Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scouting Reports on Kensuke Tanaka and Takahasi Toritani

Here are scouting reports on two NPB free agent middle infielders:

Kensuke Tanaka:

According to  "The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox are mentioned as teams that might have an interest in the thirty-one-year-old infielder." He also will reportedly take a minor league contract from a team, which makes him attractive. He is a left-handed bat, right-handed glove and his OPS was .055 better than league average in 2012. His OPS was .085 better than league average in 2010 before the change in ball in the NPB. Compare this to flops in America Munenori Kawasaki (.020 worse than average in 2011 after the ball change and .026 better than league average in the last year of the old ball, and .056 worse than league average in 2009) and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (who averaged a .8034 OPS in his full seasons in Japan, which was about .060 better than league average over that time. So Tanaka is somewhat similar to Nishioka statistically.)

Here is a video of Tanaka's swing:

Here is Nishioka's swing from the right side:

So let's compare the swings:
Nishioka has a very dramatic leg kick in which he is standing on just one foot for a pretty long period of time (comparatively). Tanaka does have a leg kick where he brings his foot back, but it is much less dramatic. I think his gets off the ground less. They both have moving parts, but are both calm in the box considering. Nishioka's swing looks nice and flat while Tanaka's swing has more of an uppercut. Honestly, it is pretty easy to see what the Twins saw in Nishioka when they signed him. Tanaka's finish is much more violent as you can see he basically spins out of it, while Nishioka's is so much more controlled. So was plate discipline the issue? In the states, he walked just 6.3% of the time, but saw nearly 4 pitches a plate appearance (3.97) and swung at less pitches than league average. He made more contact than average, and only whiffed at about a league average rate. This was what he was good at with in Japan as well, as he was third in walks, 2nd in OBP, and first in batting average in the Pacific League in his last year of Japan.

So was Nishioka's problem power? That does seem to be the difference in swing between him and Tanaka. If you just watch the swings, you can image Nishioka is a more efficient hitter, but Tanaka gets more power. In the Majors, Nishioka's average batted ball was 243.776 feet, which is well below average (somewhere between 250-260 is where most hitters seem to sit). However, he didn't completely lack power in Japan, as he was 9th in the league in slugging. Of course, most of that slugging is held up by the batting average. In Japan, his best ISO was .167, which isn't bad (it would have been between Carlos Santana and Ian Kinsler in the states), but it obviously didn't translate to any power in the Majors (.021 ISO).

I am not a psychologist nor do I know anything about psychology that you can't learn in an introduction to psychology class (or 30 to 40 minutes of reading of good internet articles), so it does no good for me to speculate whether or not he "choked" or couldn't handle to pressure of either the MLB or changing countries. I am sure there are plenty of examples in business or professions where a very good professional in one country goes to another and struggles to do well and adapt. I don't know if that was the reason for Nishioka's struggles (as he was a disaster defensively, especially in the 2nd year, as well), or whether it was the lack of power.

If it is the lack of power, Tanaka may be in trouble. League average ISO was .133 in the Pacific League in the NPB in 2010 and then .096 in 2012. In those years, Tanaka's ISOs were .082 and .063 respectively. So if Nishioka's problem was power, than Tanaka doesn't look like a MLB player. Tanaka doesn't seem to have the same discipline and OBP skills that Nishioka had either, at least statistically. Before the recent reduction in stolen bases, it did appear that Tanaka had better speed and baserunning skills than Nishioka did, but I don't know that you can count on that anymore.

According to range factor, Tanaka is a excellent fielder. From limited video I could find, he seemed to have very nice range at 2nd base. The concerning thing is that 2nd base is all that Tanaka has really played in Japan. Could he play shortstop in order to be a true utility player? I would think a lot of that depends on his arm, something I didn't really get a good look at.
Rated really high speed wise, 93 according to Baseball Cube. With that said, his stolen base production and efficiency has really dropped off over the last couple of years.

I wrote a little bit about Takahasi Toritani statistically here. Here is some video of him making plays at shortstop:

It is pretty clear that he has the range and athleticism to play a good shortstop, but I do wonder about the arm, as many of the throws are pretty weak in the video. This may rule him out of playing 3rd base in a utility role, but it appears he has the ability to play an average to above average MLB shortstop.

I obviously prefer good defensive shorstops over good defensive 2nd baseman, but I really don't like Toritani's swing, as he is completely off balance:

In other videos I saw, he would completely fall down when he missed. This kind of violent swing is okay for Oscar Taveras, but not okay for a middle infielder. Before the ball change, he hit 20 homers one year and 19 the next, and slugged in the upper .400s. Since then, his slugging has dropped, but his OBP has actually improved (perhaps suggesting that he has made an adjustment). He doesn't steal a lot of bases, but he is efficient in doing so.

I don't think either are real starters (though they could probably hold their own). In a good world, they are utility players, with Toritani getting a boost because of his clear ability to play short, but Tanaka giving you other skills. These type of players coming from Japan seem to be undervalued and could help a team in a utility non guaranteed roster spot role.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

KBO Scouting Reports: Jin Woo Kim and Kyung-Eun Noh

Here are scouting reports on two pitchers in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO):

Kyung-Eun Noh (노경은) had a miserable 2011 if you look just at his ERA (5.17), but his FIP was alright at 3.75 (league average ERA in 2010 was 4.58. Baseball Reference doesn't have data on 2011-2012 for some odd reason).
In 2012 he was much better with nearly a strikeout an inning and a 2.53 ERA. Some of this is just DIPS correction, but it does seem he pitched better overall in 2012. There are heat maps available on KBO pitchers at this site and they suggest that Noh was avoiding the middle of the plate in 2012 more than he was in 2011.


It does seem that he did a good job of working both sides of the zone if the heat maps are accurate. Something Noh does a good job of is get a lot of grounders, as even in 2011 he had a 0.76 FO/GB (GB/FB inverted, which is what uses).

The Korean Data site has a list of the pitches the KBO pitchers throw, but just gives pitch ranges, so I used the median for each pitch he throws to give sort of an average.

Noh's fastball is just about 90 MPH, here are his other pitches:

83.39 MPH slider: his most frequent breaking ball

81.22 MPH curve (so a harder curve than most curves). He doesn't use it very often according to the scouting report.

84.01 MPH Forkball. He likes to use it when he is ahead.

Also what I think is a cutter (the word translated as Kurt) at 87.73 MPH. Doesn't use it often according to the report.

Noh has a history of elbow issues that have really cut into his career, and the switch from the bullpen to the starter role (and the jump of innings) is somewhat concerning. He will turn 29 in Spring Training.

Obviously you aren't going to find many (or any) MLB pitchers with a forkball. So we will look at splitters or changes in comparisons.

Hisashi Iwakuma is sort of an interesting comparison (though it sounds racially lazy), though Noh's slider is harder, forkball is slower than Iwakuma's splitter, and his curve is much harder. Joel Peralta is pretty close, other than not having a slider. Mike Minor is really close if you imagine that the forkball and change are basically the same thing. Obviously Minor throws left-handed, which makes the comparison less believable. 2012 Tim Lincecum looks really similar on paper as far as pitch velocity and repitoire, but  Noh doesn't get the kind of movement Lincecum does (though it looks pretty nice):

You see him hit nearly 94 MPH in the video, so his fastball is plus is short spurts. This video (and the one below) gives you a nice look of his mechanics. The forkball plays a prominent role in the video, and I don't think it is a good pitch (though he seems to command it well).

