22 non contact strikes). He had a needlessly long at-bat that turned into a walk against a not very good hitter. He seems to be considerably poorer against lefties,which is something he needs to clean up if he is going to be a starter. He seemed to lose velocity and effectiveness as the game wore on, and had some questions about put away ability as a starter. I really thought they left him in too long, and he was the victim of back to back drops. He gave up 6 fly-balls and 3 other infield fly-balls, and most of them were soft fly-balls. He walked 2 batters, with a questionable hit by pitch, with only 3 ground-balls versus 4 fly-balls. In the end, I wasn't as impressed with Herrera on Saturday as I was a couple weeks ago, but he throws hard (he appeared to throw harder than a guy that I know was clocked at 88 MPH), and could be a draft prospect as either a reliever or starter. Here is another video of Herrera:

East Central's starting pitcher was Eric Fredrick, a 6-4 lefty from Pima Community College. There, he was very unimpressive, with a 4.92 ERA and 5.4 K/9IP and more walks than strikeouts (in high school his ERA was 4.3). Here is him throwing:
He doesn't throw real hard, and even with his size he still would fit in the "crafty lefty" category. He got some called strikes on a breaking ball, which can neutralize righties. He also got a swinging strikeout on a breaking ball out of the zone to the number 9 hitter. However, the ball was getting scorched of his bat, and he was staying high in the zone and ran into some control problems in the 3rd. He did find a nice low fastball in the zone to get a couple strikes on Rodge Macy (more on him later). I was impressed with that, but wanted to see more and as his previous statistics would indicate, he wasn't consistent with it. One positive thing that was out of the ordinary was that he definitely got better as the game went along. That is, it didn't help hitters that they had seen him 2 or 3 times, which means he is not a "one trick pony" and can showcase different pitches to get out hitters. On the defensive side, he seemed stiff and was not a good fielder, and made a disastrous throwing error. As "stiff" would suggest, he wasn't very fast at getting to first. In my mind, he isn't much of a pro prospect, as he doesn't have velocity or consistent command. The bad high school and community college statistics did surprise me though after watching him pitch.

Here is a second look at the Abilene hitters, most notably Conway and Macy. Kyle Conway DHed again, which was disappointing, as I wanted to see him field. I will just assume he isn't very good in the field (or else he would be out there), and is a bat only prospect. Speaking of bat, here is Conway batting:

Conway drew a 7 pitch walk, and his only swing was a foul. He had a 4 pitch ground-ball, with 2 foul-balls in the at-bat. He was pitched outside in the 2nd at-bat, and pulled a line-drive and got a double on a 4 pitch at-bat. He also had a 3 pitch foul-out.

Rodge Macy was the guy I really liked the first time I saw Abilene, as I really like his patience and pitch recognition (and Conway's is pretty good too). Macy was little bit disappointing, with two 5 pitch strikeouts, one swinging on a high fastball, and a check swing strikeout. He did have a 4 pitch walk, and a 3 pitch grounder for a single. Macy did come in to catch late, and had a meh arm. If he can catch even okay, it enhances his offensive value. As expected, here is some video of him hitting:

Some other notes from Abilene Christian's lineup:
Duncan Blades played 3rd base instead of first like last time, and it appears he fits that position better. I'm still not sold on his bat, but he had a long at-bat and hit the ball hard his third time up (after two very forgettable plate appearances).
I was again impressed by catcher Emmett Niland's arm, but he dropped an easy fly-ball. He doesn't block the ball very well, which is a problem because of his small size for a catcher. All they wanted him to do was bunt it seemed, which tells you all you need to know about his bat. Tyler Eager dropped an easy fly-ball (Bruce Gerhardt also dropped a similar one) as a centerfielder, and nearly made a nice diving playing and missed that as well. He does have a decent arm. Chuck Duarte had a nice double, and Ryan Luckie pinch hit and got a hard double, and runs pretty well.
Brady Rodriquez, who started the last game we saw and really struggled, was used as a lefty specialist, got a lefty to ground-out and then was taken out. 6-4 230 right-hander Michael Curtis was then brought in as a reliever.
Curtis uses both his size and his reaching back to gain velocity. He had a high leg kick and seemed to hide the ball well. However, his breaking ball is slow and stays up. He threw a wild pitch, and gave up lots of fouls. His first two at-bats were 1 pitch (fly-out and infield fly-out on a pitch out of the zone). He got a ground-ball on a breaking ball in a 3 pitch at-bat, and jammed a guy on the 5th or 6th pitch of at-bat that turned into a grounder. He got yet another grounder on the 4th or 5th pitch pitch of an at-bat, a 3 pitch ground-ball, a 2 pitch hard ground-ball, and a 6 pitch ground-ball. While they didn't hit the ball too hard off of him, the no strike-outs seem to imply that he doesn't have a swing and miss pitch (and it certainly didn't look like it watching him).

