Mark Sappington Moves To The Pen, Throws Harder

When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide a short background and industry consensus tool grades. There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.

The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what he would’ve seen in many other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and very shortly I’ll publish a series going into more depth explaining these grades. -Kiley

Mark Sappington, RHP, Inland Empire 66ers (LAA, High-A – most recently viewed 9/8 at Inland)

Sappington was a classic small school, power arm pop-up guy in the 2012 draft out of Rockhurst U. in Missouri; the Angels took the 6’5/210 righty in the 5th round. Most scouts saw enough effort in the delivery that they had Sappington as a relief-only guy but the Angels had him work on a changeup and tried him as a starter. This year, that experiment appeared to end and, as Ron reports below, they’re simplifying things to hopefully fast-track him as a late-inning arm.  His delivery is higher effort and his fastball is harder in the relief role, but the command is still holding back Sappington’s results and the slider isn’t good enough to profile in the 8th/9th inning.

Fastball: 60/65, Slider, 45/50+, Command: 35/45, FV: 40   –Kiley

Mark Sappington entered the season as one of the Angels top prospects, and he may still be just that because of how depleted the farm system is. But make no mistake about it, 2014 was a very difficult year in which he took a few developmental steps backwards in comparison to last season.

Fastball: 60/65

When someone possesses Sappington’s size, one would expect consistently plus or better fastball velocity. But he never showed me that last year, instead displaying inconsistent velocity while failing to hold his velocity throughout an entire outing. But that was when Sappington was still taking the ball every fifth day as a starting pitcher and working with a much different delivery than he is now.

The 23-year-old is now comfortably working his fastball at 94-95 mph, thanks to being able to pitch in short-bursts as a reliever. As shown in the embedded video above, the velocity is being forced out of him, as he’s scratched his tall-and-fall mechanics from last season.

While he is now pitching in the mid-90s, the pitch doesn’t have the effectiveness of a plus-plus pitch, due to a lack of movement or late life. There also present command issues that will linger, because I have a tough time seeing being worked out given his current mechanics.

Slider: 45/50+

Sappington had previously pitched with a slider and breaking ball, but he’s now showing just one breaking ball in his trimmed down arsenal. The slider is more of a hybrid breaking ball than it has been in the past, perhaps even a power curveball, touching anywhere from 85-87 mph on the radar gun.  The pitch features above-average depth with short breaking action to the glove side, but it will fail to garner a heavy dose of whiffs from opposing batters due to a lack of lethal bite or great command.

The pitch would presently grade out as a below-average offering, but shows potential to reach solid-average in the near future. It should get there in time, too, now that Sappington has shortened his arsenal and can now focus on making this pitch his best and only secondary offering. He has the feel, but just needs the repetitions now.

Command: 35/45

One reason why Sappington is no longer a starter is because of his poor command. At times, he can lose feel for the zone despite being more control than command to begin with. The future command outlook is murky as well, due to the mechanics of his revamped delivery.

Sappington’s simplified the delivery to get the most velocity out of his arm as possible. The delivery looks forced, and is tough to watch from a side angle as a result. He’s putting heavy stress on his arm and shoulder by staying upright and stiff throughout his motion. The arm action creates red flags, as it is stiff getting through and features a wrist wrap early in its stroke. With a lack of feel and significant issues within the delivery, it’s difficult to project the command reaching average or better.


Sappington had the body and hyper-competitive nature that talent evaluators are always looking for in starting pitchers, but that dream is now over. The present profile ultimately points towards the role of a middle reliever, where he will be able to work mid-90s heat in a quick, short look.

The slider is presently lacking for him to provide the anymore value than that, as the pitch quite frankly isn’t a weapon. But even if the breaking ball made a full grade jump forward, the command will be holding Sappington back as it has in the past. The noted red flags in his delivery won’t be fixable without significant mechanical changes, and neither party can wait for that as he will soon be turning 24 years of age.

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Sandy Kazmir
9 years ago