Jin Woo Kim (김진우) is another RHP with the following list of pitches:

91.76 MPH fastball

88.35 MPH sinker

83.39 MPH slider

79.98 MPH change 

76.57 curve is his "main weapon"

Casey Janssen, the Blue Jays excellent reliever, seems to be similar, other than Kim doesn't have the cutter (which is obviously Janssen's repertoire). Amazingly, Kim's change is slower for the fastball that he has than most MLB pitchers. Brad Brach has a similar fastball (a tick higher) and a change that is actually slower, but he isn't very similar to Kim at all. If you just ignore the changeup, Josh Kinney is an interesting comparison as is Christian Friedrich, the Rockies pitcher. 

Kim will turn 30 in March and has had a pretty interesting career path. As you can see, he is a pretty big guy, perhaps even a little pudgy (though that doesn't really seem to matter, as guys like Sidney Ponson and C.C. Sabathia have shown that you can pitch at a big weight at obviously varying success rates). His mechanics seem pretty clean and standard. He has what looks like a long leg kick. His control in the video borders from below average to poor, but I am really hesitant to base much on that. He did walk 50 batters in 133 2/3rd innings, which isn't awful or even bad, but probably a little too high in the KBO (league average was 3.8 in 2010, so it is at least better than average).
That is a pretty nice looking curve (see 55 seconds in the video). He releases the ball from a weird hand angle (see 1:05) that gives it the good spin. The slider is sort of a baby slider that he can throw for strikes, but it has some nice spin when he doesn't hang it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Times to first: Part 17

1. Marco Hernandez (Cubs A-): 4.07
2. Hak-Ju Lee (Rays AA): 4.34
3. Cesar Izturis (Nationals): 4.18-4.22
4. Jason Bartlett (Padres): 4.21
5. Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers): 4.47
6. Alex Gonzalez (Brewers): 4.53
7. Andre Ethier (Dodgers): 4.25
8. Jeff Clement (Pirates): 4.64
9. Juan Pierre (Phillies): 4:05
10. Austin Kearns (Marlins): 4.49
11. Adam Lind (Blue Jays): 11.56 (from first to home)
12. Kelly Johnson (Blue Jays): 4.12
13. Jeff Mathis (Blue Jays): 8.50 (on a double)
14. Danny Valencia (Red Sox): 4.26
15. Johnny Giavotella (Royals): 4.05
16. Gorkys Hernandez (Marlins): 11.28 (triple)
17. Jean Segura (Brewers): 11.17 (triple)
18. Alex Gordon (Royals): 12.22 (triple)
19. Adalberto Santos (Pirates AA): 11.98 (triple)
20. Brian Van Kirk (Blue Jays AA): 10.86 (from 1st to home)

So here are all of our times so far (click to enlarge of course):

Saturday, October 27, 2012

College and Draft Pitching Prospects in the WWBA

As you probably know, the WWBA World Tournament was played this past weekend, despite threats of a hurricane. It is a tournament that displays a lot of future draft and college talent. Several good scouting sites are represented there and tweet and write a lot of good stuff about the players in the tournament. So here, I logged a lot of the tweets I saw about the pitchers in the tournament. I read the tweets, and then instantly forget about them usually, so this was a way to log and keep at least some of them. It also includes some college baseball pitchers that the writers also tweeted about. Being geographically locked, I wasn't able to attend any of the events, but hopefully this gathering of info into one place is helpful.

So in this spreadsheet, I wrote their names, the velocities of the pitches they threw/were tweeted about, the school they are at or are committed to, what year they are eligible for the draft, and what hand they throw with. I don't have all the info on all of them, but at least we have something.

As far as "source" goes:
"Rogers" is Kendall Rogers
"Glass" is Conor Glassey
"Gold" is Todd Gold

(Kendall Rogers is basically a really awesome follow)

You can either just view the pictures by clicking on them, save them by right clicking on them, or contact me on here in the comments/on twitter (@clinthulsey)/or via email ( and I will send you the spreadsheet itself (I upload screenshots of the spreadsheet because it is easier with Blogger).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cubs Claim Carlos Gutierrez: Scouting Report

Carlos Gutierrez is a former first rounder draft pick by the Minnesota Twins but never made it out of AAA and is already 26. He was claimed by the Cubs after the Twins took him off the 40 man roster.

Once a top 10 prospect in the Twins system, he threw just 16 innings this year, all in AAA. He has always been a good ground-ball pitcher (with an okay strikeout rate) featuring a 88-93 mph fastball with a slider and an occasional change-up.

We have Pitch F/X of Gutierrez from 2 games, an Arizona Fall League game in 2010 and a spring training game in 2011.

He can run it up to 94-95 MPH (with a sinker) in relief appearances (the above velo from the FanGraphs' scouting report was back when he was a starter in the lower minor leagues). The question has always been whether or not he has enough off-speed to get hitters out. It is clear that he never developed 3 pitches effective enough to become a starter, but as a reliever, he would really only need one. So can his slider be effective at the big league level? Velocity wise, it is certainly of the hard variety, averaging just over 85 MPH. That is around the velocity of two very different pitchers in term of effectiveness, Johnny Cueto and Mike Pelfrey.

At least in his outing last year, he struggled with both the release point of the pitch, and the command of it:

Strikes have always been an issue for Gutierrez, as he has thrown strikes less than 60% of the time in the last couple of years, when league average in the International League is nearly 63%. He has decent to above average stuff, but his command and control is definitely below average. It is hard to expect it to get much better considering his age.

His strikeout rate to both lefties and righties is about the same, but his ground-ball rate and walk rate has actually been lower to lefties, making him a reverse split pitcher. Considering he doesn't throw his changeup very often at all, this is surprising. I am always skeptical of reverse split pitchers, not because they don't have value, but because they often aren't used properly. 
In 2011, he threw 62.1 above league average AAA reliever according to FIP and SIERA, but didn't make the big league club. Considering that the Twins' bullpen was downright awful, I am surprised he didn't get his chance then. Considering the Cubs gave most of their bullpen innings to Shawn Camp, who is now a free agent, Gutierrez looks to finally get a shot in the big leagues this year. I don't see how he will be very effective, but the Cubs don't have a lot of other options, so he will definitely get a chance.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Free Agent NPB Relievers: Fukuhara and Yokoyama

Below are profiles on 2 veteran Japanese relievers that are free agents (and can be signed by American teams) that I find somewhat interesting.

Shinobu Fukuhara is a 35 year old reliever who dominated in 2012. The right-hander flamed out as a starter and was eventually moved to the pen, where he has seen a velocity increase and has been more successful.

You can see Fukuhara throw over 91 MPH in this video.