East Central Lineup:
Jeff Schmidt played some nice defense at 3rd, but looked overwhelmed in his second plate appearance. He had a 6 pitch fly-out, where he chased a low pitch. He had a strikeout, a flyout, and got jammed on a long AB for a grounder.
Jeremy Stein chased a low pitch for an infield fly-out (one of 2 such fly-outs), and had an ugly 3 pitch strikeout. As one would guess, Stein didn't hit for much (an OBP of around .330), but stole 17 bases (out of 18 attempts). Ethan Gold had a 3 pitch soft fly-ball, a 4 pitch fly-ball, a line drive single, a ground-ball on a long AB, and a 2 RBI fly-ball. Greg Hamrock had real questions about his pitch recognition, with a ground-ball and an infield fly-ball (he did scorch a line drive just foul). Hamrock hit .330 at Rio Hondo College. Jonathan Ramos fell for a breaking ball, had a 1 pitch fly-ball and a long walk. Ramos was decent at Indian Hills Community college, with a .335 batting average and .424 OBP (with 1 homer). Gilbert Guardado didn't hit for much at San Diego City College, with a batting average of around .270, and it isn't surprising watching him hit. He is listed at 5' 8", but that is very generous. He had 2 ground-outs (8 pitches seen in total), and struck out chasing. Chris Montgomery was the catcher, and it appeared that he had a good arm. He doesn't have much of a bat though (not in junior college or at East Central), as he had 2 straight 1 pitch at-bats, a line drive sac fly, an ground-ball, an infield fly-ball, and a hard line drive. Joel Pirez was one of the few guys that started that didn't go to junior college. While listed as a catcher, he played 1st base. He had an ugly drop on a foul ball, a 5 pitch ground-ball off a high fastball, tried to bunt for a hit unsuccessfully, a line drive, and a 6 pitch ground-ball. I really wasn't impressed with any of these hitters.
The only hitter left was Rick Hepworth, who I found interesting, and I still can't tell if its in a good or bad way. He stood at 6 foot 7, so freakishly tall for a baseball player, and is built to only play first. In 2011, he hit just over .300 and actually pitched some (but is no longer listed as a pitcher). He has not much bat speed, and was way late on a bunch of pitches. He also was a baserunner, but had long really patient at-bats. He had a walk, a deep fly-ball, and a 3 pitch ground-ball.

We stayed for the first inning of the second game of the double hitter to get a look at both starters.
Clint Cooper of Abilene Christian:

He seemed to keep the ball low using a low arm angle, but he hit a batter. He gave up a hard hit grounder to a lefty on the first pitch, which was low. He struck out another lefty looking, and he was trying to keep it outside to lefties, producing grounders.

Will Grimes of East Central is 6-3 (even though both Cooper and him were listed at 6' 3", Grimes was clearly taller) but kinda skinny at 195. Here is him:

He has a big slow delivery and it seemed like he had more velocity than Cooper. Tyler Eager had problems catching up with his fastball early in the count but eventually hit it hard when he did catch up. His breaking ball cut middle in to right handers. He also hit a batter, and made Conway look bad on a check swing and later gave up a deep fly-ball on 4 pitches. He got Macy to ground-out on 3 pitches.

Thanks to my girlfriend Rachel for helping, mainly with the videos.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brandon Moore of Arkansas University 2013 Draft Prospect?

I have been writing a lot on 2012 MLB draft prospects at (as well as on this blog), but as Brandon Moore isn't eligible to be drafted until the 2013 draft, I decided to put it on here. Moore is a sophomore pitcher at Arkansas, and here is a short video of him pitching against NorthWesternern State:

I watched him throw the first few innings in this game, and that is what I am going to give the scouting report off of. He has a good pick off move, but did make a throwing error in the game I watched (I have recently been thinking about how pitching defense is underrated). Moore gave up 4 runs in the second despite nothing hit very hard off of him, and ironically, the hardest hit ball in that inning end up being a warning track out. He didn't overwhelm me with swing and miss stuff but he did get a nice K on the bottom corner with a breaking ball. He knew how to put that pitch down low where it couldn't really hurt him and still get strikes. I would imagine he gets a good groundball rate. It still didn't seem like he got anyone to swing and miss, it just usually wasn't for good contact, which could very well be just the inferiority of the hitters, and it was an inferior lineup, as their best hitter was actually pitching. Moore didn't appear to have intimidating velocity, but reportedly throws around 90 MPH. According to Baseball Cube, Moore has 70 control, and is 64 against Power, but has just a 10 K-Rating. So just as my impression was in a couple innings of watching him, he doesn't strike out anyone, but the ball doesn't get hit that hard off him. Last year as a freshman, it proved to be effective, with a 3.45 ERA, and .38 HR/9IP despite striking out just 4.86 per 9 innings. My first reaction to someone not being able to strike anyone out like Moore is to dismiss them. Strikeouts have proven to be the most predictive pitching statistic, and it is hard to get runs if you can't hit the ball. The dismissal shouldn't be so quick though, as the Twins have traditionally always went after contact pitchers, and have had quite a bit of success (and one can think of a handful of pitchers who didn't strikeout people and were still successful, but strikeouts do matter). So as long as that contact is consistently soft contact, contact pitchers can survive. With that said, there are some problems with Moore. He isn't consistently getting soft contact, as he allowed more than a hit an inning, and had a WHIP of 1.32, making it seem like he was a beneficiary of a high LOB %. Moore is going to have to either miss more bats, or consistently give up softer contact (preferably both) to be a real legitimate big league prospect. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scouting Reports on Abilene Christian and Southern Arkansas

