Padres Rookie Right-Hander Steven Wilson Has a Captivating Pitch Profile

© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Wilson is a 27-year-old rookie with a captivating pitch profile. His primary offering is a riding, mid-90s fastball delivered with good extension, and from a low vertical approach angle. His breaking ball is a bullet slider that’s he honed with the help of technology. Wilson also has a Vulcan change in his repertoire, although it mostly stays in his back pocket. By and large, the 6-foot-3 right-hander is thriving as a two-pitch pitcher.

An eighth-round senior-sign by San Diego in 2018, Wilson has come out of the Padres bullpen 15 times this season and thrown the same number of innings. With the exception of his most-recent outing — three earned runs allowed in two-thirds of an inning — he’s been very good. The Santa Clara University product has allowed 12 hits, issued five walks, and fanned 17 batters. He’s been credited with three wins and one save.

Wilson — No. 9 on our newly-released San Diego Padres Top Prospects list — discussed his pitch mix when the Friars visited Pittsburgh at the end of April.


David Laurila: How do you get guys out? Can you answer that question without the cliche, “attacking the strike zone”?

Steven Wilson: “Well, that helps. But for me, it’s typically playing the fastball up in the zone, and then throwing a slider off of that. My slider goes down. It has more vertical break — more drop — than most sliders, and less horizontal than most sliders. A lot of people think it’s a curveball, but if you watch it in slo-mo, it actually has bullet spin like a slider. So yeah, fastballs up top and sliders down. Sometimes a changeup down.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jalen Beeks and the Case of the Fun Fact

© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last Saturday, Jalen Beeks had a thoroughly unimportant day at the ballpark. With the Rays trailing Toronto 5-1, he came in to pitch the top of the ninth inning. The stakes? Helping the team hit the showers 10 or 15 minutes earlier, I’d say – he wasn’t going to catapult Tampa to a win with a good performance, what with a four-run deficit and only three outs remaining, but everyone on the team would surely appreciate an efficient outing.

He did it! He got three straight groundball outs. After that, while he presumably changed into his street clothes in the clubhouse, the Rays failed to score in the bottom half of the inning, and the game ended. Thank you for coming to this episode of “FanGraphs Narrates Low-leverage Relief Outings.”

But wait! After this humdrum appearance, an anonymous tipster lit the FanGraphs signal (it’s like the Bat Signal, only with the FanGraphs logo instead). There was more to this half inning than first met the eye. I was on the case. Read the rest of this entry »

San Diego Padres Top 35 Prospects

© Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the San Diego Padres. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. This is the second year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

Mookie Betts Is (Mostly) Fine

© Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

When Mookie Betts scuffled through the first couple weeks of the 2022 season, the Dodgers and their fans had cause for concern. The 29-year-old right fielder was coming off the worst season of his eight-year major league career, one in which he was beset by injuries. With well over $300 million still coming his way over the next two decades (a good chunk of which is deferred), this seemed like an inopportune time for him to demonstrate that he was already well into his decline.

One four-week (and counting) hot streak later, it appears that reports of Betts’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. His overall numbers don’t jump off the page due to his slow start, but in this year’s difficult offensive environment, his .263/.354/.482 line is good for a 141 wRC+, which ranks 14th in the NL, and his 1.6 WAR is tied for sixth. He’s been particularly hot lately, hitting .360/.429/.840 with three doubles and three homers over his past six games.

Betts may have created some unrealistic expectations after being acquired by the Dodgers in a protracted five-player blockbuster in February 2020. He proceeded to ink a 12-year, $365 million deal in July, then help his new team win its first championship in 32 years — and his second in three. In the pandemic-shortened campaign, he hit .292/.366/.562 for a 147 wRC+, his highest mark aside from his 2018 AL MVP-winning campaign (185). His 2.9 WAR placed third in the league, he finished second in the NL MVP voting, and he put on a tour de force during the postseason, showing off his skills at the plate, on the bases, and in the field on a nightly basis, right up through the World Series-clinching Game 6 in which he set up the tying run with a scorching double that was just the Dodgers’ second hit of the night, sped home with the go-ahead run on an infield grounder, and added an insurance run via a late homer. Read the rest of this entry »

Player’s View: Who Is the Most Underrated Player in the Game?

© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the most underrated player in the game? The question isn’t an easy one, and that’s especially true for the combatants themselves. Asked for their opinions, a handful of players I approached in recent weeks figuratively threw up their hands. Of the 12 who did come up with names, a majority had to chew on the question before providing an answer. Almost to a man, the initial response was some form of, “Man, that’s tough.”

