Friday, August 31, 2012

Notes on Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights

For no particular reason, I watched the Charlotte Knights (White Sox AAA) and Durham Bulls (Rays AAA) on MiLB.TV (a lot of it has to do with the quality of broadcast they have). I then decided to write a little bit about a few of the players I saw in the game.

Durham Bulls:

Jim Paduch was the right-handed (spot) starter. He was at 91-92 MPH and very hittable. He threw some 89-90 MPH fastballs with a little more movement and sink. His change was inconsistent in movement and location at 82-83 MPH. He mixed in an occasional 73 MPH curveball. Paduch had a lot of grip problems in the game and it made it really hard to make a read on his command/control. He is not a strikeout type guy, but could and probably should be a ground-ball guy. I am not sure why he throws that fastball high at really any time.

Cole Figueroa struggled at 3rd base in the game. He is listed as a 2nd baseman and is usually considered a good defender. He is a little guy that was acquired from Padres in Jason Bartlett trade with a little pop (not really a home run threat, but could hit some line drives and doubles).

Tim Beckham is probably the top prospect on either team. He has speed, athleticism, arm, and can hit the low pitch with some authority.  He hit the ball hard and on a line every time he made contact. His plate discipline is not very good though, and probably the weakest part of his game.

Henry Wrigley has been an interesting player statistically, but had some ugly chases on breaking balls. Both his numbers and his age suggest that he is something like a "mistake" AAAA hitter, and the empirical evidence seems to confirm that.

Leslie Anderson's swing was not pretty and he was chasing just about everything. He was able to make quite a bit of contact, but it was with below average foot speed.

Dane De La Rosa sat at 91-93 MPH with his fastball but didn't have much control of it at all. It is somewhat flat, but goes in on right-handed hitters. His breaking pitch looks like a curve at 81-82 MPH (it is either that or a terrible soft slider). It hangs there and doesn't have great or big break. He threw one good one, and it was the last pitch of his outing.

Charlotte Knights:

Josh Phegley is a former 1st round pick. Of course he doesn't run well, he is a catcher. You can see some power though, as he pounded the ball off the wall when he looked a little fooled on a changeup. There is some swing and miss in his game, but he got a breaking ball from Josh Lueke (who was 93-94 MPH but had no control over his off-speed pitches and was getting hit hard) and pulled it over the fence. Defensively, he didn't look that great, having some problems catching and blocking the breaking ball. His overall receiving skills just do not appear to be very good.

Scott Carroll was the starter for the Knights. The veteran RHP has a 88-91 MPH moving fastball. He has plenty of size at 6-4, so you think he will be able to get on top of the ball. He has a 82 MPH slider, that seems a little softer than its velocity. In other words, it doesn't "bite" hard. He can't really throw it for strikes.While Carroll can get AAA hitters to swing at it, I don't see how he could get MLB hitters out with it with any kind of consistency. He has no real 3rd pitch.

Jhan Marinez hit 95 MPH on his fastball and can locate it low. His command was shaky and he didn't show off a 2nd pitch, but the velocity is fun and he is still young.

Scouting Report on Sioux Falls Pheasants

Joe Anthonsen is a career independent ball player and is the small lead-off hitter for the Pheasants. He put a good swing on a breaking ball but doesn't seem to have much power or bat speed (mistake pitch batting average hitter). Cory Morales was the shortstop and is another career indy ball player. He botched an easy play and offensively, his swing/size doesn't give him much power. He chased a slider to strikeout. Jared Bolden was picked in the 9th round by the Texas Rangers in 2008, and even played 6 games in AAA in 2009. He played 21 games in AA last year (and 94 in A+, hitting .271/.314/.418). He had some really ugly at-bats, with a not good left-handed swing. He runs okay but is not a burner. His best tool is his arm, as it was excellent.

Roger Abercrombie was a 23rd round pick by the Dodgers way back in 1999. He played in 180 MLB games between the Marlins and Astros from 2006-2008. In that time, he had a -.3 FWAR, with a negative UZR (and an even 0 DRS), positive baserunning rating, and wRC+ of just 61. He spent 2009 in AAA Round Rock (Rangers) and had a wOBA + of 95. He has since been in Independent ball. He has good size, but he really seems to lack some bat speed. He has an open stance but closes it before the ball gets there. He hit the ball off the end of the bat, but it looked like there is some raw power though. There was just a lot of bad swings.In centerfield, his arm is strong enough, but he made a really wild throw. He has good range in the field despite being 31.

Jake Taylor was picked in the 35th round by the Marlins in 2005, but went to college instead. After putting up some big numbers at Missouri Southern State University, he went straight to independent ball, where he has struggled. He runs okay, and it looks like he can drive the ball the other way pretty well. He chased out of the zone to strikeout though, and seems prone to do so.

Cesar Nicolas was a 5th round pick by the Diamondbacks back in 2004. He got to AA and put up decent numbers but found himself in independent ball before getting a short stint in the Tigers organization (even getting a few games in AAA, but he is obviously back in independent ball again). He has no real speed at all and the plate discipline is a question. He can pull the ball well though.

Al Quintana was picked in the 40th round in 2005, and unlike most 40th round picks, Quintana made it to AAA. He played in just 17 games at that level though. He has a good looking arm behind the plate, but he was chasing pitches out of the zone.
Cristian Guerrero was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Brewers in 1997. In a long minor league career, he spent some time with Seattle, Washington, and Angels affiliates before going into independent ball in 2008. He looked just lost at the plate. His plate discipline was awful.

Mark Michael got a relatively short run in the Pirates system as a UDFA in the mid-2000s, but has been an Indy Ball veteran since then (and not a particularly good one). The starting right-handed pitcher was sitting at just 85-86 MPH on his fastball, getting up to 87-88 MPH later, and touching 89-90 MPH once each. He threw a rare changeup at 78 MPH with no real movement and it stayed up. His curveball was 75-76 MPH when he could throw it for strikes, and 71-72 MPH when it was in the dirt. It doesn't have loopy downward break, but it was his feature pitch. He was grunting throughout the entire outing, indicating some effort in his delivery. It may account for some of the variances in his velocity, although it doesn't look like a messy delivery with the eye.

Kyle Mertins is a RHP with an interesting delivery in which it looks like his foot is already down by the time his arm comes over the top. He threw a lot of mediocre sliders that were 82-84 MPH. His fastball was 89-91, hitting 92 MPH. It is straight and stays high, but at least with his slider he works both eye levels. Command/control is an issue for him. After being an okay reliever at Cal State Fullerton, Mertins was drafted in the 28th round by the Braves in 2010. He never had a good strikeout rate, but didn't walk too many batters and kept the ball in the park, putting up decent numbers but his career with the Braves ended after spending all of 2011 in Rome (A).

Alan Deratt is a beefy right-handed reliever who made it to AA with the Rockies (17th round pick in 2008). His overall K/BB in the minors was not bad, but he really wasn't given much of a chance in AA, pitching in just 3 outings. He hit 90 MPH on his fastball, with a 80-82 MPH slider with some sharp break. He can throw it for strikes or bury it.

