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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Chat: 7/28/15 12:52am
Interests: Book Men News Money (201257)
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-07-30 15:51

It's not that I don't like beards at all, it's just that on Ackley it looked TERRIBLE! If he had maintained a close-cropped beard it probably would have looked okay. Some guys CAN wear lumberjack beards and it just fits. Ackley ain't one of them.

2015-07-30 15:49

Hah Hah Hah! Just saw a note that with the Yankees' "no facial hair" policy Ackley will have to lose his beard. That makes the trade worth it by itself!

2015-07-30 15:42

JC Ramirez is not 40-man; Jose Ramirez and Ramon Flores were added, which gives 41 for now, with apparently more moves to come.

2015-07-30 15:22

Does either JC Ramirez or Jose A Ramirez ever get added to 40 man guys? more spaghetti please....

2015-07-30 15:12

Before this year I didn't feel too badly about out first rounders. Zunino would obviously learn to hit in a year or two, Ackley had shown glimmers, #Jackson and Morgan had talent and if DJ wasn't exactly Kris Bryant he still looked like a plus major leaguer. I dunno if it's our minor league coaches this year, the players, or what - but the farm is as devoid of joy as the big-league club. Somebody perform an exorcism on the entire system before it's too late. Maybe trading Ackley will send that mojo #New_York's way.

2015-07-30 15:08

Blown 1st round picks: Ackley (el busto), Franklin (traded for the corpse of #Jackson, doin' not much), Baron (never making the bigs), Hultzen (double busto - at least Ackley has gotten to the bigs). Zunino might be a bust as an offensive player. Alex #Jackson has struggled MIGHTILY this year with batting eye and power both, and Gareth Morgan ($2 mil signing bonus makes him a 1st rounder in my #Book) is never gonna make it out of the low minors if his batting eye stays where it is. Did I mention DJ Peterson has an OPS in the .600s and #Austin Wilson (another over-slot, high-bonus dude) can't stay on the field and couldn't even hit in the Cal League this season? It's uuuugly... ~G

2015-07-30 15:07

The Brewers have needs at 1B, 3B, MIF backup, LHSP, and might need a new CF. If you're talking future there, Morrison, D.J., Marte, Happ/Elias/Paxton/Hultzen/Yarbrough and Jones have gotta be of some interest - and D.J. and Marte would give it some prospect shine. Really wondering if that kinda move is percolating. Gomez was going to the Mets for the equivalent of Paxton and Ackley or Taylor. Lucroy would probably be even pricier. But with Seager at 3B, and Miller/Taylor/Marte/Smith/#Jackson and others in the SS depth, maybe Marte and D.J. would make sense as chips.

2015-07-30 14:54

Happ, Morrison, #Jackson, Marte, D.J., Elias, Morban, Jones, and others should hold their breath until Carlos Gomez is traded elsewhere or the deadline passes. Word that Montero "may or may not" be called up makes it sound like JackZ has another iron in the fire. If he could get Gomez AND Lucroy for even most of the guys listed I might be a little less down about the season

2015-07-30 14:37

Of course all GM's make mistakes, and any single mistake can be overcome, but the now-official bust of Dustin Ackley (as a Mariner) as the first of Zduriencik's prized high draft picks epitomizes, symbolizes, and signals the failure of Jack's regime.

2015-07-30 14:20

My guess is that Montero will now get called up to be the primary DH, and we'll be seeing much more of Trumbo the Dumbo in the OF

2015-07-30 14:18

Made no sense to put any more #Money into Ackley either. Getting anything of substance for him now is a good deal...regardless of how he performs from here.

2015-07-30 13:51

Ackley now traded to the Yankees for Ramon Flores and Jose Ramirez. That's a better return than the other one being discussed...Ramirez is an interesting relief pitcher with some upside (lord knows we need to find some relievers) and Flores might be of some use as a cheap, controllable Endy Chavez clone.

2015-07-30 13:43

Ackley's now a sunk cost. A trade for anything is no big thing. He wasn't going to make it here. It matters not what he does now in pinstripes. Though it will emotionally....

2015-07-30 13:17

Yeah, I don't blame him for not trading Ackley for two minor league org fillers. The opportunity cost of those org fillers is the AB's they take from the existing minor leaguers. I would rather those AB's go to the guys the M's already have. I would be looking for some other org's version of Ackley - busted top prospect. Odds are he remains broken but some small percentage of the 'change of scenery' scenarios work out. Go for the upside.

2015-07-30 13:05

Agreed, Matt. Ackley may not be worth a premium piece, but he's worth more than the Yanks wanted to give.

Jack has painted himself into a corner. If he sells off "his" guys on the cheap, he only underscores his own failures. If he doesn't and just keeps this train wreck of a team rollin' down the track, he completely loses any credibility and the fans for the rest of the season.

