Sunday, September 30, 2012

How our Japanese Projections did

So as the season in Japan and America is about to wrap up, it is time to look back at the projections I used to evaluate players coming from the NPB to the MLB and vise versa. Here is the major pitcher projection I used, and here is the major pitching projection.

As Jeff Sullivan points out, success in Japan to America isn't always linear. These projections basically assumed they were. The off-season was a long time ago, and regular readers will notice that their has been some revolution of thought on this blog. Now, instead of using the projections, I would scout more (video of most players are online) and use NPB Tracker's pitch data to evaluate pitchers. I've done this in other posts when looking at players in the two major leagues in East Asia. I just wanted to see how the projections did for fun and of course, to see if they had any predictive value.

From Japan to U.S:

Tsuyoshi Wada: After a spring where it was apparent he wasn't healthy, he had Tommy John Surgery and he didn't pitch in the regular season.

Yu Darvish:
Projection: 2.42 ERA, .995 WHIP, 192 strikeouts, ~6.5 WAR, worth 20-24 million.
Actual: 3.90 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 221 strikeouts, 4.9 WAR, 22 War Dollars (according to Fangraphs). I basically projected him to be around Cliff Lee statistically, and in FIP and FIP -, he was right around Cliff Lee.

Norichika Aoki
Projection: .388 OBP, .95 PPG, 2.97 PAPP, ~ 3.64 WAR, worth ~ 5-11 Million
Actual: .355 OBP, 3.2 rWAR, 3.1 fWAR, 13.7 WAR Dollars (according to Fangraphs)

Wei-Yin Chen
Projection:  1.162 WHIP 3.02 ERA, 6.072 K/9IP, ~5 million
Actual: 1.27 WHIP, 4.11 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 7.26 K/9IP, 9.5 WAR Dollars (according to Fangraphs)

Hisashi Iwakuma
Projection: 1.29 WHIP, 3.86 ERA, 77 strikeouts, ~5-10 million
Actual:  1.28 WHIP, 3.32 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 94 strikeouts, 2.1 WAR dollars (according to Fangraphs)

Munenori Kawasaki
Projection: .311 OBP, .61 PPG, 3.5 PAPP, and -1.15 WAR
Actual: .255 OBP, -.4 rWAR

From U.S. to Japan:

John Bowker
Projection: .316 OBP, .06 WAR
Actual: .261 OBP

Lastings Milledge
Projection: .361 OBP, .789 OPS, 1.43 PPG, 2.22 PAPP, 2.13 WAR
Actual: .379 OBP, .865 OPS

Jorge Sosa:
Projection (I didn't do a projection at the time, this is a back dated using the same transfer rate): 4.11 ERA, 1.396 WHIP, 7.69 K/9IP
Actual: 1.91 ERA, 1.174 WHIP, 7.0 K/9IP

Kam Micolio:
Projection (back dated again): 4.22 ERA, 1.525 WHIP, 13.01 K/9IP
Actual: 2.89 ERA, .964 WHIP, 8.7 K/9IP

Esteban German:
Projection (back dated): .392 OBP
Actual: .347 OBP

Wily Mo Pena:
Projection (back dated): .336 OBP
Actual: .333 OBP

(Victor Diaz did horrible in a short stint in Japan this year, but had been in the Mexican League for the past two seasons after stints in the KBO and Independent ball. He hasn't been in the Majors since 2007, so those statistics seem pretty irrelevant. Brad Penny made one bad start before hurting his elbow and coming back to the States where he has been pitching terrible for the Giants.)

I think a big finding is that the projections really underestimated how friendly the league is for pitchers and how devastating it is for hitters (the exception is obviously Lastings Milledge, who outperformed the projection by a lot). This has really changed over the past two seasons, as I understand it, a baseball change has made the league even more pitcher friendly. Any future projection system (not that I will design one), has to take this into serious account. However, this only applies to runs, as the projections overestimated how prevelant strikeouts are in the NPB, as the ones that came to America usually had more strikeouts and the ones that went to Japan had less strikeouts than the projections said they would. Of course, none of this adjusts for parks and that makes it at least somewhat inadequate. My metric on the relation between WAR and salary is much different than Fangraphs' (it is much more conservative, as mine is about 3 million per win, while Fangrahps is about 5 million per win).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Navarro College Scouting Report

Here is the final scouting report from the Weatherford junior college baseball tournament:

Zach Hobbs was the big left-handed starting pitcher for Navarro, but he didn't have an overpowering fastball. The slider doesn't have a ton of movement and he was trying to throw it for strikes. He was clearly pitching to contact and threw a lot of changeups as well.

J.D. Hammond is a deception right-hander with a lot of arms and legs coming at the hitter. The ball hides behind him until the last second. He wasn't throwing real hard and I don't think the delivery will work against lefties (he really tries to come in on them). He also throws a very not noteworthy curveball.

Drew Benefield is a pretty big catcher with a good arm. It looks like he may be able to generate some power with his size. As a pitcher, he had an elaborate over the top delivery but simple mechanics. He throws an okay high fastball but had more trouble when he threw it low. He just lacks the velocity. He can bury his curveball, which will help.

Tyler Wilson is clearly bigger than his listed weight. He doesn't have great bat speed and was trying to go the other way for some reason. That really cuts into his power. At first base, he didn't have much athleticism, and is a DH type (which makes the lack of power in approach frustrating).

Kaleb Goodell has the bat speed and a strong other way stroke as a small left-handed hitter. He struggled with off-speed stuff, even from right-handed pitching. He isn't very quick with the feet either.

Kevin Meredith hits balls hard on a line and plays a pretty good centerfield. He has a strong to decent arm to go along with range and run.
Mason Salazar looks athletic with a pretty good eye at he plate. He is not a good runner though and with his small size it looks like he lacks power.

J.T. Autrey is a big right-handed pitcher (6-6) that was throwing reasonably hard (although there was some solid contact made on him early). He has a pretty normal delivery and keeps his fastball low. The curveball is without big loop (Sort of a hard break but didn't look like a slider) and the change has good bite. He didn't have much control over either and the curve tended to stay up. Control is a serious issue for him except on his fastball.

Blake Griffin is a right-hander with perhaps a little deception but not a ton with his leg kick and how he uses his glove (it hides his arm). The fastball looks pretty good and he also throws what looks like a slider that breaks away from righties. He uses a changeup that breaks down. He got several whiffs on his fastball but his off-speed stuff stayed up and got hammered (his fastball then got hammered). He was absolutely crushed after a decent first two innings. He then made an adjustment and threw quality breaking pitches for whiffs.

Navraro also had a few players that were not listed on their roster. I took notes on them anyways as I expected the coach to email me back with some names and information. Apparently that wasn't very wise. I'll post the notes here with the corresponding numbers, and if any reader happens to know who these people are, I would great appreciate it if you could share that information (for now, I'm guessing I will wait until the spring, when the rosters will be better, and see if I can make the corrections).

Navarro had a scrawny right-handed pitcher with a sidearm delivery. His feature pitch drops like a change. Obviously, he didn't have good velocity but he does keep the ball low. The control wasn't great.

#9 will take a walk if you throw him breaking balls. He doesn't have a quick swing, so you can burn him with fastballs up, even when he has the platoon advantage. He can run up the line quickly with good looking speed.

#6 struggled with the strikezone against right-handed pitching. He also didn't look very good at shortstop, while #18 was destroyed by breaking balls. #28 had a lot of late swings and misses

#14 was the backup catcher. He has a slow swing and is not good at blocking pitches in the dirt with a rather weak arm.

#36 is a right-hander with decent size (looks tall) that tries to make up for velocity with deception. He gets his shoulder closed toward the hitter and then comes over the top. Has a curveball that is okay and could get him some grounders when he keeps it down (it should be hammered when up).

For ease, here are the links for all the other scouting reports from the tournament:

Panola College

Hill College

Grayson College

McLennan College

NorthEast Texas Community College

Weatherford College

North Central Texas College

Times to first: Part 10

1. Ryan Doumit (Twins): 4.40

2. A.J. Pierzinski (White Sox): 4.63

3. Gordon Beckham (White Sox): 4.44

4. Nelson Cruz (Rangers): 4.48

5. Carlos Triunfel (Mariners): 4.12

6. Craig Gentry (Rangers): 11.05 (on a triple)

7. Josh Reddick (Athletics): 4.31

8. Daniel Descalso (Cardinals): 4.13

9. Starlin Castro (Cubs): 4.14

10. Pete Kozma (Cardinals): 4.12

11. Matt Holliday (Cardinals): 4.36

12. Chris Parmalee (Twins): 4.46

13. Curtis Granderson (Yankees): 4.16

14. Chris Davis (Orioles): 4.43

15. Jorge Alfaro (Rangers A): 4.18

16. Carlos Ruiz (Phillies): 4.66

17. Ian Desmond (Nationals): 4.27

18. Franklin Gutierrez (Mariners): 4.23

19. Kendrys Morales (Angels): 8.94 (on a double)

20. Jesus Montero (Mariners): 8.82 (on a double)

So here are the updated times:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Panola College Scouting Report

No reason for an introduction, here is the scouting report on Panola College's baseball team:

Darian James is somewhat small (he is listed at 6 feet tall), but he looks well built and can run. He showed some patience at the plate and hit a hard liner while playing centerfield on defense. 

