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Game 54 Overflow Thread
1-0 pitching duel in KC
A strike-throwing machine, the big left-hander from Omaha seems like another one ripped out of the analytics handbook. He throws four pitches for strikes, has a low 90's heater and is left handed. So what if he's a college senior?
This is a guy who could move very quickly through the system and be an effective starter for a while. That's great value in the tenth round, isn't it?
Time and again, you read about his control and the ability to throw four different pitches well. Oh, and he also lit up the Cape Cod league to the tune of 48 strikeouts in 43 innings with just nine walks.
How did this guy fall? What's not to like about him? Am I missing something? He's got surprise prospect written all over him, doesn't he?
The problem here is if his strike-throwing ways are because he can paint the corners without elite stuff. At his level, that's very effective, but won't play above High-A ball, as so many of Houston's college pitchers have found out recently.
He may not have the pedigree of some of the other higher-profile lefties, but with a low 90's fastball and three other pitches he can throw for strikes, his upside is pretty significant. He's what Tim wants Dallas Keuchel to be, basically. Maybe J.A. Happ with better control/peripherals?
Cape pitcher of the week Joe Bircher, a junior lefty from Bradley, owned the most dominating effort for the Commodores, throwing six innings of one-hit, one-earned run ball on Saturday night against first-place Hyannis. Bircher struck out nine without a walk and now leads the league in strikeouts with 25 over 16 innings.
Joe Bircher, a 6-foot-4 lefty from Bradley who has won pitcher of the week honors once already this summer, leads the Cape with 31 strikeouts over 23 innings.
Just how dominant has Bradley ace Joe Bircher been during this Missouri Valley Conference baseball season?
The senior from Omaha, Neb., owns half of the Braves’ eight MVC victories and 46 percent of the pitching staff’s league strikeout total.
Being left-handed is always an advantage for a pitcher. Bircher has added to that by increasing his velocity (into the low 90s), which has made his other pitches that much more effective. Bircher also throws a slider, curve and changeup.
"He has command of three of them most nights," said BU coach Elvis Dominguez. "When he has command of four, he’s really tough to hit. I’ve never been around a kid who throws as many strikes as he does with that many pitches. Plus, he’s such a great competitor."
College Baseball Daily
Bircher struggled as a sophomore going 4-5 with a 5.67 ERA in 81 innings pitched while starting 14 games. He struck out 68 batters while walking 24 batters.
He returned to his freshman form as a junior going 6-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 starts. He pitched a total of 105 innings striking out 71 batters while walking 33. He was able to holding opponents to a .229 batting average against.
He pitched the summer of 2011 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Falmouth Commodores going 2-2 with an ERA of 1.68 in a total of 48.1 innings pitched. He struck out 54 batters while walking 11 for the season
There are plenty of reasons besides just signability that will make a kid drop in the draft. Bad mechanics and a bad attitude are two of them.
I don't want to say too much about those things, since I've only seen them suggested in one or two places. But, I will say that as a guy who's new to pitching, Virant is a risk. Not for any of the reasons above, just because pitching is an unnatural thing and usually leads to arms getting hurt, no matter how talented you are.
That said, there's a lot to like here. Virant may be the top prep lefty behind Max Fried with a pretty good upside. People dream on his stuff, as he flashed four pitches on the showcase circuit last year. A four-pitch high schooler from the left side is going to be highly regarded no matter what his fastball velocity is.
Well, let me amend that. If his fastball is decent (which it is, sitting 88-90), then he'll be an asset.
The problem is we don't know what Houston intends to do with him. Yes, Virant is a risk, because he may not sign. But, Houston also doesn't lose any bonus pool money if he doesn't sign. So, they can allocate resources accordingly. If they lose McCullers, they could still use some of the Correa savings here.
I'm not sure that'll get him signed, but if he's looking for Top 20 money, that indicates he could be gotten for somewhere around $2 million. Will Houston have that kind of money to throw around?
The guy he reminds me of is Brad Dydalewicz, and I think that's his floor. If his delivery can't be controlled enough to prevent an injury, you've got a bad combination there of someone who won't be consistent enough to move up.
The Cliff Lee comps are thrown around, so let's go with that.
Ding-ding-ding! That's the $50,000 question. Actually, it's probably a question that'll be worth much more than that. Bobby Heck said Tuesday night that the team didn' tknow whether they could sign him, which is a marked difference than what they've expressed about the other hard signs. That doesn't bode well for him coming in, but does that make it a bad gamble?
