Category Archives: Starting Pitchers
At this point it may feel like you’ve had enough. For fans of organizations that are not in St. Louis, it can be tough to look yourself in the mirror; knowing you’re a fan of an inferior product, that somewhere out there is a team that’s run the right way. The prospect pipeline bubbles and froths with new talent, forcing you to make tough decisions about letting your star players sign elsewhere rather than scrambling to retain them into their declines. St Louis and it’s Cardinals seem idyllic, their franchise bolstered by the fruits of it’s labors. Strong development begets strong play, and strong play begets winning records. If it seems like the guys who fail to make the Cards’ top prospect lists would be good enough to take top spots in weaker systems, that’s because it’s true. One such case in that regard is Tim Cooney, not even mentioned amongst St Louis’ top prospects to start the year had little to do with his substantial talent and more to do with the fact that too many guys had been afforded more time to put on a show for the brass and the prospect-hawks. After dominating the hitter-friendly Texas league this year with a 2.57 FIP over 118 IP (20 starts), and a slew of promotions for the Cardinals’ top prospects in 2013, I would expect that Cooney’s is a name we’ll be hearing a lot more coverage on going into the spring.
Trackman is a proprietary system (originally developed for use for the PGA) that uses radar technology to track the movement, speed and spin rate of the balls that zip around a baseball diamond. While proprietary means that it cannot be regularly and accurately transmitted into our brains the way pitch f/x stats have entered the lexicon recently, this does nothing to diminish the amount of useful information can be taken from it’s readings by those who can afford to pay for such info. As a sort of advertising for their product, the Trackman team will publicly release some of their non-major league readings. On the fifth of November the team released the readings they had taken up to that point in the AFL this year. After browsing through the admittedly fascinating numbers they have tracked, one of the things that jumps out at me is that Trackman seems to really like Blue Jays Top Prospect RHP Aaron Sanchez.
No-hit performances by pitchers are a bit like throwing a bulls-eye in a game of darts. The difference between a skilled dart-thrower and a non-skilled dart-thrower is great; it is unarguably a skill that is improved by the muscle memory gained via practice. Much like anything in life, skill at darts progresses along a curve; making the same effort to improve will provide diminishing returns as you move up in skill. One cannot practice enough to be able to throw a dart into the bulls-eye every time; it is conceivably possible to comprehend, but the amount of practice that would seemingly be required is prohibitive. This same effect can be seen in most any field where skill plays in; an average Joe has a miniscule chance of beating a master dart-thrower in a standard game of darts, but relative to the gap between their skill levels they have a much closer-together chance of throwing three bulls-eyes in a row. There’s an old expression about how you have to be good to get the chance to be lucky, and baseball offers more glimpses at the elite getting lucky than possibly any other modern entertainment.
There is no sure-fire recipe for success in the big leagues; success in the big leagues is not a cake, nor does it resemble a cake in more than a couple cursory ways. Instead, success in the major leagues seems to be attainable by a number of different methods. If one is a starting pitcher, one could conceivably succeed in myriad ways. One could, for instance, use superior command to generate weak contact in spite of a lack of overpowering stuff; creating an abundance of ground balls that are hopefully far less damaging to the score of your team. If one were a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins organization, you could be forgiven for having believed that this was actually the only avenue by which one would be allowed to succeed. Alex Meyer, the top pitching prospect in said Minnesota Twins organization, continued his quest to dispel you of these inaccurate notions as, on Friday, he racked up 7 Ks across 6.1 innings and gave up just a walk and a single hit (a double down the right field line off the bat of Yankees farmhand Addison Maruszak).
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