On Sunday February 19th, we watched Southern Arkansas at Abilene Christian (we watched the first game of the double header, but didn't stay for the 2nd). Abilene's starting pitcher was Brady Rodriquez. He is a lanky 6-1 180 LBS pitcher, who didn't throw real hard and seemed to fit the bill "crafty lefty" quite well. Here is a video of him warming up (he threw harder than he did warming up, we weren't actually quite concerned when we saw him warming up):

Rodriquez had a loopy breaking ball that he could throw for strikes, but it also seemed to stay up, and that problem got worse as the game moved along. He did have problems throwing strikes at times, with two walks and a HBP. He struck out just 2, and only had 1 swinging strike (but 11 looking). Neither starting pitcher had swing and miss stuff, and it produced a ton of foul balls. Rodriquez was hit pretty hard too, giving up 3 line drives, 5 fly-balls, and just 3 grounders. He gave up 5 hits and 5 runs, with a balk in 3 and 2/3rds. Rodriguez originally went to Ball State but transfered after he was red-shirted, and was awful in his Freshman year at Abilene, giving up nearly 2 hits an inning with an ERA of 9.99.

Souther Arkansas' starting pitcher was Janson Carr, a 6-4 225 LBS Sophomore, who also plays 3rd base. He threw harder than Rodriquez, but had some kind of "shot put" like delivery. His pitches, unlike Rodriquez's, stayed up very high. He didn't strike out any one and hit 1 batter (but walked no one). Abilene was pretty patient and made pretty good contact, fouling off a bunch of pitches and hitting 4 line drives off Carr. He only got 1 swinging strike and 9 looking strikes. He got 3 ground-balls to 2 fly-balls. He end up giving up 5 runs off 6 hits in 2 and 2/3rds:

Abilene's relievers were much more impressive, beginning with Jordon Herrera a 6-3 200 LBS JR. who went to Wharton College where he had a 3.71 ERA in 2011, better than his team average of 4.52. In high school as a senior, Herrera a 1.69 ERA and was on the Houston area all-star team. Against Southern Arkansas, he gave up no fly-balls or line drives, and got 5 grounders (4 of which snuck by for hits, the defense was awful in the game as a whole, more on that later). He had nasty breaking stuff that led to 7 swinging strikes and 6 looking (it also led to 2 wild pitches). He struck out 4 batters, but let 2 inherited runs score in 1 2/3rd. No one on either team was chasing pitches out of he zone before Jordan Herrera came in and he had Southern Arkansas chasing.

Austin Palmer was brought in as a lefty specialist and faced just one batter, walking him and getting one strike looking. He had a strange deceptive delivery that tried to hide the ball. Palmer is a junior who spent 2 years at American River College. He was 6-4 but didn't seem to get a whole lot of velocity on the ball. At American River, they tried to use him as a starter, and it was a disaster, with an ERA near 7 in 2010 and a 6.74 ERA in 2011. He had exactly as many walks as strikeouts in those two years. He is certainly a LOOGY, but one that doesn't seem to over power or have much control:

Sam Malchar was another junior from Wharton College, at 6-1 and 200 LBS. He had a big stride in his delivery and had a 3.79 ERA as a Sophomore in 2011. His biggest problem was that he left his breaking ball up quite a bit. He got one ground-ball and one fly-ball, with one walk and no strikeouts (2 looking strikes):

The 9th inning man was junior Josh Stone, who was a power type pitcher that threw reasonably hard. He previously went to Richland College as a freshman, where he had a 7.88 ERA. However, as a Sophomore at Midland College, he was pretty good, striking out 7.56 per 9 innings (you would like for him to strike out more) with an ERA of 1.75 and striking out 3 times as many as he walked. He got 1 swinging strike, 4 looking strikes, and 2 strikeouts. The only contact he gave up was a fly-ball:

For Southern Arkansas, the bullpen was not impressive, as Joey Cifuentes was the first pitcher out of the bullpen, and the senior had control issues with a wild pitch and just struggled to throw strikes. He walked 1, got 2 ground-balls with 1 line drive, and 3 strikes looking. In 2/3rds of an inning, he gave up 1 hit and no runs:

Devin Avery had a violent delivery, and left his breaking ball up in the zone. This led to the ball really getting smacked around as he gave up 2 hits, 3 runs in 1/3rds of an inning. He gave up 2 line drives and hit a batter, getting 3 strikes looking but no ground-balls or swinging strikes:

Justin Parsons wasn't any better, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 2 innings. He had a wild pitch, but he got 3 swinging strikes with a strikeout (5 looking strikes). He gave up 2 ground-balls and 2 fly-balls.

