Like most headlines in news media and also all other kinds of media, the headline of this particular media post has been constructed less to fully represent the truth and more to tell a version of the truth that is most compelling to prospective readers. In the case of this title, at least, the infraction is only slight. Indeed, instead of stating that a fifth of Buck Farmer’s pitches are unhittable, it’s only really accurate to state that nearly a fifth of Buck Farmer’s pitches have been swung at and missed. So far, that is.
Buck Farmer, in case it has slipped the reader’s mind, is a right-handed pitching prospect in the Detroit system — ranked third in that system by Kiley McDaniel this offseason, but also absent from McDaniel’s top-200 prospect list.
If accuracy is something with which we’re all concerned, it’s best to note immediately that Farmer has actually produced an 18.8% swinging-strike rate with Triple-A Toledo. The table below reveals the significance of that figure within the context of all 70 qualified Triple-A pitchers thus far. (SwStk% denotes swinging-strike rate. zSwStk denotes standard deviations from the mean of those same qualifiers.)
That data is courtesy Minor League Central, which site encourages one to utilize caution with regard to its pitch data. The data appears (unsurprisingly) to be most robust for the Triple-A level, however — and reason dictates that, whatever omissions might exist, they likely wouldn’t conspire to drop Farmer multiple standard deviations down the leaderboard. Nor would they likely drop him below currentl major-league leader Brandon McCarthy’s mark of 14.6%.
Regardless of the precise number, the first two innings of Farmer’s season debut make for compelling television (available by means of MiLB.TV). By way of example, consider the following visual presentation featuring the final pitch from each of Farmer’s first three plate appearances.
First, by means of this slider:
And then this changeup:
And then this other changeup:
Here’s an excellent changeup he threw to veteran Dan Johnson, Farmer’s fourth batter of the season, in the second inning:
And here’s how the fifth plate appearance ended, too:
Only once did the broadcast for this game cite a velocity figure, but it was a promising one: 96 mph on a Farmer fastball.
Farmer was selected by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 2013 following his senior season at Georgia Tech and signed for $225,000. That is both a round and bonus figure which suggest the possibility of future major-league success, but not the probability of it. At the moment, both the statistical and visual evidence would suggest that Farmer is primed for something better than that.
Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.