Results tagged ‘ Jake Odorizzi ’
Fifteen MiLB Prospects Answer This Question: What Jersey Number Do You Hope to Wear When You Reach the Majors?
The Royals’ Yordano Ventura: ”Because Pedro [Martinez] was 45, and I want to be the first one after Pedro.”
The Tigers’ Bruce Rondon: “My dad’s favorite number — his dream was to watch me pitch with Detroit wearing number 44. Unfortunately I didn’t get that number, but I have the one right before, number 43. Honestly, he has never told me why [he liked that number]. I always ask him why and he never wants to tell me, but that’s his favorite number. I told him that one day he has to tell me what the number means to him.”
The Rays’ Jake Odorizzi: “My jersey here is that. If I don’t make it out of Spring [Training] or do, I’ll be wearing that. I’ve always had that number growing up. My friends and I just wanted to be in the 20s, and that was the one I settled on. This is the first time I’ve been able to wear it at the Major League level, which I’m excited about.
The Yankees’ Tyler Austin: “I would love to wear it. That is my favorite number. My brother wore 21. I wore 21 growing up, so it was like an always-21 deal. I wore it all throughout high school and travel ball, so I would love to wear 21 if the opportunity presented itself for me to wear that number. Guys usually pick it before I do [on Minor League clubs]. They usually get in there and pick their numbers before I have a chance to get in there.”
The Rockies’ David Dahl (to MiLB.com colleague Ashley Marshall): “I haven’t really thought about it. I’m just trying to get there. When I was a freshman in high school, I got the last pick out of all the numbers; 21 was available, so I used that all the way through high school and then I used it my first year in [Class A Short-Season] Grand Junction, so now I like it a lot.”
Will Leitch, one of America’s best sportswriters, has a feature in the current issue of New York Magazine called “The Glass Arm: Inside the art and science (but mostly still art) of keeping pitchers from getting hurt.” Check it out here.
On a warm, windy day in Tampa, everyone—fans, coaches, other pitchers—stops what they’re doing to watch Brett Marshall throw. It’s just a warm-up, with no actual game action scheduled for a few more days, so he’s not really letting it fly, but he doesn’t have to. Everyone is still staring.
It’s not the velocity, although that’s there. It’s not the distinctive thump of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt the way it does only for those blessed with such lightning arms. It’s how easy it looks. Each motion looks like the last motion, which looks like the last motion, which looks like the last motion. The fastball comes in at a consistent 94 mph, but it’s the changeup, widely considered his best pitch, that you have to keep an eye out for; the arm action is perfectly deceptive for being so repeatable. Marshall looks fluid and simple, like he could throw forever. To watch him pitch is to think that throwing a baseball is the most natural thing in the world. When he finishes, a group of fans standing on a walkway above burst into applause. He has simply been playing catch.
In the clubhouse afterward, Marshall is taking a sip of water and checking his iPhone with his non-throwing hand. He is 22 years old and seems unaware of the show he’s just put on. The display is over, just another workout session in a career full of them. Marshall has been in the Yankees organization for five seasons, and has climbed through the team’s minor-league ranks at the exact pace you’d want him to. He will likely spend this season in Triple-A Scranton, one stop from the bigs, where guaranteed contracts and the major-league-minimum salary of $490,000 a year, at the very least, await. If he puts up the kind of numbers scouts think he’s capable of—double-digit wins, with a 4.00 ERA, 175 innings a season, say—he could well earn $10 million a year or more. He’s on the verge of becoming a millionaire and playing for the New York Yankees in front of the entire world. And he knows it could all blow up in a second. “You just want your arm to hold up,” he says. “You have to not think about it. I do not, man. Not at all.”
Marshall is a Texas kid (baseball scouts have long had a fetish for Texas pitchers, from Ryan to Roger Clemens) who exploded on the scouting scene his junior year in high school. The fact that he had started out as a shortstop made many scouts believe he would be less injury prone because he’d thrown fewer pitches (the “you only have so many bullets in the gun” theory). Marshall lost the last start of his high-school career when he hit a batter in the state semifinals to force in the deciding run. It was his 146th pitch. The Yankees drafted Marshall in the sixth round in 2008. He pitched a total of twenty games (poorly; his ERA was 5.21) before his arm started feeling sore and the Yankees shut him down. He then had Tommy John surgery. He was 19.
This got me thinking about how many pitching prospects still in the Minors have undergone the operation we most associate with baseball’s best hurlers. So I wondered how many of the 29 pitchers that I interviewed in-depth last season for our Prospect Pitch series (first edition here, and you can click to other editions using the drop-down menu in the middle of the story) went under the knife. Here’s what I found:
Have undergone Tommy John:
- Cam Bedrosian (Angels) – “It’s frustrating. It is,” he said. “Coming back from it, it’s been tougher than I first imagined. I thought, ‘Once I get to about 12 months and get back in the system and throwing again, I’ll be all ready to go.’ But it’s been a lot tougher getting a feel for everything. My first couple of starts were a little — I was a little wild. It was hard to control the fastball and other pitches. Each time I throw, I feel a little bit better.”
- John Gast (Cardinals) – “I was more of a slinger — I had a lower arm slot in high school — and I had Tommy John surgery and changed my motion. [The slurve] was a little easier to throw when you’re slinging across it. I’m a little more on top than I was, but not by much. The action of the pitch hasn’t changed; the hitters are just better.”
- Drew Hutchison (Blue Jays) — Had the surgery not long after we spoke.
- Brett Marshall (Yankees) – “My first year, I threw a lot of curveballs. Every day, even after a start, I’d throw 100 curveballs on flat ground, just spinning ‘em, trying to get a feel for it. So after Tommy John [surgery in 2009], I was like, ‘Give me my sinker back. That’s what I had when ya’ll signed me, and that was one big thing that got me drafted.’ I have been throwing it ever since.”
- Eric Surkamp (Giants) – Had the surgery not long after we spoke.
- Navery Moore (Braves) – “I was throwing pretty hard in high school for my age, and that’s how I got hurt,” said Moore, who was clocked at 96 mph before undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow in March 2007. “I grew fairly quickly, and then out of nowhere, my body had to adjust to throwing that hard, on top of [using] mechanics that probably weren’t the best. … The hardest thing after [surgery] was getting my feel back. My arm strength was back, but it was just something about confidence and repetition to get back the feel for breaking pitches; I was trying to do too much with the breaking pitches.”
- Jake Petricka (White Sox) – Had the surgery way back in 2007.
Rays’ Right-hander Jake Odorizzi — MLB.com’s No. 45 Prospect — Answers Six Questions about Fielding His Position
MiLB.com will publish the sixth part of my nine-part series on top-ranked prospects who are also top-rated defenders this morning (link here). The piece focuses, in part, on the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi (bio, stats here), the No. 45 prospect in all of baseball. In terms of interview extras — answers that didn’t make it into the story but are significant nonetheless — see below. Enjoy.
- On evaluating his fielding: ”I view it as one of my strong points. I grew up playing shortstop, so I have a lot of experience with ground balls, fielding when I didn’t pitch, so I think it came naturally to me when I transitioned to pitching — the fielding carried over. I take pride in it. It’s one of my strong points, and one of the advantages to me.”
- On his thought process on the mound: “I always want to be a in a good position to field when I release the ball. Most people are not completely square [to home plate] when they finish, but I have to be ready and expect the ball to come back to me. You just have to be comfortable and not freak out when the ball is hit back to you and step make a throw. Keep it as simple as possible. If I can make a play on it, I’ll make a play on it. If not, I’ll let my infielders take it.”
- On adjustments he’s made to his fielding since turning pro: “I’ve done the same thing that I did before. Most of it is just reaction. There are some balls that I can get to that other people can’t get to on the mound, but I have to remember that I have four infielders on the mound who know what they’re doing, too. I don’t want to overstretch myself.”
- On improving his fielding during spring camp: “We do fielding stuff daily. Trying to get into the swing of things. Once the season starts, we don’t really work on it as much, so Spring is really the time to hammer on it.”
- On the hardest fielding play a pitcher has to make: “It’s the bunt play. A good bunt is very hard to defend, especially if it’s a guy with some speed. There’s no room for error on good bunts. You just have to be control, so you’re not throwing it into left field or right field. You have to be perfect with it.”
- On pitchers he watched for good examples of fielding: “Greg Maddux was one of the best.”
Odorizzi’s pitching coach at Triple-A Omaha, Doug Henry, who is now the Royals’ bullpen coach, on the hardest fielding play a pitcher has to make: “The hardest ones are the bunt plays because you have to get off the mound, and that’s where the agility comes into play and the athleticism. The ground balls back at you is reaction. He does have good, quick hands so he reacts pretty quick.”
On Odorizzi’s talent: “”I wish he would have been around to help us [the Royals] out a little more because he is a special athlete.”
I am more than halfway through with our Defensive Gems series on MiLB.com. In case you are unfamiliar with it, here is the stock copy we print at the beginning of every edition:
As documentarian Ken Burns noted, baseball is the one game in which the defense — not the offense — possesses the ball. With this in mind, MiLB.com continues its “Defensive Gems” series. Over the next nine weeks, we will feature a top prospect at each position who also happens to be an elite defender. In deciding which players to focus on, six scouting directors were polled and extensive research was conducted…
Here are the five stories of the nine total that are completed: Click on the player’s name to be taken to the story:
|POS||Subjects with story links|
|C||Austin Hedges (SD: A pupil of Brad Ausmus)|
|2B||Carlos Sanchez (CWS: A good defender at three positions)|
|3B||Mike Olt (TEX: A slow-roller expert with soft hands)|
|SS||Francisco Lindor (CLE: A natural ballplayer that is “Cano-ish”)|
|CF||Mason Williams (NYY: A gifted athlete making acrobatic plays)|
Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
Answering Three Reader Questions on Comps: Springer V. Marte, Archer V. Odorizzi, The Brewers’ Jungmann V. The Field
1) — Richie (asked via blog post comment): “Can you do a George Springer / Starling Marte comp? Both are players with very similar plate approaches that I feel will either hinder or advance their progress in the future. Love the blog, thanks.”
This is an interesting question. Let’s break it down. Both Springer and Marte are rangy outfielders with great baserunning ability. And both are right-handed batters with pop but questions remain about their ability to make contact. I think that’s what you’re getting at regarding plate approaches — both strike out too much right now. This much is obvious. What’s less clear is whether they can cut down on the Ks without losing their power. Springer isn’t as far along in his development — he finished 2012 at Double while Marte was in the bigs — and that helps his case. Despite that, I favor Marte. From what I have seen on video, his is smoother swing and isn’t as long. I also think he’s the more complete player. But the floor comp for Springer is D-backs-turned-A’s outfielder Chris Young, so he’s going to be a Major League regular before too long, too.
2) — Pierre (asked via email): “C.Archer or J.Odorizzi for the Rays in the near future???”
Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi are both right-handers with No. 2/3 potential and both are Major League-ready or close to it. In the near future, you ask? It’s got to be Archer, who has a little but more MLB experience and a lot more time in Tampa Bay’s system. (Both were traded there, but Odorizzi has been with the club less than a month.) He will probably get the first chance of the pair to join the Rays’ rotation, which is still packed despite losing veterans James Shields and Wade Davis in the Odorizzi deal. Long-term, the educated guess here is that both will be good MLB hurlers but that Odorizzi winds up more as a solid innings-eater type while Archer fulfills his greater potential. Having studied the pitches of each (details on Odorizzi’s repertoire here, and Archer’s here), I’m convinced Archer is better equipped to do just that. Odorrizi has the deeper repertoire, but Archer has two very, very good offerings in his fastball and breaking ball. (It should be said that mine is not the popular opinion, as Odorizzi is ranked 30th overall by MLB.com, and Archer is ranked 81st.)
