I'm curious about Churchill's observation that he visibly 'drops his arm slot slightly and opens up early' on his curveball. How big a deal is it? My amateur eye tells me that MLB umpires are calling fewer of the big yakkers for strikes these days and if hitters key on that tell and just refuse to swing at uncle Charlie, it could be a big problem. Or not?
Gordon cue'd up this Taijuan Walker sequence, jabbing with the "gets on em in a hurry" fastball call and hooking with the "15 feet over the batter's head" hook call. I'm piling on here, but that particular video is worth it.
It took us a while to triangulate Hisashi Iwakuma ... whodat, whodat ...?, um ... ::taps chin:: ... Hershiser? ... um ... GREG MADDUX! An 80% replica of the Mad Dog his ownself.
Took a while to triangulate Erasmo Ramirez, too ... still taking a while. Fister without the angles? ... ummm...
On Taijuan Walker there can be no doubt. He's the phantom Doc Gooden spectre haunting the passageways of the long-sunken U.S. Mariner. (Not that U.S. Mariner!) Whether he is a 60% replica, 90%, or what, we'll leave to your speculation. But as to the pitching style, no doubts here:
- Lanky-but-athletic RH frame, long arms, long fingers
- Loosey-goosey overhand "fling" with high spin and downward action
- Truly overpowering fastball, especially high in the zone
- Ginormous overhand yakker
- Other-sport way of moving around, you know, this baseball thing is my offseason sport
Like if you watched Chris Sale throw one (1) pitch, instantly the thought would come booming into your head, RANDY JOHNSON! The 70% vs 80% vs 95% scale is another question.
In spring training, it was clear that Taijuan was still inconsistent with his release point; the 20-year-old Gooden was pretty clean that way. Even on the 3rd pitch of the MILB.com vid, Taijuan lets go of the currrrrve with a weird whip-crack followthrough, as if he were Chris Paul making up a finish shot in the lane.
Doc had more of a drop-and-drive, was more balanced even at 19, 20. Taijuan looks like what Gooden would have looked like if Doc had been, oh, a high school basketball player. Honestly. Set Gooden back a year or two, to play hoops, and this is what you'd imagine.
So .... ::shudder:: ... Taijuan, in the majors, would be something short of 100% complete. He'd like, have to GASSSPPP learn and smooth things out as he went. ::coughcheckFelixERA'sfirsttwoyearscough::
There have been legitimate reasons for keeping Paxton down, those reasons being his front knee and his plant foot. There have been reasons for keeping Hultzen down, those being his 2012 command his 2013 health. With Taijuan it appears to be just his release point and how insistent you are about his beginning his career as a finished product.
There are lessons that can gingerly be applied, when contemplating THE Doc Gooden.
As with Gooden, as with Pineda, you don't want to undersell a fastball like that. Gotta base your game off it.
Gooden used two (2) pitches. Pineda used two (2). Randy Johnson used two (2). Curt Schilling used one (1). The simpler Taijuan's game, the quicker he'll execute. That's not an absolute, but ... should the 20-year-old Doc Gooden have been noodling around with 5 pitches?! He left them in tears with two.
With that kind of stuff, Michael Pineda, Doc Gooden, those guys weren't about 300 innings in AAA baseball learning to finesse hitters.
Get on with it! ::pinkfloyd::
What can you pencil in for Taijuan Walker, 2014? If he flashes any kind of Pineda strikeout wattage -- how can he not -- he's going to be one of the top 15, 20 AL starters taken in next year's roto drafts.
Zduriencik is going to have to work harder, ever harder, if he wants to continue to duck a Pittsburgh or Tampa fate.
He's got a great cutter. At this point he's in the minors to learn a fourth pitch.
Gooden it is. Walker has a superbly athletic, natural motion. Stuff like that you leave alone and make the game simple. Throw the heater and the yakker, eventually learn (from Felix and 'Kuma, of course) some kind of Change. That's it kid. Go get 'em.
Kind of like telling Bubba Watson to hit some hooks, hit some fades...now go win The Masters.
Johnson, Koufax, Ryan type heat...that seems to explode up in the zone, only needs one more pitch to make the it even more lethal.
The Tacoma stop was unneeded for Taijuan. I suppose Jack may be all hung up on Super 2's, which I don't really get. By then the guy either is completely worth the $6 or $7M is might cost...or he's down the road.
He's ready. Yesterday.
And if a 3rd pitch is something you would like him to eventually learn....hey, let him hang around our two aces right now.
He has the power, but not the pure hitting ability, at least not yet. He's still a decent enough bet for the Hall of Fame though.
But yeah, if we were talking about Pujols circa 2001-2003, my argument against trading Walker goes away.
I guess if you think Stanton is Pujols the trade makes sense (from a risk reward standpoint) but otherwise I'd be for keeping our talent.