Can Dominic Leone "Go Nuclear" on the Hitter's Synapses? And, if so, how would we know?

Could he be the next Mo Rivera? Dare we ask?

 

All this [Parts 1, 2 and 3] has been leading up to what I had been meaning to write about Dominic Leone (Talk40 #25), in response to a comment from "part-time" (which is now more than a week old):

 

  • The one thing I remember most when Leone was drafted is Tim Chalberg's comment 'Dominic Leone, RHP, Clemson - Some scout must see a potential adjustment that could make Leone a better fit in pro ball than college. I don't see much in the numbers that excites me. Grade: F'. Prospect Insider now ranks him as the number 19 prospect in the Mariners as of mid-season. No one else even has him on the radar, as near as I can tell, but from what the numbers are saying, the small money spent on the kid as a bonus was well spent. Bang for the buck, it would appear the Mariners own the scout who suggested the kid a big thank you.

 

A "Grade F" draft pick!

And ... Doc invited me to not be so "understated."  So how's this:

 

***

So here's the story so far.  Leone was pretty much an ordinary college pitcher.  A starter. 

Late in his college career, he decided he needed a boost and became infatuated with Mariano Rivera's cutter.

He started teaching it to himself by watching videos on YouTube.  Yes, that's the story.  YouTube!

The same ACC scouts who brought us Kyle Seager, Brad Miller and Danny Hultzen apparently thought they saw something worth pursuing.

So he came to Everett last year as that "Grade F" draft pick, and pitched 33.0 innings.

He gave up 17 singles, 3 doubles, 0 triples, 0 homers.

BA-against .174.  SLG-against .204.  ISO-against .030.

He walked a bunch, but ... no one could hit the ball against him.  No one got "good wood" on the ball.  Period.

 

***

Now ... 2013.

Are we allowed to throw out April?  In this case, maybe, since Leone is ordinary if he doesn't have his "nuclear pitch," and maybe he didn't quite have it in April.

But looking at May onward:

BA-against .184. SLG-against .229.  ISO-against .044.

Same story.  No one can hit.  No one connect with the ball.  No one gets "good wood."

He's faced 343 pro batters and given up 14 extra-base hits.  And six of those were in April.

That's a 4.1 XBH%.  You know who's career rate is 4.4%?  Yep.  Mariano Rivera.  [Felix is at 6.1%.]

 

***

But a huge difference in 2013: the walk rate has been falling like a rock.

  • 2012 5.2 BB/9.
  • April 4.1 BB/9.
  • May 2.9 BB/9.
  • June 0.8 BB/9.
  • July 0.0 BB/9.

It seems like he's now developed the confidence to throw strikes and know he's not going to get hit.  And that brings his value up considerably.

 

***

So ... can we conclude that Leone has developed a "nuclear pitch"?

Well ... we know:

  • Before he started throwing it, hitters got very "conventional" results.  He was nothing special.
  • Now that he throws it, batters get very few hits, and virtually no extra-base hits.
  • Now that he throws it consistently for strikes, he is virtually unstoppable.

The evidence seems pretty strong that something verrrrrrry interesting is going on.

Does that mean that Leone is set for a Mo Rivera career?  No.  But he seems to have a better chance than most.  And that can't be a bad thing.

 

 

