A look at the mechanical profiles of some of the arms drafted in the first round this year.
The top of the 2015 first-year player draft was a bit light on arms, especially when compared to some of the pitching-rich player pools of recent drafts. Despite this adjusted outlook of expectations, the approach to the mechanics report cards will be the same as for last year's draft: grades will be limited to power and stability (rather than the five-subject report card that is often used on Raising Aces), with the usual caveats that my exposure to each pitcher falls under a wide umbrella of sample size—some of these guys I have seen multiple times both live and on video, whereas there are others who I have not witnessed personally.
A lack of a quality third pitch to go along with mechanical issues are both holding Archie Bradley back from reaching his potential.
The top prospect in the Diamondbacks system entering this season (and the number-11 overall, on our Top 101), Bradley was expected to start the season at Triple-A Reno. This after a 2014 season that was saturated with inconsistency, but Arizona had other plans after watching the 22-year-old in spring training. Bradley found himself on the Opening Day roster for the D'backs and is now entering his third month of big-league ball, having made eight starts for Arizona with ugly results (and now finds himself on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis).
One of the top pitching prospects in the game has now made two starts in the bigs. He's been pretty impressive, but how does he grade mechanically?
Prior to the season, Noah Syndergaard placed as the no. 9 overall prospect in the game and ranked third among pitching prospects, trailing only Lucas Giolito and Dylan Bundy on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101. Both Giolito and Bundy are working their ways back from Tommy John surgery (Giolito in particular has a lot of ladder still to climb), but Syndergaard beat them to the bigs in 2015. The Mets needed a pitcher to fill in when Dillon Gee hit the disabled list, and Syndergaard got the call.
The White Sox prized lefty prospect lived up to the hype in his debut, but how did he grade mechanically?
The third pick of the 2014 draft, Caros Rodon needed less than 35 innings of minor-league ball before the White Sox introduced him to the show. The South Siders called up the young southpaw in mid-April and started him off in the bullpen, giving him three stints—two of the multi-inning variety—in games where the White Sox were trailing. But on Saturday, he had the first start of his big-league career, taking the ball in an interleague matchup with the Cincinnati Reds. It was the second game of a day-night doubleheader, as a makeup for the previous day's rainout, but the rookie's starting debut overshadowed the events of game one.
Issues with pitch usage and command have led to a rough start for Taijuan Walker.
Anticipation was high for Taijuan Walker's first start of the 2015 season, following an injury-riddled 2014 campaign and an absolutely dominant spring. His line from spring training included just two earned runs allowed across a ridiculous 27 innings of work (seven games). He struck out 26 batters and walked only five, with just 10 hits allowed and a pair of solo homers accounting for the only runs. His raw stuff includes velocity in the mid-90s, a cutter and a hard changeup that both register in the high 80s to low 90s, and the occasional curveball that drops down to the mid-70s on the velo scale. His mechanics have received solid ratings from yours truly in the past, including an overall grade of B- in the 2015 SP Guide, which combined with the hard stuff to raise the optimism surrounding his first start.
A look at how some intriguing arms were throwing this week and some mechanical issues or trends to keep an eye out the rest of the way.
Baseball is finally here, and I couldn't be happier. A winter of hibernation can now give way to a summer of over-analysis, and the Opening Week of the 2015 baseball season has laid the groundwork with a great deal of intrigue on the mound. Let's take a look at some of the pitching highlights of the season's first turn through the rotation.
The author goes through a list of arms he's lower on than most and explains why.
In last week's episode of Raising Aces, we singled out the pitchers that I had ranked higher than the consensus, on the basis of my three-yearfantasy rankings here at Baseball Prospectus compared to the Average Draft Position (ADP) at the time that those rankings were formed (late February). This week, we flip the coin to study the downside (there's two sides to every Schwartz), evaluating the hurlers that I had ranked far below their ADPs to see whether there is any rhyme, reason, or merit to my theoretical pessimism.
The author takes a look at pitchers he has ranked higher than their average draft position.
I like to take a three-pronged approach to pitcher evaluation, following the process-outcome train through stations of mechanics, stuff, and stats. The numbers steal the focus during fantasy draft season, but my personal rankings are heavily influenced by the other two prongs of the trident. Mechanics will sway me (big surprise), but a pitcher's delivery typically needs to be paired with great stuff to cause a real boost in the ranks, and sometimes a pitcher is one small piece away from making that next leap in performance.