I suppose you might call this a scouting report, but I like to emphasize that I am not a scout. I was, however, at three of the Binghamton/New Britain games this week at New Britain Stadium. And I have notes!
Let's start with the pitchers:
Final Line (5/24): L (3-3) 4.2 IP, 6 R, 1 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, GO/AO: 1.17
80 pitches, 49 strikes, 31 balls. Only three swinging strikes on the evening.
What he threw:
Fastball: 89-91 to start. After about 50 pitches, down to 88-89, topping out at 90
Moore's fastball is fairly average->mediocre. He gets decent sink on it, even from his low arm slot, but it tended to flatten out when he started to get fatigued, or when he tried to reach back for a little extra. Fastball command was good on the night, but hitters sat on it after a while, when it was clear he couldn't locate his slider. Last two pitches of the night were high 80s fastballs, the first one was crushed for a three run home run, the next one a double off the wall.
From the low arm slot, Moore's slider is close to a frisbee-type slider, but lacks a strong two-plane break. On this night he simply could not throw it for strikes, consistently missing up and away to lefthanded batters as he tried to backdoor it in against them. I have him down for 24 sliders on the night. 12 were balls. He only got one swinging strike with it, and batters were 2-4 when they put it in play. Generally, it is considered to be his best pitch, but he struggled with it tonight. After his struggles to throw it for strikes in the first inning, he threw about a half dozen in warm-ups in the 2nd, but it never really came back to him. He abandoned it in the fourth inning, throwing 11 straight fastballs. It was a 1-2-3 inning, but two of the outs were hard hit. He went back to the slider in the fifth, but still had limited success with it.
- I also have him down for one slow curve at 67, which missed badly, and one pitch that I think might have been a change at 84. It could have been one of his harder sliders, he hit 84 with it a couple times on the night, but the pitch movement wasn't quite right.
How he threw it:
Moore works very quickly. I had just enough time to chart each pitch, and then look up to catch him going into his wind-up. He slowed down some in the stretch or when he fell behind batters. He throws from a very low 3/4 arm slot. I wish I had video, but with the threat of rain, I didn't want to risk getting my equipment caught out. You could tell that lefties could see the ball for too long, and they did a good job squaring up against him. In the end, they only went 4-13 with 2 BBs, but several of the outs were hard hit line drives or deep flies. He tried to throw his slider outside black to the lefthanders, but just couldn't locate the pitch there. I don't see how he gets lefties out at higher levels and even at AA this year he has a 6.75 ERA against lefties, who are hitting .343 against him.
Also of Note
Moore's move to first is very mediocre, and he is not quick to the plate from the stretch. New Britain tried to run on him a lot and there would have been even more steals against him if the batters hadn't made a contact behind a couple steal attempts.
Two-pitch pitcher, low arm slot, no change-up to speak of. Loses fastball velocity after 50 pitches. This pretty much screams bullpen arm, and unfortunately, the ceiling here is ROOGY.
I was taking some video the fourth inning and didn't get to chart it. I have 66 pitches charted for Cohoon. 41 strikes, 25 balls. 6 swinging strikes.
What he threw:
Fastball: 87-88, maintained velocity throughout game
Cohoon's fastball command was good, but not as good as you might expect for a guy living in the upper 80s. Didn't see anything that looked like a two-seamer, though apparently he does throw one from time to time. Fastball was a little flat and very hittable. First eight balls New Britain put in play were off fastballs.
Plus pitch. All six of the swinging strikes I charted from Cohoon were on the change. Good sink and fade. Pitch was by far his most successful. Of the 18 I charted, six went for balls (5 of those in the sixth, when it looked like he completely lost his feel for the pitch), six were swinging strikes, two were fouled off, and the four balls in play were a single back up the middle, and three groundball outs. I'm not sure what happened in the sixth inning. It looked like he maybe lost his release point, as the change all of a sudden started burying itself in the dirt, seemingly right out of his hand. The wild pitch that let in the tying run was a particularly bad example of that, but the last five change-ups he threw all missed badly.
Slurvy Breaking Pitch: 73-75
I've seen this listed as a slider, but it's not really a tight breaking pitch, nor does it have traditional slider velocity. It looked more like a loopy curve to me, so we will split the difference. He had trouble spotting it in the zone the first few innings, but got a nice feel for it by the fifth and sixth, and was able to spot it low and away to righties. He struck out Twins prospect Joe Benson looking on a particularly nice one in the fifth. He didn't throw it all that much to lefties, surprisingly.