Sheldon O'Dell was the best Southern Arkansas pitcher, but still walked 2 and only struck out 1. He had a delivery that started slow with a pause and then fast. He got 4 looking strikes and 3 swinging. He had 2 wild pitches, with a fly-ball as his only contact given up.

The most impressive position player by far was Rodge Macy, who is listed as a catcher but played right field. He has a good build as a junior at 6-2 210, playing previously at Vernon College. In 2011, in 94 AB, he had a .362 BA and .419 OBP with 6 SB and 8 CS (0 HRs). He certainly had the best at-bats in the game, with a 6 pitch line drive, 6 pitch HBP, 5 pitch line drive, and 5 pitch HBP (he also made a pretty controversial, at least the call was, out on the base paths). If he can catch (as we will see later, the Abilene catcher was good behind the plate and that is probably why we didn't see Macy there) and hit for some more power, he could be pretty valuable. Here is Macy:

Abilene's 1st Baseman was Duncan Blades, an extremely small first baseman at 5-10 180 LBS. The senior made a good throw home that got a runner, but also dropped a very easy fly-ball. He had a Sac Bunt, a 2 pitch liner, a 7 pitch walk, and a 7 pitch line drive. Obviously the 3 real at-bats were good, but the size is really concerning, the roster has him listed as an infielder and not exclusively as a 1st baseman. He has hit over .300 in all 3 years in college with a .343 average in 2011 as a junior. You do need more than just 3 homers in slightly over 100 at bats though. 

Luke Mejia played in the infield, and the junior bunted for a hit, and had 2 ground-balls averaging 3.5 pitches per a plate appearance in those at bats. On defense he showed a lack of range. Here are a couple of videos of him that were already on Youtube (as you can see there is not much going on with the bat):

                                                              Emmett Niland was the catcher, who also pitches (but didn't pitch in the game). He showed why with a good arm, and he threw out a base runner. He bunted himself out by hitting himself with the ball outside of the batting box, had a 6 pitch ground-ball, a 6 pitch walk, and a 3 pitch ground-ball. He really is small as a catcher at 5-10 and 180 LBS, and one would imagine that lack of height doesn't help him with velocity as a pitcher. He hit .316 and .288 with 2 home runs in his 2 years in junior college. It is a shame that he doesn't really project as a hitter, because he does have a nice arm behind the plate. 

Tyler Eager played center field, but is also listed as being able to play first (although he is also small for that position, it is bizarre that Abilene seems unable to find a big 1st basemen). He is just a freshman out of a high school in Fort Worth, Texas. He hit 3 fly-balls (averaging 4 pitches per plate appearance in those at-bats) and a line drive. He may be someone to watch out for in the future:


Chuck Duarte was another infielder that didn't show much range, partly because he is really slow (as he showed on the base paths). He had a sac bunt, a 1 pitch line drive, and a 3 pitch ground-ball. So not impressive with the bat, but he had a .457 OBP at Western Texas College in 2011 as a Sophomore, but made 10 errors with a fielding percentage of .962. He will have to hit the cover off the ball at Abilene to really make up for lack of tools.

Ryan Luckie came in as a pinch hitter, and plays the infield. The senior had a 6 pitch strikeout and a 2 pitch fly-ball.

Travis Schuetze played some brutal 3rd base by missing a ground-ball, making an error on another easy play, and missing another line drive. He compounded this by being a pretty bad base-runner. He hit two grounders, walked and struck out. 

Mike Keegan had a nice size, at 6-2 215 as an outfielder who also catches according to the team roster. He hit a liner on a 4 pitch at bat and a grounder on a 3 pitch at bat. Last year at American River College, he did a good job of getting on base, but didn't slug much, with an OPS of .937. One would expect his size to improve his slugging, but we will have to see. 

Finally, Abilene's DH was Kyle Conwell, and he was listed at 6-1 200 LBS, but appeared lanky. One would have to count on the junior filling out. He hit .330 with 6 homers at Western Nevada as a freshman, and had a .491 OBP at Western Nevada as a sophomore. He was drafted in the 22nd round of the draft out of high school, but obviously didn't sign. He saw 13 pitches in 3 AB, and had two grounders and a line drive. He didn't particularly stand out to us, but he has hit in JUCO, and is obviously a prospect. He evidently cannot field, as he has played DH every where he has been.

For Southern Arkansas, Rafael Thomas had 2 errant throws, and was not fast (at least as fast as he thought he was) as he was caught stealing and then thrown out at home. As a senior, he is 5-8 180 LBS. He had a 5 pitch walk, a line drive and a 2 pitch ground-ball.Here is a picture of his batting stance, I still can't figure out who it reminds me of: 

Jody Spain played 2nd base, and is a 5-11 175 LBS senior. He had a 3 pitch FB, a ground-ball and 2 strikeouts. 