3) — @Andy_Birling (asked via Twitter): “What are your thoughts of Taylor Jungmann? what potential does he have? thanks”
As I alluded to on Twitter, this is a comp query. Or, I am going to make it one. As deep as the Brewers are in pitching prospects –like Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Thornburg, Wily Peralta, Jed Bradley, Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson are all ranked among Milwaukee’s nine best farmhands — Jungmann is the one that looks most like a No. 2 starter in a MLB rotation. That’s not to demean the others, particularly Nelson (in whom I am a believer), but they more likely top out as No. 3s. Jungmann needs at least two more seasons of seasoning in the Minors, but he has the stuff to keep progressing at his current pace. Jed Bradley is also a challenger for this spot (this spot being Brewers pitching prospect with the highest ceiling), as he is also well-armed repertoire-wise and is left-handed, which is always a plus. He just needs to stay healthy to catch up with Jungmann.
CiPitcher: Noah Syndergaard (from Blue Jays to Mets)
Headline: Mets added d’Arnaud, Syndergaard (12/17)
Team in 2013: Class A Advanced St. Lucie (FSL)
Repertoire: Four pitches
- Four-seam fastball — 94-98 mph — A plus pitch, but is it too straight?
- Two-seam fastball — 94-95 mph — Work-in-progress
- Curveball — 74-79 mph — Improved, but still average
- Circle-changeup — 84-88 mph — Work-in-progress
Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (from Royals to Rays)
Headline: Royals send top prospects to Rays (12/10)
Team in 2013: Triple-A Durham (IL) / Tampa Bay
Repertoire: Four pitches
- Four-seam fastball — 90-96 mph — Not always plus, control is key
- Changeup — 80-83 mph — Work-in-progress
- Curveball — 75 mph — Average at this point
- Slider — 82-85 mph — Average at this point
Pitcher: Alex Meyer (from Nationals to Twins)
Headline: Top prospect Meyer shipped to Twins (11/29)
Team in 2013: Double-A New Britain
Repertoire: Three pitches
- No-seam fastball — 93-98 mph — Plus moving fastball, he plans to add straighter variety
- Knuckle-curveball — 83-86 mph — Not always plus, control is key
- Circle-changeup –87-90 mph — Work-in-progress, this offering’s development could decide his future role
Pitcher: Trevor Bauer (from D-backs to Indians)
Headline: Bauer sent to Tribe in three-team deal (12/11/12)
Team in 2013: Triple-A Columbus (IL) / Cleveland
Repertoire: Eight pitches
- Four-seam fastball — 92-plus mph — Can be a plus pitch, location is key (he likes to pitch up in the zone)
- Changeups 1 — 80-84 mph — Can be a plus pitch, it cuts
- Changeup 2 — 76-81 mph — Can be a plus pitch, it runs
- Curveball — 76-81 mph — Can be a plus pitch when break is right, tight
- Dot slider — 84-86 mph — Can be a plus pitch, big breaker
- Circle slider — 84 mph — A solid pitch, more of a cutter
- Reverse slider — 88-91 mph — His invention, average offering
- Splitter — 86-88 mph — Work-in-progress
Last Saturday, I wrote this blog post, soliciting prospects-related questions from you. I’m writing this post here and now to fulfill my end of the bargain and answer those questions as best as I can. Before we get to the Qs and As, I would like to thank you for participating — or, for just reading along — and also encourage you to use the comment section below in the future. As I wrote in this post (the first in this blog’s now 77-day history), this platform is for you. So if you want to see more chats like this one (or an actual-live chat in which we are conversing real-time) or have other ideas, please let me know. Without further adieu…
Andrew: Ryan, Starling (now the Royals’ No. 1 prospect) has a higher overall ceiling than Arcia (the Twins’ seventh-ranked farmhand), but it’s not quite that simple. For one, we have larger sample sizes of Arcia — he has played parts of five seasons in the Minors versus Starling who finally completed his first Short-Season in 2012. Therefore, we know a lot more about Arcia. He has, for example, proven he can hit Double-A pitching. Starling hasn’t. That should explain why Starling has greater potential but Arcia has a greater chance at realizing his. And that’s as a hitter. As a defender, there’s less debate: Arcia will top out as an average corner outfielder while Starling is already an outstanding center fielder. If you’re asking me which player I would in my organization, I’d take Starling if only because his talent is too great to pass up.