Grand Prairie Air Hogs Scouting Reports

I saw the Grand Prairie Air Hogs of the American Association League twice (I got stuck with two tickets basically), once against the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks (who I already wrote about) and once against the Sioux Falls Pheasants (who I will write about next). Here are the scouting reports:

Andres Rodriquez is the 1st baseman and one of the largest human beings I have ever seen take a baseball field. The monster is 6-6ish 260ish and is just intimidating at field level. He has enough athleticism to not embarrass himself. He has some power and some bat skills.

Yasutsugu Nishimoto was the shortstop in game 1. He showed patience at the plate, but the left-handed hitter has no power and a slap swing. He seemed to struggle against lefties. Defensively, he doesn't have the best range, and he really needs to have plus defense. Bryan Frichter was the shortstop in the 2nd game I saw. His defense overall is blah, with an okay but not great arm. Offensively, he was chasing breaking balls.

Brian Myrow really cranked a ball into the alley and can run pretty well too. At the plate, he shows off a decent eye. However, he really lacks range at 3rd. John Alonzo was burned on the breaking ball. Jairo Perez doesn't have great range at 2nd and you would like to see him run better for someone with his size and style. He is a contact guy, and had a nice hit the other way. He was actually taken out of the 2nd game with an injury.

Jonny Kaplan can run a little bit, but is short, which is a weird profile for left field. He does have a nice arm out there though. Alberto Espinoza showed off a big but inaccurate arm in the first game, in the 2nd game, it just wasn't very good overall. He wasn't very good at blocking pitches either. He seems to have some decent power, especially for a catcher. He chased a really horrible pitch though. Trent Lockwood is a pretty big right fielder. The lefty hitter has a decent eye and a little pop but not pretty swing mechanics. Keanon Smith had a lot of problems on fastballs, even ones that were not that good. He showed off a nice arm in center field though and runs well.

Josh Strawn is scrawny and has somewhat of a messy delivery. The right-hander was sitting at 88-90 MPH and when it stayed straight, he was in trouble. He has a breaking ball at 81-82 MPH and a curve at 74 MPH with decent downward break. His outing started really strong and was certainly better than his stuff as he gave up a few really hard outs. He fields his position really well.

Somehow, he also started the 2nd game I went to as well. He sat at 89-91 MPH with a lot of fastballs early, and showed the ability to sink it. It almost works like a splitter, and when it does, it is his best pitch. He wasn't getting many whiffs and wasn't getting grounders, and gave up a lot of hard hit line drives. His slider didn't provide much speed differential at 87-88 MPH and doesn't have great movement as it goes into lefties. The fastball has some arm side tail and he hit 92-94 MPH in the 4th and hit 93 MPH in the 6th. I didn't see the curve, but I was more impressed the 2nd time I saw him.

Adam Miller wasn't very good overall early but threw a few 89-90 MPH fastballs that exploded late. He also broke a bat with his slider at 82-83 MPH.

Ronnie Morales is a sidearming lefty out of the bullpen. He breaks low with his body, almost like a submarine pitcher, but his arm angle is straight sidearm. His fastball was just 84-86 MPH (hit 88 MPH but didn't control it) but it can't be fun for lefties. He has a sweeping slider at 76 MPH that he showed in warmups but not in the game. He struck out a righty, but it wasn't a very good hitter. He showed a 78 MPH change. His command was solid, and I could see him being useful for an organization, especially if he shows a breaking ball. 

Justin Dowdy is a lefty reliever at 89-92 MPH. He has an interesting strikeout rate but too many walks. He has starter like velocity but his mechanics may not let him be one (and his control certainly won't). He showed an overhand curve in warmups at around 72 MPH.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Times to 1st: Part 4

1. Jorge Soler (Cubs A): 4.40

2. Jason Heyward (Braves): 4.10

3. Freddie Freeman (Braves): 4.51

4. Andruw Jones (Yankees): 4.41

5. Russell Martin (Yankees): 4.55

6. Tyler Greene (Astros): 4.04

7. Brian Bogusevic (Astros): 4.28

8. Mike Baxter (Mets): 4.33

9. Vernon Wells (Angels): 4.32

10. Bryce Harper (Nationals): (about) 4.00 (thanks to Kevin Goldstein)

11. Erik Kratz (Phillies): 4.58

12. Denard Span (Twins): 3.60 (on a bunt)

13. Hunter Pence (Giants): 4.10

14. Hector Sanchez (Giants): 4.47

15. Reed Johnson (Braves): 4.22

16. Chipper Jones (Braves): 4.54

17. Ben Revere (Twins): 4.06

18. Mike Olt (Rangers) 4.39

19. Joe Mauer (Twins): 4.30

20. Chris Herrman (Twins AA): 4.67

Monday, August 27, 2012

Scouting Report: Noel Arguelles

Noel Arguelles signed a 5 year 7 million dollar deal with the Kansas City Royals after defecting from Cuba. This means he is on the 40 man roster. Arguelles had a shoulder injury that cost him 2010.
This year, he has been brutal in his first shot in AA, striking out just 10.4% of batters, and walking 12.6 % of batters. His ground-ball rate is below average and his line drive rate is higher than league average. This all leads to a SIERA of 5.90 and FIP of 5.38. That FIP is the worst in the Texas League out of qualified pitchers. So what is going on with Arguelles? Is he a lost cause? Or is there still something there that gives you hope that he will be able to make it to the Majors and live out his contract? I watched his start against the Tulsa Drillers (Rockies AA) to see if I could find out.

At 6-4 220, the tall lefty has a high leg kick in his delivery. With a fastball that was just at 91 MPH (Scouting reports that I read say that the fastball is usually about 92 MPH), it provides a bit of deception, but could also throw off his mechanics. He was very fastball heavy in this outing. The pitched stayed high, but he could jam lefties with it. In his career he really hasn't been anymore effective against lefties than his righties (perhaps suggesting that this approach hasn't been effective or he hasn't been doing it often). In fact, this year, he has reverse splits, meaning he has been worse against lefties.

His curveball stayed way too high too often and wasn't very impressive.when he gets it down. Overall, it looked okay. Tim Torres took him deep and Troy Tulowitzski (on rehab assignment) nearly took him out in the first inning. Because the ball stays so high, he was giving up a lot of fly-balls. Keeping the ball in the park is actually something he has done reasonably well, with a below league average HR/FB% and HR/Contact%. It really helps when he can locate his fastball low.

I went back and watched his previous start as well against Frisco (Texas AA). In his Frisco outing, he threw the curveball a lot, especially to Engel Beltre. His command didn't look like a pitcher that has walked more batters than he struck out, and he looked like a pitcher with a better strikeout ability than his numbers. You can see what the Royals saw in him when you watched this outing. He had a really impressive inning in the first, as he struck out Beltre, Leury Garcia, and Jurickson Profar all in a row. His fastball velocity looked better than average.

