Breaking Down the Draft: Some More Requestsby Alex Eisenberg
October 15, 2008
Last week, I broke down Xavier Avery, Tim Melville and Kyle Russell. This week I profile three more prospects: Craig Kimbrel (Braves), Robert Grossman (Pirates) and Seth Lintz (Brewers). Let's get started:
53. Seth Lintz | RHP | Milwaukee Brewers
There isn't a question that Seth Lintz struggled in his debut season, but I remain high on the 19-year-old pitcher for a number of reasons, which I'll get into soon, but first let's look at what problems Lintz needs to fix.
First, there are some inefficiencies in Lintz's delivery, which lead to two of his biggest weaknesses: fastball velocity and control.
1. He doesn't scapula load particularly well. There is a point in the delivery—when the elbow drops before rotating—where the shoulder blades should be "pinched" together. Power is then transmitted from the chest/torso to the shoulder. Since Lintz doesn't execute this pinching of the shoulder blades all that well, less power is transmitted from the chest/torso to the shoulder.
2. Lintz loses out some of the rotational forces generated by his hip/torso separation because his arm isn't in a position to come along for the ride. At the time Lintz's torso is uncoiled, his arm is still in the midst of reaching its loaded position.
3. Lintz has a tendency to fly open, which not only hurts his control but also lessens the amount of torque he can create. This torque is a product of Lintz's hip/torso separation.
Now, Lintz is fast to the plate, which is something I generally like. His tempo comes out to around 21 or 22 frames from the point in which his knee reaches its uppermost point until release. He also drifts through his balance point, which is a great way to build up momentum in one's delivery.
However, Lintz might be a little too fast as he isn't giving his arm enough time to get into a loaded position. One remedy for this could be getting Lintz to turn his hips a little more as he brings his lead leg up, which would give his leg a longer distance to travel before planting and allow him to build up more momentum as he heads into foot plant, thus creating more torque and giving his arm a little bit more time to get into the loaded position. What about lowering the hands? As Lintz strides forward, his hands are moving down toward his mid-section. If he eliminates that movement, he may be able to get his arm up into the loaded position a little sooner. However, Lintz would have to feel comfortable with any changes made to his mechanics.
With so many things to work on, why I am still high on Lintz?
I really think Lintz has great velocity potential; his frame has plenty of room to fill out, and he possesses enough athleticism to help make any necessary adjustments mechanically.
At present time, Lintz already possesses high quality stuff. His fastball has good life and boars into righties and tails away from lefties though its velocity only registers between 87 and 92. He also throws a tight, late breaking curve ball that looks much harder than it actually is. Below shows Lintz's curveball on the left and his fastball on the right:
Command is an issue with Lintz, and as I mentioned earlier, the problem is partly related to some inconsistent front-side mechanics. He doesn't pull his glove down to his hip, but he also doesn't keep the glove firm out in front of his chest. Instead, he curls it into his side and as a result, Lintz's front shoulder occasionally flies open.
The bottom line is that Lintz, while clearly a work in progress, has two potential plus pitches and a developing a change-up to go along with a projectable and athletic frame that will make it easier for Lintz to add velocity, adjust his mechanics, and repeat his delivery. I think Lintz's upside is ultimately pegged at around the level of a No. 3 starter, with a slight chance to become a solid No. 2 should everything just click.
96. Craig Kimbrel | RHP | Atlanta Braves
Very impressed with what I saw out of Kimbrell. First, he possesses an athletic and well-built frame.
The second thing I noticed is the compactness of his delivery. Everything is together throughout the wind-up and close to his body's core. It's much easier to coordinate all the moving parts in your delivery if everything is compact and together. Third, he's quick to the plate—no pauses or hesitation to his wind-up.
Kimbrel's best assets are his two plus pitches:
Fastball: comes in at 92-94 mph and can occasionally touch a bit higher. The pitch has both a tailing action and a natural sink which allows Kimbrel to generate both ground balls and miss bats.
Slider-late breaking and hard, the pitch is usually clocked in the mid-80s and comes in on a similar plane as his fastball. He needs to become more consistent with the pitch as there are times he'll leave it up in the zone. Below is Kimbrel's fastball on the left and his slider on the right:
Kimbrel can throw both pitches for strikes, though there are times his arm lags behind his body, which can throw off his command.
Kimbrel's stock took a hit due to his height. My philosophy: if you can throw, you can throw. It doesn't matter how tall you are, and no study has ever suggested that shorter pitchers have a higher injury rate than taller pitchers.
To compensate for his height, Kimbrel is able to generate tremendous arm speed. At foot plant, Kimbrel has yet to get his arm into a loaded position, but due to his excellent scapula load and the precise timing with which this load is done, Kimbrel's arm is accelerated forward with tremendous force and produce velocity that defies his size. Of course that very well may increase his risk of injury, but without that arm action, he probably doesn't throw with the same velocity.
One last thing about his mechanics: his finish is somewhat abrupt, so that is something he'll need to work on going forward.
Kimbrel's on-field performance matched the quality of his stuff. He started in the Appalachian League with Danville and ended in Single-A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. The numbers were filthy at each level:
Rookie, Danville: 17.2 IP, 13.5 BB%, 33.8 K%, .118 BABIP against, 67 GB%, 1 Extra Base Hit Against (double), 0.00 ERA
Single-A, Rome: 12.2 IP, 8.3 BB%, 54.2 K%, .353 BABIP against, 44 GB%, 0 Extra Base Hits Against, .71 ERA
Kimbrel also threw 3.2 innings at A+ Myrtle Beach and did not give up a run in his appearance there.
Kimbrel's value will be held down because he's a reliever, but he is on the fast track to the major leagues, having already torn through the lower minor league levels. His upside grades out to closer level.
174. Robert Grossman | CF | Pittsburgh Pirates
Grossman has a very quick bat—a short swing to go along with fast hands. My feeling is that he's a little too handsy in his swing. He's sort of flicks his wrists at the ball. He has a quick enough swing to add some length without it being much of a problem.
Grossman generally does a solid job of carrying his hips forward into foot plant, but he also has appears to have a problem of occasionally opening up too soon. He could stand to do a better job of getting his lower body more actively involved in his swing. He doesn't get any production out of the below at-bats, but each clip shows Grossman making a clean hack at the ball:
Do you see how Grossman's head jerks forward as he swings, especially on the right-hand side swing? This head movement makes it that much harder to track the ball from the pitcher's release point to when it reaches home plate. It is also a symptom of pushing the hands toward the ball rather than letting the ball travel deep into his hitting zone.
With all that said, my philosophy is to invest in quickness over bat speed because it is much harder for a player to quicken up their swing than it is for a player trying to create more bat speed. Grossman's swing is short enough where he can add a little length to the swing and still maintain a high contact rate.
As I mentioned earlier, Grossman should also be able to increase his power output by getting his lower body a little more actively involved and also by filling out his projectable frame.
Grossman is going to take a lot of coaching up, but the potential to be an average-above average regular in center field is there.
Next time out, I'll close this series out with four more requests: Zach Stewart (Reds), Jacob Jeffries (Rays), Jordan Danks (White Sox) and Tyler Chatwood (Angels).
References and Resources
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Alex breaks down major and minor league players by using sabermetric and video analysis at his website, Baseball-Intellect. To get full access to his entire collection of prospect video and scouting reports, you can sign up as a Premium Member. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org