Andrew: Interesting question, Charlie. If you followed the Drillers in 2012, you already know that Arenado was solid but not spectacular in the way that his ’11 season in the Minors and Arizona Fall League suggested he might be. Dickerson, meanwhile, continued his quick ascension in the Rockies’ system. With that said, my educated guess would be that Arenado has the better season in ’13. His ability to make contact at all costs, plus his cerebral approach at the plate will give him a better shot against the advanced pitching he will face at Triple-A. I know less of the approach used by Dickerson, who will also play for the Pacific Coast League’s Colorado Springs Sky Sox for the first time next spring, but it’s obvious that he is more prone to striking out. Both are well equipped to produce, but my money is on Arenado. I would not be at all surprised to see him jump back into the conversation of best Minor League hitter.
Andrew: This is actually a very easy choice for me, Pierre. I firmly believe Smyly is and will continue to be the best of the quartet you mention. As long as he can stay healthy, Smyly is the one of the four that, in my mind, can be a No. 2 starter in a good Major League rotation. When pitching their best, the other three, are no more than No. 3s. I have seen (and written about) Griffin and Straily the most of these hurlers and that helps inform my opinion here: Griffin will be challenged to repeat his 2012 results (2.82 ERA in the Minors, 3.06 in the Majors) given his lack of a truly plus offering; he will always need to be mixing his pitches well to stay a mental step ahead of hitters. And Straily led the Minors in strikeouts but then found out that fanning Major Leaguers is a different task altogether. He has an excellent slider and a strong changeup, but he consistently leaves his fastball up in the zone, which is hard to get away with in the Majors. I know less of Chen but simply based on age, past numbers and future projections, Smyly comes out well ahead.
Anonymous: How do you evaluate the most recent trades: Myers and Odorizzi to Tampa Bay and Bauer to Cleveland?
Andrew: Well, this question would fall under this blog’s While You and I Were Out category. I was not scheduled to work the last four days and here is what I (and perhaps you, missed):
Our story Sunday: Royals send top prospects to Rays
My take: I understand why Kansas City felt it had to acquire starting pitching, but I completely disagree with how they went about it, yielding three top prospects (and a solid fourth) whom Tampa can control contractually for six years. I’m also on record as a strong believer in the bat of outfielder Wil Myers, who is the best player going to the Rays. Jake Odorizzi will be better than Wade Davis, too. And it seemed like the Royals just threw Mike Mongtomery into the deal. I’m not a believer in Montgomery, but he has the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the trade and is yet another example of KC underselling on the value of its own farmhands.
Our story Tuesday: Bauer sent to Tribe in three-team deal
My take: This deal didn’t involve as many elite-level prospects and wasn’t as lopsided, but it also leaves me wondering about one team’s decision. No matter how highly the D-backs rated Didi Gregorius, the shortstop prospect they’re getting from the Reds, and how much they have soured on pitcher Trevor Bauer, the pitching prospect they’re sending to the Indians, this trade makes little to no sense. It boils down to trading baseball’s No. 5 prospect (Bauer) for the No. 5 prospect in Cincinnati’s system (Gregorius). I realize Arizona was shortstop-starved, but will Gregorius hit that much more than in-house option Cliff Pennington, who is also a very good defender? I’m not so sure.
If Arizona was set on 1) getting a shortstop, 2) unloading Bauer and 3) involving three clubs, I would have explored this one a week or so ago:
D-backs get: Mike Olt (3B from TEX), Luis Sardinas (SS from TEX), Wil Myers (OF from KC), Christian Colon (SS from KC), Mike Montgomery (SP from KC)
Royals get: Trevor Bauer (SP from ARI), Martin Perez (SP from TEX)
Rangers get: Justin Upton (OF from ARI)
What do you think?