This week there were two quotes that really stood out to me that related to scouting pitchers. These quotes showed the good and the bad from radar gun readings.
The first quote comes from my article on the independent league pitchers the Pirates signed after John Holdzkom. This quote is from Holdzkom, discussing how it can be easier for pitchers to be seen, and how the radar gun can allow you to get a feel for how good a pitcher is after one game.
Holdzkom: “I think pitchers have an easier time of getting seen, simply because of the radar gun. Position players might take 15 games to watch them, to see how good they are. With a pitcher, you can kind of see what you’ve got watching them one time. So it’s definitely easier for a pitcher.”
This is definitely true, and something I’ve noticed a lot. Granted, there might be one game where you get a bad reading — either too high in velocity or too low. But it’s usually much quicker to get an initial report on a pitcher than it is a hitter.
Then there’s the bad of the radar gun. It’s such a big focus in scouting that often a good radar reading is all it takes to get signed. When it comes to the draft, pitchers will draw attention for their ability to hit high velocity numbers, especially at a young age. Jameson Taillon discussed this in my article about his delivery changes this year, and how that process led to him having poor mechanics heading into pro ball.
Taillon: “Specifically talking about the drop in the delivery, at that time, 19 years old, first outing in pro ball, I think the drop is attributed to the draft process. Trying to throw hard. Trying to get paid. [Laughs]. That’s how you’re trained growing up, unfortunately. I think some of it is immaturity. Not off-the-field immaturity, but with my body. That felt strong. I might not have been as physically mature at the time, so a big move like that helped me feel powerful and strong.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a process that will ever change, especially when you can draft the velocity and try to fix the mechanics. It makes you wonder if this is helping to contribute to the Tommy John epidemic recently. I don’t want to make any sweeping generalizations, or suggest this is the one thing that leads to the injuries. But trying to throw as hard as you can with bad mechanics is probably not a good thing from a health perspective.
Pete Ellis wrote this weekend about The Off-Season Adjustment That Might Have Solved Tony Sanchez’s Throwing Problems. Sanchez has been performing well this Spring, and for the last two days I’ve been getting a lot of questions wondering what the Pirates will do with him and Elias Diaz. The questions ranged from playing time in Triple-A, to wondering if Chris Stewart should be traded in order to make room for Sanchez on the active roster.
The odds are strong that Sanchez will be up in the majors at some point this year, with no trade needed to clear a spot. Someone will get injured, and if it happens in the first half of the season, Sanchez would be the guy to turn to. If it happens late in the season, then Sanchez would have to compete with Diaz for the role.
Either way, this isn’t a real problem. The Pirates potentially have good catching depth, and they can retain all of them without making a trade.
The Pirates made their first cuts this weekend. First, they sent out five players, including Tyler Glasnow. The top prospect made his debut in minor league camp today, looking strong in two innings. Today they made another cut, sending out Stetson Allie.
I’d expect more cuts this week, especially with guys who have zero days of service time. Minor league camp is now starting to have games, and it is getting harder to get at-bats and innings for some guys, especially those who have no shot of making the active roster.
Other links from the weekend: