Where does successful high school pitching come from?
Each June, high school pitching in the amateur draft is (more or less) is accepted to be the most volatile demographic. On the flip side, there’s been compellingresearch suggesting prep hitters from powerhouse baseball states such as California, Georgia, Texas, and Florida have a higher correlation with big-league contributions than high school hitters from non-hotbed states. Numerous components of amateur player development undeniably fall in favor of the hotbed-state hitter, especially relative to the kid coming coming out of the snow: Your typical Georgian, for example, gets to play outdoors year-round, while facing off against higher-quality pitching in the aggregate on a game-to-game basis. More swings for development, and more exposure to the sorts of pitches that force development, makes for a more mature hitter, the eminently logical thinking goes.
However, the valuation in regards to a high school pitching prospect hailing from outside these regions seems to be less “one size fits all” across the industry than it does for a hitter. A high school pitcher from a non-hotbed state usually has more projection remaining mechanically and stuff-wise. Additionally, from an injury-prevention standpoint, they’ve generally thrown a lot fewer pitches and innings overall by the ages of 17 or 18. "You draft hitters from the south, pitchers from the north," one scouting axiom says.
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On the pitches the best pitcher in baseball has thrown, by one way of measuring it, the worst--and why they didn't hurt him.
An English teacher once gave us a writing assignment: Describe the taste of the best chocolate you ever had, to somebody who has never had chocolate. Without the self-referential crutch (“It tastes like chocolate, but, like, really chocolaty”), how do you convey what makes chocolate good?
Chance Sisco, C, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie) Sisco hits from a relaxed upright stance with a slightly-open base. There’s minimal movement in his hands and load before the swing, and his stroke has a “hitterish” appearance with fluid bat-speed and a compact, downward path with a two-handed finish. He’ll show close to average raw power on his best loft contact, though his overall hitting mechanics and swing path lend themselves better to a hit over power type of output; Sisco’s .325 and .109 career batting average and ISO would only further that assertion. I liked the maturity of his overall approach and demeanor in the batter’s box—he continually worked late into counts and carried a seasoned, big-league attitude with him at the plate, never getting too high or low.
Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
Welcome back to the Closer Report. We’re a month into the season, and there hasn’t been a ton of major movement in bullpens thus far. Without doing any research on this matter, it feels as if there should be a lot of movement over the next few weeks, as bad performances start to look more permanent. Here is the updated closer grid. As always, changes since last week are highlighted. To the news!
A look at how the wise guys spent their money in expert leagues this week.
Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL every week in an effort to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insight on the bids and the reasoning behind them. LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while the Tout Wars leagues use a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. I will also be including Bret’s winning bids in Tout Wars mixed auction league where applicable.
LABR and Tout Wars both use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET.
Here’s a cheeky question that I ask in complete sincerity: How many home runs were hit against The Shift last year? I’m sure someone out there knows the answer to the question, but there are probably more people wondering why I even bothered to ask it. If the ball was hit over the wall, what does it matter whether The Shift was on or not? Either way, the fielders weren’t going to be able to get to it.
The Chicago Cubs’ April was insane, frankly. Through 22 games, they went 17-5 (first team since the 2010 Rays to be that good or better, and before those Rays, it had been since 2003), outscored their opponents by 79 runs (second-best run differential over the first 22 in over 100 years, trailing only the 2003 Yankees; the fourth team in the last decade to outscore opponents by so much over any 22-game stretch), and were on pace to cruise past the all-time record for team walks. Oh, and at 6.18 runs per game, they were on pace to score over 1,000 runs, which would put them in the company of the 1999 Indians, the only team to score that many since MLB became fully integrated.
You probably knew all of that, though, and more to the point, we know none of that will keep up. The Cubs played a very weak April schedule. They got some key hits and strong overall performance from the likes of Matt Szczur and David Ross. They lost Kyle Schwarber for the season and Miguel Montero for at least a couple weeks. Jason Heyward has not made the hoped-for changes to his offensive game, remaining instead a patient hitter capable of hitting the ball hard, but not of getting it off the ground often enough to tap into the full power of that contact. Dexter Fowler played out of his mind for two weeks, but while he’s a better player than the (ahem) market decided he was this winter, he’s still Dexter Fowler. The Cubs aren’t a 110-win team. I’m not sure I would peg their final record any higher today than I would have on Opening Day, all things weighed and accounted for.
Adam Wainwright is a exit-velo monster at the dish, Dallas Keuchel loses a streak, and Lorenzo Cain has a tough night.
The Monday Takeaway
For those who sought to go out on a limb with their World Series picks this spring, the Rangers represented an alluring dark horse. They were so alluring, in fact, that, at least in this neck of the woods, the horse in question wasn’t dark at all. Five BP’ers, including yours truly, pegged Texas to go all the way in 2016, giving Jeff Banister’s club more backing than any other except the Cubs.
The Rangers had plenty going for them as a tempting pennant pick. They’d have a full season of Cole Hamels. They sported a breakout candidate in Rougned Odor. They’d added a cheap, high-upside bat in Ian Desmond near the end of the offseason. And, beyond all that, the injury-ravaged 2015 outfit had managed to win 88 games and the American League West. But, while I can’t speak for my colleagues, the determining factor behind my preseason vote was the potential for internal reinforcements to greatly bolster the roster midyear.
On replay reviews, genies out of bottles, and our nitpicky natures.
Early last week, Yonder Alonso was called out trying to steal second in the top of the second inning. He was initially called safe, but forensic replaying showed he came off the bag just a little bit for just a little bit. The Blue Jays challenged, and Alonso was called out. And then some folks got a little bit grumpy.