I posed the question with one ground rule. Players were allowed to name a current teammate, but only if they also named someone from another team. I also offered leeway on “most.” If choosing just one was too challenging, they could simply give an example of a player they consider to be underrated.

The answers, all procured at Fenway Park, are as follows.


Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

“I’ll say Kyle Tucker. I think he’s one of the top-five best players in the league. He doesn’t get enough credit. For me, he’s an MVP type of player. I think he’s going to win multiple MVPs in his career.

“A guy on another team… give me a minute. I’ll say Javier Báez. People obviously give him some credit, but I think he is way better than what a lot of people think. What he brings to the team, to the league, to the fans… he’s fun to watch. He’s got power. He hits. He plays defense. He does everything. I would pay for a ticket to watch him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Which Young Players Should Be Next To Sign Long-Term Deals?

Yordan Alvarez
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The main reason why the Astros have been able to survive and thrive despite the departure of a large percentage of the core of their 2017 World Series-winning team is their success in developing their young talent. One of the most prominent of these players, Kyle Tucker, had his breakout season in the shortened 2020 and cemented those gains with a .294/.359/.557, 4.9 WAR 2021 campaign that saw him get his first MVP votes. With Tucker heading to arbitration this winter for the first time, the Astros discussed a long-term contract with their incumbent right fielder in recent weeks, but the deal has apparently fallen through.

While it hasn’t worked out, it’s the right idea. Teams want to lock up their best young players, and many players, especially before they get that first big arbitration bump, are interested in mitigating their personal risk. Wander Franco was more likely than not to beat the $182 million he’ll receive from the Rays and the team they trade him to around 2029, but it also provided him some real security, given he’s still a couple years from arbitration. These types of deals can be win-win.

So who should be the next players to get inked for the long haul? Here are my favorite picks. For each, I’ve included their ZiPS projections for both performance and a fair contract; after all, I don’t own a team, so I don’t have the motivation to pitch any absurdly team-friendly agreements like the one Ozzie Albies signed with the Braves. I’ve also omitted Juan Soto since we’ve already talked about him and a long-term deal quite a bit, most recently in Jay Jaffe’s piece before the season that already has the ZiPS projections. If you want a figure, let’s just say 10 years and all circulating US currency. Read the rest of this entry »

The (Lack of A) Conspiracy Against Pitcher Wins

© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, a reader in my chat asked me a question I had no idea how to answer: Are teams increasingly pulling pitchers from games after 4 2/3 innings, even with the lead, in an attempt to cut down on wins and arbitration payouts? Here’s the question in its entirety:

My snap judgment was “probably not.” After thinking about it for a while longer, my answer is still no – but now I have some neat graphs and charts that will hopefully make the point clear. Without further ado, let’s dive into the shape of league-wide starting pitching trends since 1974, the first year in our database of game logs.

In 1974, the concept of a five-inning start existed, but it was almost an insult. More than a quarter of starts went nine or more innings. That’s hard to do, particularly when that’s an impossible feat for a visiting team that trails after the top of the ninth inning. If that’s roughly a quarter of games (it’s not every game the visiting team loses, but road teams lose more than half of the games they play), that means that roughly a third of eligible starts went at least a full nine. That’s downright wild. Here’s a graph of that wildness:

There were a few short starts, even back in the 1970s – 21% of starts went fewer than five innings. More importantly, a pattern we’ll see repeated again and again is immediately evident. Managers like leaving their pitchers in for a whole number of innings. It’s a natural endpoint to the day, mid-inning pitching changes can be tricky, it’s a way of boosting your starter’s confidence – there are plenty of reasons for this to be the case, and I’m not sure which is most true, but that’s just a fact of baseball. Managers like to pull their starters between innings rather than partway through. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1850: Don’t Squat So Close to Me

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about two of the worst defensive plays of the season, which came courtesy of the Tigers and Nationals, Albert Pujols pitching and walking, the Pirates winning without a hit (but with one correct prediction), and the breakout of Taylor Ward; answer listener emails about banning gray uniforms, baseball jugglers, listing pitchers’ batting handedness in the universal-DH era, vetoing shifts and pitching changes, and catchers squatting too close to hitters; then Stat Blast (1:08:55) about the most consecutive trades made by one team, the best one-day home and road records, and the most back-to-back homers in a season by teams and players, before reflecting on how the (o)possums in the press box in Oakland may get along with their feral-cat neighbors (plus a few postscript updates).

