Thursday, August 14, 2014

Scouting the Draft: Early Reads on 2015

The dust has barely cleared from the 2014 amateur draft and the 2015 draft is already starting to come into focus with random names starting to separate themselves into groups and rankings.  BA has an extremely interesting article up about new doppler radar technology that not only measures velocity, but other parameters that might be important to know about prospects such as RPM's on the spin of different pitches and exit velocities of batted balls.  The title of the article is Area Code Game Trackman Leaderboards.  It's free content, so look it up!

Last year was a pretty big year for HS pitching in the draft, but this year's Area Code Games featured more pitchers throwing harder than last year's crop, at least according to Trackman, a military grade 3D doppler radar system that can make 20,000 measurements per second of 27 different variables.

As for raw velocity, the leader was a big LHP named Justin Hooper from Concord, CA who is 6'7", 230 lbs and averaged 93 MPH on the fastball with a peak of 95.9.  The next two were RHP Ashe Russell from Indiana with an average of 92.3 and a peak of 94.2 and RHP Beau Burrows from TX with an average of 91.8 and a peak of 93.9.  There were 8 pitchers who averaged 91 MPH or higher and 15 who peaked at 92.5 or higher.

Now here is the interesting part:  In addition to being #2 in raw velocity, Beau Burrows had the highest measured RPM spin on the FB at 2515.  So what, you say?  Well, there is a pretty strong correlation between spin RPM's and Swinging Strike % as well as flyball tendency.  In D1 baseball, RPM's of less than 2000 result in an Swinging Strike % of 5.00 while RPM's of 2500 or greater result in a Swinging Strike % of 9.10.  In MLB, those numbers are 5.50% for RPM's less than 2000 and 13.40% for RPM's of 2500 or greater.  In addition, RPM's under 2000 result in a GB% of 43.30 while RPM's of 2500 or greater produce a GB% of 37.20.  Just a guess, but I would bet that early in his career, Matt Cain had a pretty astounding RPM on his heater the way he got all this popups.

In additon to Burrows, 2 other pitchers showed 90+ MPH velocity with high RPM's:  Cody Morris of Maryland at 92 and 2420 respectively and Peter Lambert of San Dimas, CA with 90 and 2410.  Drew Finley of Rancho Bernardo, CA showed swing and miss stuff with a FB that went just 89 MPH, but he also generated 2511 RPM's of spin.

What about breaking balls?  Do spin rates tell you something about breaking ball quality?  Well, in D1 college baseball, breaking ball RPM's of 2600+ come with a 13% Swinging Strike rate and a BA of .170 and SLG% of .197.  2300-2600 is 10%/.187/.234 and if the spin rate is under 2300 RPM, those numbers are 8%/.212/.260.  Note particularly the jump in SLG% off slow spinning breaking balls.  The leaders at the Area Code Games were Justin Marsden, WA at 3055, Colton Easton, Fresno, CA at 2942 and Jonathan Hughes, GA at 2789.

Scouts have long talked about a certain sound that comes from the bats of certain hitting prospects when bat meets ball.  Now there may be a way to objectively measure that in exit velocities using the new radar technology.  At the Area Code Games, top exit velocities off batted balls were Michael Hickman, C, TX at 108.9, Garrett Whitely, NY at 108.7 and Luken Baker(who I think is a HS junior this year) at 108.1 MPH.  In addition to Baker and Whitely, 2 other hitters had 2 balls in the top 15, Demi Orimoloye out of Canada who, along with Josh Naylor are really putting Canada on the map in the 2015 draft., and Chris Betts a catching prospect.  Orimoloye had the #6 and #10 positions at 106.9 and 105.6 MPH.

Who has the top measured exit bat speed in the history of such measurements at the Area Code Games?  That would be Stone Garrett from last year at 110.2 MPH.

I will also mention that RH hitter Brandt Stallings out of Georgia, a 6'4", 216 lb corner OF/1B won the PG All-American Classic HR Challenge.

Lots of great 2015 draft stuff out on BA's website right now as free content.  Go check it out!  It's linked over on the left.


  1. Man these kids just keep throwing harder and harder don't they!

    Maybe next year is the year we see the Giants snag a high ceiling HS pitcher?

    Also per something I mentioned early this year. ASU pitcher Ryan Burr, the guy who was receiving Gerrit Cole comps for his stuff has had his draft value hit due to the inability to stick as a starter this year. I remember reading an article that he was just stir crazy over pitching every few days rather than more often as a reliever-closer. His mindset really is as a reliever so ASU caved and made him a reliever again.

    That Hooper fella though man makes a me a little sad that it will very likely be a team other than the Giants getting him.

    1. Burr seems to fit the mold of college reliever with strikeout stuff and command/control issues they like to take in rounds 4-10.