April 8, 2014
Mark Appel: A PITCHf/x First Look
Earlier this week we got our first look from a pitch tracking system at Mark Appel, the first overall selection in the 2013 draft and one of Houston’s (and baseball’s) top prospects. The data come from a preseason exhibition contest that was played on the final day of spring training—but because it was played in Houston, and because the PITCHf/x cameras were operational and outputting information, we got some stats to supplement the scouting reports we’ve read.
Appel showed three pitch types: a fastball that ranged from 92-97 mph, a slider/slurve at 86 mph, and an 84 mph changeup with decent fading action. [These data have been reclassified by Pitch Info / Harry Pavlidis and corrected to account for systematic biases in Houston’s PITCHf/x system, and velocities have been slightly increased to reflect a 55’ release point].
One notable aspect of the outing was how jazzed Appel was to start the game:
This plot, which shows velocity as a function of Event ID (every pitch/pickoff play/etc. for either team is an event) shows that in the first inning (on the left side of the graph), Appel came in throwing nothing but 96-plus mph heat (and one slider). By the third inning, he had backed off considerably, sitting more at 94-95. Hard to say if the first-inning jump was because he was finally excited about getting PITCHf/x data and really wanted to impress us all, or if it was just because he was pumped to be pitching in a big-league stadium.
Pretty strong stuff from the kid in our first look. It will be interesting to see what changes by the time we see him next.