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This is the second part of my interview with Lugnuts pitching coach Vince Horsman.  Part one is here.

BB: Thursday was a cold night but the scouts guns had Syndergaard at 92-94 but I heard that's a little less than where he usually sits.

VH: Yes, it's a little down but I am not a big fan of the gun. I'm like what were the hitters doing?  They weren't doing anything, they couldn't catch up to him and so that tells me he had a pretty good fastball.  And he had some life to it and he really got over it and created a good downhill plane.  And he commanded his fastball, he threw three innings and thirty-seven pitches.  He really didn't have to use his secondary pitches, but I'd like to see a few more.  He threw a couple of nice curves and a couple of good change-ups so it wasn't like he was out there trying to pump fastball after fastball.  He pitched a little bit, got guys out in front and chased.  The gun isn't an indication of what kind of stuff you have, that's for the scouts.

BB: Anthony DeSclafani is a college pitcher, more experienced than the kids, what are trying to work on with him?

VH: Disco has a couple of keys in his delivery that he really has to pay attention to.  For him it's his front shoulder, he likes to rotate his front shoulder in too much, that causes him to get around the ball too much and it causes his stuff to flatten out.  We have been working really hard to make sure he stays quiet on his front side, with his shoulders especially and make sure they work north- south and not east-west.  The one game he struggled he was east to west and his slider was flat and his fastball was flat and he got hit around.  Then in his next start, after a few good side work sessions, he went out there and threw 26 pitches in three innings.  He was north to south with his shoulders and the fastball was sinking really good.  Secondary pitches weren't as good, his curvball kinda rolled and he couldn't keep his slider in the strike zone but his fastball command was good and with his fastball he basically threw three shutout innings.  So he was wow I did that just with my fastball.  Now if you have your secondary pitches it makes life a lot easier but reinforcing those fundamentals gives him the confidence to say as long as I command my fastball I am going to be OK.

BB: Tyler Ybarra pitched very well in his first inning but struggled in his second.  Is there a reason for that?

VH: Just some things he is working on with his delivery.  We are tweaking it a little bit and he is going out there trying to repeat it.  That night I thought he was thinking too much about his delivery instead of just going to get the hitters out.  With Tyler he is working on command of the baseball, that's the biggest thing for him.  He threw a couple of nice breaking balls the other night.  Tyler just has to make some adjustments to his delivery but sometimes he gets too mechanical, he needs that nice flow to his delivery.  Get a song in your head Tyler, pitch to the song and get loosey-goosey and just go get it.  But Tyler has come a long way since the beginning of the season, he struggled a bit earlier, and he is really starting to put it together.

BB: His arm whips through the zone, it's unusual.

VH: He has a very quick arm, he has a real live arm, and it's going to be fun to watch him perform when he has all the pieces come together.

BB: Last nights starter was Dave Rollins.  He pitched with his fastball up a lot, but he didn't need to use his off-speed pitches so much.

VH: Dave benefited from a very over-aggressive offense yesterday where they were chasing his fastball out of the zone and he has enough life on his fastball to go ahead and get away with that, at least at this particular level.  But with him it's the same thing, in the bullpens he is really good at keeping the ball down but taking that to the mound, to the game where the intensity is there, he may need to back down a bit so he can command the ball.  He will throw a real good pitch followed by a couple of fastballs up in the zone and the hitter swings and misses and it looks really good to punch the guy out on three pitches but he only threw one strike.  If it was on purpose we would be high fiving each other, but it's not, it's accidental.  I am looking forward to when he can put it together and yesterday wasn't all bad and the start before that was good.  The secondary stuff is OK but for him the priority right now is fastball command.

BB: Marcus Walden is pitching today.  He pitched here last year too, what strides has he made since last year?

VH: I didn't have the chance to work much with Marcus in the spring, and he had some delivery issues in the spring and he didn't have the type of spring we expected him to have.  So he came here, and he came with a good attitude, but his delivery needed tweaking.  He is a short guy, he has a good arm, but sometimes he gets real flat and he pushes the ball to the plate.  So for the last few weeks, in between starts, we have been working hard to get him over the ball.  He knows that, he knows he has to get over the ball and he has made tremendous strides over the past two starts, it's been a pleasure to watch him work.

BB: Tomorrow Justin Nicolino is your starter.  Is there any comparison to be made between him and Drew Hutchison, leaving aside the hand they throw with.  Both are command guys with very good change-ups and average fastballs.  Is there any comparison there?

