Friday, December 16, 2005

Performance Scouting? Never. (Part IV)


I actually made him repeat what he said. Then I made the mistake of bringing up earned run average as a way to throw out defensive errors to get a better read. I then got an earful of how ERA was flawed and not worth a damn.

Regardless, Rio was horrible in the pen. He had a terrible time keeping his fastball down and his breaking ball was about a foot short of the plate. He also spent way too much time in between pitches as if he were overanalyzing whatever was going wrong. The pitching coach offered no advice and stood their expressionless until it was time to give the green light.

In my mind, it was a critical moment because many inexperienced pitchers cannot overcome a devastating pen when they cross the foul line. They don't have the mental toughness to put the previous thoughts aside and focus on the next pitch. In other words, their head fails before their arm has a chance to show what it can do. Experienced pitchers won't panic because they know they'll find their groove in the game, if not the pen.

Goldie, on the other hand, saw nothing wrong. He was more fascinated with the radar gun. I practically had to pry it out of his hands so he would listen to my observations. Of course, he was quick to dismiss my concerns and reminded me that Rio gave up the fewest walks in the conference. He said all this with a smile knowing it would aggravate me.

I doubted Rio could recover from his pen, but the guy looked like a new pitcher once he took the mound. Just the way he carried himself on the mound during three warm-up heaters (all strikes) showed he was indeed confident and ready to pitch. Could the walk from the pen to the mound make such a difference? Rio immediately went on the offensive, throwing right down the middle of the plate, knee high. His velocity on the fastball was nothing to get excited about-- 90 MPH, but it had a distinct tail that I did not see in the pen. The leadoff batter wasted no time and came out swinging. Two pitches later the batter was down 0-2.

Expecting something offspeed or out of the zone, he surprised me by going right down the middle with another fastball. He locked up the batter who fouled it down the right field line. The next 0-2 pitch was another heater, but this one was outside and happened to tail into the corner for strike three. The batter didn't even swing.

Overall, Rio faced seven batters with his 30 pitches. He struck out three. Two grounded out and the other two hit singles. What impressed me the most, however, was that he quickly worked four of the seven batters into 0-2 counts. And on all 0-2 situations, he didn't relax knowing he was ahead. He continued to be aggressive. Instead of "painting the corners" he threw low across the middle. It was refreshing to see. Batters are more likely to chase low pitches rather than outside pitches.

But Rio did have several things wrong mechanically. His left foot (the planting foot) continually hit heal first as he planted it. He also has the "herky-jerky" as I call it. Not only does he look like he's laboring to throw the ball hard, but his arm jerks and bends during delivery in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I think there's a pretty good chance that down the road he'll have an arm injury just because the way his arm works. I can see why Manny didn't follow this kid. Although I liked his heart and it appeared he had some potential (although I didn't admit this to Goldie) I would never recommend him because of his mechanical flaws.

Goldie, however, was in complete denial over the mechanical flaws. Convinced I was trying to torpedo one of his top prospects, he accused me of having a personal vendetta against him. Of course, I agreed with him (on the personal vendetta part), but I still held to my guns regarding the mechanical flaws. There are just too many good pitchers in our territory with fluid arm motions. Why take a risk on a "herky-jerky" if you don't have to? Rio is the type of guy that would pitch great for a couple of years in the minors, suddenly blow-out his arm, and never be the same again. What good are his stats if he ain't playin'?

Anyhow, I'm sure this won't be the last time I hear about this. Goldie's probably told everything to Logan Cooper by now.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is a total fraud... fiction... someone is duping you if you buy it's actually being written by a scout... the guy doesn't talk the language

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who cares if it isn't real, it's interesting to read and i'll take anything that gets me through the offseason

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't care if it's fact or fiction - i LUUUUVVVV it


baseball chick

12:07 AM  

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