I see several reports (mainly from before he signed) of a good changeup (that was better his curveball) but I never saw it when I saw him pitch. Some reports I read were worried about his ability to miss bats. This does make sense with the stuff he displayed when I saw him. It seems that it is all going to depend on his curveball. If he can control it and throw it low (after setting it up with his fastball) one could see him as a potential decent MLB starter. However, he is pretty far away from doing this.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kyle Gibson Scouting Report

Kyle Gibson had Tommy John surgery last year and has been working his way back this year. The first round pick in 2009 made his first 2012 start in AAA (in 2010-2011 he was pretty good in the International League with a 8.11 K/9IP, 2.59 BB/9IP, and .89 HR/9IP) on Saturday and I was able to catch most of it online. Gibson has a bit of pause in his delivery, but nothing too dramatic. The arm action is mainly over the top and the delivery is a little strange. He really takes advantage of his height (and frame) by doing so, but one wonders if this is why he was injured in the first place.

Gibson's fastball hit 93 MPH and he can throw it straight high above the zone and also run it down low in the form of a moving fastball. He did throw a straight fastball to a right-hander (Matt Tuiasosopo) down low and away and got a whiff for a strikeout. He showed the ability to keep the ball low for the most part and he  should be able to get plenty of ground-balls, which is important to the Twins.

Gibson can throw a rare changeup for strikes. It doesn't have a lot of movement but it does have good speed differential. It is the worst pitch out of the 4 or 5 (depending on whether you want to count the 2-seamer as a separate pitch) Gibson throws.

The curveball was also solid, getting him swings and misses with nice break. He can throw it for strikes and it is of the harder curve variety, but it isn't a slider (at least not in its break). He has a slider that is obviously harder and more of a dirt swing and miss pitch.

The amount of good options he has is very encouraging for Gibson and the Twins. He can keep hitters guessing with a few pitches he can throw for strikes and a 2 put out pitches (the slider and the fastball) and has the stuff to do it against good hitters. Many times, you see a guy with good stuff/movement/velocity, but no idea how to locate or mix his pitches, or just the opposite, a guy that can pitch, but doesn't really have the stuff to get hitters in the big leagues out. To me, Gibson isn't dominating, but has the full package. An above average fastball along with different breaking/off-speed pitches and movement is why Gibson was picked int he first round and should allow him to be successful in the big leagues. If he shows he is healthy in spring training, he looks like a guy who could make the opening day rotation. If he starts the year in the minors, it will be a good opportunity to improve his changeup, but if he starts in the majors, he should just junk it as it will be destroyed in the Majors.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scouting Reports on the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

On Thursday August 23rd, I watched the Grand Prairie Airhogs and the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the American Association. Thanks to a previous rain-out I have a ticket for another Grand Prairie game, so I will just put the Fargo-Moorhead scouting report here and write the Grand Prairie one after the second game.

Eric Campbell was the Redhawks' cleanup hitter and played 3rd base. He was in the Mariners organization and played in 58 games with the AA team where he had a .713 OPS before being released. Since joining Fargo-Moorhead, he has been about as good as he was in his 2010 stop with the team (1.013 OPS in 2010, 1.039 OPS this year). When he was with Seattle, I wrote about him here and here. Defensively, he made a bad throw for an error (he really should be a first baseman, although the bat hasn't really played there in affiliated ball, it plays there in Independent ball). Offensively, he hit a ball hard, but he also weakly chopped one as he was hitting grounder softly the end of his bat (usually meaning he was being fooled by breaking balls, as he was in affiliated ball).

Carlos Cota was picked in the 33rd round by the Blue Jays way back in 2002 (he is 31 now). He was with the organization until 2007 but found the transition from A+ (where he had good numbers) to AA (where he was terrible) difficult. He has been with Fargo-Moorhead since 2008, and has a .808 OPS in that time. He has a little bit of pop, but there is too much swing and miss in his game for his size.

The catcher was 24 year old Ryan Delgado. Delgado was drafted in the 32nd round by the Braves in 2010 and put up decent numbers (especially for a catcher) in small sample sizes. He showed off a really good arm behind the plate and I thought he did an okay job blocking the plate for an extremely wild pitcher. It looks like he has some pop in his bat, and is able to go the other way and pull the ball with a little authority. He did take some really ugly swings, and plate discipline seems to be an issue. In 83 games with Fargo, he is hitting .314/.363/540. I really wouldn't be surprised to see him get another shot at affiliated ball.

25 year old Jon Gaston has a little bit of power, especially considering his size (listed at 6-0 220, that might be a little charitable). He did have one really ugly hack to strikeout. He was drafted in the 7th round by the Houston Astros in 2008, and played in 17 games for the White Sox AA this year. He was somewhat of a Lancaster mirage, with an OPS near 1.000 there, and significant regression in AA Corpus Christi (he was actually worse in AA the second year, which lead to the end of his Astro career).

Nic Jackson was the 3 hitter and had 3 hitter type build. He has a bit of a weird stance as far as his hands go and had a big whiff on a high fastball (those two were probably not unrelated). He lacks speed and pull power. He is having a pretty good year for the Redhawks, but is already 32 and hasn't been in affiliated ball since 2007, when he was with the Mets' AA and hit just .209/.280/.396 in 100 plate appearances. He was a one time top 100 prospect according to Baseball America and was picked in the 3rd round in 2000 by the Cubs. He got to AAA but had just a .710 OPS in the hitter friendly PCL.

Zach Penprase is the 27 year old starting shortstop. He was drafted in the 13th round in 2006 by the Phillies but never made it past A ball thanks to an absolutely absent bat. He has an extremely strong arm, and as his minor league numbers suggest, he was not impressive with the bat (other than hitting a 88 MPH fastball hard). Unfortunately, he didn't show off much speed either. He has been with the Redhawks since 2008 and has a .786 OPS (which probably gives you an idea of the competition in the American Association).

The starting pitcher was Paul Burnside, a 25 year old out of the University of Auburn and former 39th round pick by the Chicago Whitesox (2009). He had an impressive stint in A-ball, but was let go earlier this year after 4 awful relief outings in A+. Since joining Fargo, he has a solid ERA but terrible K/BB ratio. As those numbers suggest, he had all kinds of problems throwing strikes and was extremely wild. He was mostly 89-91 MPH, okay for a right-handed starter, but his breaking ball didn't have sharp bite.

Joe Harris is a rather soft tossing lefty that the Redhawks used out of the pen. His breaking ball was decent and he used it often. He has been used exclusively out of the pen, even though some starters have succeeded with that stuff. He was never drafted and I can't find evidence of him playing college ball, so he seems to have appeared from nowhere. He is not small at 6-3, and has a 2.86 ERA out of the pen out of the last 2 years. He walks too many hitters for his stuff at about 3.5 per 9 innings and as expected doesn't strikeout a lot of batters.

Collin Mchugh Makes MLB Debut: Scouting Report

Collin Mchugh is a 6-2 right-handed starter that was drafted in the 18th round by the Mets in 2008 out of Berry College. He made his MLB Debut against the Rockies on Thursday. His minor league numbers are solid, with a 3.32 ERA with nearly a strikeout an inning as mainly a starter. This year, he had 12 starts in AA with a 3.04 FIP and then made 12 starts in AAA where he had a 3.84 FIP. Here are my notes on him from both watching him in his debut and looking at his pitch F/X data.

