Pitching prospects - their stuff

This purpose of this post is to start a more detailed level of discussion about the twins pitching prospects. I think it is timely, since we are currently ranking prospects.

When most people talk prospects, two main things get thrown around, their "ceiling", and their success at various levels (often combined with their age). These are things that we can all find online, but what I have trouble understanding is their "stuff". I can watch young MLB pitchers, and I can determine for myself that they have power, they have a great curveball, how their control is, how many pitches they can throw comfortably, etc. But I can't get that on prospects (at least not without a subscription).

I think a great example is Blackburn. His numbers were fantastic, but without watching him, you couldn't tell what kind of pitcher he was. Was he a guy with #1 pitcher stuff? Was he a guy who was just developmentally ahead of his level (really good breaking balls)? Did he have power? Could he pick pinpoint spots? Was he just fooling AA'ers with a good breaking ball that they didn't know, that MLB'ers would crush? Once you saw him pitch live, you got a better sense. He has an array of fastballs, that sit in the (very) low 90's, but have a lot of movement, and different kinds of movement. He doesn't have pinpoint control (no Maddux), but he does move around the strike zone. His breaking balls aren't great, but it means that his arsenal is large enough that he is hard to read. This told me that his potential was up to a #2 pitcher, he was near a sure thing to hold a spot in MLB rotations long term (i.e. his floor was a #4-#5), and he could probably handle a lot of innings. Where he finished would depend on whether he could mix his pitches well enough to keep hitters adjusting to his movement, or whether they would figure out which pitches to sit on.

Some of the people on this board know a lot more about the prospects than I (and many of the rest of us) do. I'd like people to start throwing out what they know, for everyone to read and discuss. For instance, which pitchers are doing really well at some level because they have a breaking ball that hitters at that level don't know, and which have truly above average, MLB caliber stuff. Ideally I'd like to hear the following, if people know:

(1) Fastball - velocity and movement. Is this a minor league fastball, a major league fastball, or a great fastball?

(2) Assortment of pitches - how many pitches can they throw with confidence. How many to they plan to be able to throw by the time they make the MLB?

(3) Which breaking pitches are average, +, and ++?

(4) Control, and ability to move around the zone (note that these are different. Maddux had both. Mariano Rivera has control, but doesn't use the whole plate. Blackburn uses the whole plate, but doesn't have that great touch to hit his exact spot).

(5) Flyball or ground-ball pitcher?


Hopefully this will add a little imagery to everyone's understanding of our pitching talent. I think that two often, we get caught up in player's ages and minor league numbers, and forget that the things you have to do to beat a A or AA hitter are not the same as the majors. For instance, based on numbers, I think Delaney would appear to be every bit the prospect that Slama is, if not stronger. However, from what I hear, Slama's stuff is rated much better.

That said, I have nothing to add, since I've never seen any of these guys play, and don't have any of the subscriptions - so please, to those in the know (Roger, Steve, Seth, CMath, and so many more), help us out.

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