Saturday, June 25, 2011

Arodys Vizcaino's Stuff As A Starter

In his latest work, Mike Newman at Scouting the Sally has some stuff on Braves pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino. It's certainly worth a click to read in full, but it includes this:

"A scout I spoke to recently mentioned Vizcaino looked like a reliever early on in a recent start, but his breaking ball grew on the scout to the point where his mind was changed by the end of the outing. With seasons evaluators now believing Vizcaino can stick in the rotation, his prospect status has certainly increased."

Vizcaino's injury history and mechanics say otherwise to me, but knowing that his stuff can project as a starter to a scout is pretty big. At this point, I'm sort of on the fence as to whether he will remain a starter, but his potential as a reliever is so huge, it's impossible to ignore.

After posting a 2.45 ERA and 37/10 K/BB in 40.1 IP at Class-A+ Lynchburg, Vizcaino has thrown 25.2 innings for Double-A Mississippi, posting a 3.51 ERA and 27/8 K/BB.

Bring Back The Selective Braves Offense

Make no mistake the Braves offense is much worse than it was last year.

.258/.339/.401, 10.1 BB%, 20.9 K%, .143 ISO, .301 BABIP, .327 wOBA, 101 wRC+

.238/.305/.385, 8.5 BB%, 22.4 K%, .147 ISO, .276 BABIP, .304 wOBA, 89 wRC+

The difference in on-base ability is the focal point. They aren't walking at nearly the same rate and the OBP is down considerably, which has led to worse numbers across the board.

And no, aggressiveness is not paying off. Last season, the Braves had a line drive rate of 18.7%. This season, it's 17.1%. Why? In 2010, the offense swung at pitches out the zone 27.5% of the time, the best number in the National League. This year, the number is 30%, good for eighth. You swing at more pitches out of the zone, you end up with fewer line drives. And it's not like the aggressiveness is paying off on pitches in the zone. The Braves' contact rate is down by one percent.

I'm not one to blame the coaching staff for everything. In the end, the players make their own results. However, an offense that is carrying the majority of the same players doesn't lose the ability to post the best walk rate in the league without something factoring in.

O-Swing% (2010, 2011):
Alex Gonzalez: 40.9%, 45%
Eric Hinske: 31.2%, 33.8%
Brian McCann: 30.2%, 31.2%
Martin Prado: 26.1%, 28.4%
Jason Heyward: 24.2%, 28.1%
Dan Uggla: 22.7%, 27.9%
Chipper Jones: 21.2%, 22.1%
Nate McLouth: 21.1%, 21.6%

I find it difficult to believe this has nothing to do with having Larry Parrish as the hitting coach.

"That’s the way we’ve been hitting most of the year. If you look at our stats over the course of the year, we’re not where we want to be offensively as a team, as a club." -Fredi Gonzalez, per the AJC.

Does this mean anything? One can only hope so.