Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Yesterday and today, the Angels select a number of young men you and I have never heard of to fill out minor league rosters and one day star in Los Angeles of Anaheim.

If you go to MLB.com and click on their "DraftCaster" you can see scouting summaries and video clips of many draftees. For instance, this is what we are told about our first pick, Trevor Bell:

"Strong, well-built. Quick, live, loose arm. Two consistent major league pitches. FB usually 90-92 w/ occasional plus velocity. Hard late-breaking curve. Good motion on seldom-used changeup."

And so forth. Then you can watch six minutes of Bell throwing his 92 MPH FB and "hard late-breaking curve." Of course, now that he's in the Angel organization (he seems eager to sign), they'll start calling that pitch a slider. If Mike Witt was coming up through the organization today, they'd be calling his curve a slider, but, anyway ...

... Bell has solid stuff, in that six-minute clip. The fastball appears to be a four-seamer that hits 91-93, and the curve comes in from 76-80, usually at 79. Bell's motion takes toward first as he releases the ball, and he tends to leave his fastball up in the zone or about a foot outside to right-handed batters (from this clip only, of course), getting grounders on the curve. It looks like he might throw one change during his warm-ups, which comes in at 81.

Ryan Mount, the Lads' second pick, is a 6-1/180 shorstop who bats lefty (oddly, the Angels took a lot of middle infielders, which is an organizational strength right now; I know a lot of guys get drafted as SS and move off the position, but it was a bit of a surprise to me, given our relative lack of depth at outfield in the system) and reminds scouts of Steve Finley. In his clip, you only get to see him take all of about three or four swings, but the MLB scouts say he has a short stroke. You get to see him run defensive drills for almost two-and-a-half minutes. His hands seem good, but he never gets to air one out from the hole, so who knows if he has the arm for short.

Brandon Phillips' brother Patrick, a 6-3/170 shorstop was also drafted. His clip shows him making two throws from the hole; he bounces one and gets the other there chest-high. From this way-small sample he appears to be a better bet to stay at SS than Mount, but who knows. He has a bit of a longer swing than Mount; he holds the bat high, cocking it around his ear in a way not dissimlar to Tim Salmon or Gary Sheffield, though less extreme. In the style of Jim Edmonds, he doesn't stride when he swings, though his feet are not far apart like Edmonds'. When he gets around, he appears to generate some good torque on the ball. But as he's coming down at the ball, you see grounders and line drives -- he grounds out in the two game situations included by the clip.

The Angels' next pick wa sa stocky high school pitcher named Sean O'Sullivan. The MLB scouts compare his body type to Kevin Appier, and in the clip that seems about right. His "heavy" fastball (a two-seamer?) can hit as high as 91 (93 on one occcasion), and his curve is in the mid-70s. Honestly, the first camera angle for his clip isn't all that helpful to a layman like me. You get a much better view of the umpire's totally sick ponytail than you get on the movement of O'Sullivan's pitches. When they switch to the better angle, he starts getting drilled, though he makes a nice sliding catch on a popped-up bunt. His opponents also help him out by running the stupid contact play on a weak chopper to third.

Anyway, there's a lot of that stuff you can check out for yourself. I really have no idea who, if any, of these guys are legit prospects, but there you go.

I think Frankie's pitch in 2002 really was a slider, but he's not throwing the same pitch now.
Not only that, but John Lackey insists that his breaking pitch is a slider. Um, okay ...

... I have to admit that it made me laugh when both Peralta and Santana came up and both had sliders. And our pen guys are often sinker/slider ... and when Jarrod Washburn developed a breaking pitch, he picked a slider. Doesn't anyone around here throw the curveball anymore?
Outside of Barry Zito, the curve is damn near never thrown. I expect the slider is more often used because it moves in two planes as opposed to one. Also, from what I understand, the hook is a harder pitch to control for strikes, something that's eluded Zito over the last couple years. From what I can see, Frankie's still throwing two sliders, though he hasn't thrown his big, bottom-drops-out slider much since his return from the DL; I think he's having trouble spotting it.
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