VH: I wouldn't say you are way off but it's comparing apples to oranges.  Drew had a lot of mound presence, a lot of savvy for a young man and Nicolino has the same.  As far as pitches go, and pitchability at the major league level, I think Hutchy, even though he was in the Midwest League, his stuff played at the big league level already.  And Nick, two of his three pitches will do.  He needs to work on his breaking ball, get it a little firmer, take some of the loop out of it.  It's not far off to compare the two but Nick being left handed is always a great asset.  The command, the savvy, the poise, the way he can bear down when he is in trouble and escape by making quality pitches is very similar to the way Drew goes about his approach.  Drew when he was here was ahead of Nicolino but not my much.

BB: I forgot to ask you about Syndergaard, his curve is around 70 mph, would you like it to be harder than that?

VH: Yes, I would like to see it around 77-80.  Here is a guy who can throw 95-98 and his curveball is at 70, that's too much separation right now for the speeds.  He is probably going to get more swings and misses from the change of speeds than the break of the ball.  I want the break of the ball to be the determining factor.  But he has been working hard trying to get a feel for it and it has come a long way and all indications are that it is in there, we just need to add some miles per hour to it.

BB: The last pitcher is Aaron Sanchez, he has the pitches from all reports but command has been a challenge, he has walked more hitters than your other pitchers.

VH: I think the walks can sometimes be misleading.  Sometimes the umpires can miss a pitch, not that I am putting it all on them.  In his last start he walked three and struckout seven.  On two of those walks he made really good pitches, and on one walk, yeah he did lose the strike zone and walked a guy on four straight.  So sometimes I think those walks can be a bit misleading.  But Aaron has come a long way too with his command.  He is getting more pitches in his lanes with his fastball, and his breaking ball is already there, it's a big league breaking ball, and his change-up is major league quality as well.  But he does need to improve his consistency in the strike zone with his stuff but it's just a part of the maturation process that a power pitcher has to go through.  Both Noah and Aaron are power pitchers so sometimes the walks will be there but they have the ability to get themselves out of the jam by strikeouts because their stuff is power stuff.


Batters Box thanks Vince Horsman for his time.

An Interview with Vince Horsman, May 2012 - Part 2 | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
jerjapan - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 12:50 PM EDT (#256187) #

The batter's box also thanks Gerry for his time - your minor league reports and interviews are some of the best reading out there on the Jays minor leagues!

I found this quote interesting:

Get a song in your head Tyler, pitch to the song and get loosey-goosey and just go get it.

sounds like some creative coaching to me.

sam - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#256188) #
Gerry thanks for this.
greenfrog - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#256198) #
These interviews are great - they add an interesting layer of analysis to the Box (even if it can sometimes be hard to read between the lines when hearing from coaches). Thanks, Gerry.
acepinball - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 04:52 PM EDT (#256215) #
For Jays prospects- best content on the net (or anywhere for that matter). Thanks very much Gerry.
jester00 - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 05:06 PM EDT (#256216) #
Love the interviews, thanks Gerry.  Bit off topic, but was wondering when you guys are going to get a bit of draft chat going?  Can't remember how far ahead you guys roll that out.
sam - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 05:49 PM EDT (#256218) #
I agree acepinball. Jester00, I have tried to get the draft chat started. I had a post a week ago outlining some of the prospects that might fall to the Jays and players that resemble past picks.
ayjackson - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 06:00 PM EDT (#256219) #

The gun isn't an indication of what kind of stuff you have, that's for the scouts.

I love how coaches and managers discount radar guns when assessing pitchers.  What the hell are scouts doing if not assessing talent?

sam - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 07:57 PM EDT (#256222) #
The Rule Four Draft or Amateur Draft or First-Year-Player Draft is around the corner and many baseball media outlets have started to ramp up their coverage of the event. The draft is for amateur high school and college players from colleges in Canada, the U.S., and Puerto Rico. On June 4, 2012 at 8pm round one will take place. Rounds two to fifteen will take place on June 5, 2012, and rounds sixteen to forty will take place the following day on June 6, 2012. As I'm sure many here are aware, much of the change in the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners focused on changing the rules around the draft. There is now a very strict limit on the bonuses teams are allowed to offer amateur players. Teams work off a "bonus pool" for picks from rounds one to ten. This bonus pool is based on draft order and number of picks. The other change and perhaps most welcome one is the advancement of the signing deadline. The deadline which used to be in August and effectively prevented newly signed players from appearing in competitive games and tormented fans for two months of will he-won't he sign has now been moved up to July 13, 2012. Hurrah for that!

