Stephen Pryor Scouting Report 6.2.12 - Mechanics

=== Checkpoints ===

As y'know, aiki dynamics focus on the center of gravity, its acceleration and the organization of the head and limbs around that CG.  Still, all we have are screen captures here, so we have to start with a static description of the movement.

Here is the live video of the below pitch.  We'll restrict our description mostly to things that are NOT routine for ML pitchers, and remember that things are going to look quite different because of Pryor's bulk:

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Pryor's overall pace - his time between pitches - is delightfully fast and confident.  His tempo, the speed at which he accelerates into his motion, is delightfully smooth and slow.  Moe, have a gander at this and tell me if you don't grok a PGA-pro type of takeway?  Smooth, confident, and unhurried?

Just a great, great intersection of pace and tempo.

In the rock back, Pryor connects his shoulders with the center fielder, Japanese-style.  He sticks his foot out, away from his body, as if he were a high wire walker using a pole to balance himself.  This last bit is kind of weird and you wonder whether it will mess up his ability to hold runners.  I dunno.

Pryor has an absolutely instinctive desire to rock his shoulders backward to second base, one that he doesn't think about.  He just loves to get onto his back hip, to raise the hammer before it falls.  Gotta love it.

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In the second phase of his gather, Pryor draws a Figure 4 with his front foot.  Probably no aiki sensei would go for this "affectation," the pretzel motion of the lead foot, but to me it gives a type of Japanese "pause at the top" as everything organizes neatly down the centerline.

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Now Pryor's lead foot reaches out for the plate as if a blind man were using his cane to find the curb.  The hands separate in such a way as to keep the baseball connected to Pryor's CG, his "one point."  He sinks onto that colossal gluteus maximus and he needs little shoulder turn, which is one reason that his eyes and intentionality are unusually oriented down the centerline throughout.

Dr. Mike Marshall and his "driveline" paradigm would be pleased.  An aiki sensei would be also.

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Pryor starts to splay the limbs in four directions, keeping a high front side (glove high and front shoulder raised).  This will allow an arc'ing of the shoulders, creating a downhill angle and, in Pryro's case, a magnificently on-top-of-the-ball release. 

The organization around his hara, his CG, is unpretentious and to the point.  An aiki shihan would speak of great sincerity.  Yes, Pryor sincerely wants to remove the batter's will to compete with him.

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This, gentlemen, is called getting on top of the ball.

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Dr. D's big complaint, though...  You can't see it here, but Pryor rips his shoulders around with his head.  Here's the video again.

It's one thing to have a max-effort delivery; that's the way that Pryor should pitch, throwing the ball absolutely as hard as he is capable.  Pryor isn't going to be a guy who hits razor-fine spots within the zone; it's good enough for him to hit ANY part of the zone.  Troy Percival pitched that way forever.

But Pryor needs to remove the shrillness from his head yank.  Until he does his most realistic goal is going to be simply to throw strikes.  Ever play Pop-a-Shot basketball in the arcade?  If your eyes are moving like this, it's like trying to shoot at a backboard that is bouncing around.  While you shoot.

You'll notice, too, that Pryor's head is a bit left of his lead foot at release.  This is supposed to be a big no-no.  That's a golden principle, head balanced inside the feet as you let the ball go.

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Don't get me wrong.  Felix yanked his head his first two years; Lee Trevino used a grotesque motion his entire PGA career.  The ball wasn't going anyplace on Trevino, and the strike zone is always in the same place for Pryor.   Probably half of the max-effort relievers in MLB have less-than-perfect head movement.  It's a crazy thing they're doing, throwing 97 MPH.

And Pryor was thrown into a terrifying situation in his debut game.  If I had my way, I'd like to see the head smooth out a little, is all.  Stay down the centerline better.  Felix mastered this over time.

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The torso is fully parallel to the ground and the right arm clears loosely, not banging against his chest - the decel actually reminds of Randy Johnson, mirror image.  The back leg, a favorite Bill James "tell" for a tiring pitcher, is enthusiastic and comfortable.

Pryor dissipates his energy through his decleration better than most guys half his weight.  He's very graceful for a guy who weighs upwards of 500 lbs.  Impressive caboose, too.

This is the dissipation, anyway, of a man who's going to pitch for 15 years.

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=== Dr's Diagnosis ===

Pryor has thrown strikes everywhere he's been; apparently he hasn't been hitting spots with Jamie Moyer surgical precision, but that's fine.  It didn't do you any good that Troy Percival was wild inside the strike zone.

Pryor's motion is "sincere" and without pretention; he gets his belly button into the action and he uses the C.C. Sabathia-sized core greatly to his advantage.  He's not looking at great command inside the zone with such a max effort, but then again you're not talking about Dan Quisenberry here.  You're talking about 99 MPH, strike one.

Would like to see him continue to keep the eyes moving toward the catcher better.  That said, two thumbs way up.  There will be a rookie Pyror and a 4th-year Pryor, and the rookie Pryor looks ready to roll.

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BABVA,

Dr D

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Comments

It's a rock and roll motion, Doc. And smooth on the rock.

He rocks back onto that ack leg, gets into that straight line position, and then just unrolls to the plate: Leg, hips/shoulder, arm.

I'm glad you mentioned the glutes, too.

This is smooth-easy/powerful-low stress (as much as 100 MPH can be).

Sam Snead, if he threw a ball. Or Freddy Couples.

Those kind of motions last forever.

