The Bradenton Marauders finished up their first homestand last night. Here are some early observations about a few of their pitchers.
Brett Lorin - His fastball sits at 89-91 MPH with a lot of lateral movement toward righties. The movement is big, but it's sweeping rather than sharp and doesn't seem too hard to time. When he kept it down, he was inducing a lot of grounders, but when he elevated it just a bit he got hit pretty hard. Part of the problem here could be that he didn't have a changeup to disrupt hitters' timing at all. He threw a few pitches in the 85 MPH range that looked exactly like his fastball but slower; I'm not sure if they were supposed to be changeups, but whatever they were, they were awful. He had a decent curve that came in around 78 MPH, but the ones I saw would probably be groundball pitches at the major-league level, not swing-and-miss ones.
Nate Baker - His fastball sits at 89-91 MPH, but it's pretty straight. His curve wasn't very good, and he used it sparingly in favor of the change. His change was pretty good, 80-81, but hitters seemed to be able to time it well the first time through the order. That's a pitch that could become very effective with work, I think. His command was decent but not great, and he seems like the type that will need good command to succeed. The fastball velocity is up about two MPH from the times I saw him last year.
Kyle McPherson - I liked him a lot. He was sitting 90-93 MPH with the fastball, and had a bit of run in on righties, though I wouldn't call it great movement. After shaky command early, he was able to spot the fastball well later in the game. The difference-maker for him is the change, which he throws around 81 MPH with good fade. He commands it as well as the fastball, and it consistently had hitters way out front. He seems comfortable throwing it to both righties and lefties, and he's capable of getting both swinging and called strikes with it. When it is hit its movement tends to keep it on the ground. McPherson's curve showed some promise as well. It's not a great pitch, but he throws it around 77 MPH and has pretty good 11-5 break on it. He doesn't command it as well as his fastball and change, though, leaving it mostly up and away from lefties or burying it down and away to righties. Hitters mostly seemed to ignore it in the outing I saw, but if he can throw it for strikes it could be a weapon.
Jeff Inman - Not much to say here. He was throwing mainly fastballs 92-94 MPH, and hit 96. He tossed a few sliders without much conviction. My guess is that he's mostly concerned with staying healthy and getting work in at this point, because he wasn't really pitching so much as throwing 92 MPH batting practice.
Quinton Miller - Miller's fastball is a good pitch, sitting 92-93 MPH (touching 96) with good movement. However, he does not command it well, and he was hittable when missing his spots. When keeping it down in the zone, he was able to induce groundballs with regularity. A lot of the grounders were sharply hit, likely because of Miller's velocity; it seemed like a major-league defense would have done a better job of converting outs, but as it was a bunch of them got through the infield. Like Lorin, he was hurt by his lack of changeup as well - if he's got one, I didn't see it. His slider is inconsistent. It sits at 83, and he threw a couple of really good swing-and-miss ones down and away to righties. Unfortunately, more often he left the pitch hanging up in the zone to get crushed. I liked Miller more than any of the starters other than McPherson, as the pure stuff is good. He has a long way to go, however, as he's obviously very raw.
Diego Moreno - I don't have much to say about Moreno either, other than that I'm not sure why he's still in Bradenton. He looks exactly the same as last season: his fastball is about 96-97 MPH, and his change is 85-86. Both are very good pitches, and he commands them well. He does seem to challenge hitters a bit too much, throwing it right down the middle more often than not, but considering the success he's had at A+ I can't really blame him for that.
Those are the only guys I really paid close attention to. If anyone wants me to take a closer look at someone else, let me know in the comments, as I should see the Marauders a lot this summer. I'll do a separate post for the hitters.