Early 2023 Statcast Observations For the Indianapolis Indians

The Indianapolis Indians wrapped up their first full week of play last week, taking five of six against the Louisville Bats.

Indianapolis has some of the better prospects in the Pirates system. With the automated strike zone starting to get implemented, we actually have some stat casting available on the games through Baseball Savant. 

So now that they are nine games into the season, here are some very early observations based on the date available so far. 

— It really doesn’t take Statcast to tell you this, but Luis Ortiz may have the best singular pitch in the system in the slider. By far his best pitch, the success he has with it helps make up for his fastball not really being able to generate swings and misses.

The slider, in the 10 plate appearances that was determined from it, three were groundouts, three strikeouts and no one has picked up a hit on it. 

Due to a system error during his last start, the data isn’t complete, but there’s still enough there to confirm what we already know.

— It sounds like Cody Bolton is really enjoying the shift to bullpen, and so is his fastball. Batters have swung at 20 of them this season, and have missed nine times. The 45% whiff rate would rank first in the majors as of the morning of April 10 of all pitchers with at least 10 plate appearances decided by a fastball.

— There’s been questions about Quinn Priester’s fastball, but really shouldn’t be any about the sinker, which continues to emerge as a strong pitch. The pitch has generated a 46% ground ball rate and the 15% strikeout rate would be a top 20 number in the majors.

–The concerns about Nick Gonzales facing non-fastballs are really growing, and we have data to go with it now.

Against the fastball, Gonzales has mashed to a tune of a .363/.384/1.000 slash. He’s hit the ball hard, with a well above average exit velocity of 91.6 EV, and has a barrel rate of 13.3%.

It’s been a completely different story against everything else, as with the data available (two hits aren’t accounted for by statcast), but for now he has yet to pick a hit on anything else and has a strikeout rate of 60%.

He has a 53.8% whiff rate on non fastballs, faring much better with fastballs (36.6%). He does have 14 swings accounted for (three being whiffs), which can help things a bit, but the eye test is showing the same issues as the numbers are.

— Endy Rodriguez, on the other hand, has just a 15.3% whiff rate on non-fastballs but isn’t hitting the ball nearly as hard as Gonzales is. His average EV is just 83.16 mph, but is still holding a decent line drive rate of 22.7%. The launch angle is helping him find spaces, even if he isn’t hitting the ball hard yet.

— Maybe no one suffered from losing out on some of the data lost over than Travis Swaggerty, as none of his batted balls from his four hit double-header day was tracked. That included one of his home runs among it.

He’s still hitting the ball at a surprisingly decent rate, despite an average exit velocity of 83 mph. His hard hit rate of 31.8 is just below what is generally league average. Factor in a couple of those extra-base hits he got, it’s a different story.

His line drive rate is also really good, sitting at 27%. The one issue he’s running into has been the struggles against offspeed pitches. While he’s managed to go 2-for-5 with a double against them, he’s also sporting a whiff rate over 50% as well. 

The sample sizes are still really small, but they are certainly trends that will be worth monitoring going forward, especially how it may impact any potential promotion or their performance in the majors.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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Anthony, could you possibly provide a link for where you are getting this data? Or are you compiling it yourself from the individual game logs on BS?


Bring Swag to provide the defense we lost by losing Cruz. We can really use an upgrade cf.


The pirates legit could add 2 really good bullpen arms in Bolton and Mlodinski mid season. Then add burrows, priester and Ortiz to the rotation. That would be a huge mid season boost. Then you have Endy, swaggerty and Gonzales who could help those struggling positions. Could be fun to see these guys this year. I’m still super bummed about Cruz though.


Any word on Burrows after him leaving the last start in the 2nd?

Wilbur Miller

Getting second opinion on elbow sprain. So is Brubaker. Odds are, first opinion on both was TJ.


Well that sucks. If both do need TJ, hope for there sake they decide to do it sooner than later so that they have a chance to be back sometime later next season.


