Giants Prospect Seth Corry Is on the Rise After Conquering the Sally

Seth Corry dominated in his second full professional season. Pitching for the Augusta GreenJackets, the 2017 third-round pick had both the lowest ERA (1.76) and the most strikeouts (172) of any pitcher at the A-ball level. Moreover, at age 20, he allowed just 73 hits in 122.2 innings. Rightly honored as the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year, the lefty will head into 2020 ranked No. 11 on our San Francisco Giants Top Prospects list.

The Alpine, Utah native attributes his breakout to a better understanding of the art of pitching. A lot of the credit for that goes to a fellow southpaw who was more guile than power during his playing days.

“My pitching coach this year was Clay Rapada,” explained Corry. “I call him — in funny terms, but seriously, too — ‘My saving grace.’ He’s the coach I not only wanted, but the coach I needed. He taught me things that I’ll cherish for the rest of my career.”

Pupil and mentor have little in common when it comes to raw ability. According to Corry, that’s why the former big-league reliever’s lessons were so valuable.

“I’m considered a power lefty, so what was always in my head was, ‘Throw a hard fastball, throw a nasty curveball in the dirt,’” Corry told me at the conclusion of his 2019 campaign. “But once you start moving up the ranks, that’s not always going to work. When [Rapada] pitched, he was more of a lefty sidearmer. He didn’t have nasty, nasty stuff, so he had to command his pitches. He helped show me how I don’t always have to throw hard, and throw curveballs in the dirt. That’s not something I was 100% clueless about, but I learned even more that you can command the ball and still be a power lefty.”

Rapada echoed the youngster when asked about those specific strides.

“He was able to grow from kind of just relying on his stuff,” the one-time LOOGY told me. “He started to learn how to tunnel pitches, how to work off his pitches, how to recognize swings. That, as opposed to just throwing his guts on the table with every single pitch, and hoping that his stuff wins.”

He didn’t lose many battles in the Sally this summer. Corry allowed as many as three earned runs in a game just once, and there was a five-game stretch where he fanned 44 batters, and allowed just seven hits, in 28-and-two-thirds innings. Young for the league, he was often overpowering.

Repertoire-wise, Corry features two- and four-seam fastballs that typically range from 92-95 mph, a 12-6 curveball in the 80-82 range, and a two-seam changeup that sits 84-86.

Rapada called Corry’s curveball his “true out pitch,” and his changeup “the pitch he’s had the most growth with.” His four-seam has natural ride, and occasionally some cut. And then there’s his two-seam. Thrown less frequently than the four, it was often effective for reasons you might not expect.

“I’ve found that when I throw my two-seam up and away [to righties], I get a lot of swings and misses,” Corry told me. “When I throw it down, it’s two-seam sink, but when it’s up, it has this tailing to it. Not a sink tail, but a little bit of a rise tail, running up and away from the batter. It’s weird.”

It’s also not entirely purposeful, nor is it what Rapada would like to see.

“His two-seam has some natural arm-side run,” said the fourth-year pitching coach. “When his mechanics are on point, it has tilt to go along with the run. And when you have something coming down, and tailing away, it’s not only a good pitch, it opens up the four-seam in. That’s a pitch he threw effectively this year.”

Well-placed four-seamers are what made the tailing two-seamers effective.

“Once Seth really established in, you saw guys trying to cheat in” said Rapada. “Then, with the action going away, he got some bad swings on the up and away. That’s where a lot of his misses were. They may have been effective, but it wasn’t always the plan.”

Corry’s command continues to be a work in progress. His 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings were impressive, but his 4.3 walks per nine left something to be desired. Inconsistent mechanics were part of the problem, but they weren’t the only thing driving up pitch counts and putting runners on base. Despite Rapada’s guidance, Corry sometimes found himself hunting Ks rather than pitching purposefully.

“That did happen,” admitted Corry, who turned 21 earlier this month. “Sometimes I’d find myself getting into full counts because I already had seven or eight [strikeouts] in the game, and I wanted more. So I’d try to paint a corner, or throw a really nasty curveball, instead of just attacking the hitter. That’s when I’d kind of have to check myself. Sometimes that can be difficult, but it needs to be done.”

And the mechanical inconsistencies were indeed there. While Corry feels he’s been able to “fine-tune my arm path a little bit, to get it more in sync with my body” he was nonetheless prone to… well, get out of sync with his body.

“Once I break my hand out of my glove, and down to my legs… sometimes my arm will be going toward first,” explained Corry. “It would break out away from my body, rather than straight back down to my side. I need to keep it in line, and more compact with my body. I mean, having a flying arm, out in nowhere, doesn’t make any sense. To throw the ball, you’ve got to bring it down and up, not out, down, back, and up.”

An inconsistent delivery makes for an inconsistent spin rate. Corry told me that his four-seam was “anywhere from 2,300 to 2,500” rpm this year, while his curveball was “between 2,700 and 2,900.” Rapada has been around the block enough times to understand why that was.

“I don’t want to give specific numbers, but there was a separation of spin rate,” Rapada said. “There were some starts where he’d struggle — he would try to force some things — so his stuff didn’t come out as clean as it should. He’s a young pitcher. It’s simply a matter of him having a clean and simple direction, and slowing everything down. [But] he’s very receptive to making adjustments as needed, and he’s able to focus on the tasks at hand. Seth has development in front of him, but he’s got a huge upside.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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