The velocity is under average, so he will have to make up for it with pitchability. The forkball in the video is really inconsistent. Some of them are not very good, and others act like excellent splitters. He seems to really like the pitch, going to it often. It does seem to be something that he keeps low. He doesn't seem to throw the curve much, and he could probably do without it, as it doesn't seem to be a very good pitch. If the pitch F/X is right, he added a changeup this year as well, but I don't see it in the video. I like him best of the two pitchers, but whether he is a MLB quality pitcher or not relies a lot on his forkball.

Ryuji Yokoyama is a undersized 36 year old right-handed reliever that has pitched for the Hiroshima Carp for years:

 He appeared in just 2 games in 2011, and threw just 20 innings in 2012. However, he has had a great career, with a 2.20 K/BB, 2.46 ERA, and 1.133 WHIP in 249 innings since 2007. This year, he allowed less than a baserunner an inning and had an amazing .45 ERA.

Here is a video I found that shows Yokoyama throwing, so you can see his mechanics and pickoff move.

He made 65 million Yen last year which is roughly 810,000 dollars in American money. So the question would be whether or not he is worth that much (and a roster spot) in the Majors.  With that kind of salary, you are only asking him to be slightly better than replacement level, possibly 2 to 3 runs more. That is roughly asking for a 3.90-4.10 FIP/ERA (if he throws a "qualified" amount of innings out of the bullpen, which is around 50 innings. He threw exactly 50 innings in 2010, so he would probably be 3.90 ERA/FIP or better, as he probably isn't going to get that many innings).

I don't know if you can expect that for Yokoyama. I like big fastballs or sidearmers in bullpens, and while there have been pitchers that don't fit that description that have pitched well in a MLB bullpen, I usually have to see it to believe it. Yokoyoma was really good before the ball change in Japan, but this year's K/BB wasn't actually very good, despite the dominant ERA/WHIP. It would be a low risk signing, and he has to decide that he wants to play in the Majors anyway and not stay in Japan, but I doubt I would pursue Yokoyama very much if I was a MLB team (especially if I had to guarantee him salary and a roster spot, and I have no idea why he would come to the States on a non-guaranteed contract).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rockies Prospects: Tom Murphy and Shane Broyles

Tom Murphy was a 3rd round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2012. The 21 year old catcher (from Buffalo University, signed for $454,000) spent the year in the Northwest League, where he had a 129 wRC +, 113 wOBA +, and 134 OPS + and was ranked as the 5th best prospect in the league by Baseball America.

The first thing you notice when you see him is that he is tall. You can really see the size. One wonders if he is actually too big to stick behind the plate. Obviously he isn't much of a runner, being a catcher. Murphy seems to have a pretty solid arm, with plenty of strength and accuracy that is workable at this moment. He didn't show the blocking skills you would expect from a good catching prospect. He had general receiving problems that make you question whether or not he sticks behind the plate.
At the plate, he doesn't have the best swing ever to put it mildly. He had a couple of ugly looking swings even against left-handed pitching. He looks like he has good plate discipline (even though he walked just 6 % of the time) though and there is clearly a little power in his bat. He can go the other way with some authority.
A lot of his value will be tied up in whether or not he sticks behind the plate. He may be stuck in right-field.

Shane Broyles has about the simplest delivery you will ever see. He does bring his leg up pretty high and his finishing point isn't all that great or consistent though. This seemed to cause some release point problems and him missing glove side.

The velocity looked pretty good, though the fastball can be pretty straight, and he likes to throw it high where it was sometimes too hittable. Broyles will get in trouble without a quality breaking pitch if he does this.

It does look like he can sink it. He also has some tail on a few of them.

His approach is one of a strike thrower, giving up a lot of contact when I saw him.

He doesn't have much feel for his  change. He isn't afraid to throw it, but he couldn't really get it down or have any idea where it was going. When he got it down, it had some nice movement but is not some elite strikeout pitch.

Broyles also has a slider. The command of that was poor, especially early on. After he started working it in more, I got a better look at it. It breaks slightly both horizontally and vertically and will tail away from right-handed hitters. I actually really like the break on it as sometimes it would dive straight into the dirt.

His hard curve isn't overly impressive, but he had pretty good command of that. It breaks straight down and is at least another pitch he can work in.

I am shocked at how good his ground-ball rate was this year after watching him. I could see that perhaps when he controls his slider, he is able to make hitters chase and tap it weakly. Overall I doubt the groundballs and strikeouts keep coming at the rates they did in the NWL in 2012. His K/BB was awesome and he isn't going to walk many batters.
When he has control, you are really looking at 3 pitches that are MLB caliber. He has a delivery and all the measurables (other than he is a couple inches short for a RHP) that lead you to believe that he will gain control of his pitches. Broyles looks like a MLB potential pitcher to me, as look as his fastball isn't too hittable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time to First: Part 16

1. Jim Thome (Orioles): 4.61

2. Josh Donaldson (Athletics): 4.20

3. Jhonny Peralta (Tigers): 4.37

4. Alex Avila (Tigers): 4.52

5. Michael Morse (Nationals): 4.48

6. Zack Cozart (Reds): 4.17

7. Tyson Gillies (Phillies AA): 3.98

8. Brett Gardner (Yankees): 3.84

9. Freddy Galvis (Phillies): 4.34

10. Oswaldo Navarro (Mets AAA): 6.73 (2nd to home)

11. Brandon Belt (Giants): 8.10 (on a double)

12. Adron Chambers (Cardinals): 4.02

13. Hirotoshi Onaka (Rangers A): 3.63 (on a bunt)

14. Preston Beck (Rangers A-): 4.31

15. Carlos Beltran (Cardinals): 4.15

16. Scott Hairston (Mets): 4.15-4.25

17. Billy Hamilton (Reds AA): 3.64-3.78

18. Travis Harrison (Twins RK): 4.15

19. Zach Osborne (Rockies A-): 4.33

20. Gioskar Amaya (Cubs A -): 4.07

Here are all of the times so far:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sam Houston State Scouting Report

Here is my scouting reports on Sam Houston State from their game against the University of Texas on Sunday October 21:

Anthony Azar was the starting catcher, and in pre-game warmups I liked his arm better than backup Juan Cortina even though Azar struggled with arm accuracy during the game. He is also smaller and more athletic than Cortina, and it was almost too small. He runs a 4.35 to first, which is pretty good for a catcher. He showed some plate discipline at the plate too.

Cortina also pitched and is pretty stocky with really basic mechanics. He has a decent fastball, at least adequate velocity, and keeps the ball low. He rarely threw off-speed and it looked like a change.

Romeo Cortina is a right-handed batting center fielder. He looks like he gets good jumps and reads in the field, but is a little slow at 4.31. He isn't a small guy though.

Kevin Miller is a big 3rd baseman that looks athletic out in the field. However, the Longhorns were able to bunt to his side a couple of times in a row for hits. He was also very disappointing at the plate. Dirk Masters practiced at 1st, but only DH'ed. He had a ugly swing and was late on the fastball. Greg Olson is a tall scrawny left-handed batter that I clocked at 7.80 on a double.

Ran O'Hearn was the starting first baseman with a pull swing. You can probably get on him and he isn't as patient as you would like. He has decent size, especially his frame and ran a 4.37 to first from the left side.

Dalton Perry is stocky but a fluid runner. He has an uppercut swing that may give him some power. Shortstop Corey Toups will chase at the plate, but has a solid contact tool. His swing isn't flat and his bat isn't as fast as you would like it to be.

Luck Plucheck was the leadoff left fielder with good size and really good speed. He was fooled on off-speed though. Starting 2nd baseman was Jesse Plumlee had some good looking range defensively. However, at the plate, he didn't very good swings.

Spence Rahm is a slow awkward runner, but the right-handed batter has good size and played 1st base in warmups (but DH'ed in the game). He struck a high fastball really well and had plate discipline that seemed at least average. I am not a huge fan of his swing though. 

Caleb Smith is probably the biggest name on Sam Houston State's roster. The lefty isn't very big and isn't very tall (so he doesn't seem to have room to fill out). However, he is able to keep the ball to righties. He gave up a lot of contact though and his fastball looked a little straight. It really wasn't that impressive, and he threw it in the middle of the plate too much. When he sunk it, his fastball was better. He can throw his off-speed for strikes, but when he threw his curveball, it usually stayed up.

Jason Sims is a right-handed pitcher with good height and potential to add weight. He has really ugly mechanics but good looking velocity. He isn't afraid to pitch inside to lefties. Mechanics aside, I think he is better than Smith. He has a changeup as well that he can't really throw for strikes, but does a good job overall of throwing both high and low with his fastball. The breaking ball looks really good (looks like a slider) and he dominates right-handed hitters so much that he doesn't even need to go to his fastball.

Cody Dickson's high fastball looks good and the left-handed pitcher is not tall but has perhaps a little room to fill out. He had some release point problems with his breaking ball, usually bouncing it before it got to the plate. His control needs work, but I kind of like him stuff wise (I would rate him at least close to Smith, if not even better).

Andrew Godail is a lefty that has knee dip in his delivery and releases the ball over the top (but simultaneously low). It seems he gets some good extension, but had problems repeating it.

Logan Boyd is a small lefty with a similar delivery to Godail. He threw a lot of off-speed and his command was really spotty.

David Rumsey brings his hands over his head and has a high leg kick (like you see in many short JUCO RHP, see my Weatherford Tournament articles). He was not throwing hard and his fastball tends to tail gloveside.

Alan Scott is a tall lefty, but he still comes sidearmed. He was less than impressive.

University of Texas Baseball Scouting Reports

On Sunday, I watched the Texas Longhorns baseball team play Sam Houston State University in Fall baseball action. Without a further introduction, here are my scouting reports:

Madison Carter had a good day at the plate and is a line drive hitter. He is small at 5-10 175, with a crouched stance. He will chase off-speed pitches though. From 2nd to home, he ran a 6.67, really close to what I have for B.J. Upton and Francisco Cervelli (2nd to home isn't as much about speed as home to first is, it also has to do with how touches 3rd and the initial jump as well. This is why I have nearly the exact same times for 2 very different players in Cervelli and Upton).

Mark Payton wasn't nearly as fast (7.58 from 2nd to home), despite being pretty small himself. The right-fielder gets under the ball, which probably isn't best for him since he doesn't seem to have much power at all.

Taylor Stell is a big (6-4 195 Sophomore) right-handed hitter that got roughly a 4.30 time from home to first. He showed some possible power as well, along witha n ability to go the other way.

Collin Shaw DH'ed and showed some patience against lefties (as a left-handed hitter). However, his bat speed is a little slow, and his swing a little long, making it possible to burn fastballs by him.

Erich Weiss has a little hitch in his swing. He is a lanky (6-2, 200) left-handed hitting junior that played 3rd base and showed off a good arm.

Alex Silver has no such issues with his swing, as I really liked it. His size (6-1 195) gives him some power, but he is a slow 1st baseman. I got him at 8.82 on a double, which would put him in Pujols, Morales, Montero territory, but he did pull up a little towards the end, so he is a touch faster.

Jacob Felts looked like a good defensive catcher, with good blocking skills and a solid arm. At the plate, he has a lunge in his swing, which makes things look pretty ugly.

Ben Johnson is a freshman that fouled off a lot of pitches. It was tough for me to see what was up with his swing. It looked perhaps slow, but with good sweep like maybe it is just a long swing. As far as knowing how to approach an at-bat, he looked pretty good.

Landon Steinhagen is a senior outfielder who has a quick bat, but seemed to get started late. Whether that is because some kind of hitch I wasn't seeing or just general hesitation, lack of plate recognition, I am not sure. We should perhaps be careful of making definate statements on plate discipline and pitch recognition since it is the fall.

Jeremy Montalbano is a freshman catcher with a good looking arm. There is also some thunder in his bat and he has a nice swing once he gets it started. He is a catcher, so it isn't surprising that he doesn't run well.

Brooks Marlow didn't go after high fastballs, and the relatively small Sophomore left-handed hitter has a pretty violent but quick swing. He has a crouched stance and sometimes almost comes out of his shoes swinging. His plate discipline was not great. As far as other tools go, he is a below average runner at 4.3 to first, with an arm that looked weak at 2nd base.

Perhaps the player I was most excited to see was freshman shortstop C.J. Hinojosa, who was a late round pick by the Astros but was considered a possible first round pick before a (not serious in terms of long term effects) injury in high school. He wasn't really challenged on defense, but he looked advanced and athletic. At the plate, he will chase occasionally as he is a pretty aggressive hitter. He sprayed left-handed fastballs (a right-handed hitter) all over the field, showing good bat speed. It doesn't look like he has much power, but he should be a good average hitter, which is all you can ask from a shortstop (especially if he is good defensively). Here is video of one of his hits:

Ty Marlow both hit and pitched, even though the right-handed junior is just 5-10.  As a hitter he has kind of a chop swing with mediocre running abilities. As a pitcher, he had a pretty solid fastball despite his size. His issue was when he wasn't able to keep it low (which is usually a problem for short pitchers). When it was down, it was good, when it was high, it got crushed. He really only bounced his breaking ball, so it is tough to read what he has there. Here is a short video:

Chad Hollingsworth was the right-handed starting pitcher, despite being just a freshman. He has a solid change that he can either throw for strikes or spike. He had a decent looking fastball that he located well down in the zone. He looks more like a ground-ball pitcher than a strikeout guy right now.

Toller Boardman is a 6-3 210 freshman left-handed pitcher. He has some good spin and velocity on his fastball:

I saw Cameron Cox in Weatherford twice last year (here and here). On Sunday, he located the ball low well and got a lot of ground-balls. He was throwing strikes, adn they were quality strikes. He was having a little problem missing to his glove side, but he showed off a quality high fastball when he was in trouble. I would probably grade him better than Hollingsworth or Boardman, so he should adjust just fine to better competition.

Dillon Peters is a short (5-11) Sophomore left-handed pitcher. At his current size (200), there is no real reason to believe that he will fill out (and add velocity that way, of course there is other ways to add velocity). He throws a decent sinker, but when he left his fastball up, it wasn't very good. He has a good not great (in movement) changeup that he can throw for strikes.

