Matz, Comebacks, and New Uniforms

Alex Nelson at MetsGeek has a nicely detailed, must-read rundown on the Mets’ draft picks, including which remained unsigned — including top pick Steven Matz (today is the deadline). Included also is an intriguing summary on #5 pick Damien Magnifico :

Magnifico has a great arm, quick, but he’s extremely raw. He can throw 97, but the fastball’s straight, and he has little projection, standing only six-foot one. On top of that, he has no secondary pitch to speak of. And on top of that, his command is a problem. What we’re probably talking about here is a total overhaul, a major project, and when you overhaul how a pitcher throws, there’s always a chance he walks away throwing softer than he used to. Given his lack of a track record, I’d walk away from this one. Hate to lose that name, though.

I like that name too. I wonder how much “projection” one needs if he’s already throwing 97 MPH, though — and why is “only six-foot-one” the limiting factor? MetsGeek is usually the site that leans on modern sabermetrics, but in this case Alex sounds like he’s regurgitating a fallacy held by traditional / old-school scouts (that height somehow equals velocity). For every Randy Johnson there are one or two Lee Guettermans and Chris Youngs — as well as one or two Pedro Martinezes and Billy Wagners.

Over at OnTheBlack, Kerel Cooper wonders whether the Mets wounded should return this year. Good points brought forward — on the one hand, you want everyone to get 100% healthy for next year. On the other, it would be nice to see people come back — even if only for the last week of the season — so you KNOW they’ll be OK in 2010.

TheRopolitans has a sneak peek on what the 2010 Mets uniforms will look like.

Speaking of uniforms, Matthew Artus gives his opinion on the continued availability of Mike Piazza’s number.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Alex Nelson August 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm
    I probably should have made myself a little more clear.

    Height doesn’t equal velocity; but the larger the frame the more opportunities you have to create velocity. Short pitchers achieve velocity by using their bodies as efficiently as possible (and usually by utilizing the elasticity in their shoulder and elbow ligaments which often results in injury). Tall pitchers who fail to throw hard, usually don’t use their lower bodies enough.

    Additionally, just because Magnifico can touch 97 doesn’t mean he sits there. In fact, Magnifico sits 91-93 most of the time, at least according to him. The question is can he develop into a conistent 95-97 guy, and that’s mostly projection. Taller, thin pitchers have more opportunities to create velocity as they add muscle and learn to use their height. This is an option short pitchers with muscle already never really have.

    It doesn’t mean that short pitchers can’t throw 96 or that tall guys have to; it just means that tall pitchers have a higher probability of finding high velocity and maintaining it over time. Pitchers are not static instruments, and if I have a pitcher who’s going to need to make changes, like Magnifico, I’d rather bet on a taller guy than a shorter one.

  2. joejanish August 17, 2009 at 10:39 pm
    Alex, thank you so much for stopping by and providing a response.

    Understood on “touching” 97 as opposed to sitting there. However I’m going to hold my stance on the height factor until someone provides some data supporting the theory one way or the other (hint hint). Though height/leverage is one factor — and one that can’t be taught — there are too many other variables influencing velocity (arm speed, arm angle, timing, hip rotation/explosion, weight transfer, and momentum, to name a few). And though it’s true that in theory those other variables can be learned, in reality it rarely occurs after age 18. These days post-expansion, especially, pitchers learn very little in the minor leagues in terms of mechanics. But as you say, some pitchers do gain velocity as they get older — whether it’s due to weight/strength gain or “learning to use their height” is up for debate. And in any case, I’m assuming Magnifico is 18 or 19, which means he could still be growing — he may not be 6’6″ but growing to 6’2″ or 6’3″ and filling out to a strong 210-220 is not out of the realm of possibility.

    For the record, I’m not a huge Magnifico fan, and not busting your chops. Rather, I hope my angle causes you or someone else to consider this long-held height theory and finds a way to prove it one way or another. I haven’t seen anything published before (or point me to something if it exists?) to support it.

    Finally, I’d like to say once again that your rundown on the Mets draft picks was excellent and should be read by all fans interested in the team’s future.

    Thanks again, Alex.