Ryan Bell had problems at third, as he should of caught a foul ball and made an ugly throwing error. He had 2 ground-balls and a line drive:


Trey Buck played some of the worst shortstop I have ever seen. He had a bad dive on a ball up the middle that gave him no chance, had a terrible arm, and made 3 fielding errors on balls hit right to him. I thought basic baseball wisdom was that you play your best infielder at shortstop. Southern Arkansas is in some serious trouble if Buck is their best infielder. He is listed at 5-7, but that is very generous. He had 3 ground-balls (in which he say 15 pitches), and a 5 pitch walk. Unless he was a world class bat, which he's not, it wouldn't make up for his bad defense. 

Kyle Fillier had two long at bats, averaging 7.5 pitches per plate appearance, but they both ended with strikeouts, 1 looking and 1 swinging. The senior was pinch hit for by a junior: Philip Menou. Menou had one of the worst bat speeds you will ever see. He is 6-6 and listed at 220 LBS (probably a bit smaller), so good size, but he had two awful at bats where he had a 3 pitch strikeout and a check swing ground-ball. 

David Allday played 1st base, and made a nice stretch play but made a bad throw. The senior swung at low pitches, and had 2 ground-balls and 2 fly-balls averaging 3.75 pitches per plate appearance. Jason Dahl played RF with not much range, and hit 3 fly-balls and struck out. Outfielder Gavan McCauley played center and missed a ball on a dive and has a pretty weak arm. He had 2 ground-balls (averaging 4 pitches per plate appearance in those two PA), with a walk. Catcher Ryan Dardenne saw 12 pitches in 3 plate appearances with a line drive, strikeout, and a fly-ball.

Thanks again to David Withers (Big D from Football picking), who is on Twitter at @davidwithers18.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reds sign Wirfin Obisbo (Updated)

The Reds signed pitcher Wirfin Obisbo to a minor league contract. Obisbo has spent the past 4 years in Japan pitching as both a reliever and a starter. He had a pretty pedestrian PE in that time of 2.09. This obviously means he doesn't project to be a Major League pitcher. He really struggled with homers, giving up 1.4 HR/9IP per inning. According to NPB Tracker's velocity charts, Obisbo throws 92.5 MPH at the most and about 91 on average. So, he has average to slightly above average velocity. In 2006 he was actually in the Reds organization, pitching for the Reds' Dominican Summer League team. There he pitched pretty well striking out 10.6 batters per 9 innings and earning a 2.04 ERA. One of his teammates was Enerio Del Rosario, a pitcher who has pitched slightly below replacement level in the Majors. Obispo had a slightly higher ERA but a much better strikeout rate. Obispo was slightly older than his teammates at age 21, when his average teammate was 20.3 (Del Rosario was 20 as well). Pedro Viola, who has also pitched below replacement in the Majors, was part of the team as well, and had the exact same ERA and a slightly better strikeout rate. Viola was a few years older though. It should be noted, like the Dominican Winter Leagues, the league was a very pitcher friendly environment. The best hitter on the team had an OPS of just .700 (the Reds' team seems to have been pretty bad though, as the Cubs' best guy had an OPS of .796, and a few players in the league had an OPS of better than .800). So it would seem that one would have to be even harsher when applying the usually A metric of 2 runs added to the ERA from A-ball to MLB. This is not real good news for Obispo, as we would be talking about an ERA well over 4 in the Majors (which would make a lot of sense when factoring in his mediocrity in the NPB, with a projected ERA of 4.74). At age 27, this should be Obispo's prime season, and we would expect him to be an above replacement pitcher, but not an average one. Obispo is the kind of player these minor league free agent contracts are designed for, they may be helpful for a short time, but its not anyone you want to actually depend on.


 Obispo signed a minor league contract with the Braves for the 2013 season. He did not pitch in the Majors for the Reds in 2012, instead splitting it between AA and AAA. In 10 games (3 starts) with AAA, he struggled, with a 4.08 FIP and 5.53 SIERA, walking more guys than he struck out with a bad (36.2 %) GB rate. In AA, his basic numbers were helped by a .194 BABIP, but he was still decent with a 3.41 SIERA (.81 points better than league average) and 3.96 FIP (.12 points worse than league average). He pitched in a hitter friendly park compared to league average (the Southern League is a pitcher's league), but struck out over 25 % of batters and less than 10%. His ground-ball rate was still terrible (2nd worse on the team out of pitchers with at least 5 innings), but the line drive rate (if you trust it) was also low. Here is some video of him I took from him pitching in the Dominican Winter League:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Scouting Reports on Tarleton and McMurry

On Saturday (February 4 2012) we saw the University of Tarleton play McMurry. The wind was blowing rather strong, but not overpowering. The umpire had a wide and pretty inconsistent zone affecting the outcome of at least 2-3 at-bats. Tarleton won the game 2-1 on a walk-off hit.