Travis Duke doesn't throw real hard, but the left-handed freshman has a phenomenal changeup. He has a good delivery, but I didn't really like the arm action (although it was consistent, not tipping the fastball or changeup).

Here is some video on 6-0 freshman Ty Culbreth:

Kirby Below is a left-handed pitcher with an over the top delivery that seems to make him look taller (he is 6-1). He has a pause in his delivery and his fastball stayed high:

Corey Knebler has a high leg kick in his delivery with some weird torque in the middle of it (see if you can see it in the video). I didn't like that at all, as it seems that it would just cause more problems that it would solve and make it hard to repeat. His control and release point were issues for him in his outing. He has a good hard breaking ball along with a slower one that wasn't near as effective:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scouting Reports on Francisco Pena and Matthew Way

Francisco Pena is big catcher (6-2 230) in the Mets system. Pena has a
big swing and he looks aggressive at the plate. It looks like you can fool him with breaking balls. Pena clearly has some pull power and I watched him pull a big homer down the line in Dominican Winter League (usually a league that suppresses offensive numbers) play against a lefty.
Statistically, he has had really low OBPs (.289 over the last two years across A+ and AA) and hasn't turned the power into good ISOs or SLGs. He did walk in his short stint in AA, but had a low BABIP without much power, which suppressed his numbers quite a bit.

Behind the plate, it looks like he is a calm receiver, and moves the glove reasonably well for framing, but did seem to snap at the ball at least once.

Matthew Way has had a weird career. He is a small left-handed pitcher at 6-1, less than 200 pounds. He was drafted in the 5th round by the Phillies out of Washington State (after being drafted in the 36th round by the Giants in the previous year) in 2009. He was very successful in the minors with a 3.48 ERA and 8.9 K/9IP in A-ball. However, injuries destroyed his career and he was eventually released.

So after not throwing a single pitch in 2011, Way found himself as a 25 year old free agent. He latched on to 2 different independent teams, and pitched pretty well other than a spike in his walk rate. Now he is pitching in the Dominican Winter League.

Way is definitely a soft-tossing/deception lefty. He brings back his arm behind him before coming 3/4s after a somewhat high leg kick. The fastball looks okay, in the mid to upper 80s that mainly tails. His command of it was very spotty when I saw him in the DWL, and he didn't have a good outing. He also threw what looked like a sinker/slider that had the best movement. It wasn't a sharp break, but it broke both horizontally and vertically.
Way can throw his changeup for strikes, but it isn't an exceptional pitch in movement. When he was drafted, this was his best pitch (as you would expect from a soft-tossing lefty). I didn't think it was his best pitch when I watched him.
If he goes back to throwing strikes, Way looks like a AAA lefty and emergency guy in the bigs. I wouldn't ever let him start on a big league mound, but he could be a reliever and possibly get some lefties out. I would be surprised if he didn't get a minor league contract and start out with someone in AA or AAA this year, left handed arms are always coveted, especially ones that have had success as a pro.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Justin Hampson Released by Mets

Justin Hampson is a 32 year old lefty reliever that was let go by the New York Mets earlier this week (as they removed him from their 40 man roster). Hampson threw 10 innings for the Mets in 2012 after not being in the big leagues since 2008 (including a terrible 2010 with 2 independent league teams).

His delivery is strange, but he isn't a sidearmer. I found it surprising that he has had basically no splits over the last two years in AAA. I also found it surprising that he didn't have a longer injury history as that arm motion looks really messy.

When I saw him, he was throwing about a 84-88 MPH fastball right down the middle. Even though he is a lefty, he really couldn't get inside to lefties. He has to keep it low, where he can get some sink on it (though Pitch F/X says he doesn't throw the sinker much). His velocity has dropped since he was last in the big leagues in 2008. In 2008, his 4-seam fastball was 88.13 MPH on average. In 2012, the average velocity was 86.50 MPH.

Hampson threw a lot of 76-78 MPH pitches in the outing I went back and watched. That velocity looks like his change, but it breaks like a decent slider.

The actual slider I saw him throw was at 83 MPH and it was a baby slider. Without Pitch F/X, I would have flipped the two, calling the harder one the change because of movement.

I think I saw the curve once in the outing I watched, and it has some really nice movement. He is very slider heavy, but I think he should throw his curve more.

This may be why he doesn't have big splits in this minors at least:
He not only pitches differently against righties, he located the ball differently. He tries to keep the ball away from both lefties and righties (strike zone images give us the same impression). It would seem that he knows that his stuff is below average so his best bet is locating away. In the minors, this didn't lead to a lot of walks, and his MLB career didn't have too many walks (8.1 %), but you could see how this approach would lead to a lot of walked batters. Even by staying away, he doesn't strikeout a lot of hitters or have a great ground-ball rating.

I can see why the Mets let him go. It is hard to see how he is worth a 40 man spot. He doesn't have the splits (mainly he isn't effective enough against left-handed batters) to be a situational lefty, and he doesn't have the strikeout rate or velocity to be a good reliever that you would let face both lefties/righties. At this point, he is a low leverage reliever type, but he has never ability to have long outings to eat up junk innings. It is hard to see his value at this point, especially on a 25 man roster with a 7-8 man bullpen. He is the kind of guy you invite to spring training, hope he has a good year in AAA, then try to add him on the 40 man roster in September if you are competitive to try to help the bullpen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Northwest League Scouting Reports: Edwards, Pugliese

Initially this was going to include a couple of different Northwest League (A-) pitchers, but it worked out a little differently than I originally planned. Here are scouting reports on two NWL pitchers I went back and watched:

James Pugliese is a 20 year old right-handed starting pitcher in the Cubs organization. Pugliese was a 18th round pick in 2011 out of junior college.
He has sort of a quirky delivery and comes clearly over the top. He has decent height at 6-3, but he threw too many balls in the middle of the plate. So on one hand, he is a strike thrower (a 7.7 % BB rate is certainly not bad), but he is also very hittable (over 10 hits per 9 innings in both Arizona and the NWL with an identical .354 BABIP in both leagues over the last two years). The fastball seems to sink a little bit, but he simply wasn't able to get it down consistently (after not having a good GB% in the AZL last year, he had a solid GB rate this year in the NWL). He was very fastball heavy when I watched him, and he seemed to have decent velocity but was not overpowering (he seems to cut it or at least get horizontal movement on it). He didn't get change down either, but he broke out a slider that was probably his best pitch in movement. His best bet is when he gets his pitches down to be able to get some ground-balls, as he doesn't have the stuff to get a lot of strikeouts. At his age, he has plenty of time to fix his command, and control does not seem to be a problem. He is sort of interesting as a pitchability slider/sinker guy. 

