Is a pitcher taking his lumps at the big-league level a developmental hurdle or being put in a position to fail?
I try to catch every starting pitcher's big-league debut or, failing that, one of their first few starts. It's a good way to get familiar with everyone's stuff and approach, and I like seeing how rookies react to the stress and pressure of their first game.
I've done this for about four years now, and I’ve noticed a few patterns. First, almost to a man, these guys are pulsating with adrenaline. Not surprisingly, they tend to overthrow, frequently missing with their offspeed pitches and often sitting a couple miles per hour higher than they normally do. I’ve also found it amusing that umpires will sometimes stop the game after the first pitch so that certain pitchers can keep the ball for a souvenir (Jameson Taillon) but not others (sorry, Adrian Sampson). Finally, particularly if a pitcher speaks English, you’ll get the obligatory interview with his parents. Most of these are run-of-the-mill awkward mid-game interviews, but occasionally you’ll hear a gem; Zack Godley’s parents are hilarious.
Despite a 9.5 game deficit in the Central, the Pirates glass is now half full.
The Situation: The Pirates have stumbled through the season so far, much due to the struggles and injuries of the rotation. Fellow top prospect Jameson Taillon joined the club earlier this year, and it is now Glasnow’s turn to try and stick in Pittsburgh.
Notes on Andrew Benintendi, Tyler Glasnow, and others.
Edwin Rios, 3B/1B, Los Angeles Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
When you go to a lot of minor league baseball games, like the lot of us here on the prospect team do, you watch a lot of unremarkable baseball. You watch a good bit of bad baseball too, and through it all you build up a callous to even the more generally well-executed plays you see because you’ve seen those plays get executed generally well by numerous players along the way. But every now and again a player does something that, to cop some of KRS-One’s flow, brings your fist to your face like “Ohhhh sh*t!” Rios did that last Thursday with a towering eighth-inning home run—his second of the game—that was among the more majestic balls I’ve seen struck in person.
A sixth-rounder last summer out of Florida International, Rios is a chip-on-his-shoulder player after going undrafted out of high school. He added a bunch of bulk during his college days, which culminated in an 18-homer outburst in his draft season and a tag for likely movement across the diamond from his third-base home. The Dodgers have hedged since signing him, working him out at the hot corner in about two-thirds of his starts in the field. The frame is large and hulking, and his movements, while fluid, take some time. He showed decent reactions and mobility to the ground in my one look at him over there, with smooth hands and plenty of arm for the position as well. But the lateral agility and quickness you look for in a third baseman isn’t there, and it’ll be an uphill battle for him to stick.
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Which alter ego of Riff Raff would you name your pet after?
He knew the question was coming, like a golfer sizing up a crucial par putt on the back nine. Pittsburgh right-hander Jameson Taillon was ready for it. Instead of shying away from discussing the past two years filled with multiple surgeries, seemingly endless rehabilitation, pain management, and an unexpected setback, the 24-year-old has embraced the opportunity to share his experience.
A close look at the mechanics of a trio of top pitching prospects.
With one week to go until Opening Day, let's tackle one final Bush League installment of the offseason, taking a look at a trio of pitchers who rank among BP's Top 50 prospects: the Rockies’ Eddie Butler, the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow, and the Twins’ Alex Meyer. These pitchers embody some of the more common traits of high-end prospects on the mound, from stuff to mechanics, and though each player saw his stock rise during the 2013 season, there’s still a heavy dose of development needed before they’ll be ready for the show.
Dodgers Low-A shortstop Corey Seager slugged two homers on Friday, kicking off a weekend with tons of exciting prospect action.
Games of Friday, June 21
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (High-A San Jose): 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K. Crick entered the year as the Giants’ top prospect. He excelled in his return from the disabled list. Crick uses a potentially plus-plus fastball, an easy plus curveball, and a solid-average cutter. He has an athletic delivery and a front-of-the-rotation ceiling.