Mchugh was pretty fastball heavy (throwing it 61 times out of 100 pitches). He has a 90-92 MPH fastball that is pretty straight with seemingly a little bit of late spin (and a little backdoor tail on a couple I saw. Pitch F/X called a few of them 2-seamers, but I am just combining them all for ease). He often caught too much of the plate, especially against lefties. He really needs to keep them low to LHB, and it was effective when he did. While he threw some 91-92 MPH fastballs in the first inning, he was mainly (got as low as 88) 89-90 MPH afterward. There is a big difference, as 91-92 is fringe average for a right-hander, while 89-90 MPH is almost unacceptable for a (right-handed) starter unless you have good movement or great breaking pitches.

His second pitch is a 68-71 MPH curve (hit 73 MPH). It is clearly his best pitch. He can throw it for strikes, and it breaks late (not a loopy curve). At it's best, he can freeze hitters with it. When it is in the dirt, he can get whiffs and grounders from lefties.

His 3rd and possibly his worst pitch is a 81-82 MPH looks like slider. It does not have a lot of movement, and stayed up, especially early in the game. At best, it broke a little late, and hit 84 MPH-85 MPH (I am not sure that they were different pitches, but one could possibly say that the 81-82 MPH pitch was more like a changeup). It got better in the 4th when he was throwing it a little harder, and also had more downward movement. Gameday was calling it a curve as well which it most certainly is not. This really screws with the Pitch F/X data. Later in the outing, it regressed back to what it was earlier.

Mchugh's command was solid, and he didn't have control lapses. He looked very polished for a rookie pitcher. He is going to have to rely on his command with that stuff. He was extremely efficient, throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead. In fact, he was downright dominant against the Colorado Rockies. Of course, he is not this good. No one is .96 FIP good (or 1.72 SIERA good). So how good can he be in a sustained role in the Majors?

You really would like to see a better third pitch. He probably can't be a quality starter on his curveball alone and one would expect the more the Majors see his fastball the more it will be exposed. There is also the issue that he has a slightly different release point for one of his breaking pitches (due to the pitch classification mistake, we can't tell if it is the curveball or the slider):

If he was "tipping" his pitches, he most likely would have been destroyed in his outing, so he probably wasn't. You hear about pitchers releasing the ball different on breaking pitches, but in reality, MLB pitchers usually have a consistent release point no matter what the pitch. I am not sure what this means for Mchugh, I just found it interesting.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Scouting Report on Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon is the 2nd best prospect in Pirates system according to Baseball America. After 23 starts in Class A+, in which he had a 3.70 FIP and 4.02 SIERA, Taillon was promoted to AA.

The 6-6 245 RHP has a 95-98 MPH fastball with good movement. He threw a lot of them low and was surprisingly hittable. Taillon had more success with his fastball up high, although it had less movement. He can also really jam lefties with it. This should keep his platoon splits down. In fact, his platoon splits have been reversed so far this year, as he has actually struggled to get righties out.

At the beginning of the game, his curveball stayed high but had really sharp break. It improved as the game went along and he shattered a bat with it. It almost looks like a slider at times. Taillon should get plenty of grounders when he controls it (he had a 43.3 GB% this year in A+, roughly league average). The curve is a whiff pitch when he throws it in the dirt. He can throw it to lefties and righties and get swings and misses. It is an elite pitch when he throws it in the dirt and the AA hitters stood no chance.

He began the game with very shaky command but really got better as the game went along. Taillon has dominating stuff, and the command is a little rough around the edges but is not bad. While the arm action is somewhat strange, the delivery is very smooth overall. There is nothing to be concerned about there. When you look at his stuff and watch him pitch, it doesn't really seem to add up with the numbers. This has to be because of bouts of control issues. Even his strikeout percentage was slightly below league average. It certainly seems like I got to see him on his best day. It shows that his ceiling is obviously much higher than most pitchers. There isn't really any reason to think that he won't be a good pitcher in the majors. However, there was no real reason for him to be pitching that mediocre in High A. He is just 20 though, a few years younger than most of his opponents.

Scouting Reports on Brandon Jacobs and Randol Rojas

Brandon Jacobs was drafted in the 10th round by the Red Sox in 2009. However, Jacobs has shot up the prospect rankings since then and was ranked as the organization's 7th best prospect before the start of 2012. He was originally picked as mainly an athlete and almost went to Auburn as a running back. With that said, he has below average speed (I timed him at 4.33 to first), which is why he is probably relegated to a corner. So,he is going to have to really hit to make it as a prospect. This year in advanced A Salem, he has been somewhat disappointing in that respect, with a wOBA + of 101. Last year in A-ball, it was an acceptable 118. He has really struggled to hit the ball hard, with a line drive rate of only about 11%. As you would expect with his size (6-1, 225), he has a pretty big swing that looks like it is susceptible to strikeouts (25.4 K% over the last two years seem to support this). His walk percentage is about league average, but he had problems with breaking balls when I saw him. 

Randol Rojas was signed in 2008 out of Venezuela by the Texas Rangers. This year, he began the year in class A but was quickly promoted after 12.2 innings. Since joining Myrtle Beach (High A), he has been below average with a 3.96 FIP and 4.46 SIERA.
Rojas' curveball that has good drop and pretty good control. He keeps it low and doesn't really make mistakes with it.  He has a lot of confidence in it and it's his feature pitch. However, he doesn't have really good velocity on his fastball. He got in on Brandon Jacobs though and broke his bat. He also has what looks like a changeup with a bit of a drop. He seemed to be able to miss the fat part of the bat and get grounders, which he has in his career (1.40 GO/AO in his career). With that said, he seemed a little too hittable and gave up some hard contact, which he can't do with his low strikeout rate. 
Even if the curveball is elite, it is hard to see Rojas being a good pitcher in the Major Leagues. He simply doesn't miss enough bats and doesn't have the fastball. A straight under average right-handed fastball, even with a good curveball, is not something that gets a lot of pitchers to the big leagues.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Scouting Report on Mike Montgomery

Royals' prospect Mike Montgomery has had a disappointing year. After posting an above average strikeout rate and below average home run rate in AAA Omaha last year, Montgomery struggled with a below average strikeout rate and above average walk rate and home run rate. Montgomery was then demoted to AA and it has been the exact same story.

In watching him, I saw nothing in his delivery looked too messy, even though that is one explanation for why he is struggling. His fastball looks relatively straight, but he can throw it both low and high. It has slight downward movement when he throws it low, but he prefers to throw it high. That should be okay as a lefty with a above average velocity. He should easily be able to get lefties out with it. He got whiffs on his fastball from both lefties and righties when I saw him.

The change has pretty good speed differential along with quite a bit of late dip. He actually threw it for some strikes against righties, and it is good enough that he can do that without risking it being hit 400 feet. He can throw it in the dirt for swings and misses (and like most good changeups, it breaks like a splitter at that point). It is a well above average lefty changeup that will allow him to get out most righties.