C.J. Edwards was a 48th round pick in 2011, but was rated as the 8th best prospect in the Northwest League by Baseball America this season. Edwards has very good velocity and some tail on his fastball. It looks like there is separate 4-seam and 2-seam fastball. It was too good for the levels he was pitching at this year. He misses a lot to arm side and really seemed to regress (especially command wise) when he had to go to the stretch.
He has decent height at 6-2, and is currently scrawny at age 21. Edwards' curveball is somewhat of a hard curve. He couldn't get it down, and it was actually above the strike zone a whole lot.The command of it got better as the game went along, but I don't think it is a great pitch (the break isn't very impressive). When he got the command of it down, he was really fond of it, throwing it frequently. His 3rd pitch is a change with some solid movement. It was pretty inconsistent but his command of it was better than his curveball for the most part. I also saw what looked like a few cutters/sliders that he kept low in the zone away from right-handers. Out of the two, Edwards is perhaps a little more raw (10.4 BB % in A -), but clearly has better stuff. He was also much more successful, with a 1.98 FIP (32.8 K %) and 2.61 SIERA with Spokane. He didn't give up a single homer in the AZL or the NWL in 69 innings this year.

He sure looks like a MLB pitcher to me, with at least 2 MLB pitches and good velocity. The command will need some work, but you can say that about just every pitcher at age 21. He has swing and miss stuff with a good fastball. That makes you a good prospect.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Scouting Report on TCU (Fall 2012)

Below is my scouting report on TCU from their fall game against Rice.
Here is my scouting report on TCU from the Spring:
Here is my scouting report on Rice:

Trevor Seidenberger is a junior left-hander that doesn't throw very hard (mid to upper 80s). His fastball is best when it is low and arm side. He has a good glove side change that really worked when it got in and looked quite a bit like a fastball until late. He can't live over the middle of the plate to right-handed hitters (I guess no one can, but he especially can't).

Nick Frey has good height (6-4) but needs to fill out (185). He threw a lot of weak fastballs over the plate and a lot of what looks like sliders (and maybe a change as well). Overall, there were too many pitches in the middle of the plate and he was hit hard. 

Preston Morrison throws basically sidearm with his low arm angle (although his body does not get low). The velocity isn't there (around 85 MPH), but he was keeping the ball low and the ball dipped basically like a change. The pitchability makes him the kind of pitcher who can be successful in college, but rarely in the professional ranks (unless he can rack up massive platoon splits with his arm action).

Trea Teakell has a quirky delivery in which he doesn't really stride. He threw a lot of cuves with a little arm side tail on low fastballs. He located it well, but it seemed less impressive when it was high and straight.

I wrote last time that I really wanted to see Brandon Finnegan add on a couple of MPHs on his fastball. Whether it was because of the difference in radar guns, him appearing in relief instead of as a starter, or him just gaining arm strength, Finnegan was throwing 92-93 MPH on Sunday. He had good tail and action on his pitches and he kept the ball low. He threw harder than most of the pitchers in the game for either team.

Kevin Cron is a gigantic cleanup guy (listed at 6-5, 260) that doesn't look like he belongs in the infield (1st base obviously). At the plate, pitchers just stayed away from him. He didn't make good adjustments and swung through all kinds of off-speed. His swing isn't very quick.

Brett Johnson has an okay to mediocre arm. The left-handed hitter doesn't have a pretty swing as it clearly has some holes in it. He isn't real patient and is awful scrawny for a right fielder (he may be limited because of his arm). He slaps the ball the other way and is not a good runner.

Cody Jones is a small (5-11 175) center fielder that also hit lead-off. As you would expect with his skills set, he is a good bunted that also likes to go the other way. He runs well but is not what you would call a "burner".

Travis Hennessey is a pitcher/right-fielder who is pretty small (6-0 180). His arm didn't play great out in the field and he had massive issues defensively. He is not a great runner, but he swings a reasonably quick bat. He will fall for the breaking ball, even with the platoon advantage.

Jerrick Suiter is pretty big (6-4 235) behind the plate and is also listed as a pitcher. The arm accuracy wasn't there though. He was swinging from his heels and is not a good runner.

Jantzen White is a 3rd baseman that looks somewhat odd athletically (sort of an awkward build currently). He doesn't have a great swing but showed off some pull power. He looks like a mistake hitter to me, as it is hard to argue with his strength, but takes a weird step in his swing that looks pretty bad mechanically.

Paul Hendrix is the shortstop and doesn't have very good foot spped. He doesn't have a swing that can combat inside pitches and was very jammable. He will try to pull the ball and has a decent eye. Josh Gonzales was the 2B and he was a really agressive hitter that really struggled. He seemed to have a decent contact tool but he is not a runner. Paddy O'Brien really struggled behind the plate. He didn't block the ball well and had some serious issues throwing the ball. He is a catcher, so he doesn't have much speed and seemed to have a little bit of chop in his swing.

NPB Pitching Scouting Reports: Takada and Kishi

Here are scouting reports on 3 pitchers from the NPB (Japan) play-offs:

Shota Takada is just 19 years old and his debut season in the NPB was brilliant, as he struck out a batter an inning in 11 starts and gave up just 1 home run (and threw a complete game shutout. He has a slow loopy curve that was around 71- 76 that he can bury and throw for strikes. He had some control issues, but that is expected with his age (as someone who has been blogging a lot about college/minor league pitchers, it is easy to see that he is very advanced). He likes to throw the curve in what looks like any count to RHB and occasionally to LHB. Here is his pitch data courtesy of NPB tracker:

The fastball sat around 89 MPH when I saw him (perhaps he was a little tired at the end of the season, as I never saw him go much higher than that. He averages about 89-90 MPH, but throws up to 94 to 95 according to the data) and it was pretty straight other than some occasional drift to his arm side (e may have just been missing arm side as NPB Tracker's heat maps show that he likes to go glove side a little more than arm side usually. He did get it to tail a little bit but it stayed high). His overall command needs a bit of work and he has complicated mechanics that really affect his release point. He brings the ball below his knee (after he brings up his leg) before bringing it back up to throw. The 82 MPH slider actually looked more like a change to me (perhaps a baby slider) and it didn't have a ton of movement. Overall, he has pretty good pitchability with average to decent stuff if he can maintain his mechanics.

Takehito Kanzawa is a good sized (6-2 but 183) right-handed reliever for Softbank. The veteran (33 years old) has a pretty clean delivery with an impressive 77-78 MPH slider. It breaks mainly down (and is sharp), but also breaks to the left when thrown well. At least when I saw him, it was his favorite pitch. His problem is when it stays up too much. His fastball sits just 87-88 and he doesn't get many strikeouts at all. It is pretty straight, and he tries to jam right-handed batters with it. He has had success in the NPB, and it seems to be because of an ability to get weak contact and grounders.

Takayuki Kishi of Seibu sits about 87-88 MPH with his fastball. He really likes to keep the ball and work corner to corner. He doesn't throw many pitches high and stays out of the middle of the plate.

Kishi had his lowest walk rate of his career, which helped him have a career year ERA wise. He doesn't get a lot of strikeouts, but the 27 year old right-hander was still above league average in that department and did a slightly better than league average job of keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Scouting Reports on Rice's Baseball Team

I went and saw Rice and TCU play a Fall Game on October 14th in Round Rock. Here is the report on Rice:

Austin Kubitza is a 6-5 202 right handed pitcher that threw a lot of off-speed pitches, especially to begin his outing. He doesn't throw especially hard, showing off more of a sinker than a fastball at 89-90 MPH. He gets arm-side tail and downward movement on the fastball/sinker. He works with what looks like a good change that he can throw for strikes along with a slider that he gets very good movement on (glove side) and bounces quite often.

