The Arizona Fall League is a tool for teams to get a few of their minor league players some extra work. It's usually not full of top prospects, nothing is on the line in its games, and the stats are essentially meaningless. One thing that the AFL does have going for it, though, are PITCHf/x cameras.
When a prospect goes to the AFL, we fans get a window into what his stuff looks like that we normally wouldn't for minor league pitchers. So far I've profiled:
- The explosive rising fastball of Jamie Schultz
- The more pedestrian sinker of Matt Lollis
- The dancing changeup of Colton Reavis
Clicking on the image will enlarge it, or you can view an interactive version that will let you filter by pitch types and give information on each individual pitch. The classifications are my own.
Here are the averages:
|Pitch||Velocity||Horizontal Run||Vertical Rise|
I decided to break off some of the fastballs into a separate grouping of cutters, because those fastballs with less horizontal run also tended to be slower. There's a decent trance he's not actually using a different group, and rather that the differences I've seized on our just random variation.
For the other pitchers in this series, I've identified a major league pitcher with similar raw stuff, in order to supply an image for minor league guys who we don't normally get to see. I'm not going to do that with Cooper because (a) there's not really a lot that's interesting about these averages and (b) I don't think that they tell us much about Zach Cooper the possible future major league player—he's clearly a work-in-progress now. Consider:
- There's a six inch difference between his changeup that ran the most and his changeup that ran the least.
- Or maybe those two changeups near the middle are sliders, in which case there's a six inch difference between his biggest and smallest slider.
- With that in mind, how certain are we that he's cutting his fastball purposefully, and not just having it do one thing one time, and another the next?
A successful starter at Central Michigan since midway through his sophomore season in 2010, Cooper profiles as a reliever in pro ball. He's just 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds and lacks the command to stick in a pro rotation, but he has the stuff to be a weapon out of the bullpen. He can maintain a 91-93 mph fastball deep into games and has hit 95 in the past, so his velocity figures to increase in shorter stints. He flashed a wipeout slider in the past but it's more of an average pitch now, occasionally flattening out.