The curveball has slow break and what is really nontraditional break for a curveball. It doesn't have the loop you usually see, but it doesn't have the sharp break you would expect in a slider either (not to mention that everyone calls it a curveball). It doesn't appear to be a very good pitch and is obviously inferior to his changeup.

The pitch selection is somewhat predictable. Against righties, it is fastball and change (although he can use the change early in the count and throw it for strikes) while against lefties it is a lot of fastballs with an occasional curve. I would recommend throwing his change more to lefties. It may not work, but it seems to have enough break that he could get them out with it. I saw him try it a couple of times, but he couldn't get it near enough to the zone for it to be tempting. Montgomery was just barely missing the zone most of the time with his fastball. It wasn't like when I saw Johnny Hellweg earlier this year when he was just all over the place. The control issue are troublesome, but one could imagine him fixing them. He is a tall pitcher at 6-4, and sometimes it takes longer for those pitchers to develop. He showed the ability to get grounders as well.

As far as Pitch F/X data goes, we only have data from 2 spring training outings, one from 2011 and one from 2012. In 2011, he averaged 93.9 MPH on his fastball and reached 95.5 MPH. In 2012, he reached 94.9 MPH and averaged 92.77. Interestingly, he showed not only a more inconsistent release point in his 2012 outing, but it was also different in angle and height:



At this point, Montgomery is basically a reverse split reliever:

If he can't get lefties out, there really isn't any way he can start. The walks and bouts of control issues are also concerning. Perhaps in relief those things will be ironed out, it wouldn't be the first time a wild starter turns into a strike throwing reliever. With that in mind, he is just 23. There is time for him to improve his breaking stuff to be able to get out lefties. His fastball command is also spotty enough that I wouldn't feel confident putting him in a big league bullpen right away (at least not in high leverage situations). I can't imagine the Royals bringing him up in September to get a shot at the bullpen, so sticking as a starter has to be the plan. A lefty with an above average fastball will be given plenty of shots, just because they are pretty rare. By my count, out of the 91 qualified starters in the big leagues this year, only 8 are lefties with fastballs over 91.7 MPH on average.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reds Minor League Pitching Notes: Stephenson and Contreras

Carlos Contreras is a right-handed reliever of the Cincinnati Reds A+. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and was just picked in 7th round of Dominican Winter League draft. His fastball gets up to 96 MPH with a slider (at 86 MPH) he can't really control. His control is an issue, which is why his FIP is 4.42 and SIERA is 3.81 in his career (not counting complex league stats). He has shown the ability to miss bats, but has had some problems with walks.

Robert Stephenson is considered by many to be the Reds best pitching prospect. The right-handed starting pitcher was drafted in the late 1st round in 2011. He sits (at least he did in his last start, where I watched him) in the 95-96 MPH range with a decent breaking ball. So far this year, between the Pioneer League and Midwest League, he has a 3.09 FIP and 2.84 SIERA. He can throw his curveball for strikes and locate the fastball low and high. His command is pretty good for that level, especially once you consider he is just 19. It seemed his problems control wise was against lefties when he would try to work outside and low and just miss. He got both whiffs and quite a bit of weak fly-balls (although he did give up a homer to a right-hander that isn't really a power hitter on an inside fastball). You would like to see him throw his curveball more in games, unless the Reds are specifically telling him to throw mainly fastballs (which I have heard some organizations do with their younger pitchers). So far in the Midwest League, he is getting less ground-balls than league average, which may be because he is throwing so many fastballs. It is hard to project a 19 year old that is nowhere near a finished product, but he certainly has the stuff to not only succeed at the big league level but to be dominant at times. You would like to see a third pitch to get hitters out the third time around, which he isn't having to do right now (thanks to pitch counts). However, his control is pretty good and he is pitching really well against hitters that are older than him.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Times to first: Part 3

1. Derek Jeter (Yankees) : 4.24

2. Jayson Nix (Yankees): 4.18

3. Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays): 4.40

4. Adam Dunn (White Sox): 4.63

5. Corey Hart (Brewers): 3.73 (on a bunt)

6. Ryan Braun (Brewers): 4.13

7. Adrian Beltre (Rangers): 4.27

8. Travis Ishikawa (Brewers): 4.26

9. Norichika Aoki (Brewers): 3.80

10. Adrian Williams (Brewers Class A): 3.85 (on a bunt).

11. Jamey Carroll (Twins): 4.23

12. Luis Martinez (Rangers): 4.33

13. Ezequiel Carrera (Indians) 3.91

14. Mike Trout (Angels): 3.86

15. Darin Mastronnati (Twins): 4.16

16. Raul Ibanez (Yankees): 4.30

17. Mark Teixiera (Yankees): 4.39

18. Corey Patterson (Brewers AAA): 3.45 (on a bunt)

19. Rajai Davis (Blue Jays): 3.87

20. Ben Francisco (Astros): 3.85 (on a bunt)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Scouting Reports on Mike Piazza and Bobby Borchering

Mike Piazza, whom I believe is a cousin of the great Mets catcher, was not drafted out of a technical college in Florida. However, he has had quite a bit of success for the Angels minor league system (2.74 career ERA), mainly out of the bullpen. However, he has been making some starts for the Angels AA team (a team that is a little thin starting pitching wise thanks to the Zach Grienke trade). I watched his outing from August 10th to see how Piazza looked. Piazza is pretty big at 6-4 205, definitely looking like a starting pitcher. He doesn't have a prototypical delivery, as he comes over the top. He has a
92 MPH fastball (90 MPH by the end of the game) and can sink it (or throw it straight low in the zone) and throw it high. It was better when it was low.
Piazza had some issues with his changeup. It would sometimes stay up, and it was not a very good pitch when it did this.  The pitch can get him quite a bit of grounders (he hasn't shown a very impressive ground-ball rate in his career, but is getting them 43% of the time this year) when he locates it. He has quite a bit of movement and almost breaks like a splitter. This gives him something to get lefties out without a plus fastball. However, anecdotal evidence showed that it was more effective to righties than lefties. Piazza also has a overhand curveball that he throws on occasion, but the only swing and miss pitch is his change when located. While he has shown he can pitch in AA, it seems that he will have to rely on good location, especially low in the zone and out of the zone to have success in AAA and the Majors. The delivery may give him the deception to make up for average velocity and mediocre secondary offerings, and one could see a scenario where he is an okay MLB starter or long man out of the pen. He does not have the stuff to be an elite reliever, so I think trying him out as a starter is the right move. If he proves that he cannot get lefties out, his value as a MLBer probably all but evaporates.

Left-Handed reliever Buddy Boshers throws 92-93 MPH. He was drafted in the 4th round in 2008 by the Angels. In 13 outings in AA this year, he has a 4.29 FIP but 2.25 SIERA. In A+ this year, he missed bats, striking out over 28% of the hitters he struck out.

Bobby Borchering is a switch hitter acquired by the Astros in the Chris Johnson trade. There are some questions about his defense and swing and miss tendencies. He is currently in the Astros AA affiliate, which was convenient as I got to see him in the same game against the Angels AA. He is tall looking for a 3rd baseman at 6-3.