Jordan Stephens is 6-1, which is small for a right-handed pitcher. He tries to make up for this with a high leg kick in his delivery to hide the ball. He keeps the ball low and didn't want to come in at all. He has mediocre off-speed without sharp bite that he can throw for strikes. When he missed, he missed out of the zone, and not in the zone. He threw a few decent looking fastballs, getting up to 90 MPH, but high and up is not where the good ones are.

Zech Lemond is a RHP with good size, but still has the turn and the leg kick you see in many college pitchers (usually when they are trying to compensate for size, as we saw in the Weatherford tournament). It helps him hide the ball obviously, but he also wasn't very consistent with it. He keeps his 89-92 MPH fastball low, with some good armside tail. The command wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good. He was hanging his slider/off-speed pitch a lot, but it was a good pitch when he got it down.

John Simms has good size at 6-3 210 and has a quirky delivery. He comes quickly and perhaps violently over the top. He has a leg kick and his lower half actually pretty quiet. He throws what is a really nice looking change. The fastball doesn't have great velocity (not quite 90 MPH), but he locates it well and it seems to have good life. His 3rd pitch is a slider/curve that he can throw for strikes.

Chase McDowell sits in the upper 80s-low 90s, but looks shorter than his listed 6-2. He throws a lot of fastballs, most of them high and straight and it looks pretty good.

Ford Stainback has a pretty good tight swing to go with his crouched stance. He can hit the ball the other way and has what looks like good hand-eye coordination that helps him have a good contact tool. He is also a decent looking athlete.

Michael Ratterree is a senior that seems to have a little pop. Rice has a lot of mistake hitters that like to go the other way. Skyler Ewing is stocky and slow, but he can go the other way at the plate and has good plate discipline. The big 1st baseman seemed solid on defense. He obviously isn't going to move well, but has good fundamentals.

Geoff Perrott is a senior catcher with a very good arm (his arm may have been he best tool in the game for either team) and a quick release. He is not big, in fact, even though he is listed at 6-2 205, he doesn't look like a catcher. At the plate, he was way ahead of the changeup (you can fool him with the breaking ball) and has an uppercut swing. With that said, he can drive the ball, and looks like an excellent gap/doubles hitter.

It is hard to get excited about small senior (Rice has a lot of seniors it seems) infielders, but Christian Stringer had a nice double off a lefty (as a lefty). He can run, but is not a burner. His swing may be a little long with somewhat of a hitch.

Leon Byrd is not a patient lead-off hitter as a freshman, but he runs decent (he almost seems pudgy for his height). He is a slap hitter and is going to hit a ton of ground-balls and try to beat them out.

Keenen Cook is a guy with good speed who drove the ball well and plays 2nd base. Blake Fox plays first base and showed off some other way strength. Connor Teykl is a freshman that also doubles as a pitcher. He showed off decent run with surprising gap power considering his size (188 pounds). He was out in front of the change and didn't show off great plate discipline.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

NPB Scouing Reports: Morifuku and More

Here are some small scouting reports I put together from the NPB playoff game between the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Saitama Seibu Lions on Friday October 13th (I watched online):

Shogo Akiyama is a big left-handed hitter that doesn't have the bailout swing that you see a lot in the NPB. Akiyama does not have great bat speed either, however. He seems to have good plate discipline and had an OBP .030 points higher than league average with a SLG .060 better than league average. The swing includes what may be a little bit of a chop, but he can use the whole field by going the other way or pulling the ball. He did not look like a great runner and his stolen base rate seems to confirm this even though he plays centerfield.

Kenta Imamiya has a pretty wild swing that gets him way out in front of off-speed. I say this with the caveat that when I saw him, he had to face a right-handed submariner as a right-handed batter (obviously not a great match-up). He is a ground-ball hitter with good running ability that plays shortstop.

Yutaro Osaki is a lefty hitter that will chase curves. There are a lot of moving parts in his swing. He has a skinny build with what looks like a good contact tool, and he really stays with the ball well. At age 27, this was his first year to play over 100 games and he had an OPS of .691. That doesn't sound impressive until you realize that league average was .658. His K/BB was a solid 27/17 and he struck out less than 10% of the time.

Masahiko Morifuku is a left-handed reliever with a really quirky delivery. He 
brings the ball way down, and hides it behind body. He is really small human being (not to mention being a pitcher) at 5-7 141, but somehow hides the ball behind his body.

Morifuku started by throwing his changeup quite a bit. He definitely falls under the category of "soft tosser". He has glove side tail (which must be his "shutto", which is really just what we would call a 2-seam fastball) on his 82 MPH-83 MPH fastball that sometimes moves down like a change. The 26 year old's upside is only as a LOOGY, but he has been phenomenal statistically since the change in baseball in the NPB.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Some Venezuelan Winter League Scouting Reports (Aguilas de Zulia)

The Venezuelan Winter League season kicked off on Thursday night. Here are reports on 5 players from the team Aguilas de Zulia.

Jose Flores is a switch hitting infielder, with a not very pretty and almost bailout swing from the left side. He will run into a ball and show surprising power if you put it on the inside of the plate and it looks like he can run. He also plays a solid looking 3rd base. Statistically, the 24 year old has been pretty unimpressive, with a flash of success in A - (109 wOBA +), deceptive California League statistics, and a whole lot of mediocrity to bad hitting in between. He hits a ton of grounders (something that isn't surprising considering the swing), and doesn't walk or strikeout a lot. He has a utility/NL bench/AAAA player ceiling.

Justin Henry's swing isn't quick, as he is lefty that you can get inside on. The swing has a little bit of a chop in it too. He has a really tall build and at least had what looked like decent plate discipline. He has always been somewhat of an "empty average guy", with a minor league batting average of nearly .300 (with a decent walk rate) and a slugging percentage under his OBP. He spent the entire 2012 in AAA, where he had a 107 wRC + at age 27. He is not really a prospect, but probably more of an org. guy, as he can move around position wise and could be a utility player for the Tigers next year (there is a good chance he is better than Ryan Raburn, although his AAA numbers aren't as good).

Ender Inciarte is a small 21 year old left handed hitter that plays mainly centerfield. He has a little bit of a bailout swing and seems to have some kind of shoulder drag. It is not quite a hitch, but it works in that way. It was probably not the best platediscipline on display, but he will flick the ball the other way with relative ease. He has already been in the organization for 5 years and has a .714 career OPS and hasn't reached AA (he has played in the Midwest League for at least part of 3 seasons). However, his first shot in the California League was relatively successful, with a 104 wOBA +. He is a good contact guy with a mediocre but not terrible walk rate.His game relies on speed, as he had a 8.8 speed score in the California League, and 84 out of 100 speed rating by the Baseball Cube.

