Game 127, Mariners at Braves

marc w · August 22, 2017 at 4:05 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Marco Gonzales vs. Lucas Sims, 4:35pm

I mentioned Lucas Sims briefly in yesterday’s game post as another example of an advanced pitching prospect (a top-50-in-baseball type) who’s had an extremely rough transition to the big leagues. Perhaps a better way of framing this would be to say that Sims is a mirror image of Marco Gonzales.

Sims has a four-seam fastball and a sinker that he throws from a release point just shy of 6′ – he’s a classic 3/4 to low-3/4 pitcher. He complements the FB (he averages 91-92) with a slider at 86, and then a curve that features more horizontal than vertical movement. He’s also got a change-up at 84 that shows some moderately interesting vertical movement, especially compared to his four-seam fastball. He’s got a pretty deep arsenal, and he’s improved his control of all of them as he’s moved up the ladder in the Braves system. Overall, he was a big strikeout pitcher in the minors despite the lack of premium velo or a real wipeout pitch; like a number of pitchers, variety enabled him to rack up strikeouts in the minors, but it’s not happening thus far in the NL. Through 4 starts – a minuscule sample, I know – his K rate stands at an Andrew Moore-esque 10.9%. His walk rate’s been solid, but he’s also giving up HRs. No Ks, plenty of HRs is a really, really bad sign.

Marco Gonzales has a four-seam fastball and a sinker that he throws from a release point just shy of 6′ too…it just happens to come from the left side. Gonzales’ velo is now 91-92 as well, so they are almost identical in that regard. Their sinkers have a similar shape as well, though Sims’ four-seam is much straighter. Marco’s change has more horizontal movement, while Sims’ has more separation in vertical movement, but both pitches were seen as potential plus offerings when they were minor leaguers. Both of them had K rates at or above 20% in the minors, with Sims’ a bit higher, but both are fly-ball pitchers, and thus both have had some HR difficulty at times.

Sims’ is still in the top 10 for most HRs-allowed in the International League this year, despite having thrown just 100 IP. Marco Gonzales has a career HR/9 in AAA of 1.06, while Sims is way up at 1.69. Sims wasn’t really able to pitch around that, so his AAA stats aren’t exactly great. Gonzales’ has allowed a lower BABIP, so his numbers aren’t bad in the upper minors, but the more I see of this type, the more I think that an elevated HR rate in the upper minors is a serious, serious issue. A HR rate of 1.06 in the big leagues is fine; that’s more than playable. But given the uptick in HRs at the big league level, you need to be sure that a pitcher isn’t going to see that climb up near 2, which is a hell of a lot less playable. We’ve gotten used to this with K%, and needing to see prospects get their K rates down pretty far, so that when they increase in the big leagues – and in general, they will – it increases to a tolerable level.

Gonzales has had injury issues, and he could really use a better curve to give hitters something else to look for. I’d also love to see him get more separation between his change and four-seam, kind of like Sims has. Sims, though, I’m not really sure about. Coming up, scouts seemed to love his curve and change, but by pitch fx, I’m not really seeing what’s so special about either. Same with his fastball, frankly. He’s only 23, so he has even more development time to go, and he could turn into a pretty good starter at any point. But to do so, he’s going to have to make a huge leap forward in his command, or he’s going to have to find a bit more raw stuff – more velo, more bite on the curve, more something. It’s interesting, too, that he doesn’t throw his curve that much. He throws his slider twice as much, despite that pitch not rating a mention in this old BP scouting report.

1: Segura, SS
2: Alonso, 1B
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, RF
5: Seager, 3B
6: Haniger, CF
7: Gamel, LF
8: Zunino, C
9/SP: Marco Gonzales

Tacoma used a 7-run second inning to blow past El Paso en route to a 9-6 win. Jonathan Aro, who’s still hanging around as one of the very few Rainiers who played on last year’s club, got his 6th win in relief. Everett got all the runs they needed in the 7th, scoring 4 times to beat Vancouver 4-2. Anjul Hernandez tossed 5 shutout IP in that one.

Today’s probables include Sam Gaviglio, with Chase de Jong starting in Arkansas, Ljay Newsome, and Oliver Jaskie.


3 Responses to “Game 127, Mariners at Braves”

  1. Grayfox3d on August 22nd, 2017 7:04 pm

    Sims transition didn’t look so rough tonight… Glad I chose to pay attention at work today instead of the game.

  2. mrakbaseball on August 22nd, 2017 7:05 pm

    Mariners have done nothing at the plate and Mitch Haniger is not a centerfielder.

  3. HighBrie on August 23rd, 2017 4:01 pm

    In sum, where do you put Sims and Gonzales relative to one another presently? And, what do you think Marco needs to do to be more effective/efficient with his pitches to get himself deeper into the game? Looks fine through 4, but four inning starters aren’t really in demand.

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