Written by: Mason McRae (@mason_mcrae)
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Since getting access to Trackman’s college data sharing application, I really haven’t stopped poring over information of draft prospects. With that comes finding interesting guys, mostly pitchers that have intriguing fastball characteristics.
This will be one of many articles centered around the metrics behind dozens of draft eligible prospects. In the first version of this article, I went over seven guys, including: Jack Leiter (Vanderbilt), Rodney Boone (UCSB), Ian Moller (Wahlert), Brady House (Winder-Barrow), Ryan Cusick (Wake Forest), Kumar Rocker (Vanderbilt), Danny Watson (VCU). If you’re unfamiliar with the importance of vertical attack angle, extension, vertical movement and other off-the-beaten-path analytics, you can find a useful “user’s manual” of sorts by clicking here.
Here’s a look at five more prospects with interesting data.
Jack Gowen, RHP, Georgia
Gowen has one of my favorite fastballs in the class; an average velo of 89.6 mph coupled with a 6.98 extension, 3.78 VAA, and 4.78 release height is flat out ridiculous. He’s got above average vMov (18.27), but below average raw spin rates (2,139 rpm), though the spin rates take a backseat once you evaluate the movement profile. Gowen’s secondaries could use further development as the curveball’s numbers are just meh; average vMov with less than ideal velocity doesn’t help the fastball out as it should. I’m hopeful he adjusts the spin axis of the curveball to better pair with his heavy-ride fastball.
Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Fabian epitomizes a model darling. He’ll be going high this upcoming draft, though probably not because of his incredible metrics, but because of his raw plus power and athleticism at a premium defensive position. Fabian’s batted ball profile is as optimized as it gets, his max EV is 105, with an average EV of 95.21 mph this past spring, a step up from his 92.43 average throughout his freshmen season (albeit in a smaller sample). His LAs are generally in the 16-24 range, which is extremely ideal. His 71.88 Hard Hit Ball% in 32 BIP is just as impressive.
Eric Cerantola, RHP, Mississippi State
Cerantola has one of my favorite secondary pitches in the class, a curveball thrown north of 80 mph w/ spin rates around 2,750 rpm. It’s quite possibly the best curveball in the class simply because of the fantastic vMov combined w/ ideal velocity behind it and the raw spin rates to make the pitch play harder. Cerantola’s problem is an inefficient fastball that’s a prototypical sinker with well above average sink, but below average extension, which is odd given this specific profile. Because Cerantola has such a high release height and short extension, flattening his approach angle could come at the expense of his hMov, but more vMov and a lower release height would help the individual parts of his arsenal play better off each other.
Cam Cowan, RHP, Campbell
Cowan is a perfect example of data-fueled sleeper prospects who look very vanilla from the surface. Cowan’s fastball– while an extremely good pitch– was misused this past spring. When you have a fastball with upwards of 27.0 IVB (ridiculously good), and throw from a slightly low release height, your fastball should be thrown up in the zone. To this point, it hasn’t been; only 25 of Cowan’s 148 fastballs (16.8%) thrown last spring were up in the zone. Of the 25 thrown up in the zone, 6 produced a swing-and-miss (26.0 SwStr%) compared to the 8.9 SwStr% on the 123 pitches thrown in the middle/bottom of the zone. Even with the fastball’s misuse, Cowan still has a flat VAA (4.8), though with better usage of the pitch it will get much flatter. For those that don’t know, VAA is heavily reliant on where a pitch is thrown, and typically every quadrant in the strike zone (up & down) can represent about 0.8-1.0 inches of difference on a VAA. So pitchers who throw mostly down in the zone well usually have steeper VAAs and the opposite for guys who throw up. The crazy part about Cowan is his VAA is right around 3.7-3.8 when thrown up in the zone. A fastball thrown on average at 92.81 mph with plus vMov & a ridiculously flat VAA will get heavy looks next June by the Dodgers, Rays, White Sox, Cubs and Astros.
Luke Leto, SS, Portage Central (HS)
A heavily talked about prep bat, Leto struggled in his first dose of action this summer at the PG National, but he’s shown serious growth in the athleticism department and the stiffness in his lower half has been reduced of late. In games, Leto’s EVs are usually in the low-90’s with a max of 98. Couple that with LAs in the upper-20s and into the low-30s, you’re looking at an optimized sweet spot. The problem has been Leto’s lower half, which generates minimal explosiveness to this point in the infielder’s development. Fortunately, the idea of added thump behind his BIP in the future seems more likely than not as he’s still raw and hadn’t fully committed to baseball prior to this summer.
Follow P365 MLB Draft Analyst Mason McRae on Twitter! @mason_mcrae
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of Scarborough Photographer and Campbell Athletics