Minor League Stuff
I took in a game tonight between the Winston-Salem Warthogs and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Good ol’ Carolina League baseball. MB was sending Jake Stevens, a highly touted left-handed pitching prospect to the hill, and I wanted to get a look at him. So, despite being about 40 degrees and raining, I joined the other eight fans at the park. I’m not kidding. You’ve never seen a professional game with less people.
Tonight was one of those nights that remind me why its wise to discount second hand information. Here’s an excerpt from the Baseball America Prospect Handbook on Jake Stevens:
Scouts drool over StevensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ projectable body. He’s a good athlete and shows excellent stamina. He has terrific command of three pitches, beginning with an 89-91 mph fastball that has registered as high as 94. He displays excellent feel for an overhand curveball that could become a plus power pitch. Stevens’ changeup could give him a third above-average pitch.
Now, I’ve said enough good things about BA and the work they do that I think anyone who knows me probably realizes that I’m a big fan of their stuff. They’re the reason every other prospect analyst alive has any information to go off of, and if they disappeared, so would every other “independant” minor league expert who is really just repackaging BA’s words and putting their personal spin on his stats.
But that scouting report for Stevens was completely, utterly wrong. It felt like I was reading the wrong bio. Here’s a brief sample of my notes from the game:
Listed at 6’3. Probably 6’0. Maybe not even that. 6’3 is a total joke.
Fastballs early in the count, curve when he gets ahead. 84-86, only
hit 88 once on a FB up in the zone. Never got near reported velocity.
Not much movement on FB. Short armer. Curve 69-72, not a ton of
bite. Very hittable pitch if its in the strike zone. Change is okay,
but nothing special. Had decent command, but no stuff.
Honestly, the closest thing I could compare him to was Craig Anderson. Or maybe if you combined Jamie Moyer’s fastball with Shigetoshi Hasegawa’s curve and Matt Thornton’s changeup, you’d have a decent idea of what I saw tonight. The Jake Stevens that I saw had the stuff of a Double-A reliever.
Now, maybe it was just an off night. Or maybe it was the weather. Maybe he’s hurt. I’m not trying to attack Bill Ballew, the guy who wrote the Braves chapter for BA, but it was a reminder to me just how sketchy some second hand information can be. Even reputable second hand information can be completely off base. It was like the report was written while gathering radar readings from the stadium scoreboard (don’t get me started on that thing…) or something, because the pitcher I saw tonight couldn’t possibly be the guy that Baseball America ranked as the 92nd best prospect in baseball.