Thursday, March 14, 2013

Notes on Two Baylor Pitchers

I saw Baylor earlier this year, but as I saw them again when I watched Illinois, I saw a couple of pitchers I hadn't seen this year and took some notes on them.

I watched Kolt Browder pitch a little bit last year, but thought a new year deserved a new writeup. At 6-0, he is pretty short, but mostly filled out at 205. A Senior now, Browder has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his Baylor career, and not racked up many innings doing so, with a 3.00 FIP in 61 innings. Evidently my velocity readings were wrong or I didn't proof-read and made a typo when I wrote about him last year. He was throwing 87-88 MPH, and seemed to get on top of the ball pretty well (especially for his height) and kept it low. He threw a 83-86 MPH change that was without great movement but it did have occasional sink. He moved well off the mound, looking relatively athletic for his size. He is already 23, and without the real fastball, I don't think he is a professional baseball prospect, even with the solid strikeout numbers at a Major college.

Austin Stone started the 2nd game of the doubleheader I saw. The Sophomore was also undrafted out of high school, and is a little short for a right-handed starter at 6-1. As a freshman, he split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation and mostly struggled, with barely more strikeouts than walks. He sort of comes out with his release point, probably a little more than average. He was throwing 90-92 MPH on his fastball, 91 MPH being the most common. He also got down to 89 MPH a few times and even 87-88 MPH in a long inning. It had nice downward movement, but his control was spotty and he threw too many in the dirt. He got pretty consistent whiffs on it, even when it was low. If nothing else, he is going to get quite a bit of groundballs. Stone has a starter's repertoire of breaking and off-speed pitches. He threw a 83-84 MPH off-speed with unimpressive break and no real feel. He didn't throw that one very often. He had another separate off-speed (from my angle, which you can see in the Illinois video, it was often tough to tell difference in break etc.) he threw at 78-80 MPH that broke down. He had nice movement on it and kept it down, and it was better looking than the harder pitch, or at least more effective. Especially if the pitch was harder (or gets harder), you could say he had two MLB pitches. He also threw a couple of 75-77 MPH curveballs. It wasn't good in command, leaving it up and it not breaking down. It is hard to make any judgments on that pitch yet.

I think there is some stuff to like here, and you aren't really evaluating him as a MLB prospect until 2014 anyway, so command isn't a big problem if you believe in his delivery. A bullpen move would allow him to emphasize his better breaking pitches and have his fastball more consistently at 92 MPH and probably hitting 93-94 MPH (just assuming he works about normal in the bullpen versus starting).

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