Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'll Be Watching

Alex Eisenberg published an article over at the HardballTimes about the pitching prospects to watch in 2008. The first guy on the list was the Orioles' very own Chorye Spoone.

Some things that he says:

"Spoone's arm action is his best mechanical quality." - There's a video showing his motion; Spoone's rocking those high socks.
"The biggest problem area for Spoone appears to be his front-side mechanics. There are two issues here:

1. He doesn't do a good job of firming his glove up as his front shoulder opens, which is likely a major reason he has suffered from command problems throughout his minor league career.

2. He tucks his glove into his side at release instead of keeping it firm out in front and bringing his chest into his glove."
Luckily, these things are easier to correct than the arm action and should help his control and reduce his risk of injury.

To the numbers:
"What sets Spoone apart from pitchers with similar strikeout and walk rates is his excellent groundball percentage...
Digging a little deeper into Spoone's numbers, we can get an idea of the kind of ground balls that Spoone gave up last year:

2007, Frederick (A+)
268 GBs - 52 Hits vs. 216 Outs = .194 Batting Average Against on GBs

Now, is the BAA Spoone showed on GBs in 2007 just luck? You can definitely conclude a lot of it was luck, but Spoone did show the ability to get batters to ground out softly, and I do think that speaks to the quality of his stuff...

Looking at more definitive data, we can see the improvement that Spoone made from 2006 to 2007. His walk rate improved significantly even as he struck out more batters. And he was also much more successful against lefties"
This has me very excited to see what he'll do this year:
"Spoone ended the season on a tear with three straight complete games, including two in the playoffs (in the first of those, he was one out away from a no-hitter). In September, Spoone faced 91 batters and walked just one."
Now his stuff:
"Spoone's sinker sits in the mid-90s. His curveball is considered above-average, and his change-up has come a long way but still needs refining. In terms of make-up, Spoone is a smart pitcher with a bulldog mentality. He works hard and has shown the ability to make adjustments."
Sounds like a #2/3 starter to me, with a (small) chance to turn into a Brandon Webb type. I'm not counting on it, but it's not out of the realm of possibility if he can get the walks under control.
Their outlook:
"Spoone is a workhorse. He'll walk his share of batters, but if he can maintain a solid K rate to go along with the many ground balls he is going to give up, then there is a possibility that he can reach his upside as a No. 2 starter. His mentality and work ethic give him an even better chance of reaching that upside."
I'll take that.

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