Yesterday, the Rays traded long-reliever Cesar Ramos for to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 23 year old relief prospect Mark Sappington. Scott covered already gave a description of Sappington, based on the available scouting reports. He's something of a project. The Angels tried to make him into a starter and they failed. Now that he's been moved back to the bullpen, Sappington has a live fastball that he apparently has trouble commanding, probably because of his funky, max-effort delivery. None of his other pitches project as good major league offerings right now.
That's why Sappington will probably never be an impact major league pitcher. Forget that. I want to look at why he's worth a shot.
Before the 2013 season, Sappington threw 21 pitches in front of PITCHf/x cameras during spring training. According to Brooks Baseball, 16 of those were four-seam fastballs. They had an average velocity of 95.6 mph, an average vertical rise of 10.70 inches, and an average horizontal run of 8.68 inches. Now there are a ton of caveats here:
- It was only 16 pitches. A pitcher's movement and velocity changes over the course of a season, a game, an inning, and even an at bat. He doesn't throw his average fastball every time. I have no idea if these were representative of what Sappington can throw, and the scouting reports suggest that he struggles with consistency.
- All PITCHf/x tracking systems are not the same. They aren't perfectly accurate to begin with, and they're not calibrated identically. The same pitch, thrown in two different parks, can look very different.
- It was spring training.
- It was two years ago.
- Aroldis Chapman
- Jake McGee
- Greg Holland
- Wade Davis