Audio intro: The Society of Rockets, “Error Era
Audio outro: Chip Taylor, “The Possum Hunter

Link to video of Twins-Tigers play
Link to video of Nats-Marlins play
Link to WaPo on the Nats’ defense
Link to team Defensive Efficiency
Link to Tigers’ dropped popup
Link to Nationals’ botched rundown
Link to xWOBA leaderboard
Link to Sam Blum on Ward
Link to Dan Szymborski on Ward
Link to Tyler Kepner on Tylers
Link to Jay Jaffe on the hitless win
Link to García’s prediction
Link to story on VanMeter’s prediction
Link to tweet about VanMeter’s prediction
Link to story about Pujols and Gonzalez
Link to Sam on Pujols not walking
Link to Allen juggling on SI cover
Link to video of Peña juggling
Link to video of Guillorme juggling
Link to video of Dietrich juggling
Link to other video of Dietrich juggling
Link to article about Olympic juggling
Link to Jeff on catcher’s interference rates
Link to EW email questions database
Link to Stathead
Link to Stat Blast data on back-to-back HR
Link to MLBTR on Ford trades
Link to story about Schwarber as bench coach
Link to tweet about Wilson as coach
Link to press-box possum pic
Link to Opossum Society FAQ
Link to possum vs. opossum definitions
Link to tweet about Morel’s called shot
Link to video of Nats’ latest misplay(s)

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The Diamondbacks Are the Majors’ Most Improved Team

© Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Last year’s National League West race was a doozy, with the 107-win Giants outpacing the 106-win Dodgers, but this year’s race is shaping up to be an interesting one for a different reason. Through Sunday, all five teams owned winning percentages of .500 or better, though Monday’s loss by the Rockies (17-18), part of a 1-7 skid, upset that arrangement. Even so, it’s an impressively strong division headed by the Dodgers (22-12), with the Padres (22-13) and Giants (21-14) close behind, and the Diamondbacks (18-18) and Rockies playing quite respectably, and much improved over last season.

The biggest surprise of the bunch is the Diamondbacks, who just last year tied the Orioles for the majors’ worst record at 52-110 and finished a honkin’ 55 games out of first place. The team did not have a high-impact offseason; the only free agents the Diamondbacks signed to major league deals were starter Zach Davies and relievers Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy, with Melancon’s two-year deal the only one stretching beyond 2022. They weren’t exactly big players in the trade market, either, with Sergio Alcántara and Jordan Luplow representing their highest-profile acquisitions. That pair has combined for 103 plate appearances and 0.1 WAR, and Alcántara was DFA’d and lost to the Padres via waivers earlier this month. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday Scouting Notes: 5/17/22

© Andrew Jansen/News-Leader / USA TODAY NETWORK

This season, Eric and Tess Taruskin will each have a minor league roundup post that runs during the week, with the earlier post recapping some of the weekend’s action. You can read previous installments of our prospect notes here.

Nick Loftin, CF, Kansas City Royals
Level & Affiliate: Double-A NW Arkansas Age: 23 Org Rank: TBD FV: 45
Weekend Line: 4-for-9, 2B, HR, SB

Loftin, who was drafted as a shortstop, was first listed as an outfielder on the Royals’ 2022 winter minicamp roster and has begun a transition to center field, playing there exclusively so far in 2022. It’s a logical move given the glut of middle infielders ahead of him in the org, and it’s worth noting that the Royals timed it so Loftin would have two seasons of play prior to his 40-man deadline day to make the move. While Loftin still needs some technical polish (for instance, he has a tendency to backpedal rather than turn his hips and run, and he doesn’t look comfortable with at-’em balls) and often looks like a recent conversion guy out there, his gap-to-gap range is very exciting, and he has the pure speed to be an above-average or better center field defender with reps.

Much more polished is Loftin’s bat. He’s extremely tough to beat with velocity and squares up fastballs with regularity, spraying them into both gaps. He keeps things incredibly simple at the plate, which is part of why he has made such consistent contact, but one can imagine him making more athletic use of his lower half and adding more power eventually. Loftin is also a very wiry, pretty skinny guy. He’s 23, so maybe the cement on his body is dry, but between his frame still having room for mass and his swing perhaps housing dormant power, there are a few potential avenues for him to add thump. Right now he profiles as a contact-oriented center fielder, a profile that’s currently pretty scarce across baseball. Myles Straw is a more extreme contemporary example. Read the rest of this entry »