The most impressive player by far was relief pitcher Britt Robertshaw. He is a 6 foot 3 inches pitcher who previously pitched at Northwestern (of Louisiana) and Blinn College. He throws in the low nineties, reportedly getting all the way up to 96 MPH. He was by far the hardest thrower in the game, and he kept the ball low in warmups but put it all over the place during the game. He reportedly has 4 different pitches, but he only threw fastballs in the game (he really didn't need any other pitchers in the game). He struck out two (with a wild pitch) and got a weak groundball in 1 inning of play, stranding both inherited runners. At Blinn as a freshman, he really struggled with a 7.60 ERA, 6.75 K/9IP, and just one more strikeout than walks. At Northwestern, he was no better, with a WHIP of 2.76 and over twice as many walks as strikeouts in 12 games (11 of them relief appearances). He has had some injury problems, but passed the eyeball test with a good enough fastball, and if he can develop a breaking ball pitch, he may be a prospect.

Matt Buckmaster was the starting pitcher for Tarleton. I was without a radar gun, but he didn't throw very hard, and he had an okay pickoff move. He gave up 7 groundballs (with a GIDP), 2 flyballs, and 7 line drives. He struck out just 4 and walked 2, giving up 1 run.

The starting pitcher for McMurray was Spencer Smith, a 6 foot Junior from Amarillo. He was kind of big (Sidney Ponson-ish), but didn't throw that hard. He had an awful pickoff move, but he did keep the ball low. His breaking pitch was interesting, as it had good speed differential and solid movement, but he couldn't get hardly an swing and misses. He got 9 groundballs versus just 3 flyballs (including one to the warning track, about 360 feet), and one linedrive. They made a lot of contact off of him (just 2 strikeouts), but they didn't hit the ball very hard (excluding the near miss home run). He did hit two batters and walked 4, so control wasn't always there. In 2010, Smith really struggled with an ERA over 10 and a BAA of over .350. It seems he, at least what we saw, has improved since them. However, since he is a contact style pitcher, his control problems are very concerning. Pitchers who can't miss bats at this low of a level seldom stand a chance.

Other pitchers who pitched in the game included Jacob Detoni, a 6-2 Freshman who gave up 5 groundballs, 2 flyballs (one deep and one in the infield), and 1 linedrive. He was sort of deceptive with a soft breaking ball, it at least seemed like he was throwing harder overall. You would thought he would have struckout more, but he only struck out two, one on a very questionable call. He also had major control issues, with 2 wild pitches, a HBP, and a walk. Kenneth Stockton had really questionable control (wild pitch), not much of a pickoff move, and gave up 2 line drives, a hard grounder, and an infield popup (also struck out a batter).

Tarleton had a definite "small-ball" approach, and cost themselves 2 outs in the first inning. Evan Robinson was the starting shortstop (who had the walk off hit in the game), and had a failed sac bunt attempt, a 3 pitch slap groundout, a soft flyball double, a flyball single, and a five pitch groundball. He is just a freshman out of high school, but he is small, listed at 5-7, 155 LBS. Andrew Wolfe was a senior outfielder who hit at the bottom of the order. He tried, unsuccessfully, to bunt for a hit, grounded out, sac bunted (on the second strike), with a 5 pitch walk. He had decent speed, and is a little bigger, but not very large with virtually no power. Jared Musgrove is listed as a catcher but DHed and was pinch run for (by junior Ty Crump, who we didn't really get to see run, but had a .200 BA and .385 OBP in 10 ABs for Grayson County College in 2011). He had a 5 pitch at bat where he hit a hard grounder, was hit by a pitch, and fell for a breaking ball out of the zone during a 4 pitch at bat that ended in a ground out. He is a sophomore who is about standard size for Tarleton, at 5-10 175 LBS. Christopher Patton is a sophomore outfielder who had a 5 pitch foul ball out, a 2 pitch medium flyball out, a 3 pitch grounder, and a 4 pitch short swing liner (3.5 P/PA). Noah Ringenberger is a junior outfielder who also pitches (he didn't pitch in the game we saw, but had a 5.65 ERA in 14.1 innings at Northeastern State last year). He had a 4 pitch walk, a 1 pitch groundball double, a 6 pitch infield pop, and a 2 pitch groundball single (just 3.25 Pit/PA). He should have had a stolen base, but a HBP canceled it, and then he was later thrown out trying to steal third.
Ryan Small was the catcher, and he had a strong, but inaccurate arm. He did make a great stop behind the plate and seemed to know what he was doing back there. He was HBP, had a groundball chop, a one pitch groundout, and a 2 pitch line drive. He played Junior College at Midland, and is currently a junior. Austin Coble is a relatively small junior who can also pitch. He had a 4 pitch weak groundout, a 6 pitch strikeout looking (at a pitch that looked off the plate), a 7 pitch strikeout (where he chased a pitch out of the zone), and a 1 pitch ground out. Landon Thompson is a very similar player who can pitch as well, but is a freshman instead of a junior. He had a 1 pitch ground-out, a 1 pitch flyball, a 6 pitch strikeout looking, and a 6 pitch walk. Even though he chased one pitch out of the zone, he seemed to be a passive Sam Fuld type hitter. Thompson also leaves one wanting when it comes to speed, as he is rather slow.

Garrett Hardey was by far the most impressive hitter out of either side, and I would rank him the second best player on either team (behind Robertshaw). He is a 6-5 senior firstbasemen who is listed at 215 LBS, but looked very scrawny. At first he had a nice arm, and made a good pick. At the plate, he had a 4 pitch groundout, a 4 pitch strikeout, a 5 pitch walk, and a warning track shot that went about 360 feet. He seems to have power, but one would hope he will fill out more (even though he is a senior, which makes it more unlikely). He did struggle some with breaking pitches, so if pitch recognition is actually a problem, then it hurts any kind of value he has immensely. At West Texas JC, he batted .346, with a SLG of .586, with 21 walks versus 29 K's. He appeared in just 19 games last year with Tarleton and struggled.

McMurry was a horrible fielding team, the epitome of which was the 2nd baseman Marcellus Biggins, who had defensive struggles the entire game and eventually made an error. He had big size (he reminded us of Delmon Young with his body build, and furthered the comparison with his bad defense and a chasing of a high pitch). He had a 7 pitch ground-out, a 2 pitch ground-out, a 5 pitch line drive, and a 5 pitch strikeout where he chased a pitch way out of the zone (a 4.75 Pitch/PA in the game though). The third baseman, who we believe was Jacob Bermejo, fell down on a key play. With the bat Bermejo had 2 line drive outs and a 5 pitch infield hit. 1st Baseman Matt Thompson (who went to high school at Southlake Carroll), had an error as well. He had a 6 pitch medium depth flyball, just missed a double down the line (but it went foul), and a 3 pitch GIDP. The LF for McMurry also made a throwing error. There were positives on defense though, as SS Kory Moench showed off a good arm, and had a 5 pitch walk. He also hit a hard grounder, another 1 pitch ground-out, and a line drive out. Brad Baker was the catcher for McMurry, and he showed off a good arm and made a great diving grab on a foul ball. He did seem to have a major whole in his swing though, but had a 7 pitch at bat, a 5 pitch infield popup, and a 3 pitch medium flyball. The strangest thing about him was his size, as he is just 5-4 160 LBS.
Here is Baker (I would have taken more photos but my hands were way too cold to operate my phone):

Ruben Zendejas is a junior outfielder from Mission college. He too is very small, just 5' 5" 145 LBS. He had a 1 pitch groundball hit, a 6 pitch walk, and a sac bunt. He had decent speed, although neither team had really good speed for "small ball" type teams. Dylan DeLeon was a Junior outfielder who was a little bit bigger (5'10" 165 LBS). He had a 1 pitch groundball hit, a 3 pitch strikeout, and another 1 pitch at-bat. Jordan Brown was the last outfielder, and the senior was both bigger and more patient. He had a 7 pitch line drive, a 5 pitch strikeout, a 4 pitch line drive, and a 2 pitch hard grounder. Andrew Bell is a 6'2" junior who is also listed as an outfielder but DHed in the game. He has no speed and was caught stealing, and had a major hole in his swing. He had a 6 pitch line drive single, a 4 pitch strikeout, a 2 pitch groundball (for a hit), and an infield hit after 5 pitches.

Thanks to David Withers (Big D of football picking fame) for helping with this post.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012 Super Bowl Prediction

Big D in Bold, I in Italics
(note: in the past 2 years, I have picked the Super Bowl correctly, while Big D has been incorrect).

Giants versus Patriots

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nationals sign Edwin Jackson

The Washington Nationals have signed starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to a 1 year 10 million dollar deal. According to Fangraphs, Jackson has averaged a WAR of 3.73 over the last 3 years. Jackson is usually known for being pretty inconsistent, but that seems to be a misnomer when looking at key pitching stats, as his last 3 WARs have been 3.6, 3.8, 3.8, with FIP - of 96, 91, 89, with a little more variance of Adjusted PEs of 1.14, .09, and 1.22. With Jackson, he has pitched in so many different places that we should know what kind of pitcher he is without even using ballpark adjusted metrics. He has done an okay job keeping the ball in the ballpark in his career with a .99 HR/9IP rate. He has really improved his groundball rate over the last two years, with 1.55 and 1.4 GB/FB ratios in 2010 and 2011 respectively. He throws just a touch under 95 on his fastball on average, and has had very nice walk rates over the last 3 years. His SIERAs have been funky over the last 3 years, disagreeing with his FIPs big time. This is just a 1 year deal, so its not a long term risk. 10 million dollars actually seems slightly low according to Fangraphs WAR, and this seems to be a pretty poor deal for Jackson. This is not only a great deal for the Nationals, but it makes me wonder why 29 other teams weren't making this offer.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is Vladimir Guerrero worth 5 Million in 2012?

