Thoughts on Developing SPs


I've had some discussion today with a few of you on the development of starting pitchers, in general, and Mike Pelfrey, in particular.

It's worth spending a few minutes here to explain a few things.

1. The Mets have a basic plan on draft days... draft as many college SPs from large program colleges, who are above 6'2", and have developed at least 3 pitches.

2. leave them in extended camp for the begining of the season, let them work with the coaches there, and then flood the Clones team with most of them.

3. Jump Savannah in year two and send them right off to Lucy for the 2nd season... by then, they have 4 years of college behind them, plus the first year in Brooklyn, and, age wise, they're in the 22-23 year old range.

4. After that, a year at AA, and, boom, they're ready, right?

Well, it's not that easy.

In my opinion, one of the pitfalls here is the amount of different pitching coach's that are telling them different things to do every year. Hell, forget every year. The "roving" coaches come to town for a week and tell a kid to do something different than their own pitching coach says.

One of the best rovers the Mets have is a guy named Rick Waits. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, but he's a proven MLB pitcher, and has taught many of the Mets prospects how to do their job better.


what if you have a 21 year old that's been pitching 3/4 all his career and someone like Waits comes to town and tries to change his delivery?

I'm not saying this has happened with Rick; I'm just using him as an example.

Take Mike Pelfrey. Between college, and his minor league Mets career. he might have worked with 15 different pitching coaches, rovers, the parent Mets pitching coach, plus the myriad amount of hang-arounds that permeate the minor league complexes.

It's tough enough at 20 years old to tie a windsor knot, no less pitch differently than you have naturally all your career.

SPs take time folks.

I watched Pelfrey every year at ST on field 3 or 4 working out, and I always said to myself that this kid had it all... height... weight, body development, poise, maturity, amount of pitches, etc.

But it just takes time when you go up a level that has ALL the players playing far better than the level you used to be on.

No SP goes from AAA or AA to an MLB team as either an SP1 or SP2. None. Nada. Zip.

They all start at the SP4 or SP5 and churn out a 5.00 ERA.

But, eventually, it all happens at once and, walla, you got a major league starter.

Some don't have all the things I mentioned above. Some are smaller (Dylan Owens)... some don't have blazing speed (Mike Antonini), and, some, like Tobi Stoner, are just unlucky and don't get the support from their offense.

Others, like Jake Ruckle, get injured, and have to start over. Even others, like Matt Durkin, never come back from surgery.

Shit happens, but great SPs have to be developed.

Oh... by the way... the Mets have two more Pelfrey's on the way.

Jon Niese will blossom in 2010, followed quickly by Brad Holt (if he develops a third pitch).



Ravi said...

Hey Mack,

I've gotta say, I am more and more becoming a fan of your blog, for the unique (read: informed) perspective you bring. Metsblog is still 1st, but you are on the way up.

I found this article very interesting...Particularly the astute observation you made regarding a player having so many pitching coaches giving different advice (for the record, was the reference you made about a coach changing a pitcher's arm angle from 3/4 to something else a nod to Aaron Heilman? Thats exactly what happened with him, until Apodaca corrected in in 2005).

Mack said...

Thanks Ravi:

I go to every Savannah Sand Gnats home game at least 4 hours before game time.

I have a field pass, know all the players each year, and get to know all the coaches and rovers.

Additionally, I sit behind home plate with the scouts that are in town, and the players out of uniform (usually 2 pitchers that pitched the night before) on the radar guns...

After a number of years and a lot of off-the-record conversations, you leard how this works.

Regarding Heilman, good pick up, but I could tell you 20+ more Mets so-called prospects that have been screwed up over the years by different coaches.

One guy last year was forced to pitch every pitch as if someone was on base.


Ravi said...

Is that a recent philosopy? Making all the starters uniform in approach, angle was something Peterson was doing. Does the process of the major league pitching coach trickle down to the minors?

I think Warthen will be a good fit, because he seems to embrace the differences of his pitchers, as opposed to Peterson who tried to mold them.

Mack said...

To be honest...

I have NEVER seen Peterson at a minor league Mets complex.

And I don't expect to see Wathen.

ALL decisions, though, come from Queens...

the "Bat phone" rings and tells each manager who to play and who to pitch...


oh yeah...

the manager can decide on his own when to use the fungo bat

Mack's Mets © 2012