In January of 2013 the Cincinnati Reds made a splash on the international market by signing left handed pitcher Jacob Constante for $730,000. For an international prospect that wasn’t coming from Cuba or Japan, Constante was a little bit old, signing at the age of 18. I wrote this at the time of the signing about his scouting report based on some video I had watched and reports from some other sources:

He reportedly has a fastball that works 92-94 MPH with very good movement, a potentially above-average slider and a change up that needs work.

His arm action is very clean. The ball seems to come out faster than his arm action.

Despite his age (19 when the season began) and his big signing bonus, the Reds kept the left hander in the Dominican Summer League for the 2013 season. The results were a bit mixed, but there were some big indicators that he had been dominating. He posted a 1.86 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched over 11 starts and one relief appearance. He struck out 55 batters (33% of all the batters he faced). Those are dominant, dominant numbers. He didn’t allow a single home run. But, there was one big wart on his resume. He walked 22 batters. Overall the season couldn’t have been viewed as anything but a success.

After the season was over prospect lists began to roll out. Baseball America ranked him 17th in the Reds system in their 2014 Prospect Handbook. MLB.com ranked him as the 18th best prospect in the system after the season. I had him excluded from my Top 25 list as I was concerned about the control issues for someone of his age in a league where there are a whole lot of players who will literally swing at anything that doesn’t bounce in the grass. The stuff was there, but the control just worried me too much to rank him as highly as the other places had.

The Reds brought Constante stateside for the 2014 season and has him playing with the Arizona League Reds. The results have been quite good thus far through four appearances, posting a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings with 16 strikeouts, no home runs allowed and just three walks allowed. The walks are WAY down thus far and while his strikeouts are also down, he’s still striking out 25% of the batters he faces. With the impressive start to the season I decided to take a look a little deeper at how his season has played out thus far by going through the play-by-play data in the Arizona League Reds gamelogs. There were some really interesting things.

75.5%.

That is the groundball rate that Constante has had this season. Now, we are dealing with a very, very small sample size here, so let’s be sure we acknowledge that the numbers can be heavily swayed at this point in the season. With that said, his groundball rate last season was over just over 71% as well. While we are still dealing with a small sample size, to this point in his career, against minor leaguers at the lowest levels, the left hander has been an absolute insane groundball machine. Just to put it into perspective how high his groundball rate is, among starters in the Reds system from the full season leagues, Michael Lorenzen leads the way at 61%. That’s an increase of 23% over what Lorenzen is doing.

75%.

That is the rate of his strikeouts that have been swinging strikeouts. Now, in the minor leagues at this level we don’t get pitch-by-pitch data, just the final result of the play. So we will get “Player X strikes out swinging or Player X called out on strikes”, so we don’t know exactly how many swinging strikes versus called strikes he has as a total, just how many strike threes of each he has. Of his 16 strikeouts on the season, 12 of them have ended with a swinging strike three, assuming that the data here is correctly reported to Milb.com. I haven’t gone through and found the data on other guys, but that seems like a high rate to me. Of course I could be completely wrong too. This data isn’t easy to come by for large groups of players and I would have to run it individually for each player, which isn’t happening any time soon.

What does this information tell us? Well, at this point it’s just a small glimpse into things. But when we can couple the scouting reports, the improved ability to throw strikes and an insane groundball rate, it’s very tough to not get a little bit excited about this left handed pitcher. The sample size is certainly small enough that we shouldn’t jump overboard on the numbers, but they are certainly worth keeping an eye on moving forward in the season to see if he can continue down the same path of success he has begun the year with.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2004 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, contact him via email here or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

4 Responses

  1. The Duke

    We can probably safely say he’ll make next year’s top 25?

    • Doug Gray

      Assuming health and him not just completely falling apart and walking 30 guys in 30 innings, I would say it’s a safe bet.