Note: I usually try to pick the most recent game the player pitched. Sometimes the MLB video has issues and other games are picked. Also, if a say a pitch moves 11-5, it is from the pitcher’s perspective.
Why I watched: The top ranked Cardinals prospect according to Baseball America deserved a look.
Game(s) Watched:9/14/14 vs Rockies
• The 22-year-old lefty had small amounts of movement on every pitch. Just enough to generate some weak contact.
• He started out with a 87-90 mph fastball. It has some release side break and he generally kept it down in the zone.
• His bread and butter pitch was his change. It is 76-80 mph with some glove side and downward break. The deception on this pitch is amazing and he could throw it for strikes. It gets a 25% SwStr%.
• His 74-77 mph 12-6 curveball broke late and is only a swing-and-miss pitch.
• He threw what must be his slider. I only way I could tell is it came in at 83-84 mph and did something different every time. Completely useless pitch.
• None of his pitches break down, even though Pitchf/x labels his fastball a sinker (only 34% GB%). He got an insane amount of popups (9.8%, top 5% of the league).
• He nibbles all around the plate especially when ahead (14% BB%). He needs to just throw strikes and trust is stuff.
Final thoughts: I had higher hopes for him, but his future value is linked to him throwing strikes. Will he quit walking as many hitters or will they tee off on his weak offerings if he attacks the plate? I think he is worth an flier if the walk rate comes down.
Why I watched: Projected 2015 starter
Game(s) Watched: 9/5/14 vs A’s
• His straight fastball was between 85-90 mph with some “rise” (8.2% popup rate).
• His 79-80 mph change was probably his best pitch (17.3% SwStr%) with some slow sink to it.
• His curve is a 11/5 with a sweeping flight path. It is similar to his change, but with a little more downward movement.
• Sometimes the whole is better than the parts, but when the parts are ‘meh’ at best, the whole is below average. He has average to below average stuff and together is doesn’t play up. He just can’t throw his change all the time.
• He can get BABIP’ed to death at times.
Final thoughts: Nothing stood out at all. The change just seems to play off hitters waiting on his fastball. I could see his ERA being BABIP driven as it has been the last couple of seasons.
Why I watched: Traded twice in the past two seasons.
Game(s) Watched: 8/22/14 vs Rangers
• None of the lefty’s pitches were sharp. All were straight or loopy and the hitters just teed off on them.
• His straight fastball was between 91 to 94 mph.
• He through a slurve (labeled slider and curve by Pitchf/x) with a 11/5 motion which was at 80-81 mph. It broke down and was just a swing-and-miss pitch.
• His change was between 84-87 mph with a loopy drop. At times it didn’t break much and got crushed.
• He needs some time in AAA to refine his pitches and sequencing.
• Detroit’s defense was sloppy.
Final thoughts: None of his pitches stick out at all. I think he is in the show because he is a lefty who can throw in the low-90’s. He has a ways to develop before being major league ready.
Why I watched: I am looking at keeping him in a fantasy league.
Game(s) Watched: 9/21/14 vs White Sox
• Twice I noticed the 27-year-old righty shrugging his shoulders. I looked like he was trying to work something out.
• He nibbles about the plate. It definitely leads to his near 10% BB%.
• His 89-94 mph fastball had some nice arm side run. It is a decent fastball.
• His sweeping curveball was between 80 and 84 mph with a 2/8 action. It is an above average pitch in both SwStr% and GB%.
• His third pitch was a 83-86 mph change with the exact motion as his fastball, but 8 mph slower.
• He seems scared of left-handed hitters with all his MLB walks (4) going to LHH.
Final thoughts: His fastball and slider make a viable bullpen arm if starting doesn’t work. I would like to see him pound the strike zone more and smooth out his change up.
Bonus coverage: Marcus Semien
What an impressive home run swing here by Semien off Karns. Just straight up bomb on a tough inside pitch.
Why I watched: 59% GB% in 2014 with a 95 mph fastball
Game(s) Watched: 9/25/14 vs Mets
• The 27-year-old righty was impressive for have almost zero hype surrounding him (23rd in the 2014 Nationals top 30 by Baseball America).
His sinker/fastball ranged from 92 to 96 mph with crazy sink. It almost looks like a change coming in there. Check out some video on him:
I went at looked to see if another pitcher could get as much sink as him and still throw in the mid-90’s. Depending on how you look at it, he has the top velocity-sink combination or in the top few. Besides the downward break, he straightened out the pitch or gave it some glove side run a few times. I have no idea if this change was intentional or not.
• His slider (sometimes labeled curve) was at 85 mph with some 1/7 action and some late break. It was inconsistent at times, but he was able to throw it for strikes.
• His change is a work in progress. It was between 85-86 mph and straighter than his sinker.
• Generally he threw strikes and will need the Nationals defense to be alert behind him with all the ground balls.
Final Thoughts: I love the sinker and I could see him be a decent major league pitcher. I am not sure where he will fit into a stacked Nationals rotation. Also, I am not sure if his secondary stuff is good enough to get the swings-and-misses needed for the late innings. I will keep an eye on him and where he eventually slots in with the Nats.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.