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MtGrizzlyFrom mlbtr: "The Mariners, Mather explained, overshot their allotted player personnel budget by nearly $16MM in 2014. However, ownership had no complaints after seeing the team’s strong performance. Rather than asking how the $16MM would be recouped, they instead asked Mather how the team was going to get six more wins in 2015."13 hours 16 min ago
mojicianBe sure to tune into the shoutbox if you ever want to hear tomorrow's news today. :)18 hours 57 min ago
mojicianI'd like the record to reflect that I called a Giants World Series win on the night of the NL Wild Card game and right before the World Series started. My foresight is not quite 20-20, so I predicted a series win in five games. I want bragging rights and a bracket of some kind.18 hours 59 min ago
MtGrizzlyTo be fair, it's not as if Smoak had any success with his 'old' batting mechanics.1 day 4 hours ago
moethedogModern coaches would probably try to fix M. Ott or S. Oh!1 day 17 hours ago
moethedogChanging a hitter's stroke is more tricky than we wish to admit. There is a lot of investment by a player that has to be discarded, some can't do it. Many struggle because the stroke they have is their natural one, and the right one given their particular set of physical skills, make-up, vision, etc. Just telling a player to "go the other way" and assuming that fixes him is problematic, as is much "teaching" in that regard. PGA Tour-level players regularly "lose it" as they try to make mechanical fixes, some never get it back. What we think is purely mechanical is often bio-mechanical, meaning that a persons body optimally functions is a certain way. "Fixing" that may not be a fix. You older guys will remember Keith "Silk" Wilkes, the former UCLA and NBA player. He had a completely weird jump shot stroke that you would teach to nobody...but it worked.1 day 17 hours ago
moethedog"Fixing" it would have been disastrous. I think both Smoak and Ackley have been "fixed" to death. leaving them alone would have been a much better option. Some guys can be changed for the better. Some can't. Leave those guys alone. Hitting coaches (like swing coaches) are paid to coach, so they do. But I think in the majority of cases they would be better (at the MLB level) if they just said, "Swing a lighter bat" or "stand closer to the plate" or "take a day off" a lot more than they do. Not every problem can be "mechanically" fixed.1 day 17 hours ago
DaddyOI hope Smoak figures how to carve out a productive MLB career for himself. Meanwhile, he remains just one of a number of M's can't-miss hitting prospects who so far have sputtered and missed. A team can only pitch so well. Meanwhile they have to score some runs. Of course that sentiment is preaching to the choir.1 day 18 hours ago
SABR MattMcClendon's impulse to get Smoak to hit the opposite way and get on top of the ball was, (assuming this analysis is correct) the right thing to instruct. Smoak wanted to be a power hitter though. A power hitter's brain with a contact hitter's actual power because his swing was greedy and mechanically flawed.1 day 19 hours ago
SABR MattJust had an interesting discussion with a hitting instructor who used to intern with the Yankees the year I was there about Smoak. He thinks the Mariners fouled up Smoak's swing mechanics. He sees in Smoak's vids, a guy who starts the bat head too low in the zone and whose swing is too wristy, meaning when he wants to hit for power (gets a cookie pitch), he is going to have to swing up at the ball and the barrell will be at both an upper-cutting and a hinged (pullside) angle. If he squares it up with that funky contact plane, the ball will be a very high fly ball (subject to warning track outs)...and if he gets funny contact, he will ground out to the pull side. Hey...remind me again...what were Smoak's main out types? When he looked at scouting vids of early Smoak...he didn't start the bat head too low and his swing was way less wristy.1 day 19 hours ago
Bat571I suspect the Ms let Blake walk, though. If he's smart, he'll run to the D'backs and sign for whatever to get a chance to work with Dave Duncan. He's the classic Duncan project - big RH that doesn't overpower people and needs to learn how to pitch.2 days 13 hours ago
Bat571Griz - I think Blake Beavan is still in the org. He was outrighted to Tacoma in August, and can become a free agent if not put back on the 40-man by a date that's pretty soon or signed to a new minor league deal, but the Ms still have a shred of the return left.2 days 13 hours ago
DaddyOThis has nothing to do with current conversations, but I sure like Joe Panik. Not just his stats, but the way he plays the game. This guy is going to be a fixture for a LONG time.2 days 15 hours ago
misterjonezLove to see the decision made on Smoak. The M's seriously need to re-evaluate their offensive development program, but when it's time to cut bait it's time to cut bait. LoMo looks like a better bet, and neither one projects as a world beater. Here's hoping Smoak can turn into Adam Lind in Toronto; I wish him well.2 days 16 hours ago
moethedogSo here's the Lind attraction: Career vR he is .293-.349-.510! (Career vL he's .212-.257-.331) In a platoon situation at 1B or DH, he would be a terrific (and relatively cheap ($) add. Is Montero the vL bat to go with him? What is the cost of trading for Lind? But if you want to bring 115 starts of vR mashing, Lind is a guy to consider.2 days 16 hours ago
MtGrizzlyAll of the guys that came to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade are now gone from the org.2 days 16 hours ago
SABR Mattand at least one of those catchers that did make the final three isn't even major league average defensively...I'll let you guys figure out which one. :)2 days 17 hours ago
mojicianSpeaking of rigged, what about Zunino's gold glove nomination? He caught the filthiest pitching staff in the American league, he cheated and stole caught strikes on a grand scale with his pitch framing, and then there are the tangibles: His AL Rankings: Second in catchers ERA, Fifth in baserunners nabbed, Third in fielding percentage, sixth in passed balls despite catching the magic changeup, the shuuto, and the Pax Curvanus, Second in games played. It is hard to come up with any measure of a catcher that Zunino isn't near the top of the leaderboard.2 days 18 hours ago
mojicianWhat about DJ making the AFL all star game with his .641 OPS and Kivlehan snubbed with his .913 OPS? This seems rigged.2 days 19 hours ago
mojicianSmoak's gone? Heh. That was a long and painful relationship. I hope he does well.2 days 20 hours ago