Extremely disappointing news. Always seem to happen when they’re just so close to breaking out or making the final debut

Wilbur Miller

I’ve often wondered whether it was the excitement, or anxiousness, or just trying a little harder to reach the Show that’s just enough to push so many guys’ arms just beyond some line or other.


The one that I always felt bad for was Nick Kingham. He was on the cusp and then he needed TJ and was never the same afterwards Kept having issues. I think he was having injury problems in Korea too.


Moments like this makes me realize that it really is a skill to stay healthy. Hopefully at least Burrows can avoid the surgery. I remember Keller had sprained forearm but somehow managed to avoid TJS…


I haven’t heard much!


Completely off topic, but I think it warrants a discussion.

TB is off to an unreal 10-0 start, first team since the 1987 Brew Crew, who started out 13-0.

That Brewers team ended up under .500 by the ASB, due in part to a 12 game losing streak in May. They ended up 3rd place in the old AL East with a record of 91-71 and no playoffs back then unless you win the division.

All that said, TB is incredibly well built, not only for the regular season, but also the postseason. No more smoke and mirrors BS with openers, they have a legit starting 5. Glasnow will be back soon and they’ll roll McClanahan, Rasmussen, Glasnow & Springs as a playoff rotation (obviously health permitting). Combine that with a very deep starting 9 and BP and they just might pull it off and win a ring this season.

PS – I effing loathe the Rays, dislike everything about them, but respect the sh*t out of them. First part is because I’m a jealous Pirates fan and that should’ve been us.


How can you loathe the Rays? I just don’t get it. They do everything right and have no history to hate on. I’m legitimately curious how you hate a team that never did anything to the pirates and has no historical success beyond making to postseason?

Wilbur Miller

The Rays are the best run team in MLB, Pirates one of the worst. At least they show it doesn’t have to be this way.


I dislike the Rays too because they make the Pirates even more incompetent than it is. It just seems like the Rays do absolutely everything correct and proves that small market team can succeed too so the Pirates can be ridiculed even more. But the fact is the Rays just have absurdly good development system and I think it’s one of the best in the league if not the best. So to summarize, I’m just jealous and sour.


Even statcast realizes it is a waste of time to look at Swaggerty stats right now. He will be up sometime between April 25th and May 1st.


Endy, Swaggerty, Ortiz all will be called up this season and it’ll be really fun to watch them play!


Love this stuff!

Does Endy historically hit the ball with solid exit velo? I thought he did last year and I know he is only a few games in this year, but that will be important moving forward.

Also, those wanting Gonzales instead of mathias up should see here that this man needs plenty of time at AAA otherwise he will K a terrible amount at the mlb


Raw juice is actually the main (only?) knock on Endy.

Fringe-average raw power, at best, but he maxes out every bit of it with contact quality. The anti-Kebryan.


Get my 5WAR 3B name out your mouth! 😡😡😡







Could still gain some weight and strength on his frame I bet, nothing our Endy cant do!


The exact kind of kid you could see “grow into” his power.


Thank you much – tremendous tools we have to work with these days. It does not take long before every team will start to provide a complete menu of off-speed pitches to NG. He’ll have Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams on speed-dial

Every hitter has issues with Breaking and/or off-speed pitches, but his issues are “extreme” especially being experienced at AAA and more than likely, at AA. Weight back, see the ball to contact, and reps and reps and reps! It’s as much a mental issue as it is a physical issue

Why is it more noticeable in AAA? Because the league is filled with plenty of former MLB throwers who are sent down to perfect an off-speed pitch or pitches. Also at AAA are young pitchers who need to learn how to throw a third pitch before they get to the Show. AA is still the big velocity league and those guys are just going to challenge and try to get a FB by you.


