POTD Rafael DePaula (Mechanics)

=== Executive Summary ===

DePaula has a gorgeous, easy, clean motion ... that serves mostly to get out of the way of his electric arm.

Many power pitchers, such as Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, develop a lot of their velocity out of their thighs, backside and abdomens.  Others, such as Felix Hernandez, Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson, have loose motions that mostly serve to provide their arms with simple, reliable fulcrums.

DePaula is mostly in the latter category. 

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=== Windup ===

Begins windup with a long rock-step to 1B, but does so without exaggerating the sideways deflection of his head.

Steps lightly into a huge, easy, chest-high knee kick in Cuban style that provides a floating CG and that puts his head nicely onto the centerline in a repeatable fashion.  (The higher a pitcher gets at the top, the more directly his head is over his plant foot.)

Is balanced, with excellent body control, in a consistent strike position at the top. 

Grade A on the windup, mostly for centerline position and light-on-the-feet balance, with the only quibble being that he won't want to move his head this much later in his career.

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=== Cocking Action ===

To accelerate the baseball, DePaula keeps his hands together pleasantly late, and sinks his weight only slightly, tilting his shoulders back towards centerfield slightly.

The circular movement of his hands is common in Nippon baseball, notably with Kazuhiro Sasaki, for example.  This provides DePaula a very stress-free backstroke and keeps his shoulders and CG attached to the baseball.

As noted, DePaula sinks his weight less than most pitchers.  This has the disadvantage of drawing less power from the large part of his body, and the advantage of involving fewer moving parts in the motion.

Grade A-.  We love the harmony and beauty of the motion, but in terms of power, the mechanics themselves are a bit light.  This is a Greg Maddux, control-pitcher type of weight usage on the backstroke.

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=== Torque ===

The high knee kick is unpleasantly aiki-deceptive, because DePaula's arm is actually quite DISconnected from his lower body. 

He sinks the weight almost imperceptibly, takes a surprisingly short stride, lands feather-light on the front foot, and the hips/stomach aren't much related to what his shoulders are about do.

This is, in theory, an SSI complaint -- sound and fury signifying nothing.  :- )  If you watch the videos consistently, you'll see that there's (1) a big boastful knee kick, and then (2) the lower body essentially goes static while (3) a golf-style "pause at the top" occurs for about 1/10th of a second and then, almost in "lying" fashion, (4) the upper body roars into motion like a lion and the real power begins.

Grade C.  I don't care for the disconnect from a beauty-and-harmony standpoint, but as noted above, there is certainly a "cleanness" to it.  When a pitcher is throwing* with just his arm, he's positioning himself to throw with outstanding command.

Think about pub-darts throwing.  When a drop-and-drive pitcher gets tired, the path of his CG changes -- introducing unpredictability into the sports movement (and theoretically introducing command problems). 

A pitcher with less CG drop "simplifies" and avoids a lot of this fatigue/command sydrome.  Think Aaron Sele and Greg Maddux throwing easy strikes in the 7th inning.

DePaula's motion sacrifices power for precision.  Objectively this is neutral, not good or bad, but aesthetically I don't care for the way the knee kick looks in this motion.  That's not important.

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part 2

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Comments

Taro's picture

Taro

Interesting.

The Mariners probably cut this years draft budget so that they could sign guys like this.

I hope we nab him.

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Tacoma RainDutton says the Mariners expect Choi to miss at least 4 to 6 months... thus this is a lost year for Choi. And unfortunately for Choi, he will have a tough time getting attention with all the others coming behind him. I was really hoping for better things for Choi.6 hours 30 min ago
Gordon GrossVery true bat. I meant that it didn't affect Choi at all, but it is the smarter roster move for staying alert and able to be active in Spring Training.6 hours 40 min ago
Bat571But it does give the Ms a 40-man spot. The 60-day would also, but it doesn't start until ~ the week before Opening Day. But if Olmos is back, that's the roster spot they need for him until he officially clears waivers and can be outrighted to Tacoma. At that point the Ms would have a spot for Baker or a pitcher if they need it.6 hours 51 min ago
Gordon GrossChoi is not out of options, so it's effectively nothing. They designated him to go to the minors, using an option year they would have had to use anyway, and that way he's not clogging the roster. No big.7 hours 22 min ago
GLSWhat is the significance of the DFA move in this situation?7 hours 28 min ago
Bat571Apparently the Mariners have DFA'd Choi rather than wait to 60-day DL him.7 hours 33 min ago
Bat571Montero has 1 option left of 3. Ackley and Hultzen, who signed MLB/40-man contracts have a 4th option each. Erasmo is the only one out of options.7 hours 59 min ago
MtGrizzlyThe sports writers have all been talking about how Montero is headed to Tacoma. I guess they could be wrong.10 hours 20 min ago
moethedogKiv-le-mashing-han! Dustin whom?10 hours 46 min ago
mojicianOn further review, I think that restricted list time does not affect option years as long as the player actually spent 20 days in the minors while on the 40 man roster.11 hours 36 min ago
mojicianI don't think that Montero's 2012 option year counts because he never went to the minors during that year. I'm not sure how the 2014 restricted list stint factors into option years as well. Montero should be protected for 2015.11 hours 53 min ago
SpectatorStill with the M's from Bravai drafts? Mark Lowe ... ha! full circle, but he's not on the roster yet. Forrest Snow was drafted by both Bavasi out of HS and Jack out of UW. Didn't know that. Nate Tenbrink maybe still holding on by his fingernails. Everyone else has been flushed I think.12 hours 21 min ago
Gordon GrossAssuming we can get Montero there. He's out of options.12 hours 30 min ago
SpectatorAll coming off of Shawn Kelley. Amazingly, with Kelley, Morrow and Maurer, I think the Pods have more Bavasi draftees than the M's. In fact, that might be half of the Bavasi draftees left in the majors. (Though I think there was a Anthony Varvaro sighting recently ...) (Aumont maybe?) (OK Tillman, Fister and Josh Fields I guess + Condor of course.)12 hours 30 min ago
MtGrizzlyKivlehan, DJ and Montero in middle of that Tacoma lineup aught to be something.12 hours 33 min ago
Gordon GrossRomero walked! That's about as impressive for him as a HR would be. Do more of that, son.12 hours 39 min ago
Gordon GrossDJ grabs a single up the middle, much like Kivlehan was doing yesterday - seriously, with one of Taylor/Miller relegated to the Rainiers, and the returning Blash to join DJ, Kivlehan, Marte, Hicks, possibly Pizzano or Paolini... that lineup should hit. Whoever has Tacoma tickets might wanna go take a peek. Dunno how their starting pitching will be (depending on who makes the Ms rotation), but the offense shouldn't let you down.12 hours 41 min ago
Gordon GrossGlad you're on board, Matt. Kivlehan and DJ are both verrry good prospects. They just need to separate them positionally so that both of em can stick around. Kivlehan can replace Seth Smith shortly, and DJ can be in line to take over for LoMo. And if LoMo steps into being a full-time stud, then either of the two prospects can be traded. We'll see where that goes - but man, Tacoma should be an interesting lineup.12 hours 45 min ago
okdanHa, how did you beat me to that G? I came here to post the same thing :P12 hours 46 min ago
Gordon GrossKivlehan blasts one out. Because it's Spring and he wants to lift my spirits. I do love that dude.12 hours 47 min ago