Stephen Pryor Scouting Report 6.2.12 - Offspeed Stuff

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Q.  Will this article be the final word on Pryor's slider and change?

A.  We're going off four (4) sliders and one (1) change.  Asked and answered, mon cherie.  This is a single-game "virtual crosscheck," as it were.  Subject to alteration, to correction by G-Money, or to revocation at any time.

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Q.  Do you like Pryor's slider?

A.  I do not, though Stephen Pryor obviously does.

In his debut game Saturday, Mr. Hyde grabbed Paul Konerko in two arms and ripped him in half at the waist.  He chewed out a stogie, swallowed it, and ground Alex Rios under his heel.  He retired Mr. Personality for a third out, and then....

... facing Dayan Viciedo, THE Dayan right handed Viciendo, started him off with a 90 MPH slider waist high.  You could sense Blowers' confused blink over the TV ... Pryor on 0-1 came back with another slider, low away.  The polite Blowers couldn't contain himself.  "Wow.  Starts him with two sliders."  He didn't say it admiringly.

Third pitch?   92 MPH slider, actually probably a changeup but the point is the same, right down the heart, knee high.  Somehow Viciedo fouled it off; 1-2 count.  Blowers didn't say a word.  It was like the guy who watches a drunk knock all the glasses off the table into his date's lap and there is stunned silence.  That kind of silence.

Pryor came back with two completely unhittable fastballs, one fouled off, 2-2 count, and then sped up Viciedo's bat with a SLOWER slider, and this was the location, pitch #6:

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Q.  Pretty hittable pitch, eh?

A.  Pretty hittable pitch, no.  It's quite literally a batting-practice pitch, maybe with 5 MPH on it.

Did you know that in the 1800's, major league hitters could call for the pitch in the location they desired?  Tell me where you'd call for a pitch?

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Q.  Describe the slider generally?

A.  Below average movement, as you can see from the chart in the previous article.  It moves more like a cut fastball.  It's not going to get anybody out because of its movement as such.

Average arm action, from what I could see, and more importantly from the White Sox' reactions.  It ain't Michael Pineda's arm action by any stretch of the imagination.

Naturally, the slider "plays way up" because the hitters have to start the bat when the catcher's signalling for the fastball.  But taken in isolation I'd call it very mediocre.  It needs to be kept out of the hot zones, that is for sure.

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An asterisk applies if hitters are way cheating.  If (in any given outing) they're just swinging as Pryor releases the ball, then of course any offspeed pitch is a garbage strike.  That's the catcher's job, to decide when that is.  He's sitting two feet away from the hitter who is grinding the bat handle into sawdust.

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What's the fix for the fact that Pryor gave up a hit?

A.  Number one, to realize that 0.00 ERA's don't exist, except in Cincinnati I guess.  Pryor will give up hits, including on 100 MPH fastballs.  But how many?  People see hitters go 2-for-25 on 100 MPH fastballs and they go, "See, they'll hit it no matter how hard you throw it" ....

But secondly, STEPHEN PRYOR NEEDS TO THROW 80%-90% FASTBALLS.

Matt Thornton last year threw 87% fastballs - that's all year long, gumby.  Aroldis Chapman threw 84%.   Joel Hanrahan threw 81%.  Neftali Feliz threw 80%.  Look, when Neftali Feliz throws you something other than a fastball, he's doing you a favor.  Mariano Rivera throws (cut) fastballs every pitch, literally 96.8% in 2003, for example.

The slider does complement the fastball when used as a sucker pitch...

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NEXT

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Comments

It's a wonder that he got through the minors without someone teaching him a different bendy pitch. He would be devastating with something that breaks down - a split or curve or something. That slider is meh..

1

How do you slow down a pitcher who can't be hit? I believe they were trying to get him to throw a changeup, but I'm with you, a split would be better. Still, I think he'll survive somehow.

And his slider can get better action than it did last night. Overthrowing a fastball due to adrenalin is survivable, but flattening out a slider is bad. It's not a great pitch, but I've seen it look better than that. And "better than that" is about all he needs for greatness.

~G

2

.... to critique a type of pitch of a player who was extremely amped up on adrenaline is a complete waste of time. It's not that the sample size is too small, but that the pitcher we saw yesterday will not be the same pitcher that we will see today.

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MtGrizzlyTo be fair, it's not as if Smoak had any success with his 'old' batting mechanics.54 min 59 sec ago
moethedogModern coaches would probably try to fix M. Ott or S. Oh!13 hours 44 min 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.13 hours 45 min 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.13 hours 46 min 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.14 hours 43 min 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.15 hours 41 min 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.15 hours 42 min 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.1 day 9 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.1 day 9 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.1 day 11 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.1 day 12 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.1 day 12 hours ago
MtGrizzlyAll of the guys that came to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade are now gone from the org.1 day 12 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. :)1 day 13 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.1 day 14 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.1 day 15 hours ago
mojicianSmoak's gone? Heh. That was a long and painful relationship. I hope he does well.1 day 16 hours ago
moethedogI always felt he belonged in the NL.1 day 16 hours ago
DaddyOSo the promise of Smoak in Seattle disappears. What we hoped to be fire turned out to be water vapor.1 day 17 hours ago
SABR MattSo..What would you give up to get Adam Lind?1 day 17 hours ago