Adam Atkins has a good arm behind the plate but struggled in the receiving department.

Aaron Pangilinan has good looking plate discipline to go along with some power. He looks like he just wants to spoil pitches that are thrown outside. The swing isn't the quickest path to the ball, but he has a good arm at 1st base.

Greg Martens is small and doesn't have great speed (or bat speed for that matter), but he hit the ball well, putting a charge into it on occasion. He plays corner outfield but made a nice play and has a plus arm.

Jacob Blissett is a catcher with slow bat speed but he has some pull power if you get the ball in or up. He isn't fast (as you would expect), but he isn't a baseclogger.

Matt Spriull clobbered the ball during the games despite not having great bat speed or patience. That combo leads me to believe he will strikeout a lot.

Trevin Sonnier has a compact swing that gives him some pull power despite not having a lot of size. At shortstop, he was less impressive, with not a lot of range and a weak arm.

Corey Mills is a big guy with big power to go along with it. Clint Cage got a brutal read in right-field and is not a good runner. His swing isn't desirable, but he does have strength. Taylor Hodges made a really good plate at 3rd base, but also made a really bad one. Hunter Hagler runs okay, but is not what you would call fast. 

Randy Ventura played right-field (he is also listed as a pitcher but didn't pitch in the tournament) and is reasonably quick on the bases. At the plate, he wants to hack and was in front of breaking pitches. When he gets a hold of one, he has legit pull power.

Maxwell Bubba is a short and small right-handed pitcher that does a decent job of extending his arm and body to get some fastball velocity. He doesn't have a quirky delivery, it is just a long stride. His fastball is really straight and looks hittable. He didn't show a breaking ball in his first inning, but it was effective when he did throw it.

Preston Guillory is a taller right-handed pitcher. He had good speed differential between his fastball and his breaking pitches, but the control of the secondary pitches wasn't there. This could be why he was mainly throwing the fastball (even though the command of that wasn't that good either). He threw one really nice looking change but the rest of them were really mediocre.

Hunter Palmer gets some tail away from right-handers (a couple of times he tailed into righties) on a unimpressve fastball. The hitters weren't very impressed with this either and hit it well.

Kolbe Schufft is a short right-hander with not very good velocity and a pretty straight fastball. He didn't go to the slider until he was already being rocked. He didn't have much control of it and had to go back to the fastball.

Robbie Petty has a jerky motion in his delivery before he throws the ball over the top. He has a pretty decent looking fastball along with a slider with slight horizontal break. He threw one really good one. His mechanics must make it hard for righties to see and hit. He has a changeup as well that he can throw for strikes.

Gavin Williamson is a little thin with some deception in a long delivery. He has some downward movement on a below average fastball (although it may be an average fastball for the tournament overall) as his delivery allows him to get on top of the ball. He can throw a curveball for strikes, but doesn't get it down as much as you would like. I think he also showed a change as well.

Bryan Landreneaux is another small right-hander who gave up an absurd amount of contact. The breaking ball breaks away from right-handers and he likes to throw the fastball both inside and outside. He also has a change that he can and will throw for strikes.

Tyler Stallings started by throwing a change, and when he threw his fastball, the right-hander was missing arm side. He likes to try to jam hitters on both sides of the plate with what looks like decent velo and maybe a little bit of cut.

Gavin Murrell has an over the top delivery with a curveball he can throw for strikes. He located the fastball low and got a lot of grounders. Jesse Hanson is a righty with a hip turn. He got some whiffs on his fastball and his off-speed looked like a solid change that darted low late.

Giles Virgin is a lefty that doesn't throw hard at all. He tries to sink it and throw breaking balls that wouldn't always make it to the plate.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hill College Scouting Report

I watched Hill College in the spring, and here is my report from then. And here is my scouting report on them from the Weatherford tournament:

Pedro Rodriguez is a small lefty that has a 83-85 MPH straight fastball with a 69-70 MPH curveball. He did get some grounders and weak pop-ups.

Brandon White is a right-handed pitcher with decent size that somewhat comes over the top. His fastball is at 86-87 MPH with a little sink or cut. His change was at 83-84 MPH and didn't have real movement. He also throws a 75-79 MPH breaking ball that he can drop to to 71 MPH as a slow curve with more break. He slows down his arm action though, and was pretty much tipping his pitches.

Shea Leman is a small right handed pitcher sitting at just 85-86 MHP with a little sink. He throws a 72-75 MPH curve that he can bury in the dirt or occasionally throw for strikes.

Trent Fontenot has similar build to Leman with a hip turn and arm action to hide the ball. He has a 87-89 MPH fastball with a 82-83 MPH split/change with strong drop. He also throws something with similar movement at 78-79 MPH but doesn't have much control over it. One Big 12 scout moved down just to see him and went back up after he was done pitching.

Zach Reininger was throwing 85-87 MPH (touching 89 MPH) with a 75-78 MPH breaking ball. It doesn't have much break, but had some decent gloveside tail.

Cody Farr is a legitimate submarine pitcher, that throws just 73-77 MPH and gets down to 67-70 MPH with downward movement. He was a little hittable against right-handed batters, and may just throw too soft. He is actually pretty tall, which is a little surprising for a submarine pitcher.

Nathan Harris is another small right-handed pitch that throws just 83 MPH but at least has a 3 pitch mix. He throws a 75-76 MPH slider along with a 71 MPH curve he can throw for strikes. 

Dane Burman has a solid arm behind the plate to go with a big frame. He looks like a good defensive catcher in all. Of course, he is as slow as a baseball player can possibly be. At the plate, he was jammed on the fastball and had some really poor at-bats.

Shortstop Bryce Stark can run a little bit and is a contact hitter. Brett Murray struggles with breaking pitches and doesn't have a pretty swing. He likes to pull the ball and can hit it hard when he gets a hold of it.

Adonis Askew has a bit of a long swing in which looks like is just a slow start and not so much slow bat speed. He has good size with good speed and plays centerfield. He needs to work on his reads and routes, but there is potential there.

Justin Arrington doesn't run well for a small guy and I didn't like his swing for the most part. He did do a good job of getting his hands extended on an outside pitch. Mason Paxton has a good arm in right-field but is small for a corner outfielder. He did show some other way pop with the bat. Nick Marti was hitting the ball hard, but is another small corner outfielder. His range and arm aren't very notable either.

Grayson College Scouting Report

Here are the scouting reports on Grayson College:

Trey Barker is a lefty with decent looking size but wasn't throwing very hard. He has a Tim Lincecum type turn in his delivery with a sharp breaking ball with nice tilt but he doesn't have much control of it.

Colin Tillini is a right-handed pitcher that throws a 85 MPH split/slider and reasonably hard fastball. He also showed what looked like a slow curve. He didn't have much control, especially over his breaking stuff, and missed a lot to his arm side. There is a lot of moving parts in his delivery, but it is a fluid motion. I thought he was one of the better stuff guys of the weekend but also had some of the worst control of the weekend.

Cody Krabbe is a sidearm/submarine RHP (it seemed lower than the traditional sidearm, but wasn't quite Chad Bradford). He throws reasonably hard for his delivery and predictably took care of right-handed batters easily. He can change speeds, even though the movement wasn't really there, and showed off solid command/control. 

Luke Jones is a RHP with deception created by a hip turn. He throws an 89 MPH fastball that was perhaps a little more hittable than I thought it would be. His breaking ball is 73 MPH and comes low and in on lefties. It could be how he controls platoon splits (that may be created by his delivery) if he can gain some control over it, as it has really nice break.

Mike Nolan is a tall left-handed pitcher that throws a straight fastball that isn't very hard. He has some armside tail on a secondary pitch, a changeup that he seemed to throw more to lefties (which is slightly strange). He made a couple of left-handed batters look really bad.

Zach Brown is a right-handed pitcher that is a little short but has one of the easiest looking deliveries you will ever see. He was obviously pitching to contact and was really hittable with a mediocre curveball.

Tim Drozo was fooled on breaking pitches. Zach Reding is a left-handed hitter with some size and power that also plays centerfield. The concern is that his bat is a little slow. Michael Gill saw a lot of breaking balls but did a decent job of laying off of them. He looks athletic.
Kevin Cornelius is sort of small, but has decent bat speed to go with plate coverage and a good swing. He doesn't have much power or patience though, and was really burned on breaking balls.
Hunter Courson was doing a nice job behind the plate, blocking some pitches but some really wild pitchers. He is not big and doesn't have a great arm, but it is good enough. He showed some pull power on a ball almost in the dirt and runs well for a catcher.
Austin Krajnak is a right-handed batter that plays catcher, but doesn't look or run like one. At the plate, he has an open stance but leans back when the ball is thrown and gets on top of it too much.
James Gillean is a below average runner, but plays a solid 2nd-base with good arm and range. 