I’ll admit that he lost me from the start. First time I saw him, he was 86. I had people puting Cliff Lee on him, which I felt was a reach. I saw him twice as a junior. He topped out at about 92 both times. The thing I didn’t like about Virant was his body language on the mound. I can remember that start when Danny Keller came in and mopped the field with him, and instead of my memories being about Virant hitting 92, it was of him glaring at fielders behind him. I look at that, and as a scout, I say, well how can I envision this guy on the mound in Game 7 of the World Series?
Left-hander Hunter Virant was 87-89 in this look. I saw him at 90-92 last spring. He was coming off a sickness recently so he might be working back up. I still think the Ventura County comparisons to Cliff Lee are off the mark. He looked taller than when I saw him last, but that might also be because he wasn’t wearing pants that didn’t fit like every other guy at the Ford Motor Company Game at Pet Store field. In this look, he made me think he needs college because he’s simply not physical enough yet for pro ball.
Virant, like Williams and Avis ahead of him, has the capability to soar to at least No. 2 on this list with a strong spring. He offers projection at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds and already boasts a solid to average fastball that has brushed 94 mph in the past. His arm action is somewhat short, but there's plenty of time to figure that out and it's not expected to negatively impact his draft status. The left-hander's mid-70s curveball and potential for added velocity suggest he's among the prep arms with the most upside in any state.
Virant’s fastball came in 88-91, with good arm-side run. It didn’t draw a ton of swing-and-misses but showed enough movement to keep hitters from squaring it up. His control lapsed at times, as he occasionally overthrew the pitch, but overall he commanded it well. His changeup sat 77-79 and rates as one of the best in the California draft crop. It has good life, terrific deception and projects as a plus offering. Virant also features a pair of breaking balls: a slow, 12-to-6 curveball with tight rotation at 70-72 mph, and an inconsistent but occasionally sharp slider at 79-81. Virant struggles with the release point on his curveball but with some cleaning up could turn it into a solid pitch.
Pitchers at these events generally throw two pitches, their fastball and one breaking ball. Some mix in a changeup, but seeing a player show four pitches is a rarity. The best part? Virant has only been pitching for a year. He just started taking the mound last summer. Before that, he mostly played outfield and baseball is his only sport.
"It's kind of difficult if you haven't thrown for a while, but I guess my arm is kind of fresh since I haven't thrown for a couple years," Virant said. "So I came out throwing mid 80s and slowly worked up as I continued to develop and build the arm strength up."
Source: FanGraphs Game MVP: Tim Hudson, .303 Dan Uggla, .199 Andrelton Simmons, .136 Big plays: 4th – (ATL) Uggla two-run homer for a 2-0 Braves lead, .122 4th – (ATL) Simmons RBI single for 3-0 lead, .095 7th – (ATL) Simmons RBI triple for 4-0 lead, .051 This game was basically perfect. Hudson pitched a [...]
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Here's a solid guy who isn't as flashy as the rest of Houston's picks. But, I have a feeling we could see him in the majors ahead of some of these other guys.
Why? Because he's got the defensive chops to be a major leaguer and he's got the on-base skills to help out if his bat doesn't really develop. Look at his strikeout to walk rate in three seasons at UCLA: 22/27. He's walking roughly 8-10 percent of the time, too.
That's a pretty good indicator he can do some things at the next level. Power won't be a big selling point for him, but he's got some pop. I think in some ways, he could look like Chris Snyder, who doesn't hit for much average, but has good pop.
He's also got great bat control, laying down 16 sacrifice hits this season. If he's not going to hit much, the Astros could put him down in the order and be confident he could move runners up, etc. They do that in the AL, don't they?
The other big thing I like about this pick is Heineman has relatively few miles on him. He didn't catch much his first two seasons at UCLA before starting this year. That means his knees should hold up well for the next few seasons and bodes well for him developing even more of a defensive presence.
Just a solid, solid pick for this late in the draft. Can I say that again? Solid pick.
I think what you're seeing from Chris Wallace is the floor here. Potential to become a backup catcher at the big league level but not enough bat to get there.
In a perfect world, Heineman could turn into a Mike Matheny or Dan Wilson. Defense-first guys who hit just enough to keep them in the lineup and get 400 PAs a season.
