RotoWire Partners

Scouting Pitchers: All-Star Futures Game Wrap-Up

James Benkard

James Benkard

James Benkard writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

This week, we'll look at some of the pitchers who showed their stuff in the All-Star Futures Game on July 13. As Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein pointed out, it was an off-year for the talent in the game because of the upcoming Olympics. Several top prospects were not included, as Goldstein pointed out: "No David Price, no Travis Snider, no Rick Porcello, no Matt Wieters, no Neftali Feliz, no Jason Heyward, and the list goes on."

From John Sickels' recent update of the top 100 prospects, we also didn't see Jeremy Hellickson (12), Michael Bowden (16), Wade Davis (19), Chris Tillman (22), Jarrod Parker (26), Tim Alderson (27), Madison Bumgarner (28), Jhoulys Chacin (31), and Aaron Poreda (32). Trevor Cahill, ranked 17th by Sickels, was the highest-ranked pitcher we saw. Of the 18 pitchers who threw in the Futures Game, only Cahill, Brett Anderson (33), Jake Arrieta (41), Casey Weathers (43), Will Inman (53), and Jess Todd (82) were in Sickels' Top 100.

On the plus side, the game was extended from its usual seven to nine innings, allowing more prospects to be seen. Major league scouts preferred this format, as it didn't make sense to them to limit the game to seven after all the effort it took to put the teams together. I'll cover these pitchers in order of preference based on their 2008 performance and long-term potential.

I use the standard 20-80 scouting scale to rate pitchers. These velocities are suggestive and not determinant of a pitch's rating. For example, a 75 MPH curveball might rank as a 60 because of its movement and/or deception. Please feel free to post your thoughts below.

80 Outstanding (96+ MPH fastball, 88+ MPH slider, 82 MPH curveball)
70 Well above average (94-95 FB, 86-87 MPH SL, 80-81 MPH CB)
60 Above average (92-93 MPH FB, 84-85 MPH SL, 78-79 MPH CB)
50 Average (89-91 MPH FB, 82-84 MPH SL, 75-77 MPH CB)
40 Below average (86-88 MPH FB, 79-81 MPH SL, 73-75 MPH CB)
30 Well below average (83-85 MPH FB, 76-78 MPH SL, 71-72 MPH CB)
20 Poor (80-82 MPH FB, 71-75 MPH SL, 69-70 MPH CB)

Brett Anderson's 89-94 MPH fastball was above-average, especially for a left-hander. His delivery was markedly different on his 80-84 MPH curveball. Anderson worked quickly, pitched inside and picked two runners off. He has some good upside given his youth, rapid development this year and the big ballpark in Oakland to which he's headed. Trevor Cahill showcased an 89-92 MPH fastball, a 79-81 MPH curveball and a 77 MPH changeup. His whirlybird delivery resembles Jake Peavy's, so he'll generate a lot of ground balls (2.55 G/F ratio this year between High-A and Double-A). Cahill's stiff upper half and over-reliance on his arm in his delivery suggest he'll have a problem with injuries, as Peavy has. Cahill also tips his curve by lowering his arm angle.

Casey Weathers looked very good with a 94-97 MPH fastball and an 83-86 MPH slider. He struggled to command his moving fastball, sandwiching two walks and a hit around striking out the side. Weathers was Colorado's first-round pick last year out of Vanderbilt, and at 23 he is nearly ready for the majors.

I liked what I saw of Jake Arrieta, with his 92-93 MPH fastball and 83-84 MPH slider. He has made his pro debut at High-A this year after signing last year as a fifth-round pick out of Texas Christian. Arrieta's motion is decent - deliberate, although he bunches his arm some. He could be a #3 starter. Carlos Carrasco wasn't overpowering with his 89-92 MPH fastball, although it's his 83-84 MPH changeup that will be his out pitch. His tendency to pitching uphill and the lack of a consistent breaking ball will keep him as a #3 starter.

This was my first look at San Diego's Will Inman, and his delivery makes me queasy. Inman undoubtedly has good control and pitching sense, but I'm hard pressed to think of a 200-inning starter with his crouched, low-three-quarters delivery. Perhaps he can be a poor man's Jered Weaver. Jeff Weaver? Cleveland's Hector Rondon looked pretty good with a moving 92-94 MPH fastball and an 81 MPH slider. He has a nice delivery and pitched inside. Rondon isn't very athletic and his breaking ball is inconsistent, so he may be just a fifth starter.

Henry Rodriguez lit up the radar gun with a 94-97 MPH fastball and an 84-91 MPH slider. Oakland has been working him out of the rotation, but with his short-armed action he projects as a reliever. Florida's Jesus Delgado is a safe bet to be a major league reliever, with a 92-96 MPH fastball, 77 MPH slider and a good delivery. Jess Todd has been working as a starter at High-A and Double-A for the Cardinals but projects as a reliever. He was clocked at just 85-88 MPH with an 82 MPH slider and an 83 MPH changeup. Todd doesn't get much arm extension, which may explain his inconsistent velocity.

Ryan Mattheus showed a good 92-95 MPH fastball and an 84 MPH slider. With his inconsistent command, he has some trips between Colorado Springs and Coors Field in his future. St. Louis' Fernando Salas has an 85-93 MPH fastball, an 81-82 MPH changeup and excellent command. Despite his lack of a breaking ball, Tony La Russa will make him useful. Washington's Shairon Martis featured a 91-93 MPH fastball, a 77 MPH changeup, a 79-80 MPH slider and a 73-74 MPH curveball. He will get a shot at the Nationals rotation but looks like a staff's tenth or eleventh man.

Clayton Richard projects as a swingman or a lefty out of the White Sox' bullpen. He has pitched well at Double- and Triple-A this year but will turn 25 in September and lacks an out pitch. His fastball was 87-90 MPH and he tipped his changeup by slowing his arm down. Kevin Pucetas is old (23) to be in High-A, but I liked how he worked quickly with his 88-90 MPH fastball, 79 MPH curve and 72 MPH changeup. Houston's Polin Trinidad also looked like a reliever. He has worked his way up to Double-A, but his 85-87 MPH fastball has started to be hit hard.

Julio Pimentel has thrown a lot of innings (617) for a 22-year-old between the Dodgers' and Royals' farm systems. Pimentel's fastball was 88-92 with a 79-83 MPH changeup and 79 MPH curve. His mechanics looked like Jose Valverde's, which isn't a compliment. Tampa Bay's Eduardo Morlan didn't impress me. His delivery looks like Daniel Cabrera's - not a compliment. Morlan's fastball was clocked at 88-91 MPH and he has a 79-82 MPH changeup. Cross him off.

-----------

I didn't see any aces in this game. Anderson, Cahill, Arrieta and Carrasco do look capable of 200 innings, and Weathers is a future closer.

Next week: Summer double feature! NL Central: Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto

 

Article first appeared 7/23/08