Great pitcher's body; broad shoulders with plenty of present strength in frame; potential to add a few more pounds to fully maximize frame; build resembles that of an innings eater; first-base side of the rubber; quick-paced delivery after reaching balance point; slight drop-and-drive produces above-average momentum; lands on a bent front leg slightly across his body and shows good extension out front; falls off slightly toward third base; arm action is short; hides ball behind body, increasing overall deception; high three-quarters arm slot; some head jerk after release; footwork on pickoffs needs work; 1.3-1.5 seconds to the plate. Lively's mechanics are deceptive and allow his four-pitch arsenal to play up.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos (AA, Reds)
50; no. 4/5 starter
Velocity: above-average; sits comfortably in the 91-92 mph range and can reach back for a little more; ball comes out of pitcher's hand incredibly quick and jumps on hitters; hard pitch to square when located effectively. Command: average; attacks with pitch; lives down in the zone and elevates to get strikeouts; will bust RHHs in on the hands in order to elicit weak contact; command profile projects to plus, but a tendency to elevate too often makes it play down at present; control ahead of command. Movement: plus; great plane from high three-quarters; tons of downward angle; pitch displays both cutting action and arm-side run in the lower registers. Comments: With a few command refinements, this pitch will be a plus major-league offering with above-average/plus velocity and plus movement. The command is currently average and could play at the major-league level now, but a slight tendency to leave the pitch up and over the heart of the plate as this outing progressed left him vulnerable to hard contact. Continued development in Double-A should help in this regard.
Command: average; kept it low in the zone to induce whiffs; lost release point in the sixth inning of this outing, leaving it up/slurvy. Movement: above-average; pitcher can get around offering, causing it to get slurvy and failing to entice hitters to chase off the plate; at its best, offering shows good two-plane break, inducing off-balance swings and falling under hitters' barrels low in the zone. Comments: This is Lively's money off-speed offering, and while it will miss some bats at the highest level, it can also be used as a barrel-missing pitch that induces weak contact early in counts from hitters who are guessing otherwise.
Command: fringe-average; flashed ability to locate low in the zone and generate weak contact; lost feel for pitch and left it hanging and bounced it in the dirt on occasion. Movement: average; break ranged between 11/5 and 12/6; displays some hump out of pitcher's hand; break is slightly long and isn't overly sharp; generated a few whiffs but pitch is used mostly to change sight lines. Comments: This will be an average pitch at the major-league level that can both steal a strike early in counts and generate weak contact. Though it is not projected to miss many bats, it should be an effective complementary offering to the above-average fastball/slider combination.
Command: fringe-average; struggled to put the pitch where he wanted consistently; release point wavered. Movement: average; pitch showed average or slightly above arm-side sink and run on the fringes of the zone, but pitcher left it high and to the arm side too often, struggling to finish and leaving it flat. Comments: With more touch and feel, this pitch could play as an average offering at the highest level. A clear fourth pitch, the changeup flashes the ability to generate whiffs lower in the velocity range, particularly versus left-handed hitters, but will more than likely be used as a pitch to keep hitters honest paired with the above-average fastball going forward.
Lively has good stuff across the board and, perhaps more importantly, shows good pitchability with realistic room for growth in this department. He goes into at-bats with a plan, executes, and pitches with major confidence, wanting to shove the fastball down hitters' throats. The fastball, while not a crazy weapon in terms of pure velocity, plays up due to its sneakiness and gives the pitcher a weapon going forward. The secondary arsenal is highlighted by the potential above-average slider, and while the curveball and changeup only project to average at the highest level, Lively should be able to deploy these pitches with confidence and keep hitters guessing with a few minor refinements. Overall, Lively looks like a good bet to blossom into a mid-rotation workhorse, a great outcome from a fourth-round selection. He should be ready sometime in 2015.