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James Shields

Born: 12/20/1981 (Age: 32)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6-3 Weight: 215

Mechanics
Repeats very well; exaggerated hip turn; shows batter full numbers; high lead front arm; head whack; keeps fingers on top of ball; powerful lower half; can fall off mound toward 1B side; good athlete. From stretch: starts normally, brings hands up high and around, while peaking toward 1B. Sets high. 1.25-1.35 to plate.


Evaluator Jordan Gorosh
Report Date 10/19/2014
Arm Angle
Windup Full
Rubber Middle/1B
Present Role Years expected to
perform at current level
Future
70; Low No. 1; High No. 2 2-3 High No. 2 starter; will re-define himself as a two-seam/cutter pitcher later in the career; changeup will allow him to stay successful; strikeout numbers beginning to decline, command taking step forward.

Pitch Type Present Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 60 91-94 96 Commands to all quadrants of the zone; works the outer third of the plate, and inside, off the plate to RHH, mostly away from LHH; can add and subtract velocity based on situation; often tries to get ahead with four-seamer early in the count; attacks hitters with the pitch; uses inside part of the plate when ahead in count; won't use as often when ahead, especially to LHH; good plane on two-seamer; uses fastball less the third time through the order and later.

Two-seam: 13.02% usage; .258/.356; 4.66% whiff
Four-seam: 28.18% usage; .285/.488; 6.03% whiff

Cutter 60 87-89 91 Loose wrist; darting action low and away from RHH; tight, short break; can use as a set-up offering; may flatten out when up; induces weak contact when located correctly; works inside to LHH and away from RHH; target is typically catcher's right shin guard; used at beginning of sequence to get ahead or force batter to hit a ground ball; has propensity to fall in love with the pitch; uses more frequently on RHH.

25% usage; .271/.413; 10.46% whiff

Changeup 70 84-87 88 Outstanding arm speed and deception; prefers to throw to LHH, will also use on RHH; fading and tumbling action with arm-side drop; acts like a forkball; bat-missing offering, very difficult to square; will work backwards when deeper in count; rarely starts hitters off with the pitch; flashes 80, can be an elite offering; money pitch; bread and butter; primarily thrown with two strikes, especially to LHH; uses to get strike outs.

22.2% usage; .236/.370; 18.6% whiff

Knuckle curveball 50 79-82 84 Downward action, 1-7; can flatten out, stay up; shallow break; backfoots it to LHH, down and away from RHH; 'show-me' offering; keeps hitters off balance; gives them a different look; doesn't attack or use to get outs; will throw in the middle of a sequence, or ahead of LHH; uses pitch more as the game goes on.

12% usage; .219/.323; 15.99% whiff

Pitch Usage*
vs LHH vs RHH
CH FA FC SI CU FA FC CH SI CU
Usage 24.96% 24.76% 20.86% 14.81% 14.61% 31.68% 28.33% 18.35% 11.95% 9.68%
Strike 62.63% 66.05% 71.25% 62.98% 58.25% 66.04% 70.46% 63.19% 59.50% 59.88%
Swing / Miss 13.35% 5.38% 10.07% 3.11% 14.04% 6.79% 10.55% 22.15% 6.00% 19.75%

* Only showing top 5 pitches by pitch count. Stats are for the 2014 season

Approach

Looks to get ahead; relies on hard stuff early in the count, softer offerings as it gets later in the sequence; will work both sides of the plate and keeps the ball low; can be a bat-misser or barrel-misser depending on outing; attacks hitters, shows no fear, never gives in; willing to challenge; changeup is his pacifier.

Makeup

Stays within himself; moment never too big; shows emotion after big outs or pitches, especially late in games; type of pitcher you want on the mound in high leverage situation; very good teammate, leader in the clubhouse.

Strengths

Works ball down in zone; keeps hitters guessing; commands to both sides of the plate; throws any of his offerings for strikes; sequences well; has double-plus out-pitch, which plays up to elite at times; avoids middle of the plate; misses barrels; limits walks; quick feet on pickoff move; keeps runners close; halts running game; difficult on LHH; numbers hold late into games.

Weaknesses

Can become cutter-happy; cutter and slider can stay in same velo band; change may flatten if he overthrows it; fastball is true, and will occasionally miss over heart of the plate when challenging; homer-prone with harder offerings; hubris can work against him.

Means of Exploitation

Threw 63% first pitch strikes in 2014, so attack early in the count, before he can get to the change up; is 55+ percent likely to throw a fastball on the first pitch of the at bat; look for fastball that's elevated, out over the plate; try to foul off change up with two strikes.

Overall

Will command $19-22 million and could see four years with an option for a fifth. Shields is a top of the rotation starter that should age well and is not dependent on velocity while pitching with guile and brains. He can win games in the low-90s with cut and sink, in addition to his excellent changeup. Shields is a fearless pitcher who will throw upwards of 200 innings annually.