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May 9, 2014 10:15 am

Raising Aces: Making Setup Man Magic


Doug Thorburn

Breaking down the mechanics of high-octane setup men Chris Withrow and Dellin Betances.

One of the more visible signs of change in today's game is the reshaping of the bullpen, which has led to an increased emphasis on stockpiling ace relievers. Baseball has become saturated with strikeouts, and the solution becomes more concentrated as a game gets to the late innings and the leading team trots out a conga line of pitchers who specialize in whiffs. Today's ’pen is mightier than it’s ever been before.

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In-person evaluations of Robert Stephenson, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, Henry Owens, Chris Withrow, and Taijuan Walker.

When I stepped away from the second chair and into Kevin Goldstein’s vacated spot on the stage, I decided that the spine of my prospect architecture would be eyewitness scouting evaluations. The goal was not to portray myself or other members of the prospect team as industry-level scouts; being a fabulist wouldn’t benefit the product or the public paying for that product. The goal was to offer evaluations from a more personal point of view, reports that originated at the fields instead of on the phones or the search engines. I put together a team of talent evaluators I felt had the chops to sit in the stands and document the action on the field in an authentic manner. I wanted to hire the type of talent that would one day receive the bait from the private sector, joining up with the industry that I learn from on a daily basis. That team is in place.

Going forward, Baseball Prospectus will publish a weekly series featuring eyewitness evaluations from the staff, complete with scouting grades, detailed notes and (in many cases) video. These reports will attach to the player cards and offer a wealth of information throughout the season; with multiple looks from multiple sources, you will be able to track a prospect’s progression through the developmental process. As the games continue and we populate the minor-league stadiums around the country, the reports will start to pile up, and hopefully the season will conclude with a healthy reservoir of reports for you to pick through, compare, contrast, dissect and disagree with. I can’t think of a better means to study the minor-league process than with a collection of scouting reports from quality eyes, provided over the course of a season, and if everything continues as planned, for the duration of the players’ prospect journeys.

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The Dodgers have plenty of questions marks in the system, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot to pay attention to.

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