Nobody cares what he looks like in blue jeans: stocky build with thick features. Solid catch and throw guy with useable left-handed bat. Strong, accurate throws through the bag, clean arm action, clean footwork and transfers. Strong and soft hands, good actions behind the plate, a good catching athlete. Has good hands offensively, though he tends to get too long too often. Won’t run. Arm and defense profile as best pro tools. Just enough bat to make him dangerous, but has to be careful not to let that touch of power get him into trouble. It might take a while, but catch-and-throw guys with the ability to put the ball in play tend to make it to the big leagues.
Offensively, Heineman has been an offensive catalyst. He’s proven his unselfishness with 14 sacrifice bunts and 12 hit-by-pitches and his on-base percentage (.475) is second on the team. His .369 average is one of the top numbers from any catcher in any division of college ball and he’s been incredibly adept at staying out of trouble on the basepaths, getting caught stealing only once and grounding into just one double play (also the best number on the squad).
One thing Heineman appears incredibly adept at is getting on base, even when he’s not hitting well. He walked 15 times (to only two strikeouts) in 19 games with Wisconsin of the Northwest Summer League last year.
But don't sleep on Tyler Heineman — a backstop who can really catch and throw and has a nice contact bat. Have a feeling he's going to get drafted well too.
I'll be honest, I haven no idea what's going on with this guy. No scouting reports, no info on how hard he throws and only one video.
From that, you can see his arm action is pretty good and he doesn't have any glaring mechanical issues to worry about. So, why did Houston take him here?
One, it's later in the draft, and they've got to get some organizational arms too. Minor is a relatively easy sign, so he'll be able to get into the system and do some things early.
But, this Caller-Times article suggests he's also got a good makeup to kind of beat the concerns about his stuff. The article claims the fastball and breaking ball are "there," but not what there means. I'm sure they're good enough to play. But, that bulldog mentality is a good sign and means Minor could transition very effectively into the back end of a bullpen some day.
I don't think that's going to be his role immediately, but I could see it happening eventually. Still, an interesting pick who could put together some good numbers at Tri-City.
If his stuff doesn't play up to the results, he won't get far. In that, I think he's similar to Jonas Dufek and Kyle Hallock from last season's draft.
Hmm...I don't want to throw anyone off, and I don't want to automatically assume anything based on his stature. So, I'm going with Andrew Bailey, who was taken out of a small school, started in the minors and became a pretty good reliever for Oakland. I'm not saying Minor is destined for the 'pen, but I think Bailey is a good comp (cept for the size).
On Sunday, Minor struck out a career-high eight Utah batters while allowing three runs, only one of them earned, on five hits over seven innings. He was masterful with his control, striking out the side in the first inning to set the tone, and walking just one batter for the second-straight game.
Tuesday, Jun 5, 2012, 7:05 PM CDT
Minute Maid Park
Partly cloudy. Winds blowing out to center field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 85.
Jun 03, 1985
Jul 08, 1986
Tonight, two disappointing aces will duel in the desert. Guthrie has been an unmitigated disaster, particularly at home, while Ian Kennedy shows just how hard it is to maintain elite performance in the bigs. Nothing about Kennedy v2012 is drastically different than Kennedy v2011. He's just a little bit worse across the board. A small decrease in strikeouts, groundballs and strand rate, a small increase in walks, home runs, and BABIP.
The Rockies can win their third consecutive series tonight, something they have accomplished this season, believe it or not. The lone occasion came April 13-22, with home series wins against these Diamondbacks and the Padres, and a road series win against the Brewers, polished off by a dominant performance by...Jeremy Guthrie.
To get there, Jim Tracy is going with what constitutes Colorado's A-lineup these days. Included are Dexter Fowler and Wilin Rosario, each of whom are riding the longest hitting streaks of their careers, nine and seven games, respectively. Fowler's previous high was eight, accomplished twice, but not since his rookie season in 2009. Carlos Gonzalez (9) and Todd Helton (10) also have hitting streaks going.
06/05/12 7:40 PM MDT
No Upton, no Goldschmidt!
Andre Dawson Card #991 – 1991 Fleer Superstar Special AUTOGRAPHED!!! Another great autograph for my Dawson collection. This one happens to be on a 2-player card from the 1991 Fleer Superstar Special subset. The other player featured?? Hall of Famer … Continue reading →
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