Robert Rosser doesn't look like a 1st baseman but played it for Grayson. He chases just about everything and tries to make up for it with good plate coverage and contact ability. He doesn't look like he will produce much power in his current frame. The left-handed batter with an open stance had all of the bad tendencies and awkwardness of Hunter Pence. He played a solid right-field as well and made a good catch out there.

Cody Gunter was a good looking 3rd baseman that also pitches (RHP) according to the roster (I didn't see him pitch though). He has decent size and is a left-handed batter that showed opposite field power and took some close pitches. He consistently hit the ball hard.

Sharka Starling can run, and that is his best tool. He is going to try to bunt and play that kind of baseball. His swing is not great and he didn't always look great at the plate. He played right-field, and I really wanted to see him play center-field, but he dropped a really easy fly ball.  Here is some video of him batting:

Homero Ortiz is a 1st baseman that is short and stocky with a quick swing. He is a pull hitter that can hit lefties as a lefty and there looks like there is some pop in the bat. He also chases a lot of pitches though and is a bad defensive first baseman without any kind of running value. As a pitcher, the big lefty has okay velocity but his fastball is pretty straight and hittable. His slow curve doesn't have much loop to it. I doubt he can live with it as a strike. He also has a change with good late movement, and that is his best pitch.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

McLennan Community College Scouting Report

Here are the scouting reports for McLennan Community College:

Blake Zieren is RHP with a little bit of a hip turn. Since I took some decent video of him, I'll let that do the talking:

Trey Wall is a skinny right-handed pitcher with a pretty violent over the top delivery. He had some serious release point problems and didn't have much as far as control goes. He showed off a decent breaking nall in both break and speed differential

Connor Comacho is a short and skinny right-handed pitcher with some deception that makes his fastball look like it gets in there quick. The breaking ball needs work as it doesn't have sharp break or command.

Kody Hessemer is not a big RHP (the roster doesn't have listed height or weight) and doesn't throw real hard. He hides the ball with a leg kick and his curveball does a better job of changing eye level and speed than it does of actually creating swing and miss movement. He was hit pretty hard but threw a couple of good fastballs.

Andrew Sanchez is a short RHP that really gets some length in his stride and releases the ball from a low position (though not a low arm angle). He doesn't have a lot of feel for his breaking ball and his fastball was hit pretty hard.

Since McLennan has one of the shorter scouting reports out of the teams in the tournament, I will include notes on 2 Cisco College players. Their roster was not updated online and the one that they handed out at the stadium didn't have numbers on it. When I emailed the coach, he didn't seem to have much interest in giving me the names of a couple of guys I was interested in.

I did know who two players were, Jesus Villalobos and Cameron Massengill. Massengill is a pretty big catcher (listed at 6-1 190, I'm not buying that) with a slow long swing. Jesus is not a good runner and actually looked like he was having hamstring problems. He has a good athletic build and when he hit the ball (he seems to have some contact problems), he hit it hard. He has a big hack where he takes his head (and most importantly, his eye) off the ball. Breaking balls are going to cause Jesus some problems.

Clay Deen is a little infielder who is also listed as a pitcher (which is surprising considering his size). His swing looked pretty long. Tyler Floyd did a nice job behind the plate and is a short stocky guy that is not much of a runner. He has somewhat of an arch in his swing. Trevor Podsednik showed some patience but is a below average runner. Kyle Thornwell had some of the worst swings of the entire weekend. Reid Coover is not particularly fast as a first baseman, but he has good reactions defensively. Offensively, he doesn't have a pretty swing.

Cole Calder has good running ability and showed a little pop with an uppercut swing. He is not going to swing at high pitches, but was late on some fastballs because his bat looked a little slow. He was also fooled on breaking balls. He played centerfield and had a weak arm. Enrique Oquendo didn't seem to be getting the power that his frame should produce. He is a below average runner, but played a good RF despite some bad routes.

Zach Gonzalez has sort of a short compact swing and is looking to go the other way. He isn't going to produce power, but he has good mechanics.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Times to first: Part 9

1. Wilin Rosario (Rockies): 4.58

2. Tyler Colvin (Rockies): 4.17

3. Josh Rutledge (Rockies): 4.24

4. Dexter Fowler (Rockies): 3.56 (on a bunt)

5. Jeremy Hazelbaker (Red Sox AAA): 4.02

6.Tony Thomas (Red Sox AAA): 4.28

7. A.J. Pollack (Diamondbacks AAA): 11.31 (on a triple)

8. J.C. Linares (Red Sox AAA): 4.23

9. Che-Hsuan Lin (Red Sox AAA): 4.20

10. Josh Bell (Diamondbacks AAA): 4.25

11. Andy Laroche (Red Sox AAA): 4.49

12. Avisail Garcia (Tigers): 4.02

13. Stephen Drew (Athletics): 4.19

14. Derek Norris (Athletics): 4.40

15. Albert Pujols (Angels): 8.83 (on a double)

16. Mark Ellis (Dodgers): 4.23

17. Brayan Pena (Royals):  12.73 (on a triple)

18. Miguel Cairo (Reds): 4.31

19. Elian Herrera (Dodgers): 3.91

20.Justin Maxwell (Astros): 4.28

So here is all the times we have so far in 3 spreadsheet screenshots (clicking on them should make them larger for better viewing. You should also be able to save them if you want. Fell free, and you don't need to ask permission to use them for any purposes whatsoever. That is what they are here for.):

NorthEast Texas Community College

Here are the scouting reports for NorthEast Texas Community College:

Luke Wyatt has a little bit of tail on his fastball, but the velocity is below average. He throws an overhand curve for strikes low in the zone and looks like he has a change as well. He was really squared up a lot.

Tanner Beattie is a big RHP (listed at 230 but maybe more) with okay velocity and a curveball. The fastball was straight and hittable.

Justin Schnieder was sitting 87-89 MPH with a decent 2 plane break curve (it breaks into lefties). The delivery seems pretty rough as he puts a lot of pressure on his arm. He can sink his fastball a little and throw it high, along with a slider that breaks down hard. He was somewhat wild. 

Daniel Tockhorn is a tall right-handed pitcher, but comes sidearm. This arm motion really kills everything as he throws just 85-86 MPH. It is not even the good sidearm that would give you platoon splits. He did show a sweeping breaking ball but didn't have much control over it.

Brandon Terry is a sidearm right-handed pitcher that was obviously not throwing hard, but did a good job keeping the ball low. He threw a lot of breaking balls with decent bite. He struggled with consistency and was wild in his 2nd inning of work.

Cade Andrus is a short RHP that was throwing just 87 MPH. He has arm side tail and nothing he throws is straight (I think I saw a curveball). He did an okay job of getting on top of the ball, but he just lacks the velocity.

Kyle Neeley is a short lefty with ugly looking over the top mechanics. He was inconsistent but showed a slow curve that goes glove side (2 plane break) and was best when it swept out of the zone. The fastball was poor and usually stays arm side but he will occasionally throw it high.

Cameron O'Brien is listed as a catcher, but doesn't look like one. He has a nice line drive stroke with some pop behind it. He has a solid arm behind the plate, but was not the best at blocking balls and had other general receiving problems. He has pretty good power and is probably about an average runner.

Matt Durst is also listed as a catcher and looks more like one than O'Brien (he is stocky as well). He has a pretty quick swing and tore into a breaking ball (but will whiff on them as well). He can't really run but has a good arm.

Austin White is not much of an athlete (though he can run little, he is tall and build like a corner outfielder) and was a poor defender at 3rd. At the plate, he was fooled on breaking pitches but produces strength with a non-violent swing. His mechanics aren't good as he has a hitch in it which makes it take longer for it to get started.

Julian Service packs a punch at the plate for his frame (he is not big) and is probably below average when it comes to speed. He doesn't have a great swing, but he is a patient/passive batter that is not going to chase. Defensively, he has a cannon in right-field.

Dalton Daniels runs well and makes up for his small size with bat speed. His arms don't really match his body, and that is a good thing. He played left-field and played it well and is a good runner.

Austin Lick swung through breaking balls badly. Jason Freeman is big without much speed, and seems to use both fields well with the bat. Wesley Hoover can run, especially for his short/stocky stature. He has nice range and plays what looks like a good centerfield. Patton Allen is pretty well built, but the bat is a little slow.

Weatherford College Scouting Report

I have already written about Weatherford here and here, but this report includes almost all guys I haven't written about.

I was disappointed that I didn't see Jacob Stone pitch, who was drafted in the 39th round by the Reds this year (but did not sign) and was considered a top 250 draft prospect by Perfect Game and a top 500 prospect by Baseball America.

Skyler Wheeler has sort of a weird delivery. It is not quite Ubaldo Jimenez like in his delivery, but is similar in how he rocks back and comes over the top. He was throwing hard and in turn was getting hit pretty hard. He was throwing a lot of changeups and could locate them pretty well.

Seth Henry is a 6-1 righty with a somewhat jerky over the top motion. He throws a lot of off-speed pitches that he buries in the dirt. Here is some video of Henry that includes some good video of Erik Garcia (talked about in the previous articles) behind the plate:

Scouts seemed to be more interested in E.K. Everett than most of the other pitchers the teams ran out there in the tournament. He threw a lot of off-speed pitches with an okay looking fastball.

