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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SABR MattThis is why the slotting system is evil.4 hours 19 min ago
mojicianThis new scheme might explain how the agent Close talked Aiken into turning down 5 million bucks when he had a questionable elbow ligament and was unlikely to make that much in the next draft. If Nix's case is strong, the Astros have no choice but to sign both Aiken and Nix at any legal price or face total draft destruction. MLB will approve the late signing because it will be unwilling to hammer the Astros on one hand, or deny the union its legitimate case on the other.8 hours 20 min ago
mojicianThe Astros draftgate is coming into clear focus. For those not following, the Astros didn't sign the first round pick, Aiken, which puts them over slot for their fifth round pick , Nix, which causes 100 percent fines and forfeiture of two future first round picks. They didn't pay Nix so this wouldn't happen. The union is going to arbitration against the Astros. The new rumor is, It is probable that both players could still sign with the Stros, which seems cheap compared to losing two first round picks when you are trying to sell the fans on rebuilding.8 hours 25 min ago
Bat571If the Angels can't keep up their winning with the remaining pitching, they're vulnerable. And the A's keep losing (2-8 in their last 10). But Paxton and Elias have got to keep the M's in games, too. But Felix-Young-'Kuma in Boston is as good as it gets, especially with the Sawx pitching in some disarray also. Time to pick up some ground.1 day 51 min ago
SABR Mattwow...saw the highlight of that...he's done for the year, no question. brutal. Both Oakland and Anaheim showing us their keister...but if we play like we played today, we don't deserve to win.1 day 56 min ago
MtGrizzlyReally ugly looking knee injury for Richards.1 day 1 hour ago
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OBFWhat's with all the steals tonight?2 days 41 min ago
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