Friday, January 13, 2012

Down on the Farm: #18 Seth Rosin

#18 Seth Rosin, RHP. 6'5", 235 lbs. BD: 11/2/1988.

Low A: 2-3, 3.34, 89 IP, 30 BB, 93 K's.

AFL: 0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 4 BB 9 K's.

There is still a lot of head scratching going on in the baseball stats oriented community about how the Giants can have a bunch of flyball pitchers and still consistently be one of the best teams in baseball at not giving up HR's. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs noticed that the trend seems to date back to Dave Righetti becoming the pitching coach. He even interviewed Rags who seemed to be baffled by the whole thing himself. Someone asked Matt Cain about it and Cainer professed to be unaware that any such stat existed! The most popular theory out there seems to be that the ballpark helps the Giants pitchers, even though it is only slightly favoring to pitchers and the phenomenon extends to road games based on split stats. More recently, Cameron has invoked "something in the air" in San Francisco and "whatever Rags is putting in the Kool Aid."

My own theory, based on years of watching Giants games on TV, each one accompanied by a Mike Krukow tutorial on the art and science of pitching, and the Giants stated philosophy for scouting pitchers, is that it boils down to two things: Fastball command and not giving in to hitters. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that if you analyzed PitchFx data, you'd find that an inordinately high percentage of HR's are given up on "mistake" pitches, breaking balls that hang and fastballs that get too close to the middle of the plate. Well thrown fastballs located properly do not leave the park. As a group, Giants pitchers command the fastball better than other teams and they don't give in and throw it down the middle of the plate in hitters counts. It's not that they are trying to walk batters or specifically prefer to walk batters than give up HR's, but they are also not afraid of walking batters because they think they will get them out and not walk them! Hope that makes sense!

What does all this have to do with Seth Rosin? Well, Seth Rosin just might have the best fastball command of any pitcher the Giants have drafted since, well, Madison Bumgarner. I first became aware of Seth Rosin during his junior year at Univ. of Minnesota where he struck out 95 batters and walked just 12, that's right 12, in 103 IP. Particularly impressive was a late season shutout of a Cal State Fullerton team that included Gary Brown and Christian Colon. Of course, Rosin also gave up 13 dingers in those 103 IP. Shows how much I know about all this! More on that later.

John Klima over at Baseball Prospect Report was really high on Rosin before the 2010 draft. I went back and re-read his scouting reports. Rosin is a big bodied pitcher who pounds the strike zone deep into games with both a 2 seam and 4 seam fastball that enables him to keep hitters from focusing their attention on one plane. He uses the 2 seamer to get called strikes and GB's and then climbs the ladder with the 4 seamer to get his K's. He particularly abused Christian Colon in the Fullerton game with the 4 seamer. He also can keep hitters off balance with a solid changeup, but his breaking ball is no more than a "show me" pitch. When he's starting, the FB goes 92-95 MPH. He can add another 2-3 MPH as a reliever making him a definite closer candidate if that's the direction the Giants want to go with him.

After re-reading Klima's scouting report, I'm less certain that Rosin should be a starter than I was. The lack of a breaking ball may be a deal breaker for starting and it may not be worth the time and distraction it would take to develop it. One solution would be to junk the breaking ball and add a cutter which gives you glove side movement and is easier to learn and easier to control than a conventional slider or curveball. In Fred Stanley's interview on, it sounded like the Giants are leaning toward having Rosin start for San Jose in 2012.

Back to HR's. It is possible that in college Rosin was too focused on preventing walks and preferred to give in to hitters rather than walk them. Even though they collectively have great fastball command, Giants pitchers have always been among the league leaders in BB's allowed. My theory is that as long as there is an open base, Giants pitchers will not move to the middle of the plate when behind on hitters. Again, they are not trying to walk them. They are not so much afraid of giving up HR's either. They just are confident enough that they don't think they have to give in to the hitters. Rosin's walk rate in Augusta went up to 30 per 89 IP, still not bad, but quite a bit higher than 12 in 103 IP. Bingo! He only gave up 3 HR's in those 89 IP compared to 13 in 103 IP his last year of college.

Whether Seth Rosin is a future starter, which I still favor, or a future closer or setup man, I'm love him as a prospect and look forward to seeing him pitch for the San Jose Giants. He's yet another big time sleeper in the Giants system.


  1. Very nice article on Rosin. I also heard that his AFL performance confirmed a lot of things that will make him move quickly. From a couple of scouts: extremely good command of a 94-97 FB, a much improved slider, and a decent change with movement. According to Twitter he is invited to Big League ST which I'm hoping to get over to. Looking forward to seeing him. I think he will start again this year but think he can work in any role and I think we will see him in Richmond this summer too.

    1. Good to hear about the improved slider. The lack of a breaking ball is the one thing Klima seemed to be down on him about.

  2. Love the Minnesota farm boys fo sho, and love the Gints pitching philosophy even more, even though they aren't giving it up. Come on man, Dave Cameron comes up to you, are you going to give him an inch, much less an answer? I like my Los Gigantes Monks. Monks of MLB baby. Keep throwing that pixie dust, Raggs Kool Aid (purple of course) and keep on scouting guys who can spot the fastball. Why would any of our guys would give a straight answer to questions like that?

    As an aside, Cameron is justifying the trade today, but the M's just got took big time. Cashman struck with a quickness, I like these moves 10 times more than throwing cash at the latest hitter on the market. Now if they only had a real bullpen besides Mo Riv... Boone Logan needs a little company, but the Bosox minor league lefty minor league deal-i-o most likely won't pay dividends. Last, does this hurt Matt Cain's agent's gentle negotiations with Beautiful Bobby Evans? The Yanks improved more today than in the last 3. Good for them.

  3. Yeah, you have been getting me excited over Rosin, who I didn't really notice except that you have been giving him the love for a long time.

    Rob Neyer actually studied something like this HR reduction thing almost 10 years ago on ESPN when he dissected Rueter's pattern in attacking hitters. Basically, when there is nobody on base, he wasn't afraid to attack the hitter and if there is a homer, well, that's just one run. But once a runner is on base, the walks go up, the strikeouts go down, and the homers go way down. So I thought that was just Rueter's way of approaching hitters.

    But once I saw all those debates on Fangraphs about the Giants ability to avoid HR's, it brought me back to that study and made me realize that maybe it is the way the Giants teach their pitchers to handle hitters, not just Rueter.

    And the Kool-Aid has to be orange, of course, the Rockies is purple! :^)

  4. Touche, OGC, Orange whip? Orange whip? 3 Orange whips!