I disagree slightly that hitting the curve is more mental than physical. Some people have the reactions (twitch?) to turn on a fastball but don’t have the ability to see, read, differentiate between pitches. I am probably nitpicking or defining mental differently, but in the definition I am using here, mental implies it is a mind thing and that it CAN be fixed by maybe hard work. IMO some people just don’t have the physical ability beyond their twitch speed. I don’t disagree that reps are a big part of the possible solution but even mixing reps will not work for everybody.


To be specific, I stated “it’s as much a mental issue as a physical issue”. I’ll try to explain why.

Baseball is a game of confidence. Part of that is believing you can hit, field, pitch, etc. He himself knows that he has trouble hitting breaking and off-speed pitches, therefore, a negative or bad habit. The more the bad habit persists, the more doubt, and that is a mental impediment/issue.

That can only be eliminated or lessened by hard physical work in the batting cage hitting mixtures of fastballs, curves, and off-speed pitches thrown by BP pitchers and training the eyes to pickup the spin of the ball out of the pitchers hand. There are no shortcuts, although I do believe there are creatures walking this earth who can actually slow all of that down and actually see that spin on every pitch. I could not, therefore the closest I came to MLB was Legion Ball after HS.

Nobody will ever master all of this – knowing that you are improving goes a long way to eliminating the doubt.


just so i understand the swaggerty situation… his TRACKED balls are only 83 mph avg, and his TRACKED hard hit rate is average-ish. is this accurate?

just wrapping my head around that combination. am i to take that as he’s had several super weak dribblers, but also enough hard hit balls to still have the nice rate? just trying to wrap my head around how someone can have an 83 mph, but also have a fine hard hit rate?

and the final piece… We’re saying that he had some very hard hit balls that weren’t tracked?

just looking at the surface stats, it seems like he isnt striking out and is stinging the ball. nice combo.


One caveat, he’s second to Nick Gonzales in swinging strike rate (~16%; NG is at an ungodly 21%). ML average is sitting at 11% right now.

The whiffs aren’t showing up as strikeouts mostly due to lack of depth worked in counts, as evidenced by just two walks drawn so far.


The swing and miss aspect of it is concerning and the obligatory small sample size disclaimer needs to be in effect here too but I like the concept of having an aggressive approach at the plate to avoid deep counts altogether. This is an exaggerated oversimplification on my part and certainly more of a hypothesis than any sort of “rule” backed by empirical data so take it for the BS it’s worth but I generally think that deeper counts actually benefit pitchers instead of batters. Reasons being that if a batter is ahead in the count they generally start hunting specific pitches and/or locations and typically allow pitchers to draw back closer to an even count and put the batter back into a more defensive mindset or approach. If the pitcher is ahead the batter typically won’t see anything that they can punish, mostly just pitches trying to get them to chase at balls. Either way it seems to me that the likelihood of getting extra base hits diminishes the deeper the count gets. Certainly if the whole team collectively works deep counts they can chase the starter out the game earlier but I feel like that isn’t much of an advantage anymore when the 6th inning guys in most MLB bullpens are throwing mid nineties gas anyway.


Right on buddy.

I’m more of a patience dude, but couldn’t come up with any more convincing argument in my favor than you did in yours. Also seems to be a remarkably even split between successful big leaguers who do either.


good tidbit

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007

Now I am interested to compare the median rate to the mean rate, or even a chart that shows the distribution.


Not to be debbie downer but this would also likely explain Kebryan’s launch angle “improvement” if it were drawn.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR
Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Basically, to everything you said, yes lol he’s had a couple weak dribblers that brought it down, but he’s also had a handful of very hard hit balls. In just this past Sunday’s game he had: 108.3, 103.1, 92.7, 92.4, and 79.4 EVs.


Sad to see what we feared most has happened with Nick G. Why throw him anything but ‘show me’ fastballs.

TSwag and esp End look promising. Sure would’ve liked to have seen those Statcast numbers.

Tx AM.

Pirates Prospects Daily



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