As a lefty, he has sort of a closed stance and saw a lot of breaking pitches. This was for good reason, as he was fooled on the first off-speed pitch he saw and many after that. He has a big swing but it doesn't appear to be slow. The swing is flat, without a loop that would favor fly-balls. He kind of comes out of it, with not a good ending position with his feet. You can see the power though, and seems to want to pull the ball. As a righty the story and stance is about the same. He still has the same swing and miss.

He really struggled in AA before the trade, but since the trade he has a 129 wOBA + and 170 OPS +. He is actually hitting less line drives and more ground-balls. The big difference is that he is walking a lot more. He is just 21, but there is a lot to dislike at the plate.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Angels Bring up Steven Geltz: Scouting Report

Steven Geltz was undrafted out of the University of Buffalo but was signed by the LA Angels. 4 years later, he is being called up to the big leagues. Here is a short scouting report on the reliever:

The right-hander brings the ball back behind him and low before firing it over the top. His fastball doesn't look overpowering, but hitters seemed to have some problems catching up to it, perhaps because of the deception. He throws in the low to mid 90s, getting up to 95 MPH. He likes to throw it high and that is where he gets his whiffs. He also has a slider at at about 85-86 with pretty quick drop that he can use to get lefties out.

This is why the Angels brought Geltz up, he has this ability:

In AA this year, Geltz struck out 38.9% of the batters he faced, a crazy number. When he was promoted to AAA, that number dropped significantly but was still above average at 21.5%. His walks jumped from 6.2% to 8.4% (which is still slightly below PCL average). After posting a .87 FIP in AA, his FIP was a good 3.69 and SIERA a respectable 3.94 in the PCL.

I think Geltz can be a serviceable reliever for the Angels this year. Despite the deception, I don't think the delivery opens him up to being easily picked up by lefties. The fastball is good enough and the slider should keep lefties honest. He actually has reverse splits in the minors this year, so it will be interesting to see how the Angels use him.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Times to 1st (Part 2)

1. Jose Altuve (Astros): 4.06

2. Alcides Escobar (Royals): 4.09

3. Chris Getz (Royals): 3.95

4. Jarrod Dyson (Royals): 3.85 (3.60 on a bunt)

5. Salvador Perez (Royals): 4.50

6. Anthony Gose (Blue Jays): 3.89

7. Carlos Gomez (Brewers): 4.04

8. Jon Jay (Cardinals): 4.04

9. Matt Den Dekker (Mets AAA): 3.94

10. Delmon Young (Tigers): 4.09

11. J.J. Hardy (Orioles): 4.25

12. Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox): 4.19

13. Nate Mclouth (Orioles): 4.13

14. Mike Aviles (Red Sox): 4.01

15. Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox): 4.15

16. Domonic Brown (Phillies): 4.25

17. Kevin Frandsen (Phillies): 4.50

18. Andres Torres (Mets): 4.06

19. Andy Dirks (Tigers): 4.24

20. Prince Fielder (Tigers): 4.57

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Scouting Reports on Fort Worth Cats and Edinburg Roadrunners

On Wednesday August 8th 2012, I watched the Fort Worth Cats and Edinburg Roadrunners of the North American League. Why watch an independent game you ask? Every week in Matt Eddy's indispensable Baseball America minor league transaction report, you see several teams signing independent ball players to help fill their minor league rosters. Examples of it working include Joey Gathright playing in a few games for the Red Sox last year, and Steve Delabar for the Mariners (now the Blue Jays). Also geography plays a role. While Texas is a hot bed for College and High School baseball, it really isn't great for minor league baseball. The only two teams in relative driving distance are the Rangers' AA and AAA teams. I have already watched the whole Texas League and Pacific Coast League this year. While I would like to go scout the AZL, the GCL, or even the New York Penn League, that simply isn't an option. So without further ado:

Edinburg Roadrunners:

Matison Smith spent 4 years at Lamar College, mainly as a starter. His K rate wasn't very impressive at 5.29 K/9IP with a few too many walks at 3.11. He was undrafted but pitched in the Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League with the Astros in 2010 and 2011. While looking at shortseason statistics are sometimes dangerous, he was good. His FIPs were 2.49 and 2.67 (2.51 SIERA), while he was a little old for the level. In 13 starts for Edinburg, he hasn't been all that good with a 6.8 K/9IP and 4.2 BB/9IP.
He is a guy who could get another chance in affiliated ball. The smallish (6-0) first two pitches were hard hit balls. He can throw a breaking ball for strikes and would work backwards at times. The pitch provides him with some good speed differential, even though it doesn't have big movement. It really only got hit hard once. It was best when he threw it in the dirt, that was really the only consistent time he got whiffs (and he did a much better job of locating it as the game went along). His fastball was getting hit pretty hard though. There was just too many in the middle of the plate.

Stantrel Smith is maybe the Roadrunners best position player. At age 28, he has been in Independent ball since 2008 and has been mediocre with the bat (.289/.325/.384). He was originally drafted in the 16th round by the Angels way back in 2003. He flamed out in A ball thanks to awful hitting statistics. He has always been a stolen base threat though. He is tall and skinny and noisy at the plate with a lot of wiggle. It seemed to set him up to struggle with inside fastballs and he hacked at the first breaking ball he saw. He played left field which is not where his bat profiles. He is pretty speedy looking, but is an awkward runner (I timed him at 8.09 on a double, which is not incredibly fast). He did smack a couple of line drives.

I liked centerfielder Vincent Blue better. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Tigers, but that was all the way back in 2001. He has been in independent ball since 2007 after getting all the way to AA only to really struggle. His timing at the plate was off, but he has a good contact tool. The left handed batter showed off a good eye, which isn't surprising considering his decent walk totals in the minors. He also has good speed as well, as I timed him at about 4.00 to 1st base.

Wilmer Pino originally signed with the Yankees (NDFA) in 2005. Now 26, he never made it out of A ball, and has been in Independent ball since he was 21. He has pretty good size and I really liked his defensive range at 2nd base. The arm was a problem, but other than that he was really good out there. He also squared a ball up pretty well.

Carlos Hereaud was drafted in the 9th round in 2005. From what I kind find, he never made it out of the Arizona League and he didn't even embarrass himself out there. However, it is pretty obvious that they missed on the pick. He has below average speed and had some real bat speed issues. He was late on fastballs, it is just not a quick swing. My guess is that the scouts saw him in Arizona and saw that it clearly wasn't going to work out and cut him quickly.

Osiel Flores was the catcher and he showcased a really good throwing arm. He had a quick release and some real zip on the ball. Offensively, he had problems with the breaking ball but did hit an okay line drive. After playing for a couple of small colleges in Texas, he signed with the Indians. He played just 26 games in the organization before moving to independent ball.

Tim Battle, despite good speed ratings on the Baseball Cube and Fangraphs, did not look like a good runner to me. He was originally a 3rd round pick by the Yankees but never really hit enough to make it to AA. He wasn't impressive to me at all, and he was blown away by fastballs out of the plate.

