Jason offers notes from a recent trip to Mississippi, on which he saw J.R. Graham and Taijuan Walker, among other prospects.
Always in search of high-ceiling talent, I recently made the trek to Mississippi to watch two of the Double-A Southern League’s more loaded teams: the Mississippi Braves (Atlanta) and the Jackson Generals (Seattle). The three-game look provided a glimpse of some of the game’s top overall prospects. Without further ado, here are the scouting notes and videos...
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Jered Weaver's arm slot might be back to where it was several years ago. What would that mean?
One of my plans for the 2013 season is to try to watch baseball like a scout would. Buy a thousand index cards, jot down notes on each player in each game, throw some numbers on the tools, and file them away. I figure the practice will give me more discipline, help me focus on the process in each play, and leave stronger impressions on my mind about what I watched.
Of course, I don’t have nearly the knowledge or technique to actually scout, but ideally this will be a start toward picking up things that I'd like to pick up. For example, it might have been nice to have noticed this:
For a while, Ervin Santana was bad, but lately he's been better. Is the successful Santana here to stay?
On July 30, Mike Scioscia told Ervin Santana that, no matter what happened, Santana was not going to pitch more than five innings in that day’s game. Santana had been struggling. Santana had been one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Santana’s ERA was 6.00. So the Angels wanted to reset him with one short outing, an outing in which Santana wouldn’t have to worry about pacing himself and wouldn’t have to hold his mechanics together for quite as long. It’s a trick Scioscia had tried before, most recently with Scott Kazmir, and it’s a trick that you probably don’t hear talked about very often, because Scott Kazmir.
Santana made it through those five innings. They weren’t his best five innings, but he survived them and managed to lower his ERA a tick. Since then, Santana has made seven full starts, and he has arguably been the Angels’ most effective starter in that stretch: a 3.30 ERA, and not a single game score below 50. So, did it work?
Barry Zito's performance seems to rise and fall along with his arm angle. But is this correlation or causation?
On April 9 of this year, after watching one of the day games on the east coast, I turned to the Giants vs. Rockies game. Barry Zito was on the mound for the visiting Giants, and I was particularly interested in how he fared, as I had studied his career path extensively for the 2011 Hardball Times Annual. My analysis had been done at the end of a strange 2010 season in which Zito had looked like he was on the verge of a big rebound, only to decline down the stretch to the point that he was not included on the postseason roster.
The following season did not prove to be much help in deciphering whether Zito would continue to be the unspectacular back-of-the-rotation guy he had been since crossing the Bay Bridge or recover some resemblance to the pitcher who had induced the Giants to reach deep into their pockets in 2007.
Doug issues Mechanics Report Cards for four pitchers who throw from high arm slots: Clay Buchholz, James McDonald, Johnny Cueto, and Joe Wieland.
I maintain a list of pitchers to analyze, comprised of equal parts self-indulgence and reader suggestion. The list grows longer by the day, with names being added much more quickly than they can be crossed off, so I figure that I am overdue for a multi-player piece that puts a dent in the pitcher queue.
The idea behind “Four of a Kind” is to select a quartet of pitchers who share a common bond, to break down each player's in-game mechanics, and to grade each one on the six subjects of the Mechanics Report Card (patent pending). The report cards represent single-game snapshots, with the recognition that pitching mechanics are dynamic throughout the season.
One expert's educated guesstimate on how things will go down later today.
This one could be a mess folks, and it's all about bonus demands at this point. Right now, you have as many as four high school pitchers-Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke, and Shelby Miller-looking for big, big money, with the first three all telling teams they're looking for Rick Porcello-level deals (or more). This has the potential to blow the first round wide open, and turn it into into a very college-oriented first 30 picks, with numerous top talents falling to later picks than initially expected. One team picking in the top ten I spoke to this morning said he still had very little idea of who was going to be picked ahead of his club's choice.
Last season, John Farrell moved from the front office to the field, taking over as the Red Sox pitching coach. David spoke with Farrell about his shift in priorities, the importance of a fastball that hits both sides of the plate, and more.
David Laurila: Warren Spahn famously said that you only need two pitches to get a hitter out: the one he's looking for and the one he isn't. Is that a simplification?
Nate turns his attention to the individual big bonus players from the last decade, and determines whether their teams would do it all over again.
What follows is a comprehensive roster of all players between 1998 and 2006 who were drafted with one of the first 100 selections and who also went for at least $500,000 over slot, considering both their signing bonus and any guaranteed MLB money. I've used the 2006 slot values for all seasons from 2000-2006, as MLB has generally been very successful at containing draft inflation during this period (in fact, the draft slots went down in 2007). The slots do appear to have been a little lower in 1999 and 1998, and so I've scaled those back by five percent and 10 percent respectively, rounding off to the nearest "big" number. I've also indicated those cases where the player's alternative careers in football or basketball could have influenced his signing bonus. Finally, I've posed a simple question: If the team had perfect knowledge of what that player was going to do, would they commit the same money again?