Weatherford always seems to have good pitchers. Alex Gebert has a pretty hard fastball with good velo and life. He has a good array of off-speed with good speed differential. He throws a hard splitter that he doesn't have much control over at all. He also has a slider that he hung and a change as well. He misses a lot to his glove side with his fastball and has a little bit of deception in his delivery. There is a difference between being wild and just having bad command. Having bad command implies that it is fixable while wild is extreme and perhaps not fixable. I thought Gebert just had bad command.

Lefty Parker Thomas is not real big at 6-0 195, but he has a decent fastball that he can locate with a curveball with pretty nice bite.

Hunter Roberts has a fastball that appears to "rise" (I know how gravity works) and tails gloveside. He looks a lot like Thomas except he isn't throwing quite as hard. He is 1 inch taller and a few pounds lighter. He had some problems throwing strikes, but did have some good movement and a curveball.

Blake Douglas is a big right-handed pitcher (6-5) and hides the ball in his body. His fastball has armside tail and he keeps it pretty low and it comes in on righties. He throws a rare change with a little dip, but it's best attribute is his speed differential. 

Dean Redden is small and wiry for a catcher, but has a good looking arm. There is a good chance he will fill out. He has a pretty quick looking bat but perhaps a hitch in getting it started. Cotton Hall is a left-handed hitter who struggled with breaking balls. There does seem to be some other way line drive power there.
Trevor Simms has a dip in his hops during his swing and has slow bat speed. He is also listed as a pitcher and I assume that he is better at that than hitting as an outfielder.

Aaron Collazo doesn't have a flat or pretty swing, but it is compact. He can run and has a good arm, but he plays left-field. He is not a corner outfielder type. I would really like to see him play a position like 2nd (if he can).

Cameron Allenhagen has a somewhat slow swing. He doesn't look like a great runner but has a strong and accurate arm at 3rd. Trooper Reynolds looks athletic with his build and has a solid arm at 3rd. He looked really bad against right-handed pitching but can hit the ball with some authority. Paxton Delagarza turned a really sweet looking double play from shortstop and showed a good eye at the plate. Cody Semler played a good 2nd base but seemed fooled on off-speed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

North Central Texas College Scouting Report

I went to a tournament in Weatherford Texas that went from September 21st-23rd that featured several different junior college baseball teams. I wrote scouting reports on most of the teams that played, and most of the players on those teams. Here is the first team, North Central Texas College:

Garrett McMullen has a violent, but quick hack that lets him get on balls. He doesn't have great plate discipline, but makes contact and occasionally hard contact. There is some power there.

Bill Bay at first base has decent size but is a really awkward runner. He may have some power potential, but doesn't have the plate discipline to go along with it.

Greg Davis doesn't look like a 3rd baseman and didn't play it very well. He is really a 1st base/DH type player as he lacks the range and athleticism (although he has a serious arm, which maybe makes you speculate that you should try him at a corner outfield spot). He has some power at the plate.

Craig Ramsey (or whoever #36 was) was listed as a pitcher but I only saw him hit. He has slow bat speed and repeatedly swung over breaking balls. He hit a ball pretty well, but doesn't have a lot of foot speed. Michael Bosch is not a great runner but played a good centerfield. He drilled a ball on a line.

Charles Deckard has good blocking skills behind the plate, but the arm is mediocre as there is too much loft and he doesn't have accuracy. He also whiffed on a ball he should have caught on a stolen base attempt. His skills offensively and baserunning are marginal at best as he didn't look very good.

Jamie Ball is a good sized left-handed hitter (that was redshirted last year if I read the roster right). The Freshman outfielder looks athletic but lacks plate discipline and his bat is not really quick (he was pretty jammable). He put a real charge into a ball, but he wasn't as good of a runner as I thought he would be.

Matt Michalski is a right-handed pitcher with a decent looking high straight fastball. Righties really couldn't square it up and it gets on hitters quickly. He is tall (6-5!), but I wasn't a big fan of the delivery. He brings his arm pretty far back and really struggled with his release point. He also throws a change and a curve, and got nice break on a good pitch in the dirt. However, he doesn't have much feel for either pitch (he threw them a lot, especially the change).

Dean Fleitman is a deception based right-handed reliever with an okay looking fastball that he threw almost exclusively. I would like to see a better breaking ball as he threw what looked like a slow change that was both rare and pedestrian.

Brett Worthen is a really short (5-11,165) right-hander that throws surprisingly hard for his size. He has a quick delivery, but is pretty standard mechanically. His breaking pitches included a hard slider with late break and a change. The slider is the best pitch and he induced a whole lot of bad swings.

Ryan Scott is a 6-2 RHP (he looks shorter) with a fastball and a curve that he can put in the zone. It looks like he also was throwing a separate change as well.He was hit hard, especially with the fastball.

Tyler Straub was not listed on the roster (but according to one scout, this is who he happens to be) but pitched for North Central. Rosters sometimes provided a challenge, as some schools had either not updated them, or they had mistakes. Straub is a little short but has a good riding fastball that he would sometimes throw low (maybe even a sinker). This was less effective and he got hit when he did this. He threw a lot of curveballs that had inconsistent break. It had some impressive bite at times and one could certainly picture it as a good pitch with consistency. He also threw a couple of changeups.

Danny Fernandez is 6-3 but his arm slot is a little low. He misses armside with the fastball and it is almost never straight though it doesn't have impressive tail. He also brings out a change/splitter that he can only throw about 58 feet. He can't get it to the plate so he has to rely on a really mediocre fastball.

Friday, September 21, 2012

International League Pitchers Notes

Will Inman was a third round pick by the Brewers way back in 2005 and was Baseball America's 91st best prospect going into the 2007 season. During the season, he was traded to the Padres as part of a trade for Scott Linebrink. He had mixed results in AA, never missing a lot of bats and was held there for a long time. He was also held in AAA for basically 3 full seasons where he struggled in the PCL and was let go. He pitched for the Red Sox AAA this year as a reliever (he was mostly a starter with San Diego). This move doesn't surprise me as he has definite relief mechanics. He is a strike thrower
with a 89-91 MPH 4-seam fastball. Inman can also sink it at 89 MPH and throws a curve at 73-77 MPH. It is big and loopy, and he can throw it for strikes. It really was his main pitch when I saw him and he doesn't really bury it. It gets it up to 80 MPH, where you almost want to call it a separate pitch, even though the movement isn't much different despite being a little bit sharper (as you would expect with velocity increase). He buries the one that is a little bit harder if you want to separate those pitchers.

Inman was a pretty effective reliever, with a 3.76 FIP and 3.78 SIERA, striking out 28.3 % of batters. He kept the ball in the park but had a huge problem with walks. When he threw strikes, he was dominate, as hitters had a .308 SLG against him. He threw strikes 60% of the time, which is below average, but not nearly as bad as his walk rate suggests. He is interesting, but didn't get as many swings and misses out of the zone (O-swing %) as you would want in a guy you expect to be a strikeout pitcher.

Nick Christiani was a 13th round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. In AAA this year, he had a really good ERA, but less impressive DIPS (including a SIERA well worse than league average). He didn't have a good strikeout rate and walked too many batters for the low strikeout rate. According to the plate discipline stats, no matter if he threw the ball in the zone or out of the zone, he gave up contact (and it was hard contact, with a ridiculous line drive rate).

The right-handed reliever sits at 89-91 (hit 92 MPH with some tail like a 2 seamer)MPH but with obvious sink (sometimes sinkers are somewhat hard to tell, this one isn't). The pitch even broke like a splitter a couple of times.  It stayed up a few times but it looks like a good pitch when down (when it stays up it simply will not be effective).

He mixes this with an 83-84 MPH slider. It doesn't actually have that much difference in movement compared to the sinker. The velocity difference should keep hitters off-balance somewhat.

Shane Dyer was picked in the 6th round in 2008 by the Tampa Bay Rays and has had a mediocre minor league career with not a lot of strikeouts, mainly as a starter. Dyer got his introduction to AAA this year and it did not go well thanks mainly to BABIP, but he didn't exactly strikeout a lot of hitters either.

As a RHP, he throws just 87-90 MPH, with a little bit of tail (but not impressive enough to really make up for the velocity). He also mixed in a 86 MPH slider/cutter occasionally with a (got down to 78) 81-82 MPH good not great movement and locations on change. Dyer also showed off a rare curve at 77 MPH with decent late break (not loop).

It really is not good looking stuff overall. I sure don't see anything here, but his command was pretty solid.

Anthony Carter was picked in the 26th round by the White Sox in 2005, so at 26, he is too old to be a prospect. However, he throws 94-95 MPH as a right-handed bullpen arm. He also has a slider at 87 MPH with decent downward break (also seemed to either throw a change at similar velocity that he left up or they were sliders that didn't break. I honestly couldn't tell). He throws it a lot to lefties and it stays up too much and isn't very consistent. Personally, I would like to see him throw that pitch less.