Derek Perren is small and was fooled on the breaking ball. He was clearly relying on going the other way. Despite a big senior year at USC (after a poor junior year), he went straight to independent ball.
Felix Molina had what looked like a good swing and squared up on the ball well. It doesn't look like his bat speed or power is plus (or even average) but he hit a hard double. He is a little hefty for shortstop and he didn't have very good range. He was originally drafted by the Twins in the 21st round back in 2001 and made it all the way to AAA (only 3 games though). He also had a stint in the Astros' AA where he hit just .239/.310/.368 in 70 games in 2009.
The Roadrunners also had a player named Luis Zumosa. I hope I am spelling that right, as he is not listed on the roster and I can't find him anywhere else. He is not real big (compared to many 1st baseman) but he really cranked a ball just foul. It was the farthest hit ball in the game.

The first reliever for the Roadrunners (who kept Smith in the game far too long) was Robert Roth. Roth was picked in the 19th round by the Philadelphia Phillies and never made it to AA, walking over 5 batters per 9 innings in his minor league career. He seemed to be throwing pretty hard. He was just pumping fastballs by hitters and there wasn't much they could do with it. He change speeds with a decent breaking ball. His command wasn't great, but it gave him good speed differential and movement.

Paul Koss had a decent looking straight fastball he can throw low in the zone for whiffs. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round and made it to AA where he pitched well with a 3.48 FIP. He started the next year in High A anyway and was terrible, with a 5.44 FIP in 2010. He then went to independent ball, and was awful in 2011. He looked more like the good AA pitcher when I saw him. 

Fort Worth Cats:

Casey Russell had some success in St. Edwards but wasn't drafted. In 4 outings (2 starts) previous to this outing, he struck out just 2.6 batters per 9 innings and walked 3.7 per 9 innings. He is listed at 6-1 200. He was throwing hard and while he goes both high and low with the fastball but doesn't have good command of it. It seemed a little difficult to square up some of them for the hitters, as many of them looked like sinkers. They weren't fooling anyone though, and he can't miss bats. He had an occasional really slow breaking ball that he had no feel for. It was his most effective pitch when it was near the zone.

Jose Ruiz is a big first baseman from Cuba that was originally signed by the Rays for their AA team. After a .706 OPS in 23 games, he joined the Rangers organization in 2011 where he split time between AA and AAA. He hit a little better, but his OPS was still under .800, not really acceptable for a first baseman. He had some real problems with breaking balls when I saw him. He has some power though and was surprisingly good defensively, making a good scoop and then really flashing the leather on a hard liner he had to dive for.

C.J. Beatty was the Cats leadoff man, which makes sense with his build, but he also DH'ed, which made less sense. He has some pop, but was consistently getting under the ball with his upper cut swing. I don't think his power is good enough for him to continue to do that. He was a 26th round pick in 2009 by the Cardinals but was released after 2010, never reaching AA. He was really good in college with the bat but just mediocre in the minors.

R.J. Harris played center and didn't have a good arm. He showed off a good eye at the plate though. He was not drafted out of the University of Texas at Arlington (where he was terrible) and went straight to independent ball. Chuck Caufield has a plus arm and is a big guy with a RF profile (which is what he played). It looks like he has some power and really hit a ball hard. His speed is a little bit below average, but he looks decent defensively. He was picked in the 39th round by the Brewers and had a long run in the organization, getting to AAA for 4 games and 221 games in AA. He never really showed off the power in AA in the large sample size with just a .379 SLG.

2nd base for Fort Worth is anchored by recently signed indy ball veteran Antoin Gray. Gray was drafted by the White Sox in the 25th round in 2003. He reached AA quickly and was okay with a .727 OPS. Since then, he has been putting up pretty big numbers for different independent ball teams. He scorched a ball and walked twice despite being fooled bad on a breaker and whiffing bad on a fastball. He doesn't have real good speed, especially defensively.

Shelby Ford played shortstop and is pretty tall but doesn't have great range (along with below average speed, getting to 1st in 4.3-4.4 seconds). He also has some bat speed issues, with some swing and miss in his game. After being drafted in the 3rd round by the Pirates, he made it all the way to AAA, but was terrible there. I didn't like either of the former 3rd round picks in this game.

Brandon Jones was a 42nd round pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2002 but never played for the organization as far as I can tell. He played 3rd, despite being too big for it and really lacked the range and arm (the left side of the infield for Fort Worth did not have a good night). He has a weird stance where he keeps his hands low but he has some bat speed. He swung and missed a lot and was fooled badly on breaking balls. 

Out of the bullpen, Kane Holbrooks has good size and a reasonably hard fastball. He works both low and high, and despite it being straight it was getting some ground-balls. It was certainly best when he used it low. He didn't show a breaking ball and didn't appear to have swing and miss stuff. He was drafted by the Twins in the 21st round in 2009 and pitched just 1 game in AA. In 2011, he spent all of the year in advanced class A, and had a 4.45 FIP and 5.03 SIERA, both well worse than league average.

Former Major Leaguer Rick Bauer was the next reliever out of the pen. The tall right-hander had a little bit of cut and sink on his fastball. The velocity wasn't as good as Holbrooks, and the last time he pitched in the Majors (2008!) it was just 91.5 MPH. A pitch down the middle was hit pretty hard. His breaking ball is a soft sweeping slider, but his pitches were really being squared up and then he struggled to throw strikes. He then broke out what looked like a curve (something he didn't throw in 2008) that he could throw for strikes. His 2nd inning was much better.

T.J. Bozeman was undrafted out of a couple of relatively small Texas colleges and joined Fort Worth in 2011. He has a weird arm action and was throwing a lot of changeups. He comes over the top in a deceptive way and it makes his fastball looks better. While his change has good break, he doesn't quite have the fastball to offset it. He threw one change right down the middle to Hereaud that should have been a homer. Instead it was a weak popup.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Scouting Report on Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler made his AAA debut on Monday August 6th (2012). Wheeler was traded straight up for Carlos Beltran by the San Francisco Giants to the New York Mets at the trade deadline in 2011.

The first thing you notice is the fastball. Wheeler began the game with 95 MPH fastballs. He can also throw it that velocity with sink. He sat at 94-96 MPH most of the time. It has good life but up in the zone it is more straight (which is normal). He threw most of them up and surprisingly had some problems blowing it by hitters. He gave up lots of fouls early. He can take a little off it at 93 MPH, an got whiffs that way. It has a little bit more movement at this speed and stays outside to lefties (it seemed that he threw it mainly to lefties).

He also has a 87-88 MPH (touched 89 but didn't have good movement then) offspeed pitch with late movement down. It looks like a low strike then darts down into the dart when it is good. This will get more swings and misses than his fastball, especially the high fastballs. He can also throw it for strikes, on the low outside corner to righties. It is hard to hit it hard when it is placed there.

Wheeler really had to throw a lot of pitches in the first and was throwing a ton of fastballs to start the game. His first curveball (at 81 MPH) ended the first inning when he buried it in the dirt for a swinging strikeout. His curveball is sharp instead of loopy sits at 79 MPH. It is probably the pitch he controlled the least, although it can be a put away pitch when he commands it.