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Gordon GrossKivlehan is 3rd in the Southern League in ops. Behind some dude named bryant, and another good prospect in Lamb. He's getting better every week. I get mad at the Ms for not moving DJ to first... but maybe that's because Pat won't let em. I still think he should be in the OF though. Nice having system bats, I won't lie. Just don't rush em.1 hour 38 min ago
moethedogMLBTR has it that the Cubs rejected a Yankees bid on Ruggiano. Initeresting. Are they looking at a better bid by someone else? Could be. He's a RHB OF'er worth getting. Franklin might do it straight up.2 hours 55 min ago
bsrDept of Who Knew? Per Wikipedia: Benjamin Isaac Broussard (born September 24, 1976) is an American professional baseball first baseman. He is currently a musician, and still plays baseball in Mexico City, Mexico, for the Diablos Rojos and the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball ... Broussard has released two full-length music albums. The first, his self-titled album, was released in 2005. The second, Renovated, was released in 2009. He was also featured on the album, Oh Say Can You Sing?, a compilation of different Major League Baseball players singing their favorite songs. On that album Broussard sang U2's With or Without You. He is now a full-time musician.10 hours 39 min ago
Bat571vR ABs = 21412 hours 32 min ago
Bat571Now, about platoon splits. Some guys don't seem to have them. Patrick Kivlehan in 71 G at Jackson, covering 259 ABs - Overall = .317/.389/.510/.899, vL = .311/.392/.511/.903, vR = .318/.389/.509/.898. That is the closest I have ever seen for that many ABs (vL = 45, vR =24). He has become some kinda hittter! Walking 10.2% and K'ing 18.8% as well. Can you really ask for more?12 hours 33 min ago
Bat571When he first came up, he was able to do it - I'm hoping he can rediscover how.13 hours 5 min ago
Bat571We'll just have to see what Mr. Ackley does when pitchers adjust. When he was pulling off, the books was away,away. Now that he's staying on the ball and obviously seeing it well, they'll start busting him and moving his feet. If HoJo can get him through that by helping him keep his hands in and scorch a few down the RF line while not pulling off, then the skills change will start to show - he'll see the ball more consistently and his walk rate should increase and his Ks go back down to his minors numbers. IF ......13 hours 13 min ago
Bat571Matt - I think we are seeing the same things - by keeping his head still and his shoulder closed, he IS seeing the ball better. If he CAN continue to do so, then it will start to show up as a skills change. It hasn't yet, but as he gains confidence, it either will, or he'll start pulling off again and the ball will no longer be seen as clearly, and he'll go back to OPSing .640.13 hours 28 min ago
bsrPut it this way, you can be a snake businessman and get results, and in a competitive field like pro sports...(most) sins will be forgiven for a winner. Nothing terribly wrong with this type of behavior for a F500 exec, it's not like Jack is an ambassador negotiating peace in the Middle East here. But when you don't get results to outweigh the bad behavior...it doesn't look so good.13 hours 34 min ago
bsrWeren't the Yanks all upset a few years back about Z backing out of the Lee for Montero deal last minute when he got Smoak on the line from TX? It's the same snakey behavior as this article is citing. I mean, you can view this all as a vast conspiracy / gamesmanship attempt against the downtrodden M's...or you can take it at face value and see it as Z being called out repeatedly by many sources for being a bush league executive. (With both his peers and his subordinates -- sure he might be a good drafter but that's not about relationships.)13 hours 40 min ago
bsrI don't read the Rosenthal article as an indictment of the ownership group, I read it as a critique of Z. "Rival executives" know what any Mariner GM has to deal with behind the scenes, the situation has been the same for decades. If they thought Z was a decent guy making his best effort to overcome well-known challenges, I can't see why they'd sling mud at him publicly like this. I think we are seeing another indicator, in line w/ Baker's reporting, that Z is an unliked guy and a weak GM. Of course the piece could be off base, but OTOH when's the last time we heard anything good about Z? Where there's multiple plumes of smoke...13 hours 53 min ago
SABR MattLOL...interesting how we came to opposite conclusions even though we're both seeing the same guy and both encouraged with the better looking ABs right now. I'm just not seeing big changes in the component stats that would suggest that there's a real skills change in the works. Makes me think he's seeing the ball real well right now but whatever mechanical changes he's made aren't likely to last.13 hours 54 min ago
Bat571Is that going to be enough to carry lineup weight from LF? Well, he's still better suited in my mind to 2B, but Cano answers that question both ways - Ackley won't displace him, but Robbie hits so well he gives some room for a lighter bat in LF.14 hours 8 min ago
Bat571Ackley: the hitting is real - he looks like he did when he first came up and was putting up decent numbers, before Wedge tried changing him. Whether it's sustainable is a whole different matter. he's tinkered so much with things since he came up, I'm surprised he's back striding into the ball and getting solid, shoulder-driven wood on it. I'd say if he can keep his focus for a few more weeks, pitchers will start pounding him and we'll see if he can keep his shoulder in still. If so, he may be able to be the hitter he should be, a doubles, gap-to-gap hitter with good speed; a perfect #2 or a #6-7 to keep rallies going. A hitter in AAA threatening his job would, in my opinion, help him keep his focus and get him to keep attacking the ball. But HoJo seems to have gotten into his head enough I have some hope.14 hours 8 min ago
SABR Matthis secondary stats haven't changed much from prior seasons. His LD% is down but his ISO is back to career norms rather than paltry like last year. His plate discipline stats are normal for him except that he's generally swinging more often. His walk rate is down with no change in K rate. In the most recent month or so, his K/BB is 12/2 (that's not good) and his ISO is a normal .115 or so. The main change is BABIP, which is normally around .310 for his career but is over .450 during the hot streak with no change in LD%. I'm gonna say...not real.14 hours 26 min ago
gulpThing about Byrd is not only that extra 8 mil when he&amp;#039;s 38, but the Phillies want Maurer or Erasmo AND Guerrero or Wilson for him.... And Byrd kinda seems like a Honda Civic when the gas light comes on... You know you&amp;#039;ve got a little driving time left, but don&amp;#039;t get on the highway14 hours 41 min ago
GLSQuestion for anyone that would like to venture an opinion: is the recent Ackley hitting streak real and sustainable? What's going on there?14 hours 42 min ago
DaddyOYes, YES! There are prospects about to die on the vine if we don't use them for SOME-thing.16 hours 42 min ago
Bat571And the thought of Souza in AAA may help the concentration of Ackley.17 hours 3 min ago
Bat571I'm hoping the first move is Franklin or Noriega+CSmith for Souza. I can see him as the kind of player that could come up in September as an older prospect who takes his chance and runs with it.17 hours 4 min ago