A surprise 98 MPH fastball in Cincinnati Reds spring training? Doug Gray March 4, 2014 20 Comments One thing that I really don’t like about spring training is the lack of TV options. I am not a fan of listening to baseball. The game is meant to be watched and for as good as some guys can describe the game, watching the game will always be the far more preferred choice. This spring there are 10 games that will be available on TV (either MLB Network or on Fox Sports Ohio). That isn’t enough! However I do listen to the games during the spring because it is better than following on Gameday (for one, gameday in the spring isn’t always on a short delay). Sunday was a day that I was listening to the game and I was not at the time following on Gameday and it wasn’t until later that evening that I found out that the game was played with the Pitch F/X system running since the Reds are on the road (several Arizona stadiums have the system installed). Fortunately for me, there were quite a few minor leaguers who pitched in the game, which gives me a lot of new information on some of them. The fastball is the carry pitch for almost all pitchers. Very few pitchers in the game throw a pitch more than they throw their fastball, and while velocity isn’t everything, it does allow you to get away with a bit more (you can have less control and less movement because the hitters must react to it quicker than a slower pitch) and it also allows your other pitches a tiny bit of extra leeway because of the reaction time needed for the fastball. With that in mind, it is always the first thing I look at with pitchers and then move from there to the other parts of their game. Here is how the projected minor league guys performed with their fastball on Sunday: Description Velocity Movement (in inches) Player Pitch AVG Velo Top Velo Horizontal Vertical Brett Marshall FB 92.8 95.2 -8.2 8.1 Daniel Corcino FB 90.8 94.8 -6.9 7.3 Tim Crabbe FB 91.5 92.9 -8.8 10.4 Jose Diaz FB 94.3 97.9 -12.7 3.6 Lee Hyde FB 90.8 92.8 0.2 8.9 Curtis Partch FB 94.4 94.6 -8.7 9.4 Trevor Bell FB 91.3 93.0 -6.9 7.5 A few things stand out here, but the two biggest things that stand out to me are both from 30-year-old Jose Diaz. Diaz, who has never been in the Major Leagues came out and threw 98 MPH on Sunday and averaged 94.3 MPH with his fastball. That is flat out impressive. Diaz has thrown hard in the past, and he was dominant in Triple-A Louisville last season where he posted a 1.66 ERA, I never saw him popping 98 MPH. He would hit the mid 90’s, and that alone is impressive, but when guys hit 98, it turns heads. What else stands out here? The horizontal movement that Diaz was getting on his fastball. He averaged nearly 13 inches of movement, with one pitch garnering 17.48 inches of movement. That is absurd. Oh, and it also sinks. Despite his age and lack of any MLB experience, Diaz may be a darkhorse difference making arm for the 2014 Cincinnati Reds if this data is any indication of how he could throw in 2014. Brett Marshall hitting 95.2 MPH is also rather impressive. The new addition to the system pitched in the big leagues with the Yankees in 2013, albeit only briefly, but we have some historical Pitch F/X data to look back at with him. On Sunday he averaged 92.8 MPH with his fastball and topped out at 95.2. Last season with the Yankees his fastball only averaged 89.1 MPH. More than 3.5 MPH gained is a HUGE jump to make. While it is only one outing, it is a very good sign. Here is a chart showing the movement compared to the other guys. Pitch velocities and movement (in inches) from Sunday, March 2nd, 2014. Looking at this chart we can once again see how much the fastball of Jose Diaz stands out among the group. It sinks and runs quite a bit more than any of the other guys. The other pitch that stands out here is from left hander Lee Hyde. His fastball seems to have a lot of cutting action to it, so it should probably be listed as a cut fastball rather than just a fastball. 20 Responses RMR March 4, 2014 Doug, if Diaz’s improved fastball is for real, where do you think that puts him in the bullpen picture? Doug Gray March 4, 2014 I think that he is probably still on the outside looking in simply because of the contract status of other guys, but if Sunday was close to real, I imagine he boosted his stock big time. Eli March 4, 2014 The Yankees scoutin report on Marshall a couple of years ago showed his fastball was in the 91-92 mph range. And he’s gained a little maturity since then, so 94 mph isn’t unreasonable and potentially puts him in the Homer Bailey neighborhood. Not saying it will happen, but it was a smart move picking him off the waiver wire. He’s certainly a better prospect for eventually developing into a major league starter than David Holmberg, IMO. Doug Gray March 4, 2014 Yes, Marshall once threw that hard. But last year he didn’t, which is one reason he struggled and was available on the waiver wire. Very nice to see that velocity from him. terry m March 4, 2014 Just got my copy of BA. Little note in reds section said that Jose Jumbo Diaz said his weight was at 347 lbs. when he started his diet this winter. He is down to 276 lbs this spring. This could account for the increased velocity… Doug Gray March 4, 2014 He looks like a completely different player today than he did last year. terry m March 4, 2014 71 lbs. is a chunk of weight. Just love stories like this.. wanderinredsfan March 4, 2014 Any numbers on Beato yet? His fastball appeared hard and ‘heavy’, which is always a good thing for inducing GBs. He might be another sleeper arm, especially if Broxton and Marshall are sidelined into the season. BTW, Isn’t it ironic how little production Walt has gotten from his big $ signings at the back end of the bullpen (Broxton, Marshall, Madsen)? Just proves that it’s too big of a risk to spend big on bullpen arms. Doug Gray March 4, 2014 No data on Beato yet as far as Pitch F/X goes (for this spring – but we do have past information on him since he has been in the big leagues). He certainly has a good arm. Kerrick Melvin March 4, 2014 Any idea when you will have more prospect guides printed? Doug Gray March 4, 2014 Kerrick, shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org DaveCT March 4, 2014 The Marshall contract was almost required given the trade chips. I’ll be happy if he makes it back well enough this season to help anchor the pen deep into the playoffs. Less so for Broxton but time will tell also. Madison was considered a shrewd signing at the time. On a larger scale, I’ll be curious to see how Price uses his pen this year. I think one reason there are contracts thrown at relievers is more the need of the manager than what may be necessary — meaning some managers just won’t trust less experienced relievers to show their strength over time. Overall, I can’t complain too much with our development of younger guys like LeCure, Hoover while letting the Todd Coffeys of the world move on. It’s the good money thrown after bad tht is tough. MK March 4, 2014 Doug you are of a different generation. Mine grew up with the ability to see maybe 25 Reds games a year plus the game of the week on Saturdays. We learned to love the game on the radio, and still do. Doug Gray March 4, 2014 Unlearn it and embrace TV! MK March 4, 2014 HA. Heck I have the Direct TV MLB package, so I would say back atcha. Embrace the power of sound and imagination. Doug Gray March 4, 2014 Imagination isn’t as cool as reality. Foxred March 4, 2014 Agree. The game is played with a speed that can be called elegantly over the radio. A good radio person can make every game enjoyable while keeping one’s self productive doing other things. Doug Gray March 4, 2014 Enjoyable, yes. But it isn’t as good as being able to watch it. wanderinredsfan March 4, 2014 F/x data is available from today’s game. Looks like Lorenzen was up to 98 and Stephenson up to 96. Both looked a bit flat and straight. Cueto’s peak velocities were significantly lower today (low 90s) than they usually are (mid 90s). Here’s to hoping that he was just wanting to cruise a bit on velocity, because he sure got hit around hard today. Ondrusek and Contreras were a few ticks lower on velocity today also, but again, it’s too early to be too concerned. Doug Gray March 4, 2014 I will have more on this all tomorrow. The Royals were absolutely teeing off early in the game. 90 or 96 didn’t matter, they were smashing it.