He really wasn't exceptional this year in AAA, but was solid with FIP and SIERA in the 3.70 range. Because of a lack of a 2nd pitch, his strikeout rate really wasn't amazing. He got a lot of ground-balls and kept walks down (throwing strikes over 65% of the time).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brewers AA Notes: Mittelstaedt, Weisenburger, Nelson

T.J. Mittelstaedt was a 44th round pick out of college (where he only had one good year of power, but hit for average and OBP consistently) in 2010. However, since signing, he has been pretty successful (named a organizational all-star after the 2011, whatever that means). In the AZL after being drafted, he had an OBP of .383 and then had a .410 OBP in Class A in 2011. This year, he began in advanced A and had a better SLG than in the AZL and Midwest League (though had a similar wOBA +, meaning the league is easier to hit in), but found the jump to AA very difficult, hitting just .189/.318/.344 (so still walks) in 44 games. He was horrible against left-handed pitching, but not bad against righties.
He has is somewhat small for a third baseman at 5-10 185 pounds. He looks really selective against right-handed pitching, but when he faced a lefty he looked absolutely lost. Defensively, he looks somewhat athletic. The arm has some problems at 3rd base as he goes straight sidearm and doesn't appear to have a lot of strength in it.

Because he played 4 years of college baseball (will turn 25 before the season starts), his development in the minors has to accelerate faster than most minor leaguers. It isn't a surprise that he was successful in the AZL or class A since he was older than his competition. This makes 2013 a big season for him, as he really needs to have a good year in AA and even get to AAA by the end of the year.

Adam Weisenburger is another low draft pick (34th round in 2011) after 4 years at the University of Miami (in which he was an okay but not good hitter). The catcher didn't hit for really any power in the Arizona League in 2011, but walked enough and had a good OBP (with more strikeouts than walks). He spent 2012 between A+ and AA where he struggled mightily with the bat.
He looks pretty selective, not chasing pitches out of the zone. However, it is not a very good swing on outside pitches, though he has a decent looking contact tool. Weisenburger had a nice hit the other way when I saw him.

He seems like a good receiver behind the plate but didn't show good blocking mechanics, instead trying to stab at the ball. His arm looks really solid and he seemed to get rid of it pretty quickly.

Jimmy Nelson is a right-handed starter for the Brewers AA club with pretty easy looking mechanics. He was the club's 2nd round pick in 2010 after playing with the University Alabama, and has been really good in the minors ever since. When I saw him, he was around 92-93 MPH with movement and a decent slider. He is a big guy and the command is not bad, but wasn't sharp when I saw him. His curve is not much different than the slider except in placement. He throws the curve inside to righties usually and it is thrown a lot less than the slider that he threw away (with a little bit of two plane break) from righties (and it was much more effective).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Keon Broxton Scouting Report

Keon Broxton got a very late season call-up from class A+ to AAA to play in the play-offs and had a good game in the AAA championship game. He was the Diamondbacks 3rd round pick in 2009 (the same round as Kyle Seager, Wil Myers, and Joe Kelly) out of community college after being a 29th round pick by the Phillies the year before.

Broxton looks like a good athlete. When he was drafted, all the reports were that he was very raw but talented. I could see a solid defender at the corner and the scouting reports I've seen say he should stick in centerfield. He is certainly fast, as I timed him at 4.04 to first base (slightly faster than Lorenzo Cain and slightly slower than Cameron Maybin). Reports on his arm are also really good. So the tools are definitely there.

Offensively, he has a quick bat but sort of cheats on pitches outside. He starts with open stance to see the ball better but closes it by the time the pitch gets there (but it could be why he cheats on pitches outside). He has power and appeared to have an advanced eye for just jumping up to AAA (Nelson Figueroa couldn't trick him, for whatever that is worth. Figueroa was sitting in the high 80s with his fastball but threw a lot of breaking balls. These are the kind of hitters that give talented raw prospects some problems).

Despite the talent, Broxton has not actually hasn't hit that well in the minors. After posting a 94 wOBA+ 83 OPS + in High A last year, he repeated the level this year and hasn't been much better this year with a 99 wOBA + and 98 OPS + (meaning he was very slightly below average). He struck out a lot this year, and actually saw his walk rate (and OBP) go down. He hit for more power though, improving his ISO by .060 despite hitting more grounders.

He looks like a really good talent, and he is just 22 years old, but the hitting statistics are somewhat concerning. I think he has the tools to turn it around and produce at the plate. If he doesn't, he could still be a 5th outfielder type with the talent he has both defensively and as a baserunner.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scouting Reports on Trayce Thompson, Reid, and Shirek

Ryan Reid has been in the Rays system since being drafted in the 7th round in 2006. At 27 years old, he isn't really a prospect, but was one of the better pitchers in the International League (AAA) this season with a 3.69 FIP and a nice strikeout rate. He is a well undersized right-hander at 5-11, which is not only another reason he is not a real prospect and hasn't made the Majors as of yet, but is a reason why he has been basically a reliever his whole minor league career (with an occasional start). His fastball is 91-93 MPH (dropped down to 89 MPH) with tail (nothing real straight). His secondary pitch is a 85-87 MPH slider with good drop but was struggling with control. It looks like a legitimate swing and miss pitch.The lack of a 3rd pitch also keeps him in the bullpen.

Charles Shirek of the White Sox AAA (age 26, drafted in the 23rd round in 2007) is 6-3 but is not very big overall (listed weight of 205 doesn't look accurate). He sits at about 91-92 (gets as low as 89 and as high as 93) MPH with a little arm side tail. I've seen reports of a cutter, but I didn't see it when I watched him pitch. His velocity has also improved in the minors, which probably explains why he was drafted so low. He also throws a 83-85 MPH change that doesn't move a whole lot. It seems to be more of a "show me" pitch than something he can actually get hitters out with. His better off-speed pitch is 86-87 MPH slider that has better movement. It occasionally has two plane break, and breaks differently than many sliders as it just jolts down a lot. He didn't miss a lot of bats in his introduction to AAA (16.8 K%), but had a solid year anyway (a SIERA .44 points better than league average and a FIP .16 better than league average). His best attribute was getting ground-balls, which he did over 51% of the time, holding opposing hitters to an OPS of .025 lower than league average.

Unlike Reid and Shirek, Trayce Thompson is a legitimate prospect at age 21. Drafted in the 2nd round by the White Sox in 2009, Thompson made his AAA debut late this year after a short stint in AA that followed a 109 wOBA +, 122 OPS + performance in A+ in over 100 games. In A-ball in 2011, he was about the same with the bat (106 wOBA+ and 115 OPS +). He has a pretty solid looking swing that is pretty flat. His stance is slightly strange with a downward crouch that almost looks uncomfortable, but it doesn't matter because he has a quick bat and gets on pitches quickly. The plate discipline could use some work, but he has had solid walk rates throughout the minors. It looks like he can run as well, although I didn't get much of a read on him defensively. He was playing left field when I saw him (which was strangely the only game in his professional career that he has played left), but has played most center in his minor league career. His hitting numbers have been good and he has been young for the level, but the numbers are not overwhelming and his current size (he should add some more weight) won't allow him to hit for a ton of power in the Majors (although he has had no problems getting past 20 homers a year). This makes whether or not he can play center really important, even though he appears to be a good enough hitter that he should be a solid MLB player if he plays a corner position well.

Times to First: Part 8

1. Joaquin Arias (Giants): 4.20

2. Gregor Blanco (Giants): 3.58 (on a bunt)

3. Xavier Paul (Reds): 4.14

4. Robert Andino (Orioles): 4.33

5. Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers): 4.11

6. Juan Rivera (Dodgers): 4.55

7. Joe Mather (Cubs): 4.35

8. Kyle Hudson (Phillies AAA): 4.17

9. Leonys Martin (Rangers): 3.52 (on a bunt)

10. Brett Wallace (Astros): 4.40

11. Jimmy Rollins (Phillies): 4.18

12. Chase Utley (Phillies): 4.02

13. Luis Sardinas (Rangers Class A): 4.05

14. Jose Vinicio (Red Sox Class A): 3.7 (on a bunt)

15. David Murphy (Rangers): 4.25

16. Adam LaRoche (Nationals): 4.51

17. Jason Werth (Nationals): 4.08

18. Dayan Viciedo (White Sox): 4.23

19. Chris Carter (Athletics): 4.35

20. Allen Craig (Cardinals): 4.54

Casey Crosby Scouting Report

Rated as the 4th best prospect in the Tigers system by Fangraphs, Casey Crosby got his first 3 starts in the big leagues this year. They didn't go very well, as he walked more batters than he struck out and gave up two homers in 12.1 innings. The 24 year old made 22 starts in AAA (the more pitcher friendly International League) and was slightly worse than league average in ERA/FIP/SIERA. He had a good strikeout rate, but struggled with walks and gave up slightly more homers and line drives than league average (despite a slightly better than league average GB rate).