How he threw it:
If Moore works at light speed, then Cohoon works at ludicrous speed. Get ball, throw ball. He throws from a high 3/4 and with his plus change-up, he is at least serviceable against righties. Against lefties, his strategy was generally to get ahead with his fastball and then unleash his change. Against righties he was much more likely to work backwards, trying to throw his slurve or change for a first pitch strike. Later in the game he started doubling up with his offspeed stuff as well. The New Britain batters had little trouble elevating his fastball, as it had little of the cut his scouting report would suggest.
Also of note:
Cohoon's pickoff move is ridiculously good. He picked off Singleton in the first and then had another baserunner dead to rights in the fourth. He was called for a balk there, which seems odd, as I thought the first pickoff was much closer to a balk. It did bring Wally out to argue, always an amusing sight.
The kids in the front row got to learn some new words, though Wally managed not to get ejected.
This start did little to dissuade me of my views on Cohoon. He is a future 5th starter/swingman type if he can consistently get groundballs and spot his fastball, a lefty out of the pen, albeit one with decent platoon splits, if he can't.
Final Line (5/25): W (2-3) 6.1 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K, WP, HBP
I was taking video in the third inning, and left after the 5th. I have 53 pitches charted for Holt, 38 strikes, 15 balls.
What he threw:
Fastball: 90-91, topping out at 92
The velocity is a far cry from when he was drafted. He controlled it well on this evening, but he wasn't overpowering anyone with it, and a lot of fastballs were fouled off. He basically abandoned his fastball in the middle of the game, and started throwing his change-up, of all things. Then he started the fifth with six straight fastballs. This is simply no longer the plus pitch it was two years ago.
The first cutter he threw was a called strike in a 2-0 count. The next two were doubles off the wall. He had issues commanding it all night, though later in the game he started throwing it more for strikes. He only got one swinging strike off it on my chart, to strike out Chris Cates in the fifth. It wasn't the groundball generator it supposedly was early in the year, though he got just about all his groundballs after I left. I want to see him again before I start to evaluate the pitch.
The knock on Holt when he was drafted was his lack of secondary stuff, but this was his strongest offering against New Britain. Tough to say if it has improved a lot, or if his fastball has just regressed that much. He generated two swinging strikes with it, two pop-ups, and did not throw it for a ball on my chart.
In the AFL it was a 78 mph slurvy breaking pitch, but it was also terrible there. This pitch was slower and had more of a 12-6 break. I'm gong to call it a curve, but your mileage may vary. Command and control was spotty, he was able to generate swings and misses with it and dropped in a nice one for a called strike three against Mike Holliman in the third, but he also would leave it up on occasion and hit a batter in the foot with it. Still better than reported, at least.
How he threw it:
Holt's approach was odd all night. He started out throwing all fastballs and cutters. He got the leadoff batter out on a long fly to center, then gave up back to back doubles that were flat crushed off the high outfield walls. Then he got a three pitch strike out, starting off with two curves, and finishing with a fastball on the corner. The second inning he mixed all his pitches and got through the inning in eight pitches with another strikeout. In the third he hung a curveball to Chris Cates for a leadoff single, but had his outfield defense bail him out with two nice diving snags.
Then there was his pitch sequence in the fourth:
Fastball- Deep fly to right
Then in the fifth he went back to nothing but fastballs and cutters.
The approach was successful, but Holt had to use pitch sequencing and change of speeds to keep the line-up off balance, rather than attacking them with plus stuff. I would keep in mind that he was coming off a start where he walked 8 and had 4 wild pitches, so he may just be trying a little bit of everything. It could be he has a directive to throw his offspeed stuff more, to try and take some pressure off his fastball command. I don't have enough information to say much more than this was a much better start than his last one.
Also of note:
I don't know a whole lot about mechanics. I do think if you bet on a pitcher to get injured because of 'mechanics' you will be right a whole bunch of times, regardless of whether mechanics had anything to do with it. I did think Holt's mechanics looked very clean, but I have posted video so the more knowledgeable members of the AA commentariat can weigh in.
Frankly, I have no idea. The fallback position with Holt was always late inning bullpen guy, but he doesn't have an elite fastball anymore, and I would be hard pressed to say he has even one plus pitch right now. Now, if the improvements to the change and breaking ball are for real, having four average pitchers can certainly make you a major league pitcher, but a wait and see approach is probably warranted here.