This will also be the last draft of obscene compensation rounds as a result of new changes in the CBA around free agent compensation. Anyways let's get to the Jays. The Jays have the 17th and 22nd picks in the first round. The thing to remember here, that 22nd pick is unprotected and compensation for the Jays failing to sign Tyler Beede in last years draft. Meaning whoever the Jays draft with that pick and if he does not sign, the Jays will not receive further compensation for said pick. The Jays have three compensation picks at 50, 58, and 60. They have the 80th pick in the second round. The 111th in the third. The 144th in fouth and so on. So the Jays have some picks to work with.

22 (unprotected)

So seven picks in three rounds. Not too shabby. Now, the Jays have fourteen picks in the first ten rounds and according to the new rules that means they have $8,830,800 to pay these fourteen picks. The penalties for going over this amount by even the slightest of numbers are fairly steep. If we exceed that bonus allotment by 0-5% we pay a 75% tax on that overage, 5-10% over and we pay a 75% tax and lose a future first rounder, and 10-15% over and we 100% tax on the overage and lose both a first rounder and second rounder, and 15% or more and we lose two first rounders and pay a 100% tax on the overage. So if you're going over the bonus pool the guy better be The Natural.

14 picks, $8,830,800 to work with are the numbers to remember. Note that all players signed must be signed to minor league deals and MLB baseball has been vocal that teams looking to subvert these new rules will be penalized heavily. Picks after round ten do not count against the bonus pool provided their bonuses are under $100,000. If they are over they go towards the pool. I imagine there might be a lot of players signing for $99,999.

Now people might thing these new signing bonus rules will serious hamstring the Jays are their ability to bring in talent. I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen here, but do keep in mind that last year the Jays spent $8,990,000 in the first ten rounds, which is not far off the allotment they have this year. Granted they didn't sign all their players, they did however bring in some talent and have one of the higher ranked drafts by experts.

Hopefully this clarifies some of the rules for Jays' fans. The Jays do have one of the higher bonus pools (fifth highest) and are tied with the Padres and Cardinals for having the most picks in the first ten rounds. So this will be an active draft for the Jays. The draft itself is reported to be one of the weaker drafts in recent memory. In particular, scouts and management with intimate understanding of the draft class say the group of college hitters is the weakest they've seen in some twenty years, due in large part to the high bonuses given out to high schools players in past years. There really isn't a clear cut no. 1 as there has been in recent years, and a lot of guys who could go anywhere from no. 5 to no. 50. So mocking this draft, which is usually a fool's errand when it comes to the MLB draft anyways, is perhaps even harder this year. There is also another issue to consider with this draft class. A lot of the high school prospects who would have gotten their million dollar bonus in later rounds in the past might not this time around. So picking that high schooler in round two or three and offering him a couple hundred thousand might not fly if they think they can go to college and have a shot at the top ten after their junior years. So it will be interesting to follow the signing rate of players. This new CBA could really blow up if kids are simply not signing out of high school.

Now the draft has a lot of high school prospects with one or two plus tools and and average or below average other tools. There are a lot of high school outfielders with plus speed and plus arms, or plus speed and plus power, but limited hit tools or raw defense. In essence, this is really a scout's draft, especially so with the new rules. That should bode well for the Jays and their beefed up scouting department. I imagine the Jays could go a number of ways with their early picks. One option, and the most likely, they simply select the best player on their board when they pick. That philosophy or plan may not fly given the new rules and I imagine the Jays have a much more dynamic board that divides and ranks players based on signability as well as talent and projection. Another option, a player like Lucas Giolito falls due to injury concern (strained elbow ligaments) and the Jays select him with their 22 pick and use the bonus they've allotted to picks 17 and 22 solely on Giolito and take the compensation--no. 18 in 2013. Note that in the Jays fail to sign any of thei picks in the first two rounds (including compensation), with the exception of the unprotected 22 pick, they'll receive the same pick one slot later in next year's draft. Such a strategy for Giolito is quite risky.

