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Former Phillies scout Therron Brockish reprises his role for BA with weekly scouting reports from the Arizona Fall League. Brockish has more than 20 years of experience as a college coach and as an amateur scout. He served as an assistant coach at Wayne State, Ball State and Arizona Christian and as head coach at Iowa Western CC, and he worked for six years as an area scout with the Philadelphia Phillies, signing big leaguers Jason Donald, Tuffy Gosewisch and Lou Marson during that time.
Pitching is always an interesting thing to scout. Anyone can hold up a radar gun and record the readings on the pitches. In the Arizona Fall League, rarely do scouts see pitchers with a less than an average fastball. Most pitchers—especially projected relievers—are 95 mph and above. Scouts must use their history, instincts and intuition to decide which guys can get to the major leagues, which are impact guys and which might never get there.
|Based on 20-80 scouting scale—where 50 represents major league average—and future projection rather than present tools.|
Let’s take a look at one of those pitchers, lefthander Jose Torres of the Padres.
Fastball Future Grade: 80
Torres sat at 95-97 mph. He is a little bit of a slinger with a low three-quaters arm slot. His fastball had some cut action. His arm angle should create some uncomfortable at bats for lefthanded hitters. One hitter did square up a 95 mph pitch for a double that caught a big part of the plate.
Fastball Command Future Grade: 50
Command and movement are generally the separators for hard-throwing relievers. Pitchers who throw hard but straight usually get hit in pro ball. Guys who can’t locate to one side of the plate or the other usually have trouble with pro hitters. It doesn’t take hitters long to relay the information to their teammates that, “This guy can’t throw inside, so look away” or vice versa. Torres pitched at three different minor league levels this summer and his walk/strikeout ratio was good for a hard-thrower. I marked him down for average command, something that he can definitely improve on as he continues to move up the ladder.
Slider Future Grade: 50/55
Obviously a good, hard slider from the lefthand side can be a separator, too. Note the success that Andrew Miller has had against both lefties and righties the past few years. Torres’ slider checked in at 82-83 mph. His low arm angle created more of a 10-to-4 break, although it still had a little tilt and downward action. This pitch will certainly be tough on lefthanded hitters.
Slider Command Future Grade: 50
As noted earlier, command of Torres’ stuff will determine his ultimate impact in the major leagues. He only threw a handful of sliders and most were located down in the zone. If he shows the ability to consistently command this pitch, he will definitely be a strong candidate to be a major league lefthanded reliever.
Intangibles Future Grade: 50
The ability to hold runners; command and deception of his pickoff move; ability to field his position; confidence to throw his secondary pitches on any count; ability to get both lefties and righties out, and having a “putaway” pitch. Those are some of the factors scouts sift through in minor league pitchers to determine whether they’ll be successful in the majors.
Torres definitely flashed electric stuff and looks to be on track to help out a major league bullpen at some point in the next couple of years. I would guess that he would probably open 2017 in Triple-A El Paso and the Padres will evaluate the pitchability of his stuff at that level for a full year with a possible September callup. He made four appearances in the bigs at the end of 2016.
His success at the Triple-A level should determine his readiness for the big leagues. At 23 years old, he should be ready to contribute in the next year or two at the big league level.