If I'm top brass, I've already put the leash on Jack re: transactions. Marching orders: ANY significant transactions are subject to top brass review. Otherwise you could have a GM under the gun making panic moves.

2015-07-30 12:24

I would not have taken Flores and Gamel...they are totally useless. I don't blame Z for that one.

2015-07-30 12:05

And Pineda on the DL today for the Yankees. They will be sniffing about 'Kuma.

2015-07-30 12:03

More on the Yankees discussions. BTW, if Jack Z. turned down such an offer for Ackley (or wanted more)....assuming this is accurate...that's enough reason for me to get rid of Jack. The Yankees recently reached out to the Mariners to express interest in Dustin Ackley, reports Mark Feinsand of the #New_York Daily #News (Twitter link). The two sides discussed a scenario in which outfielders Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel would’ve gone to the Mariners, but #Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik wanted more for Ackley, and talks have since cooled, per Feinsand. Ackley, the former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, is again struggling this season and has batted a mere .215/.270/.366. Many have speculated that Zduriencik is loath to undertake in any type of #Sale, as his job security could be tied to the Mariners’ finish this season. Nonetheless, it’s a bit surprising to hear him holding out for any sort of return on Ackley, though Flores and Gamel admittedly aren’t all that well-regarded. Flores ranked 27th on MLB.com’s midseason edition of the Yankees’ Top 30 prospects, while Gamel didn’t place.

2015-07-30 09:08

Meant to include that trade talks evidently fell through. But let's roll Montero out there nearly everyday for a while. Watching him demolish more AAA pitching isn't what we need. Let's see if he's got his MLB chops back. Morrison now at .123-.208-.262 for his last 28 days. Whooop-eeeee!

2015-07-30 07:57

SI reporting that the M's and Yankees had trade talks involving several players. Hmmmmmm? 'Kuma, I bet. Yanks also need 2B help as Drew is not good. Would they look at Ackley? Why not just give Refsnyder the fulltime gig? They could also use a 1B/DH bench typ bat. Montero....??? With his handful of hits last night (w/a 2B and HR), the kid is .465-.530-.775 over the last 28 days. Trade Ackley, DL LoMo, do something....but get Montero into our everyday lineup. Deej had two knocks in his Tacoma debut, btw.

2015-07-30 07:46

Indubitably.

2015-07-30 07:08

Imagine a future MLB park where the strike zone data is displayed on the jumbotron right next to the batter's picture and stats in real time, and where a sign is placed behind the plate and in two other spots on the outfield walls, and on the ribbon banners between the upper and lower decks on each side of the field that flashes red for strikes and green for balls the instant the pitch crosses the plate. Won't at bats be more fun to watch in that context?

2015-07-30 07:05

In short...it's only a matter of time. This is the best #News I've heard in my 25 years of watching baseball. I mean that.

2015-07-30 07:04

If the #Cali league is actually doing this and sticks with it for any length of time, two things will happen almost immediately:

1) The minor league statistics of batters and pitchers w/r/t plate discipline will get considerably more reliable (MLB teams will like this) because minor league umpires are known to be incompetent on a level far exceeding our MLB blue...and the MLB blue is pretty bad.

2) Minor league players who come from this league will begin demanding the automated strike zone in higher leagues as they advance. The players association will realize that the computerized zone is way better for their clients, and they will pressure MLB to adopt it.

2015-07-30 06:45

gnatto, yeah, bring it on.

2015-07-30 05:00

wowzers...couple of blockbusters last night...Hamels to the Rangers for six guys and Olivera to the Braves, prospects to the Marlins and Latos/Morse/Wood/Relievers to the Dodgers.

2015-07-30 00:17
2015-07-29 19:42

Also as for playing for draft pick.. start that up now.. Let us all face it.. no matter how close we may be to a spot, we are nowhere close. Not at all...Lloyd is not going to make it to the end of the year..,or should not.. start to shake up things sooner rather than later.

2015-07-29 19:39

Baseball team making me sick.. on to football chat yet..? football team not in total danger.. but after "passing" up anither ring.. off season has been filled with some negativity.. 2 d backs coming off injury..other 2 about to holdout. Star qb in middle of contract talk.. atleast they locked up Beastmode..but that got dicey. Hard to keep a champ together these days in the NFL or any league

2015-07-29 17:14

DJ going to Tacoma must mean Montero coming up to create room... so say hello to the DL Mr. LoMo

2015-07-29 16:19

When do we start playing for the high draft pick? Anyone worth hoping for?

2015-07-29 16:00

Good thing you aren't on twitter, DaddyO!!! People would be protesting at your house. I myself appreciate a good joke. I always thought the Confucius jokes were mocking the bad TV portrayal of the Chinese, so it's some deft comedy to turn it on the good ship mariner, which is a bad portrayal of a baseball team.