Jose Sanchez has a really effortless and repeatable delivery, but wasn't throwing hard. His release point did seem to suffer on fastballs and they stayed up a few times. Other than that, he had solid command. The former Met farmhand has spent the last two years in the Mexican League (after a terrible 2010 in Independent Ball). He has over 350 AA innings, but was mediocre at best, with a 4.57 ERA/6.4 K/9IP/3.2 BB/9IP. He threw just 17 innings in the Mexican League in 2012. Sanchez has a pretty slow curve along with what looks like a slider. The slider doesn't have exceptionally hard break and drifts to the glove side. Even with platoon advantage, he seems to work to that side.

Deivis Mavarez is right-handed sidearmer. He had a little bit of control problems and his landing point is a little messy. The ball moves like a change like many side-arming/submarine pitchers. He did a decent job of keeping the ball low overall.The 26 year old was originally signed by the Astros in 2005, but struggled in the Venezuala summer league and was released after 2 years. The Rays picked him up and watched him have success in the same league, with a ton of strikeouts and a good ERA. He was brought to the States, and had good numbers throughout, only to be let go after 2011 after never being promoted past A+. He really failed to be dominant against righties in 2011, with a high walk rate and a low strikeout rate. As far as I can tell, he didn't pitch anywhere in 2012.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Times to First: Part 15

1. Matt Kata (Rangers AAA): 8.03 (on a double)

2. Yangervis Solarte (Rangers AAA): 10.95 (1st to Home)

3. Matt Angle (Dodgers AAA): 3.59 (on a bunt)

4. Osvaldo Martinez (Dodgers AAA): 4.06

5. Trent Oeltjen (Dodgers AAA): 3.74 on a bunt, 8.21 on a double.

6. Mark Reynolds (Orioles): 4.36

7. Eduardo Nunez (Yankees): 7.74 (on a double)

8. Wilkin Ramirez (Twins AAA): 4.24

9. Jose Morales (Pirates AAA): 4.56

10. Brian Dozier (Twins AAA): 7.73 (on a double)

11. Rich Thompson (Rays AAA): 3.54 (on a bunt)

12. Brandon Phillips (Reds): 5.88 (1st to 3rd)

13. Austin Jackson (Tigers): 4.00

14. Trayvon Robinson (Mariners): 11.34 (on a triple)

15. Michael Saunders (Mariners): 10.29 (1st to home)

16. Munenori Kawasaki (Mariners): 11.50 (on a triple)

17. Chone Figgins (Mariners): 11.53 (on a triple)

18. Vinnie Catricala (Mariners AAA): 12.49 (on a triple)

19. Aaron Hicks (Twins AA): 11.66 (on a triple)

20. Tim Wheeler (Rockies AAA): 11.80 (on a triple)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Scouting Report on Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez was traded from the Padres to the White Sox in the Carlos Quentin trade. The White Sox then traded him in the middle of the year in part of a deal to get Francisco Liriano (who gave the White Sox .7 fWAR, a lot of strikeouts, but too many walks with too many homers).

Hernandez is 23 years old and is a short but stout lefty (5-10, 200). He is fastball heavy (upper 80s to low 90s, sits about 90 MPH), but it doesn't seem to play as well against righties, especially when he tries to keep it away. He likes to throw the fastball high, but moves it inside and outside. It looks like he has decent looking command with it. Hernandez also throws what looks like a sinker that he keeps low with some okay movement.
His main off-speed pitch is a change that he can throw for strikes. He will throw it to lefties as well, and tries to locate it on the outside corner to them, with pretty good success. It doesn't have great movement, but the location, speed differential, and ability to sell it with his arm action makes it a pretty good pitch.
He also mixes in a slider that dives into the dirt pretty sharply. I liked the break on it, but he really didn't throw it much when I watched him.

Statistically, Hernandez doesn't have big splits, which surprises me. I guess he locates the change well enough to keep hitters off balance. However, he does not have a good ground-ball rate, despite good looking command. That is at least somewhat concerning and it is not as if he makes up for it with a lot of infield fly-balls.

Overall, he throws a lot of strikes (over 66%) and at-bats don't usually last very long (3.48 Pit/PA over the last two years). He just doesn't walk batters (walk percentage under 5% over the last two years), but he doesn't strikeout a lot of people either.

Hernandez seems to have the mix of pitches and command to be a starter in the big leagues. It is very doubtful that he can be average, but he can certainly be acceptable. The question will obviously be whether or not he is too hittable. He is the type of pitcher who succeeds in AAA only to struggle in the Majors, a pitchability lefty with mediocre stuff. I think I am bullish on Hernandez though, I could see him being a capable above replacement starter in the Majors. He seems to be the kind of guy who would benefit from a pitcher friendly park more than an average pitcher. According to @Toritap's park factors, Target Field played slightly in favor of pitchers this year.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Times to First: Part 14

1. Sean Rodriguez (Rays): 6.53 (2nd to home)

2. B.J. Upton (Rays): 6.66 (2nd to home)

3. Kevin Youkilis (White Sox): 4.36

4. David Ross (Braves): 3.76 (on a bunt)

5. Andrelton Simmons (Braves): 3.71 (on a bunt)

6. Michael Bourn (Braves): 3.71

7. Jose Costanza (Braves): 10.74 (on a triple)

8. Yadier Molina (Cardinals): 4.60

9. Scott Rolen (Reds): 4.27

10. Ryan Ludwick (Reds): 4.65

11. Marco Scutaro (Giants): 4.12

12. Kurt Suzuki (Nationals): 4.40

13. Buster Posey (Giants): 4.33

14. Lew Ford (Orioles): 3.91 (on a bunt), 4.11

15. Joey Votto (Reds): 7.21 (from 2nd to home)

16. Ryan Hanigan (Reds): 11.74 (from 1st to home)

17. Skip Schumaker (Cardinals): 4.10

18. Tommy Mendoca (Rangers AAA): 8.76 (on a double)

19. Greg Miclat (Rangers AAA): 7.78 (on a double)

20. Jerry Sands (Dodgers AAA/Red Sox): 4.57

All the Times:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Times to First: Part 13

1. Francisco Cervelli (Yankees): 6.68 (from 2nd to home)

2. Adam Rosales (Athletics): 4.29

3. Hank Conger (Angels): 4.59

4. Xavier Nady (Giants): 4.68

5. Luis Cruz (Dodgers): 4.35

6. Charlie Blackmon (Rockies): 4.35

7. Tony Campana (Cubs): 3.87

8. John Buck (Marlins): 4.51

9. Greg Dobbs (Marlins): 4.42

10. Yan Gomes (Blue Jays): 4.45

11. Kyle Seager (Mariners): 10.51 (first to home)

12. Matt Wieters (Orioles): 4.60

13. Stephen Vogt (Rays): 4.24

14. Andrew Romine (Angels): 4.18

15. Brett Jackson (Cubs): 6.99 (from 2nd to home)

16. Josh Vitters (Cubs): 4.49

17. Casper Wells (Mariners): 4.16

18. Brandon Moss (Athletics): 4.28.  10.54 (from 1st to home)

19. Geovany Soto (Rangers): 4.70

20. Seth Smith (Athletics): 4.23

All of the times: