CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe
<< Previous Article
Measuring October Magi... (10/04)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Notes from the Field: ... (09/27)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Notes from the Field: ... (10/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/05)

October 5, 2016

Notes from the Field

Cal League Wrap: The Pitchers

by Wilson Karaman


And here we are at Part II of my California League review for 2016. In case you missed Part I, which covered position-player prospects, you can find it here. That article includes links to all of the Eyewitness Reports I filed this year, along with a published version of my 2016 Scouting Database for all of the hitters I saw with any regularity. I’m still adding a few stragglers to both that list and the one you’ll find below, so note to check back if you don’t see a guy you’re interested in reading about.

Today, it’s the pitchers’ turn. One note on my evaluation process, I’ve found that one of the things it’s really easy to do in player evaluation is get caught up in first impressions, and let them harden quickly into definitive opinions. And there’s certainly pressure for that process to take place; the job of an evaluator, after all, is to predict future performance and value likelihoods based on what he or she sees. But I’ve found that pitchers got the short end when I was first trying to evaluate them. I was disciplined and trained to give position players a few looks before starting to form real opinions about them, and that is of course a standard best-case approach. Hitting is hard, and anyone can misread the occasional flair off a burly slugger’s bat. But with pitchers, I found that if I saw a guy throw 90-100 pitches and work into a lineup for the third time, that’s a broader base of gained knowledge than I get from just a one-game look at a position player. And an internal scale for positional value adjustments became quickly apparent: pitchers start every five days, and broadly speaking we look at one-game pitching samples as on par with (ideally) three- or four-game.

I’ve tried to move past forming definitive opinions on pitchers off of one-game looks as much as possible, however. Some days you just can’t spin your breaking ball right, or find your balance point at the top of your drive, or get your spine position just right for a consistent release point. Some days…you just don’t have it. And I’ve tried to be as mindful as possible of that reality in particular when talking about and projecting arms this year, and that’s why you’ll note in the linked database a broad swath of pitchers, especially relieves, who lack OFP/Realistic numbers.

And now, on to the pitchers of the Cal.

Go North, Young Man…And Make Sure the Right Guy’s Starting Before You Do
The stars were consistently misaligned for me with regard to pitching matchups and geography for the league’s top arms this season. Just one of those years. An inordinate concentration of starting talent up in Stockton, San Jose, and Modesto, coupled with some bum luck in the rotation schedules, left me missing out on a handful of consensus crop-cream arms in Daniel Gossett, Andrew Suarez, Yency Almonte, Heath Fillmyer, and Samuel Coonrod, to name a few. And don’t even get me started on High Desert; the Mavericks boasted arguably the best collection of starting prospects to come through the league, including three guys likely to receive ample air time in our Rangers’ Top-10 discussions this fall in Yohander Mendez, Brett Martin, and Ariel Jurado (plus a top-50 midseason in Luis Ortiz). Unfortunately they also boasted about 467 other dudes in their rotation at various points this year, and through some bum luck in how the rotation shook out I managed to miss everyone except for Jurado (who, it should be noted, is excellent).

Personal pity party aside, Grant Holmes was the best arm I did get to see this year, earning the only 60 OFP I put on any Cal League starter—and I did so only after revising up in the wake of some demonstrated growth mid-season. His fastball-curve combination gave him the best one-two punch I saw in a starting role, and he made significant strides in honing his changeup into a playable third pitch while cleaning up some elements of his delivery that had been in need of address in early-season looks. Dinelson Lamet, who snuck into the back end of our Padres’ Top 10 last winter, showed the goods in a limited Opening Day look. As a good example of what I was talking about above, I didn’t see Lamet throw a changeup in his five innings, and it was like 50 degrees and spitting rain. But the fastball-slider combination was delightful, as was the idea of his frame wearing 200 innings or coming out of a bullpen with the tying run aboard. And on the flipside, while it took me a hot minute to finally catch him, Josh Sborz made it worth the wait. It was an interesting profile, with two breakers and no change across multiple looks, but there’s a tasty fastball-slider combo there. And his organization-mate Mitchell White tantalized in an ever-so-brief late-season look. White showed superb athleticism, a gnarly cutter, and a four-seam-curveball mix behind it that left me excited to see him in a full-time starting role next year.

The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.

Not a subscriber?

Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.


Cancel anytime.


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!


That's a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

1 comment has been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Measuring October Magi... (10/04)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Notes from the Field: ... (09/27)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Notes from the Field: ... (10/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/05)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of June 26
Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week 13
What You Need to Know: Lucky 13
Short Relief: Love Letters to the Past and P...
Premium Article Notes from the Field: Carolina League All-St...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Tyler Wade
Baseball Therapy: The Pendulum Swings Back

MORE FROM OCTOBER 5, 2016
Baseball Therapy: How Much Is Theo Epstein W...
Playoff Prospectus: Blue Jays Knock Out Orio...
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL Wild Card Game: Giant...
Pitching Backward: Closing the Window

MORE BY WILSON KARAMAN
2016-10-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Scottsdale ...
2016-10-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Feature: AFL Preview: Glendale De...
2016-10-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: A Target Retrospective
2016-10-05 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: Cal League Wrap: The P...
2016-10-05 - Flags Fly Forever Podcast: Ep. 106: Wilson K...
2016-09-29 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Five Short-Season Hitters...
2016-09-27 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: Cal League Wrap: The H...
More...

MORE NOTES FROM THE FIELD
2016-11-18 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: Arizona Fall League
2016-11-11 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: AFL Update
2016-10-28 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: WWBA Championships
2016-10-05 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: Cal League Wrap: The P...
2016-09-27 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: Cal League Wrap: The H...
2016-09-16 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: GCL Notes Vol. II
2016-09-15 - Premium Article Notes from the Field: September 15, 2016
More...