When I saw the left-handed starter (against Lehigh Valley in AAA), he had a 88-93 MPH averagish fastball (I saw one 94 MPH). His main secondary pitch was a slow 70-71 MPH curve (with occasional 76-77 MPH, maybe a slow slider. Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball disagree on whether he threw a slider in the Majors or not). He also showed a 78-80 MPH change that he didn't have much feel or control over. The fastball command isn't great and velo isnt consistent (a lot of 88s, which makes him less interesting). He really should try to keep it low, as it was too hittable high. His best pitch is the curve but the change is promising with its movement. The mechanics are slightly strange, and he has the hip turn to give him some deception. It seems to be at least somewhat effective as it makes the fastball sneak up on the hitter (of course one wonders about repeatability). A lot of what Crosby becomes may rely on his changeup command, which may sound weird, but he really needs that third pitch and something to go to against righties.

As you can see, Crosby's curveball has some pretty impressive downward drop.

The stuff is there. Crosby should be a good big league starter with the stuff he has. He has a solid left-handed fastball with deception with one plus breaking pitch and another off-speed that could be good. He should be better than a below average AAA starter and I don't think his 3 MLB starts are reflective of his talents. However, it will all be about command. The problem doesn't seem to be delivery issues, as you would probably have seen a more inconsistent release point in the Majors:

 If he can't harness his good stuff, he will continue to be frustrating. However, there isn't too many reasons to believe that he won't improve.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scouting Reports on Kelvin Perez, Chase Whitley, and Matthew Wisler

Kelvin Perez is a really small reliever (especially skinny, weighing maybe 150 pounds) in the Yankees AAA. His mechanics are pretty simple and seem repeatable and he throws 92-93 MPH (I saw a 97 MPH reading, but that may be a mistake. He mixed in a 94 MPH straight fastball though.) fastball with a little bit of tail with a 79-81 MPH slider with late hard break. He mixed in a 87 MPH change with a little bit of movement. It is almost a starter's repertoire, but he doesn't have the size (and has already had arm issues) to throw a whole lot of innings. He is somewhat of a minor league veteran with 7 seasons of experience and 26 years old. An arm injury really set him back but he has seemed to taken big strides. He showed some good control and he looked like a major league reliever to me if used in short spurts.

Chase Whitley was one of the more interesting arms in the International League this year. The Yankees prospect had a 3.70 FIP as a 23 year old. He was throwing a 92 MPH fastball as a reliever (been used as both in AAA) with a little bit of tail into righties. He mixes this with a 84 MPH change. I didn't see a 3rd pitch, which he will need as a starter.

Matthew Wisler was the best pitcher in the Midwest League by some metrics. The Padres prospect has a curveball with slow break. He can throw it for strikes, but it is not "sharp". He has a low 90s straight fastball along with a moving fastball. His command/control didn't look great when I saw him, but he walked just 6.1% of the batters he faced this year. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Phillies AAA Scouting Reports: Hollands, Hernandez, and Valle

Mario Hollands was a college pick in the 10th round in 2010. He has gross looking mechanics, in which there is not much of a stride. He comes sidearm after hiding his arm behind him. The lefty was throwing mainly 90-91 (he started a little below that and seemed to regress back to the high 80s in the middle innings) with a bit of cut action when I saw him. He mixes speed with a lively changeup in the upper 70s. He has really struggled in a short sample size in AAA. It is pretty obvious that he is lacking a 3rd pitch. The Phillies obviously picked him as a guy with a low ceiling but high floor. Right now, his command is really hurting him. I don't see what his specialty is. He doesn't strikeout many batters, walks about an average amount, and doesn't get a good amount of grounders. If you believe that keeping the ball in the park is a specific skill (which I tend to think it is while xFIP and SIERA doesn't outside of GB/FB/LD rate), that is something he has done well other than his terrible start in AAA.

Cesar Hernandez is a small 2nd baseman that has moved pretty quickly since being signed out of Venezuela. He has good but not elite speed (44 steals over the last 2 years with 25 caught stealings confirm this. His speed score is just 5.9 in AAA this year, but the Baseball Cube rates his speed at 88. I think that ranking is too high, reality is most likely between 59 and 88 out of 100). His range isn't the best, which is probably why he is not a shortstop.A little bit of a chop swing that explains a lot of the mediocre numbers he has put up in the minors. The bat speed looks fine though, and he shouldn't strikeout too much, but he hasn't walked a lot in his career either.

Sebastian Valle is a catcher with what looks like pull power. His plate discipline was lacking and he was swinging at terrible pitches, but he has a pretty swing. He has been in the system since 2007 (Dominican Summer League) but is just 22 years old. Behind the plate, he seems to be able to block pitches in the dirt pretty well.

23 year old J.C. Ramirez is a big right-handed reliever. with a changeup (with some dip) at 83-85 MPH that he features along with a 93-94 MPH fastball. His control is below average but he isn't especially wild.

Jonathan Pettibone is just 21 and has already made it to AAA as a starter. In 7 starts, he was solid, with a 3.25 FIP, not giving up a single homer (despite a mediocre K/BB). The right-hander's fastball is not very impressive, sitting just at 89-92 MPH (touched 94) with a mediocre 83 MPH curveball. He has a 89 MPH cutter that breaks like a slider and this is his best pitch, getting him plenty of movement. He showed the ability to bury it and get swings and misses.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Assorted Independent Notes

My previous post was the post on Roger Clemens' starts with the Sugarland Skeeters. Of course, other people played in those games, so here are some notes on a handful of players that were either Clemens opponents or teammates:

Brad Thompson threw a lot of offspeed pitches, with a changeup at 83 MPH and
curveball at 73 MPH. Both of the pitches have solid movement both vertically and horizontally. He can throw them for strikes as well. However, his fastball got touched up a little. He is sort of a soft-tossing right-hander. When he locates those breaking pitches low, he can get swings and misses and get grounders. However, he doesn't seem to have the fastball to set it up. He is the kind of guy that if he were left-handed you could envision him as a back of the rotation guy but the fact that he is right-handed almost rules it out completely.

In the Majors, he always had a good ground-ball rate, but it was regressing before he was out of the Majors (he had a -.3 career fWAR) His fastball averaged 88.1 MPH in the Majors, so as I said, he didn't have the fastball to set up his breaking pitches.
He got 1 outing with the Twins (of course) in AA this year and it went just okay DIPs wise (4.06 FIP and 4.09 SIERA). He didn't walk anyone, but he didn't get many grounders either. He really hasn't changed since leaving the Majors,
here was his changeup velocity:

I liked what James Simmons did at the plate. He took breaking pitches then drove a fastball well on a line. He had some success with the Giants organization in A and A+ when he was old for the leagues, but really struggled when given a short shot in AAA. He chased pitches too much, leading to too many ground-balls and too many strikeouts with virtually no walks.

Joey Gathright looked liked Joey Gathright. He was chasing pitches that were thrown low and just looked very meh at the plate. He got a shot this year with the Reds' AAA and was okay (100 wOBA + and 94 OPS+) before being released. His K/BB was predictably bad and he stole just 4 bases in 160 plate appearances.

Michael Nix for Sugarland is a RHP at 90-91 MPH with a little movement. He keeps it low usually (when he threw it high, it got smashed). He hasn't been in affiliated ball since 2009. He has a 78 MPH breaking ball and it looked like he broke out a split/change as well.

Randy Keisler lefty was getting hit pretty hard. His changeup moved pretty well at around 76 MPH with some good drop. His fastball is clearly well below average though. He mixes in an occasional curve, but he didn't throw it as much as you would expect. His fastball was 88 MPH when he was in the Majors in 2007, and it is definitely softer now. Last year, he pitched in the Dodgers AAA and wasn't bad, with a 4.36 FIP (.14 better than league average) and 4.67 SIERA (.23 worse than league average).

Koby Clemens was with the Blue Jays organization earlier this year and was okay in AA, hitting above league average but was a year older than league average. After a solid AA season in 2010, he struggled in AAA with the Astros in 2011. He is big and it appears that he has quite a bit of power, but his swing is not very pretty and has a hitch in it, which makes him cheat on fastballs. With that said, he wasn't chasing pitches, and I would expect to see him back in affiliated ball with some AAA team next year.

Bubba Bell is a left-handed hitter with nice size and has a pretty big swing. His plate discipline seems alright and it doesn't seem to be overly violent. He seems to have a little bit of power left as well. He split the last 3 years between the Red Sox/Indians/Mets AAA with very mixed results, even with a decent (though certainly not spectacular) K/BB ratio.

Roger Clemens as a Skeeter

Roger Clemens threw 2 outings with the independent Sugarland Skeeters, as I am sure you know. There is speculation that he is trying to pitch again in the Majors. I don't know if he is or not, but I watched both of his outings and took some notes.
The first thing you notice is his really easy mechanics. If a guy can survive at his age, he has to have mechanics that he can repeat and won't put extra strain on his arm. 
His fastball was at 87-88 MPH with really solid command. He could locate it low but I don't think he can throw it high or it will be easy to hit hard. Nothing was real straight, he had a little bit of cut or late movement on everything, which can help a little bit with the clearly below average velocity.

He threw a 75-79 MPH curve/slider tended to hang in the zone. He could throw it for strikes, but it is pretty soft. Needs to locate it low, but when he was throwing it below the zone he was being chased. He tried to to locate it low and away to righties but it really wasn't effective.

He got down to 71 MPH on what looked like a separate slow curve. He could throw it for strikes in his first outing, but didn't seem to try to in the 2nd outing. It has big break, but he didn't throw it very often.

In the first outing, he threw an occasional change/split at 83-84 MPH with quite a bit of drop. He threw it in the dirt, and really only against lefties. In the 2nd outing, he threw it a lot more and his control of it was better and it looks like a pitch he may be able to get ground-balls with it. It was basically his feature pitch in the first inning of his 2nd outing. 

I could see Clemens as a AAA All-star as a starter or a middle relief type in the big leagues. He can locate well, and mixes his pitches, so he can definitely keep undisciplined hitters off-balanced. However, he will be hittable for patient hitters.
One could see him making a MLB start and surviving, but he simply pitches to contact too much with inferior stuff to be someone who can get guys out consistently in the big leagues (although I would take him over Jamie Moyer, who started the year in a big league rotation, in a heartbeat).

Scouting Reports on Santo Manzinillo and Charles Leesman

Santo Manzinillo is a right handed reliever in Brewers system that is pitching for their Class A team but is already on the 40 man roster. Thanks to arm issues and a car accident has taken a step back in his development. In a small sample size across 3 levels this year he really struggled. However, he can throw a fastball at 97 MPH (reports I have seen say anywhere from 95-100, but he averaged about 97 when I saw him). The best part is that it is not straight. When you hear people talk about a fastball that has "life", Manzinillo's fastball is a great example.

He didn't have great control over the slider, but it is something he seemed to have confidence in as he threw it several times. It has very nice downward movement and late break. He can miss bats, Manzinillo has elite reliever stuff. The command needs work, but it is workable, he isn't uncontrollably wild. He has catching up to do, but if he stays healthy, he could be in the big leagues rather soon because the Brewers won't want to keep that stuff in the minors.

Charles Leesman was an 11th round pick in 2008 by the White Sox (after being picked in the 40th round by the Twins in 2005). This year, he was one of the top statistical starting pitchers in the AAA International League with a  3.71 FIP and 4.14 SIERA (the SIERA is actually exactly league average). He was ranked as the 11th best prospect in the (bad) Chicago White Sox system by Fangraphs' Marc Hulet, who cited his ground-ball rate.His ground-ball rate took a big dip from AA-AAA but was still solid and roughly 7% better than average. He walked a few too many batters but had a respectable, although below league average, strikeout rate.

The lefty comes over the top while simultaneously throwing 3/4. It is almost painful to watch, but it clearly gives him some deception.
The velocity sits at 87-90 (touched 91 a couple of times) with a little downward movement. It cuts when it is in the high or middle parts of the plate. In fact, it is basically a cutter, he doesn't throw anything that looks like a 4-seamer. It stayed in the middle of the plate a few times and I counted at least 3 times where AAA hitters hit the ball relatively hard (in the 4 inning outing I watched) where a good MLB hitter would have taken him out of the park.
His secondary option is a 76-78 MPH change. It breaks like a poor man's slider and got up to 80-82 (which might have actually been a slider, it was certainly better at this velocity range, but there were only 4 or 5 of them). His command of it was poor, sometimes it would sit in the middle of the plate and sometimes it would be way off. The cutter was his main pitch though.
So from a scouting perspective, you are looking at a guy with below average velocity, command, and secondary offerings. The positive statistics may just be a reflection of an ability to deceive lesser hitters. On the flip side, he may be able to miss the good part of the bat with his cutter and deceive better hitters in short spurts. Either way, I don't see him as an impact guy and he is probably not someone I would use in the Majors (unless I was a rebuilding team looking for warm bodies to look at).

Leesman's veteran teammate Deunte Heath is a right-handed reliever that was throwing about 90-91 MPH with a little bit of movement (he got up to 93 and more straight, but he could throw it down). His command wasn't sharp in the outing I saw him. He throws a breaking ball at 75-79 MPH that he can use to get grounders or possibly some whiffs when he throws it in the dirt (it is a weak pitch when thrown for strikes). The 27 year old has good size and was very good in AAA this year, with a FIP and SIERA both under 3.00.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Scouting Reports on Cory Riordan and Matt Langwell

Cory Riordan is a 6-4 200 right-hander that was drafted in the 6th round in 2007. The 26 year old has basically been turned into somewhat of an organizational swingman/starter/innings eater. As one could have deduced from his K/BB numbers back in college, control has been his best asset in the minors, rarely walking even close to 6% of the batters he faces. He has split this year between AA and AAA, and has actually been more effective in AAA according to FIP, being used more as a starter. His SIERA is virtually the same between the two leagues (as he saw a huge spike in homers not in the PCL but the Texas League, which seems statistically fluky). In AAA he has an okay ground-ball rate and a solid line drive rate.

Riordan has a slightly under average fastball at 90 MPH. He is sort of the soft-tossing righty type, and the lack of fastball and put away pitch keeps him from perhaps even being a big leaguer.

He throws a lot of change-ups at 80 MPH with solid movement. He can throw it low and for strikes, but his command probably isn't as sharp as it needs to be.

The curveball is unimpressive, and he tries to use it as his out pitch after setting up hitters with the changeup.

Matt Langwell of the Indians' AAA was picked in the 11th round by Cleveland in the 2008 draft out of Rice. After getting a short shot to start in the New York Penn League, he was quickly transitioned into a reliever which he has been his whole career. At age 26, he was one of the top strikeout artists in the International League this season.

I went back and watched him to see if there was anything there. The fastball is straight and just 89-90 MPH. He also throws what looks like a tailing fastball at 86-87 MPH along with an 82 MPH change. The changeup is his strikeout pitch as it has late dip. His command isn't even that great, so I really don't see how he can get out MLB hitters. Those familiar with AAA baseball know that it doesn't necessarily take great stuff to get a lot of strikeouts.

Times to first: Part 7

1. Sam Fuld (Rays): 4.19

2. Ben Paulsen (Rockies AA): 4.33

3. Greg Garcia (Cardinals AA): 4.19

4. Nick Swisher (Yankees): 4.32

5. Kolten Wong (Cardinals AA): 4.14

6. Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies): 4.36

7. Jeff Francouer (Royals): 4.38

8. David Lough (Royals): 4.12

9. Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox): 4.81

10.Eric Hosmer (Royals): 4.27

11. Alex Presley (Pirates): 4.07

12. Brock Holt (Pirates): 4.06

13. Carlos Corporan (Astros): 4.53

14. Lorenzo Cain (Royals): 4.06

15. Michael Young (Rangers): 4.27

16. Chris Gimenez (Rays): 4.50

17. Ryan Hanigan (Reds): 4.28

18. Adam Eaton (Diamondbacks): 3.83

19. Jurickson Profar (Rangers): 4.25

20. Adrian Gonzalez (Dodgers): 4.54

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Few Yankees-Phillies Minor League Notes

The Trenton Thunder and Reading Phillies played in the AA playoffs, and on I watched the Friday September 7th game on MiLB.TV and wrote a few notes on a few of the players I hadn't written about this year.

Zoilo Almonte is a left-handed hitter with good size. He is having a pretty big power year, but he doesn't have the most desirable swing. Almonte was definitely looking to go the other way. He chased breaking balls way out of the zone and had serious contact issues (which isn't surprising considering the K/BB he has put up this year)

Addison Maruszak is a right-handed hitting shortstop fooled by changeup. I thought he had a GB-looking swing, but that really hasn't played that much in the minors. In fact this year, he has a nice 4.8 HR/Contact %, and decent ISO of .182. He was fooled by a curveball that was way out of the zone, but his K/BB has been solid over the past couple of years. The big concern is age, as he is slightly old for the level.

Tyler Austin played 1st base and handled it pretty well. He looks like a first baseman or a slow corner outfielder in size. His bat has been one of the big stories in the Yankees system. The problem is that he has spent so little time at each stop that it is hard to evaluate his numbers at each level. He has a pretty looking swing, as it is really effortless looking and still provides him with plenty of power. He has good speed scores throughout his stops so far (for what that is worth) and at least has average looking speed currently.

Mikey O'Brien at 5-11 is probably too short for a starting pitcher that throws 200 innings. He has a straight fastball with decent looking velocity. He was able  to give it some movement later in the outing and the straight fastball pretty much disappeared. O'Brien can throw the curveball for strikes but not all of them were quality and he didn't show the ability to keep it down. With that said, he threw several really nice ones. He threw a couple of changeups but it wasn't a pitch he much feel or (apparently) much confidence in it. He lost his release point for a while, but threw a lot of good pitches that barely caught the corner. He mainly worked inside to righties and away from lefties. He left a couple of pitches up that hurt him. Perhaps it is confirmation bias, but short pitchers usually have a hard time getting on top of the ball and keeping it down. His GB% is below average for the league (but he has also been slightly below average according to both FIP and SIERA in his 103 AA innings this year). He has actually done a good job keeping the ball in the park, but he really isn't missing many bats.


