FanPost

Jansen, Lee, Rubby and the Nature of Challenging Pitchers


I'm of the opinion that pitching prospects need to be challenged, and I'll explain why.

The main issue with pitchers as opposed to hitters is the nature of "stuff". A pitcher's "stuff" most commonly refers to the velocity and movement of his fastball and the movement on his offspeed pitches. Sometimes, you run across a pitcher whose stuff is simply too good for the competition he's facing to challenge. Occassionally, a pitcher's stuff won't be challenged at all by any level of minor leaguer hitter and the talent evaluators don't really know what they have until he runs into Major League hitters. A problem we run into when putting our hopes on the minor league production of players like...

...Kenley Jansen. A converted catcher, his bat simply wasn't good enough against even Rookie or Low-A pitching, never having an OPS over .700 at any minor league level. Turned into a pitcher, he has a blazing 97mph fastball and a newfound cutter that is still thrown in the 92-94mph range. In a matter of months, Jansen was setting AA on fire with 16.7K/9 and a 1.67ERA. His stuff is simply too good to be challenged by minor league hitters. Fast forward to mid-2010 and Jansen's stuff is still playing well as he lights up Major League hitters to the tune of a 0.67 ERA and 13.7K/9 rate in 27 IP. However, once the league was given a couple months and an offseason to both see his stuff live and to develop patterns and tendencies through video studies (I'm going to throw fastballs now), they adjusted to him. His K/9 is still sky high at 15.3 because his stuff plays, but it's the fine-tuning of things such as offspeed pitches, consistent mechanics and, by extension, location of his stuff that is going to determine if Kenley Jansen becomes a Major League stalwart or the next Juan Cruz. If the goal is to see if Kenley Jansen can develop location and an offspeed pitch, he needs to do so in AAA where results don't matter as much as progress. If the goal is to see if Kenley Jansen can get out hitters with the stuff he has now, he needs to be in Los Angeles working with Major league coaching against Major League hitters. His domination of the minor leagues based purely on stuff is something I expect from...

...Zack Lee. Lee is a talent who, despite his age, has stuff that is dominating Low-A already. A hard fastball with two plus offspeed pitches, Lee's stuff appears to be too good to correctly determine his talent level against Low-A offenses. He needs to be moved to AA and allowed to struggle, likely the first time in his life, to both see how he adjusts to older competition and adversity. His walks are a little high for my liking, sure, but that's mostly nitpicking on a pitcher fresh to professional baseball dominatinga  league full of players two years older than him. I don't think there is an issue with moving him up too quickly and it stunting growth because I find that while hitters need to slowly advance against increasingly difficult offspeed pitches, pitchers tend to rise and grow with the level of their competition. Meaning, if a hitter can't hita  MLB curveball, he won't be able to hit in the Major Leagues. If a pitcher can't get out a MLB hitter with his curveball, he'll be forced to learn to locate it better, adjust it's delivery (velocity, trajectory, what count it's thrown in), or scrap it altogether. I would move Lee up to AA before his next start, taking the rotation spot of...

...Rubby De La Rosa. Stop me if you've heard this one before: Sinking fastballs at 97-100mph, plus changeup, above average curveball, Rubby's stuff is clearly otherworldly. He has been trending up with his K/9 and down with his BB/9 outside of his AA stint at the end of last year which I attribute to it being double his previous career high in innings pitched. Now back fresh in AA to start the season, Rubby has an 11.9 K/9 with a 3.0 BB/9. We are almost at the halfway point of the MiLB season, and he needs to be moved to AAA to see if his stuff plays in a ballpark similar to 40% of the NL West (Coors, Chase) against hitters either on their way into the division or on their way out. He has nothing left to prove at AA and should also be moved to AAA before his next start. He's a good example of how...

...hitters need to be coddled and brought along, while a pitcher, with the exception of developing a new pitch a la Mariano Rivera, basically is what he is. They may develop confidence in their stuff and begin to challenge the strike zone more the longer they stay in a lower level, which is a good trait to develop, but all they'll learn is that they can challenge hitters who are beneath them ability-wise. The real confidence is in being moved up a level and learning that you can challenge hitters at a level that was previously over your head. Before the month is over, I think Rubby should be a Tope, Lee should be on the Lookout, and the Dodgers front office needs to figure just exactly what they want out of Kenley Jansen then stick to that plan no matter what the Major league team's needs are. The only thing that is going to stunt Jansen's development more than not having a good coaching staff around him are the trips to and from Albuquerque. I hope he stays down and works with AJ Ellis on his all-around pitching game, or he stays in MLB and is allowed to work with what he has and see if that's good enough. Personally, I'd rather see him struggle and adjust in MLB than waste those fastballs in AAA, but I'd also hate for the guy to struggle and get booed like other struggling relief pitchers have in the last couple years.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join True Blue LA

You must be a member of True Blue LA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at True Blue LA. You should read them.

Join True Blue LA

You must be a member of True Blue LA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at True Blue LA. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker