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Jamie Schultz has a fastball

PITCHf/x scouting the Arizona Fall League.

A major league comparable for Jamie Schultz?
A major league comparable for Jamie Schultz?
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

There's not a lot to be learned from the stats collected in the Arizona Fall League. The top prospects in baseball don't usually play there, and no one gets a ton of plate appearances or innings. Rather, teams send a few choice minor-leaguers who they think can benefit from a little extra work.

Luckily for us though, that extra work comes in front of PITCHf/x cameras (available on the excellent MLB Farm), and while 360 pitches is basically meaningless if you're looking at results, it's enough to get a sense of what a pitcher's stuff looks like.

This year, the Rays sent Jamie Schultz, a 23-year-old righty with a career 28.5% strikeout rate between rookie and level-A ball. Schultz, a 14th round draft pick in 2013 has also posted a 14.3% walk rate, so it's clear what he needs to work on: command and control.

Kiley McDaniel notes Schultz's stuff and issues:

5’10/200 with mechanical issues and high walk rates but has big stuff—91-95 mph, 55-60 curveball, flashes 50 changeup—and may move to the bullpen soon.

And Jessica Quiroli caught one of his starts earlier in the year, but lets get right to that "big stuff."

Jamie Schults ALF 2014

Clicking on the image will enlarge it, or you can go here, to get an interactive version (where you can filter by pitch types to see velocity ranges). Classifications are my own. Caveats about camera calibration apply.

There's one very clear takeaway from this scatter of pitches -- this is a big-time fastball. The average velocity was 93.3 mph, which isn't huge (although he did top out above 96 mph), but the average vertical rise was 11.4 inches, which is extreme.

As a general rule of thumb, consider any vertical movement over 10 inches to be noteworthy. Very often, when a player gets exceptional rise on his fastball, he sacrifices some horizontal run to do so (think Jake Odorizzi), so Schultz's 6. 1 inches of average run is pretty lively in context. I discussed the rarity of extreme velocity, rise, and run combinations when the Rays acquired Mark Sappington, and while Schultz's fastball doesn't quite jump off the chart the way Sappington's does, it's still noteworthy.

Reports indicate that Schultz's changeup is workable, and while it's not that interesting of a pitch on the chart, there's a lot about changeups that PITCHf/x can't show (like how well a pitcher sells it with his arm speed). I wasn't comfortable classifying the breaking ball based on just these few pitches. Is it a slow slider? A curve that barely moves? Some mix of the two? Whatever it is, it's not good, and without radical improvement, I wouldn't expect it to become a major-league pitch, making a move to the bullpen seem inevitable.

If Schultz were to be moved to the bullpen and learn to sustain his fastball at the top of his current range, then it would look very similar to that of Sean Doolittle, the Oakland relief ace who dominates by throwing a heater nearly 90% of the time.

Schultz Doolittle
Velocity 93.3 95.3
Rise 11.4 11.8
Run 6.1 5

Of course, the one thing Doolittle has that Schultz doesn't is pinpoint command, and without the latter solidifying that aspect of the game, he'll never sniff the major leagues, much less approach Doolittle's production.

So keep an eye on that walk rate this season and the next. If Jamie Schultz can learn to use it, he has a very fine tool.