Overall, it is stuff that should get him plenty of grounders if not plenty of strikeouts. He really has 3 plus pitches with solid command/control. He walked a batter in each of the first 2 innings and lost his command in the 2nd for a little while. He ended up walking Mark Teahan twice an his control really faded towards the end of his outing. With that said, he wasn't wild at all, he just missed the plate (as in barely missed) with his fastball a lot. 

They will probably want him to make a few AAA starts (and he should), but he looks pretty close to the big leagues in my opinion. The Mets are going to shut down Wheeler pretty soon, so it is unlikely we will see him in the Majors this year. In 2013, he should be a pitcher to watch.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Measuring Players Speed: Times to 1st

According to most scouts, the MLB average runner will make it from home to 1st in 4.2 seconds when running hard. While there are different speed rankings, metrics, and reputations posted all over the internet on players, I couldn't find a place that had times to first for most players. So I decided to gather some times of some games I watch and post them here. Hopefully when people look for a player's time on Google, they will directed here (if he is a player I have timed). The plan for now is to update every time I get 20 times (not counting ones I get for separate scouting reports or post on Twitter, @clinthulsey). This isn't supposed to be an exhaustive database, because it simply won't be. It is mainly for fun and curiosity sake, although they can be used for scouting reports (feel free to use them). It probably won't get updated very often because I usually don't sit there and time players very often (even when I do, it is actually sort of a rare that close plays happen at first, believe it or not). This will be mainly big league players, but I will sprinkle in some minor league players as well.

1.Logan Watkins (AA Cubs): 3.87

2.Brennan Boesch (Tigers): 4.15

3.Howie Kendrick (Angels): 4.02

4.Mark Trumbo (Angels): 4.60

5.Quintin Berry (Tigers): 3.63 (on a bunt) (3.91 on non-bunt)

6.Erick Aybar (Angels): 3.44 (on a bunt)

7.Alexi Amarista (Padres): 4.04

8.Angel Pagan (Giants): 3.87

9.Dan Uggla (Braves): 4.28 (4.17 on a separate time)

10.Pablo Sandoval (Giants): 4.35

11.Greg Rohan (Cubs AA): 4.19

12.Carl Crawford (Red Sox): 3.93 (10.69 on a triple)

13.Robinson Cano (Yankees) 4.24

14. Mitch Moreland (Rangers): 4.70

15. Endy Chavez (Orioles): 4.12

16. Elvis Andrus (Rangers) 4.06

17. Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox) 4.13

18. Peter Bourjos (Angels) 4.05 (3.69 on bunt)

19. Starling Marte (Pirates) 3.76

20. Steve Pearce (Astros) 4.48

If you have any times you would like to share, comment, email, or Twitter me them and I will post them on here (and give you credit of course).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Minor League Pitchers Notes

Here are some short notes on just a few random minor league pitchers I have watched recently:

Brooks Brown in the Tigers AAA is a former 1st round pick. The righty has a 90 MPH fastball with a little bit of movement and a curveball. He throws too many pitches in the middle of the plate, but can get a lot of grounders if he can get it down. When I saw him, there wasn't much evidence he can. Brown has some real control issues, which is not a good combo with his mediocre stuff.

Helpi Reyes for the Jamestown Jammers can throw a curveball for a strike and get swings and misses on it when it is in the dirt. He throws pretty hard with a good fastball that he can locate low. Reyes also has a slider, but has less control over it. When I saw him, he got in trouble with walks.

Cody Wheeler of the Yakima Bears is a short lefty with a curveball, change (pretty good late movement, got whiffs), and fastball. Wheeler has a slow arm action and works pretty low with his fastball (you can probably can call it a sinker).

Victor Capellan is a drop down sidearmer from the Dominican Republic pitching for the Yakima Bears. He has good numbers even though he has no real idea where the ball is going. The pitches have good movement, both downward and sideways, and righties don't really stand a chance. It obviously doesn't look like he will be able out lefties.

Erik Jokisch for the Cubs AA is a lefty with a solid swing and miss changeup. He keeps the ball low, throws a ton of breaking pitches(looks like a curveball)/off speed. The fastball seems good enough, especially when he throws it high after starting low with off speed (pitching backwards).

Chris Manno of the Reds AA (came over in Johnny Gomes trade from Nationals) is a lefty reliever with a quirky delivery, in which he hides the ball behind his back and then throws sidearmed. It makes fastball look faster but I'm not sure how he will be able to get righties out (he did get one to fly-out on a fastball down the middle). The fastball stays high and I would like to see a breaking ball. He wasn't missing bats or getting many grounders.

Brady Wager in the Orioles New York Penn League affiliate is a righty at 91-93 MPH. He has no real secondary pitch though. Nathaniel Stolz of Beyond the BoxScore noted that he landed on a stiff leg and tended to rush his delivery.

Ben Snyder of the Rangers AAA was originally a 4th round pick in 2006. He is a little old to be considered a prospect and has a AAA lefty delivery (3/4 type with a LOOGY type release point). He  doesn't throw hard, with a lot of breaking balls (one of them being a slow curve). When he threw his change in the dirt (especially to lefties) it was a pretty good pitch, but he was getting hit pretty hard.

Bryan Mitchell of the Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees affiliate) is a skinny right-hander with a good looking straight fastball and a big curve. He can miss some bats with it. Mitchell will also throw a rare changeup. It is pretty good stuff for a 16th rounder but the fastball command is why he isn't getting good results.

Chad Pierce of the Brewers class A can throw a soft slider type pitch for a strike. The fastball is not all that impressive for the righty but he got swings and misses on the curve in dirt. It is a pretty slow pitch and Pierce can also throw it for strikes. Pierce has a moving fastball that he can throw to both sides of the plate, although it usually doesn't get down. This could be dangerous, especially if it moves into lefties with power . The straight fastball also got him in trouble, he needs to keep that pitch high above the zone.

Chris Lamb is a big lefty with a good looking changeup that can get him whiffs from righties. He also has a moving fastball/sinker with a curve. The curve is his swing and miss pitch and he can throw it for strikes (and has confidence throwing it with 3 balls). Along with the straight fastball, it is a pretty deep array of pitches.

Drew Granier pitches for the Burlington Bees (A's class A) with Lamb. He has a big curve ball with 2 plane break (meaning it moves both horizontally and vertically). It is the right-hander's feature and favorite pitch. He likes to throw it in the dirt, but can also throw it for a strike. Granier can locate his fastball on the corners and really appears to have swing and miss stuff. His moving fastball can both tail in and tail away to hitters from both sides.

Su-Min Jung was on Rehab (that was his official roster status, he has pitched as high as class A Peoria) in Boise, a shortseason affiliate for the Cubs. He has a low 90s fastball, a big curveball and a moving fastball. Can throw the curve for strikes but doesn't hang it. It is certainly his best pitch. It has some nice late bite, especially when he throws it low. Jung was basically pitching backwards when I saw him. The moving fastball was more of a sinker type pitch in movement. He didn't have much control of it.