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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Two

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, April 15th to April 21st?

Chris Viall
Chris McShane

Pitcher of the Week

Chris Viall

2018 Season: 2 G (2 GS), 9.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 17 K, 1 HB, 2 WP

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 1 HB

In his second start of the 2018 season, Viall set a professional career high by striking out eleven batters. He did walk four and hit a batter, but that’s the thing with Viall: He is 6’9”, and tall pitchers are known for having issues with their mechanics. In Viall’s case, there are a bunch of things that I’ve noticed about his mechanics, most of which have to do with balance. Being a big guy, when he does not repeat his mechanics, it throws off his weight and balance distribution and gives him trouble repeating his release point.

Chris Viall 4/16/18, MiLBTV

Even when he is having trouble doing so, and is allowing a lot of walks, he has a decent amount of upside. He throws a good fastball, and as is the case with tall pitchers, it appears to the batter as if it is bearing down on them faster because his legs and arms have a few extra inches as compared to most pitchers. He complements it with tight low-to-mid-80s power curve and a circle changeup with some decent fade and tailing motion.

There is a bit of a misconception about his fastball that many people seem to have, that I noticed the night of and the day after his start. I saw multiple references to an alleged 100+ MPH fastball that he throws. I’m not doubting that his fastball could, in theory, hit triple-digits, but at the same time, it doesn’t. In my original draft profile of the right-hander when he was drafted back in 2016, I stated, “the pitch sits in the low-to-mid-90s, tops out as high as 97 MPH, and gets a lot of movement. Thanks to his height and the length of his arms, Viall’s fastball appears even faster to hitters, as he gets good arm extension and the ball has less distance to travel.” I do a lot of research when I profile players that the Mets draft- some of it from publicly-available sources, some of it behind pay walls, and some of it original- and nothing claimed that he could throw triple-digits.

The only published source I could find regarding Viall throwing 100 MPH+ was a solitary mention in an Ask Baseball America article from November 2016 about the hardest throwing pitchers in the minor leagues at the time. It includes Viall in the list of 71 players they identified as throwing that hard, claiming he threw a 101 MPH fastball. The article says that it got its information from Pitch/FX data when available, front office executives, and scouts. Because Hunter Wright Stadium does not have Pitch/FX tracking capabilities, the data J.J. Cooper used came from front office executives and/or scouts. Given the propensity for such individuals to exaggerate the capabilities of a player- knowingly or unknowingly- I have reason to doubt the claim.

When he was at Stanford, nothing in my research made mention of a triple-digit fastball. In 2016, when he pitched in Kingsport, no reports made mention of a triple-digit fastball. Last season, when he was with Brooklyn, no reports made mention of a triple-digit fastball. When I saw Viall pitch there, I got no velocity readings anywhere close to 100+ MPH, with his fastest fastball coming in at 95 MPH.

Hitter of the Week

Quinn Brodey

2018 Season: 15 G, 56 AB, .268/.388/.446, 15 H, 0 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 10 BB, 18 K, 2/3 SB

Week: 7 G, 25 AB, .280/.438/.680, 7 H, 0 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 7 BB, 6 K, 2/3 SB

Brodey was drafted last year out of Stanford with the Mets’ third-round pick, and I thought his selection was somewhat underwhelming. Looking just at the two or three players drafted after Brodey- pitcher Michael Baumann and catchers Riley Adams and Connor Wong- they all seem more interesting than the Mets’ selection and may have higher upsides. The fact that the Mets drafted Matt Winaker in the fifth-round is partially to blame, as Brodey and Winaker are almost carbon copies of each other. Both are Stanford guys with the “Stanford swing”. Both have good plate discipline and can work the count. Both have the tools to play the outfield, though Brodey is the more valuable of the two out there because he can play center, whereas Winaker only really is a corner guy.

For those unaware of what the “Stanford swing” is, it is an approach at the plate taught at Stanford. For the past forty years or so, Mark Marquess- who retired last season- has managed the Stanford baseball team, and along the way, he and his coaches began teaching an approach that emphasizes spraying line drives, getting on base, and keeping the hit parade going by having the next guy do the same. The actual mechanics of the swing involve getting the front foot down early and either slapping the ball to the opposite field with an easy, level swing or inside-outing it and dunking into the outfield.

Quinn Brodey 4/16/18, MiLBTV

Key to Brodey’s future value is going to be his defense. His foot speed is generally fringe-to-average, but he takes good routes in center and gets to the ball quick. He usually plays deep, and lets balls fall in in front of him rather than letting balls get behind him for extra bases. At least as per last year when he was drafted, his throwing mechanics caused his arm speed to back up, giving him a fringe-to-average arm despite the fact that he used to pitch and had a fastball that touched 90 miles per hour. If he can play a decent center field and couple that with a solid-if-unspectacular offensive ability, he might find himself on top prospect lists in the future.