2015-07-29 15:31

Confucious say, man with egg on face not smile. Me say, How Li not smiling. Jack Z not smiling. Lloyd Mac not smiling. Confucious also say, sometime not sufficient wipe egg off face, face must be replaced. Confucious very wise man. (No offense intended; before PC correctness of the current era, when DaddyO was a kid, Confucious jokes were common, not to mock Confucious, but to use his reputed wisdom to, oh I guess, to mock someone else. Did I just admit to mocking Mariners' franchise leadership?)

2015-07-29 15:20

D-backs in process of completing the sweep. Clearly now the Mariners are dead #Men walking. Some SERIOUS shakeup in the offing, either soon or in the offseason. I find it difficult to imagine top brass doing nothing at all until the end of the season. This team has become a talented embarrass#Ment.

2015-07-29 14:44

Yeah. Where will his PT come from?

2015-07-29 14:34

Seems like an odd promotion. DJ has hardly been tearin' it up at #Jackson.

2015-07-29 11:33

Well that's something.

2015-07-29 10:05

@CurtoWorld: D.J. Peterson is joining the Rainiers today. Zach Shank sent to AA-#Jackson.

2015-07-29 08:00

Let's make room for Montero, huh? With his 3-4 last night (w/a 2B and ANOTHER 3B) he's .449-.519-.725 over his last 28 days, including the #Seattle stint. Morrison? .125-.222-.266 w/ a .104 BABIP. Trade #Jackson or DL Morrison (Hangnail?) or demote Ackley to #Everett, but do something! Heck, even trade Montero for something...at least that would be doing something. Well, don't trade him, really...but "C'mon #Dover! Move your bloomin' arse!" (for you My Fair Lady aficionados). And if we don't know now that 'Kuma will extend, then let's swap him out for something useful, too. Then resign him after the year.

2015-07-29 07:24

Mariners reacquire J.C. Ramirez. Remember him?

2015-07-28 23:06

Matt/Tacoma: I think the only team that gets away with weird platoons these days are the A's, and it's mostly because they have a super-fungible lineup with pronounced strengths/flaws. Like Matt said, it takes a fine touch and also the fact that a skill isn't linear and down to the resulting stats. If you played by the math #Book, you might miss out on a Walker-type power pitcher having a bad day, or the simple occurrence that a high FB pitcher might actually miss their intended target.

2015-07-28 22:57

So the Royals essentially go out and get Cueto, an awesome starter, and the best IF/OF backup in the league with Zobrist. Talk about taking things seriously!

2015-07-28 20:42

My anger management counselor says 70% of communication is body language. Ackley looks stressed/desperate.

2015-07-28 19:12

If we lose, It's your fault, browns

2015-07-28 18:23

Excited to see Iwakuna again as he continues to look good after getting back into the starting rotation. Hopefully I do not jinx him. Should be able to get a W tonight though

2015-07-28 15:35

Note to admins...I can't load the site from my android using chrome. Some sort of weird database error

Reply - admin - 7/28/15 5:55pm
Works for me now. Please try it again. Glitches happen...
2015-07-28 13:35

Matt... as much as the match ups for batters vs pitchers, I was wondering how much the umpire's strike zone comes into play in the decision... for instance Zunino can't hit the high fastball, but young umpire Davidson won't call a high strike on the fastball, so Zunino has a better chance to actually get on base then.

2015-07-28 12:55
note to admins - something within the facebook plugin or something media6degrees.com - is forcing a reload of pages - which deletes in progress comments. Kind of annoying...
2015-07-28 12:48

Royals sure going for it

2015-07-28 11:43

Plus sabr and tacoma.., the other team is constantly adjusting too. You should always field your best 9, and with the good teams...those 9 do not change too often. Maybe some lineup changes..,but not overall in and out of games

2015-07-28 10:55

Tacoma...that would be absolutely correct if players were strat-o-matic cards. If you manage a team too heavily on match-ups, however, players tend to take that as a lack of confidence in them by you, the manager. E.g. if you find out that Zunino can't hit high fastballs anymore (he can't), and you bench him every time he has to fact a power pitcher with a high fastball affection, you're telling him "I don't believe you'll ever hit a high fastball".

2015-07-28 00:52

Matt - dumb question time... but first my assumptions.
1. teams track their own players strengths and weaknesses when batting
2. teams track and know what each opposing pitcher is good at - meaning tracking where each pitch is thrown effectively in a zone, like most pitchers have trouble throwing off speed stuff inside
3. each umpire is know to have a normal strike zone that they adhere to most of the time

Thus, if a manager is doing his job, he should be using these pieces of information to help pick which players should be playing each day... Correct???
Does anyone think Lloyd this?

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