As I mentioned earlier, the usual baseball outlets have started to publish various mock drafts and scouting reports on the consensus top prospects this year. For example, Baseball America thinks the Jays will continue to select high school toolsy players. They have the Jays taking Lance McCullers Jr. with the 17th pick who last year was projected to be in the discussion at no. 1. McCullers has a dynamic fastball-slider combo and a max effort delivery. The fastball sits upper-nineties. He apparently has very good mound presence and many scouts project an elite backend bullpen arm if he can't put together the repertoire for starting. He fits the projectable elite tools player the Jays have previously drafted, as well as a player who has been on the "scene" for a while the Jays have drafted in the past as well--see Tolisano, Lopes, etc. He's out of Florida where the Jays have one of their best amateur scouts Tyler Pastornicky's dad. So put all that together and there's a good link. The other fellow BA mocks to the Jays at 22 is DJ Davis. Davis is a late bloomer on the draft scene, well in terms of being on the draft scene for media outlets as I'm sure scouts have been "in" on him for a while. Davis is one of those toolsy HS outfielders with very good speed (some scouts say plus-plus) and a developing hit tool and power potential. He projects to be a good leadoff hitter. Davis hails from Mississippi and several of this years elite high school players reside in the deep south. Dana Brown who is another of the Jays very respected amateur evaluators, and apparently a very nice man, was recently down there to do some last minute evaluations of the crop. Some other names that may entice the Jays as projectable, toolsy players who for some reason or another may fall to the Jays:

Lucas Giolito

An elite right handed high school arm. Very clean mechanics, good body, projectable, and already elite stuff. Has drawn Roy Halladay comparisons. Fastball apparently touching 100mph this spring before being shut down with a strained UCL in his throwing elbow. Has started a throwing program, although the injury coupled with the bonus demands might have already scared off teams outside of the top five or ten. Curveball too is something special and both fastball and curveball have reportedly received 70 grades.

Marcus Stromen

Duke right hander has just this year dedicated himself exclusively to pitching. Is short at 5'9, but more than makes up for it with a dynamic fastball/slider combo and a developing change-up. Flash Gordon is a name that you will see consistently referenced when talking about Stromen, and while his ultimate destination may be in the backend of a bullpen I'm sure the team that drafts him will hope to develop him as a starter...unless the White Sox draft him. The chances of him making it to the Jays are slim, but he'd be good value in my opinion at either 17 or 22.

Deven Marrero

Marrero is another one of those guys consistently spoken of in the discussion for no. 1 leading up this year, however, he has statistically not improved since his rather sensational freshman year at ASU. Marrero is a short stop through and through and will stick there and play excellent defense. He is reported to have good baseball instincts and leadership abilities. His bat, however, is where the questions start. Apparently there are moving parts galore and serious questions whether he'll be able to hit enough to warrant an everyday place in the big leagues. A guy who has been around for a while for scouts and is one of those baseball "rats" every good team needs. A solid pick.

Gavin Cecchini

A big-body HS short stop with good baseball bloodlines as his brother is currently a prospect in the Red Sox system. Good athlete with potential to stick at SS and projection to develop physically and into an elite player. He might not have the defensive projection of Marrero, but he shouldn't be a slouch at SS and brings a lot more stick to the table. The potential he might fall to one of the Jays' picks is slim.

Victor Roache

One of the rare elite college hitting prospects. Did a number to his wrist earlier this year and as a result has not played much. Is a real physical specimen and lit-up the Cape Cod League last summer. Power is his calling card and apparently it is something to behold, although questions undoubtedly will be raised considering the injury. He's got adequate range and arm to play an outfield corner and will likely sign quickly. In my mind the system needs a bat like Roache's. I think he would be a very good pick in the first round.

While there are a number of high school arms, one sticks out the most to me.

Matt Smoral

Smoral is a big (6'8) lefty with good projectability and athleticism. He features a good fastball (90-94) and a wipe out slider. Apparently he shows OK command and tends to miss low in the zone. The delivery looks clean. He had injury issues with his foot which is a bad omen for a guy his size, but there is projection there and athleticism.

There are others I like, and others linked to the Jays. Below are links to draft info. They probably tell it better than I did.

BA's first mock

Baseball Prospect Nation's Most Recent Mock's list of prospects

Seedlings to Stars Mock

Some info on the bonus pools

The draft order

The CBA and rules regarding the rule four draft
ayjackson - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 08:24 PM EDT (#256223) #
should have sent this to Elmslie for a guest post.
sam - Friday, May 11 2012 @ 10:21 PM EDT (#256224) #
Thanks ayjackson.
An Interview with Vince Horsman, May 2012 - Part 2 | 10 comments | Create New Account
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