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July 19, 2013

Raising Aces

Back to the Futures Game, 2013

by Doug Thorburn


The Futures Game has been well-covered by my BP brethren, with a cadre of our brightest minds on hand to witness the event. We have been treated with previews of the rosters for the USA and World teams, eyewitness accounts of the game, a PITCHf/x-based review of the pitchers’ performance, and discussions of the impact that these players will have on rosters both real and fantasy. Unlike my geographically-advantaged colleagues, however, I was unable to attend the game, so I was left to watch virtually through an off-center camera lens from 3000 miles away.

Poor vantage points have never stopped me before, and I can't resist the temptation to evaluate elite prospects with a quick snapshot of their deliveries. Pitchers will often sacrifice mechanics in All-Star exhibitions, dropping the balance elements in order to pump up the power grades and light up radar guns, an element which needs to be considered in conjunction with the natural caveats of a one-inning sample size. That said, there is much to be learned about a pitcher's baseline delivery when his talent is on display in front of a national audience, and a number of Sunday's hurlers left an indelible impression of development.

Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – Acquired from Toronto in the off-season trade that brought R.A. Dickey north of the border, Syndergaard has shined with a 95:23 K-to-BB ratio in 88.7 innings spread across High-A and Double-A this season. The 20-year-old is an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6'-6” and tipping the scales at 240 pounds, and his size is well utilized in his delivery.

The Mets farmhand was strategically selected to be the starting pitcher for the USA squad in the Futures Game. He maintained great balance throughout the delivery in his outing, and though he had a slight drop in center-of-gravity after max leg lift, Syndergaard maintained the lateral position of his head very well. He finished with solid-to-plus posture, and though he featured some extra spine-tilt on those pitches on which he pumped up the velocity, the overall grades for his balance and posture were above average.

The momentum was less impressive from a standpoint of sheer power, but Syndergaard efficiently directed his energy toward the target and stayed on-line to the plate even as he initiated the high-energy phases of rotation. He showed better momentum from the stretch, using a lower leg lift but avoiding the use of a slide step with runners on base.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: When ... (07/19)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: How the ... (07/12)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Raising Aces: There an... (07/26)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Eyewitness Accounts: J... (07/19)

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