In an excellent article on Pirates Prospects, Kevin Creagh looks into the effect of Jim Benedict on the pitchers currently in A ball. Specifically the effect of the Pirates preaching fastball command as priority one with their pitching prospects.
Most likely it is, but the Pirates have placed extra emphasis on it, to the point that pitchers in the GCL and at State College may throw upwards of 85 to 90% fastballs in a game.
The effect of that is some of the high ERAs, HRs and hits allowed as the other team likely knows pretty much watch pitch is coming. I did find it interesting to see just how successful the guys at A have been with it.
Tyler Waldron (1.29 BB/9), Jameson Taillon (1.64 BB/9), Zack Von Rosenberg (2.11 BB/9), Colton Cain (2.63 BB/9), Zack Dodson (3.10 BB/9), and Brandon Cumpton (3.33 BB/9). The general rule of thumb is that a pitcher needs to keep their walks per 9 inning to 3.5 or less, so everyone is doing quite well. Some other prospects that are considered relievers this year in the piggybacking situation have great rates, too. Trent Stevenson (0.59 BB/9), Brooks Pounders (1.13 BB/9), and Zach Fuesser (3.26 BB/9) are all minimizing the free passes.
Jeff Inman (1.38 BB/9), Brett Lorin (2.46 BB/9), Quinton Miller (2.59 BB/9), Nate Baker (2.90 BB/9), and Phillip Irwin (4.09 BB/9). Only Irwin is above the 3.50 BB/9 threshold. I held out Kyle McPherson, because he's a space alien apparently. He has walked only 1 batter in 42.6 innings for a 0.21 BB/9 rate.
Kyle McPherson being a space alien aside, I'd say that's pretty good. However the problem I see in this approach is that then you get guys up a level who have no clue how to strike someone out. I took a look at the effect of a promotion to Altoona on the 3 guys who have made such a transition since NH took over, Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris and Aaron Pribanic. Here are the current Ks/9 for the Altoona Rotation:
|Year to date in AA|
My concern is that our pitchers maybe getting fast ball command, but at the cost of Ks at the next level... Thoughts?