September 26, 2011
Future Shock Blog
Scouting Tonight's Starters
Things have become very exciting at the big league level, but in the minors, the season is over, leaving prospect guys like me to start preparing for the off-season and that means prospect lists. Still, scouting happens at the big league level too, so I checked in with some friends to get quick and dirty scouting reports on the pitchers in tonight's games that matter.
Philadelphia at Atlanta
Randall Delgado: Delgado has shown excellent poise in the big leagues, but this is obviously the biggest start of his career to date. He gets above-average life and control on a low-90s fastball that he can dial up to 95 at times, but his out pitch is a 82-85 mph changeup with excellent late fade. The key to his success is often the quality of his curveball. It can flash plus, but one scout notes, “he can get out of whack and lose his delivery, turning that breaking ball into a slurvy, distant third pitch.”
St. Louis at Houston
Wandy Rodriguez: Rodriguez is a classic “lefty with a curveball”, and the breaker is easily his best pitch, the offering he uses to get outs after getting ahead in the count with his fastball. He makes up for a lack of velocity by varying his arm angles, and can sink or cut the pitch at any time. With so many variables to the heater, one scout suggests an aggressive approach against Rodriguez early in games, saying, “Sometimes it takes him a few innings to figure out where all of his pitches are going.”
Boston at Baltimore
Tommy Hunter: Hunter was seemingly put on this earth to eat innings, and he does so with a combination of stamina and command. His fastball doesn't impress with its velocity at 88-92 mph, but he has excellent location on the pitch and mixes his grips to provides some wiggle. He'll often start games throwing nothing but variations on his fastball, so look for some aggressive early at-bats from Boston. Later in the game Hunter will mix in a breaking ball that doesn't feature much bite, but he can throw it for strikes or bury it as a chase pitch.
New York at Tampa Bay
James Shields: While all of the attention is on Shields' changeup, which is one of the best in the business as a low-80s pitch with incredible depth and fade, one scout points to his curveball as the reason for this year's breakout success. “The change is still great, but that curve has gone from average to plus,” he said. “Two plus secondary pitches makes anyone dangerous.” His average-velocity fastball plays up thanks to well above-average command and control, and he has the stuff to pitch backwards effectively, leading to plenty of awkward swings.