On Friday, the Marlins traded Ricky Nolasco and international bonus money to the Dodgers for three minor league pitchers, Angel Sanchez, Steve Ames, and Josh Wall. The Dodgers will pay the rest of Nolasco’s salary for 2013. Nolasco is a rental player, as he will become a free agent at the end of the season, but slots into the 4th spot of the Dodgers rotation, which is starting to look like a good rotation, with Clayton Kershaw, Ryu Hyun-Jin, Zack Greinke, and Nolasco rounding out the top 4 (with Stephen Fife pitching pretty well so far in what you could consider the 5 spot). I wrote about Nolasco recently, specifically looking at how he pitches with men on base, so I will just look at the three pitchers the Marlins are getting in the trade.
Each of the three pitchers have Pitch F/X data available, but only Josh Wall has pitched in the Majors (short stints in both 2012 and 2013). Here are what his pitches look like via velocity and average location, along with his release point for reference
Wall’s numbers in the Majors have been extremely poor, but he has only thrown 12.2 innings, so that hardly matters. He is extremely slider happy as you can see, making his average pitch on the glove side part of the plate. He seems to locate the slider well, but neither the slider or the fastball have plus velocity. He has also thrown about 3 changeups, but I didn’t include them since he obviously doesn’t use it much. At AAA, over 81 relief innings, he has been just okay, with a 4.00 kwERA, A 2nd round pick in 2005, the 26 year old was awful as a starter and has really been just good enough to keep his career going as a reliever. He will get his shot in Miami, but it is hard to see him succeeding without a track record, so many sliders, and without plus stuff.
Steve Ames has not pitched in the big leagues, but has spent all year in AAA and pitched for the Dodgers in Spring Training, giving us some Pitch F/X data (both Ames and Sanchez’ data, because it is Spring Training data, are both pulled from Brooks Baseball, which uses a different release point, making the velocity go up and the release point seem artificially higher compared to the regular MLBAM data that was used above for Wall)
A career reliever since being drafted in the 17th round in 2009, the 25 year old’s release point is closest to Juan Cruz and the former Leo Nunez. While those two have had success in relief in the big leagues, Ames locations in spring training were somewhat hilarious, as he was an extreme glove side pitcher, even with his changeup. His stuff is below average, so he seems to be some kind of high sidearm specialist. Throughout his minor league career, he has put up great numbers, with extremely high strikeout numbers. In AAA, this has scaled back somewhat, and while he has been pretty good, it is much less spectacular than what he has been. His minor league splits in his career have been interesting. He is a reverse splits pitcher so far this year (not a big sample size), but was an extreme platoon pitcher last year, but has also had some seasons without any real platoon splits.
Angel Sanchez is the youngest (23 years old) of the three pitchers and is also the furthest away, topping out at A+ so far this year after spending most of the year in A-ball. Last year, he actually spent all year in A+ but pitched poorly, so the Dodgers set him back a level for 2013. He has worked as a starter for virtually all of his career, but it seems that he is projected as a reliever. This year, he has taken a leap with his strikeout rate, but this could be because he is repeating levels. There is no question, however, about his stuff, which is clearly the best out of the three
A good fastball he can throw high is somewhat mitigated by a slider and a changeup that don’t have great velocity and he doesn’t locate real well. I watched an outing of Sanchez’ to get a better idea of his stuff and potential.
Body wise, he looks really thin. He has good height, but mechanically is not great, getting a high leg kick and a tilt that would seem to be hard to repeat and hard to get the ball down (though when I saw him he was keeping the ball down and his control wasn’t great, but okay). He seemed to be a glove side pitcher overall in the outing I saw, which I think at least speaks to the idea that he is finishing his delivery.
He gets the fastball up to 94-96 MPH as a starter (down to 92 at the end of his outing), and could work glove side for strikes. The 4 seamer did appear to be hittable though, as he gave up several line drives on it. Did jam one right-hander with it.
He also throws a 2-seamer/sinker (he had a few FT tags in Spring Training, but I combined the fastballs for the graph) he can work inside to righties at around 92-94 MPH. This is usually a reverse platoon pitch for most pitchers, and he sank the ball occasionally to lefties. He also had some kind of cutter that has some downward break to lefties. He throws it lower than a traditional cutter, but I liked the pitch. Sanchez also showed a changeup that he could throw for strikes, not impressive or overwhelming drop. He used it early, but not very often at all.
He throws some kind of baby slider that looks a little soft and slurvy. It broke more sideways than the cutter and usage made it obvious which pitch was which. He doesn’t have a curveball, but an assortment of pitches with some good stuff. I think his development could be really fast tracked if he is moved to relief by the Marlins. As a starter, he has a chance in my opinion, but the development would be really glacially slow and at 23, I don’t know that he should still be pitching below AA, especially when his fastball gives him that kind of potential.