I was intrigued by a report that Vladimir Guerrero and Johnny Damon are both holding out expecting a 5 million dollar deal. I clearly believe Johnny Damon is worth that, as he had a bad BABIP year in 2011 and was still worth his 5.5 million dollar salary. However, as I hadn't written an article yet on Vlad, I thought it would be interesting to see whether he is actually worth 5 million dollars to a team. He had just a .1 WAR with the Orioles in 2011, obviously not worth 5 million dollars, while over the 3 last years he has averaged a .8 WAR. Again, this is worth less than 3 million dollars according to the Halladay Standard. Over the last 3 years, he has averaged .54 Runs Created per game, or 75.8 Runs Created per 140 games or about 10 runs more than an average player. In 2011, he was about average at creating runs. Over the last 3 years, he has a 109 OPS +, with an OPS + of 101. However, he is terrible at defense, and the Orioles didn't even let him play defense in 2011. So while he seems to be a slightly above average hitter, you have to count that with his defense he is either a below average player or strictly a DH, which limits his signing places. This makes it borderline absurd to suggest that Guerrero is worth 5 million dollars, but in the end, it only takes one team paying it. Lets do a final projection. Using ZIPS, Vlad is projected to create 74.29 Runs in 137 games, so combining ZIPS, 2011, and 2009-2011, we get Guerrero with 71.8 Runs or about 6 runs more than an average player in 140 games with an OPS + of slightly over 100. So Vlad does seem to be poised to have a slightly above average offensive season in 2012. So if he is willing to settle for under 3 million, he is definitely worth taking a look at.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Projecting High School Statistics

We have already done several articles on college projections here, however, we discovered recently that drafting high schoolers brings a better return (or at least a higher ceiling). Because of this, we have to figure out how to project high school players.

I had to be a little creative with finding high school stats, because many times they are hard to find, especially for past seasons. I used batting average for high school because that was a whole lot easier to find. While batting average is a rather flawed statistic (see my article on Kala Ka'aihue), I have shown previously that it has about the same correlation to scoring runs as OBP (right click on the
image and zoom in to see it).

There seems to be a decent correlation between the ranking of high school batting average and A-ball OBP. The big exception is Matt Weiters who both in college and A-ball had a better OBP than high school BA. This could be two different reasons for this: A) he was a late bloomer type, while good in high school, he wasn't dominant like he was in college or A-ball or B) walks, walks, walks. He could have had a giant OBP in high school.
The biggest "bust" (great BA in high school and extremely low A-ball OBP) in the group is Jon Edwards. But that is just 1 out of 13, which is still a pretty good success rate, all 13 having .400+ BA in high school and being above average in A-ball. Rather than coming up with a metric, it may be more helpful to just note that any player in Major High School baseball with a .400+ BA is probable to have success in A-ball, and give out extra points for power, patience and defense. All 6 players with .500+ BA that have played A-ball have above average OBPs.We saw a similar correlation between high school and college, as all 7 .500+ BA guys were .360+ OBP guys in college. Once, you got into the .400s it got more tricky and was all out of order. I count 5 different players that had higher College OBPs than high school batting averages, while several others saw sharp decline. So strangely, there seems to be a better correlation between high school to A-ball than to college.

In our small sample size, there isn't really any correlation between high school ERA and College ERA. Even the guys that had ERAs under 1 in high school all had varied amount of success at every level. It didn't guarantee success. This is probably because ERA is a much more volatile stat than something like strikeouts. I would guess that a similar list showing K/9IP rather than ERA would provide a better correlation. Strikeout rates are a little harder to find for high school players, but they would be much better than ERA. Along with strikeouts, I would also look at velocity, which is one of the first things scouts look at anyway.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free Agent Watch: Jeff Frazier

In 2011, Jeff Frazier had the worst BABIP in the AAA International League, with a .237. This brought his batting average down to a .226, and OBP to .295. He walked about average at 8 percent of the time, with a mediocre ISO of .137. This bad BABIP isn't normal for Frazier, as his he had BABIPs of .333, .325, and .264 in 3 previous stints in AAA. His Neutralized stats (that is with BABIP set at .300) is .286 BA and .366 OBP. This projects to a .320 OBP in the Majors and (using his AAA SLG, projected for the Majors) .395 SLG, or 75.84 Runs Created in 140 games. This is about 10 runs more than an average player (or 2 runs more than average if you use .323 OBP and .377 SLG).
Has played just 9 games in the Majors and is 29 years old, so obviously demand isn't very high for him. He has spent most of his career as an outfielder, but has been playing a lot of 1st over the last year. He really isn't that good at either position, and one would expect him to cost you a few runs defensively, and probably offset a lot of the offensive benefit. According to Baseball Reference, Frazier is a free agent. If I were a team, I would definitely give him a non-roster invite to Spring Training and a minor league deal.