The Arizona Fall League, the most prestigious of the Winter Leagues, started last week. While fans pour over the box scores to see how their favorite prospects performed, the most underrated thing about the league is the Pitch F/X data in two of the ballparks. While Brooks Baseball hasn’t been updating it’s data, we are at least able to look at GameDay and look at the data it provides. So here, I will look at some (the pitchers I picked are at somewhat random) of the pitchers that have pitched in the AFL so far.
Jimmy Reyes is a short lefty (listed anywhere between 5-10 to 6 feet tall depending on what site you look at) that has been a reliever his whole career. He was picked by the Rangers in the 7th round of the 2010 draft. Since then, he has been excellent in the lower levels of the minor leagues, with a 2.36 ERA, 9.8 K/9IP and 1.6 BB/9IP. This year in A +, he had a 2.94 FIP with a 25.8 K % and 6.1 BB % with a good GB rate.
90.1-91.9 in his first inning of work
88.4 MPH-92.1 MPH in second inning of work. The last two fastballs were the hardest he threw in his outing.
Change at 81
Curve at 79-81
Slider at 79-81
The break between the curveball and slider is also really similar between the two with 9-10 inch break with 10-11′ PFX on both of them. If you aren’t sure how this movement is calculated or what it means, you should read this link.
To be able to compare movement and break data between the AFL pitchers and MLB pitchers, I looked at the pitchers that threw in the Tigers and Yankees Game 3 on Tuesday, and also Felix Hernandez, because Felix Hernandez is awesome (I also included C.J. Wilson because he was pitching against Felix in the game I looked to get Felix’ data). Interestingly, Coke’s curve has the least amount of horizontal break (minimum of 200 pitches thrown) since the Pitch F/X area started (2007). Rapada and Eppley are sidearmers, so that does give it a different break:
Kevin Quackenbush was an 8th round pick by the San Diego Padres in 2011. Since then, Quackenbush has put up some monster numbers as a right-handed reliever. He got 2 strikeouts in his inning of work in the AFL opener, and was up to 92-94 MPH on his fastball
Quakenbush’s slider was 78-79 MPH with 10 inch break with 1-3 PFX
He threw one change at 81 MPH with 6 inch break and 12 PFX
He relied more on his curve (he was very fastball heavy), which was more at 78-80 MPH with 11-13 inch break with really inconsistent PFX (ranging from 3-8).
Mike Wright was a 3rd round pick by the Orioles in 2011. He has been almost exclusively a starter. He split this year between A+ and AA and while he was very effective in A +, he found the transition to AA relatively difficult. His strikeout rate stayed about the same (which is pretty low), but his walk rate and home run rate increased.
91-95 MPH fastball with a 87 MPH cutter (7 inch break 3 PFX)
Slider at 87- 88 MPH and 7 inch break 2 PFX (the “cutter” was probably a misclassification since it looks just like the slider)
Changeup at 81-84 MPH with 8-9 inch break and 11-12 PFX
Kevin Rhoderick was a 9th round pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2010 (after being a 18th round pick by the Tigers in 2007). He really struggled in AA this year, with a 17.5 BB %. Walks have been a serious problem for Rhoderick in his entire career.
91 MPH fastball
80-81 MPH changeup with 8-9 inch break and 10-12 PFX
79-82 MPH slider with 10 inch break and 6-7 PFX
79-81 MPH curveball with 10-12 inch break and 6 PFX
So the slider and curveball look very similar and may even be the same pitch
Justin Marks was a 3rd round pick by the Oakland A’s in 2009 (after being a 37th round pick in 2006 by the Red Sox). Marks is now with the Royals organization (part of the David DeJesus trade) and spent most of the year in AA. He was slightly below league average with a 4.11 FIP and 4.23 SIERA with an above average strikeout rate. However, he walked too many batters and his ground-ball rate wasn’t very good.
91 MPH fastball
82-84 MPH changeup 6-7 inch break 8-13 PFX
82-83 MPH slider 7-9 inch break 6-8 PFX
75 MPH curveball 14 inch break with 10 PFX
Taylor Thompson was a 44th round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2009 (after being picked in the 25th round by the White Sox in 2008). He spent the year in A +, where the righty was very effective with a 2.30 FIP and 2.20 SIERA. Despite not having a very good ground-ball rate, he had a monster strikeout rate with a low walk rate.
89-92 MPH fastball
81 MPH curveball 10 inch break with 3 PFX
80 MPH changeup 8 inch break with 4 PFX
82-85 MPH slider 7-8 inch break with 2-4 PFX
Seth Blair was a 1st round pick (46th overall) by the Cardinals in 2010 after being a 47th round pick in 2007 by the Oakland A’s. The right-hander threw just 16.2 innings in A + this year, so him being in the AFL is clearly an effort to get him more work. Last year, he threw 81.2 innings in class A and really struggled with a 5.71 FIP and 5.04 SIERA (despite a decent ground-ball rate).
92-96 MPH fastball
81-85 MPH slider with 10-11 inch break and 4-8 PFX (he threw a few that had 9 inch break and 2 PFX)
84 MPH curveball with 11 inch break and 5-6 PFX
Ian Kadish was actually undrafted, signing with the Blue Jays after 4 years at Marshall University (in which he was downright awful). The right-handed reliever was really effective in both A- and A this year, with a combined 2.15 FIP and 2.49 SIERA. He has turned into a big time strikeout pitcher since signing, with a lot of walks and not many ground-balls.
91-92 MPH fastball
82-85 MPH changeup (clear errors in movement data here)
81-82 MPH slider with 8-10 inch break 2-3 PFX
Isaiah Froneberger was a 4th round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2007. He has been a reliever his whole career (other than one start in A-ball in 2009). In 75 innings with the Rockies A +, he gave up just 1 home run despite too many walks and a good not great strikeout rate. This is why the left-hander had a SIERA over a full run over his FIP (his ground-ball rate is very mediocre).
89-91 MPH fastball with 85-89 MPH cutter
78-80 MPH curveball with 11-12 inch break and 3-8 PFX
83-84 MPH changeup with 6 inch break and 8-9 PFX