Troy Hanzawa is old for the league and has yet to show anything with the bat since being drafted out of college in '08, but he is a good looking defense shortstop. You would like to see him steal some bases, which he hasn't done. This makes him a very one dimensional player. He looks very susceptible to the inside fastball. The bat speed just isn't there.

2B Tug Hulett is a left-handed hitter with solid bat speed and good patience. He has only hit about league average this year according to OPS, but his LD/GB/FB is really good. He is 2 years older than Hanzawa and was with the Nationals organization last year. He is the kind of guy that is usually in AAA, but the Phillies must have an organization need in AA at 2B. It looks like he has the range to play at least a decent 2nd base, but the arm looks pretty weak (which keeps him at 2nd as opposed to a shot at 3rd or SS). He also is not real speedy and is short but stout looking. I am sure he will get a job in the off-season with a club to play in AAA and serve as an emergency 2nd base option in the organization.

Tyson Gillies is fast and this makes him ideal for centerfield, even if his jumps aren't very good. His arm wasn't very impressive though. He had problems chasing pitches way out of the zone. This has always been a problem and he is walking under 6% of the time this year. He is hitting well above league average this year in 67 games (around .100 OPS points), but he also has a big BABIP. While the speed will probably give him a high career BABIP, it is doubtful he can keep it above .350 (just because it is hard to count on someone consistently doing that). He is making plenty of contact and hitting plenty of line drives, so there is definitely some hope that he can hit enough to make it to the Majors and contribute. He is just going to be a decent average guy with a low OBP. If his defensive skills continue to improve, this will be an acceptable package.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Scouting Reports on 2 Texas League Pitchers: Carlos Martinez and Parker Frazier

Parker Frazier has spent all year in AA with the Rockies and hasn't been very impressive with a 4.39 FIP (4.38 SIERA) despite being slightly old for the league.
Frazier has a fastball with cut action (there were at least a couple of what looked like moving/tailing fastballs), a 74 MPH change, and what looked like a hard curve.
He was relying mainly on the off-speed stuff and was trying (and mostly succeeding) to keep the ball low (except for the cut-fastball, which he liked to throw high). Fraizer can throw all his pitches for strikes (which explains the lack of walks on the season). The velocity is nothing to write about (below average) but nothing is straight (though nothing has a whole lot of movement). I don't see him as a guy who will miss a lot of bats. I think he will have to get grounders to survive (his minor league ground-ball percentage is solid yet not overwhelming). He has the repertoire for a starting pitcher, but I struggle to see how he fits into a MLB rotation. He was hit pretty hard the 3rd time around in the order, and I don't think that is a coincidence, his stuff just isn't great. He may actually be a guy who would benefit from the Rockies 75 pitch limit as he his different pitches may play twice through an order. However, Coors Field would probably cancel out that benefit (1.02 HR/9IP in the Texas League this year).

Carlos Martinez (also right-handed) looks like an athletic guy and is sort of wiry (at age 20, he could still fill out some). Unlike Frazier, Martinez showed off good stuff. A 96-97 MPH fastball is admittedly pretty straight and flat, but you just don't find a lot of starting pitchers with that velocity. Later in his outing he showed that he could throw it low in the zone.
Martinez threw a lot of changeups in the game. His ability to throw it for strikes varied, but most of them were low near the dirt. When he needed to throw strikes, he threw the fastball. It was surprisingly hittable in the game.
The slider (around 85 MPH) breaks into lefties, but he didn't throw it that often.
Martinez throws a curveball that he wasn't quite able to get down, but it wasn't hit and it threw hitters off quite a bit. It was a better pitch than he gave himself credit for as he could throw it for strikes more than the change.

Control was an issue for Martinez, and this showed when he walked the opposing pitcher (Frazier). He even fell down once (absolutely collapsed) after delivering a pitch. It looks like I just caught him on a bad day, as his walk rate is 7.3% between the Texas League and A+ this year. In AA he has had a big time ground-ball rate, and it is over 51% since 2011, which is excellent. Match this with his age and strikeout rate (23.4% since the start of 2011), and you have a really exciting prospect. He hasn't been near as hittable in his career as he was when I saw him, and his stuff is too good to be this hittable. Perhaps this provides a lesson on talking about results when you see a player (i.e. selection bias).

Times to First: Part 6

1. Tony Abreu (Royals): 4.27

2. Jeff Keppinger (Rays): 4.23

3. Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) 4.49

4. Chris Stewart (Yankees): 4.21

5. Matt Joyce (Rays): 4.28

6. Chris Dickerson (Yankees): 4.07

7. Jose Tabata (Pirates): 4.25

8. Carlos Quentin (Padres): 4.64

9. Shane Victorino (Dodgers): 4.27 (3.93 on a bunt)

10. Cameron Maybin (Padres): 4.02

11. Matt Kemp (Dodgers): 4.24

12. Jose Iglesias (Red Sox): 4.09

13. A.J. Ellis (Dodgers): 4.57

14. Mark Kotsay (Padres): 4.40

15. Josh Willingham (Twins): 4.32

16. Evereth Cabrera (Padres): 3.80 (on a bunt)

17. Jay Bruce (Reds): 4.43

18. Desmond Jennings (Rays): 3.80 (on a bunt)

19. Luke Scott (Rays): 4.38

20. Elliot Johnson (Rays): 3.78 (on a bunt)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Too Many Words on Rhiner Cruz

Statistically, Rhiner Cruz has been one of the worst pitchers in the Majors this year. Selected by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft, Cruz threw 59.1 innings in AA with the Mets last year and was not very unimpressive at all in relief with a 4.58 FIP. This year, he has a 143 FIP - and 4.89 SIERA. He is walking 13.2 % of the batters he faces (exactly the same as David Wright's walk rate this year) and striking out less than 16% of them.

On Tuesday, he nearly drilled Andrew McCutchen in the head. He has hit 2 batters this year (3 if you count his rehab assignment in AAA), but there have been several times this year where he has been a serious safety hazard, drawing dirty looks from opposing teams.

Something I've noticed is that the Astros have been fiddling with his release point all year. He is coming in more sidearmed than he was earlier in the year. These release point charts kind of help point that out:

There is some difference there, but it isn't big, at least not as big as I thought it was.

Either way, he is interesting because he is averaging 95.47 MPH on his fastball (the good kind of interesting, as one could say his extreme wildness and potential to seriously injure people is interesting in a sadistic sort of way). Already at 25, it would take a really drastic change for him to harness the fastball, but you can see why the Astros took a chance on him in the Rule 5 draft. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Soft Tossing Lefties Scouting Reports: Bywater and Locke

Matt Bywater made his AA debut on Monday, pitching against the Harrisburg Senators. He was the Orioles 7th round pick in 2010 out of Pepperdine University. The lefty has a a sidearmed delivery, so I don't see how he is a starter. I hate to stereotype someone as soon as they throw their first pitch, but I can't really think of any sidearmed starters in the Majors (Bruce Chen probably counts, perhaps Paul Maholm as well, although his platoon splits have always been terrible). His career splits have been about what you would expect. He is pretty dominant against lefties (2.46 FIP, 2.51 SIERA), but mediocre to bad against righties (4.58 FIP, 4.32 SIERA). He threw a lots of changeups. They had decent downward movement and dip (it was a pitch he was more concerned about locating low the zone than throwing them in the dirt). He was missing a lot to his arm side.
It also looks like he has a low moving fastball. The pitch was hit pretty hard by righties, but could be a ground-ball pitch against lefties. He got some weak ground-ball swings from lefties. He has been a good ground-ball pitcher in the minors, with a ground-ball rate of 52.1% over the last two years. While I don't think he is a pitcher that will get a lot of swings and misses in the upper levels, his K% has been good over the last two years as well.
I could see him as a guy you bring in to throw a full inning when the lineup is lefty-righty-lefty and he can just throw all changeups to the righty in the middle. He threw mainly changes to righties, and threw quite a bit to lefties as well. He could also be a LOOGY or a AAA all-star, but I do think he would provide some relief value to a big league club in the future.

Jeff Locke made his first MLB start in 2012 on Monday against the Astros and wasn't bad (6/1 K/BB, 60% GB, 3.91 FIP). He started four (horrible) games for the Pirates last season and had pitched in 2 games as a reliever earlier this year. In AAA as a starter (24 starts), he was solid, with a 3.24 FIP.

Locke was pretty off-speed heavy (I won't use a lot of Pitch F/X since everything is so small sample size and I will be done with this post before the data from this game become available),especially to righties.
He has a curve at about 78-81 MPH (called a slider sometimes by Pitch F/X) that has some good bite. However, it has a tendency to stay up and turns into a batting practice pitch when it does.
His change is the pitch that scouts always liked about Locke and it sits at about 81-82 (averaged 81.4 MPH according to Fangraphs).The lefty's Fastball was only at 90 MPH (90.1 average) and was best when he threw it down. I think he has the tools to get right-handers out enough to be a starter, but he certainly won't be a dominating one. If he turns out to be a league average starter, I would be mildly surprised and the Pirates should be thrilled.