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High School  | General  | 9/14/2022

A Deeper Dive with PG Tech: Derek Curiel

Jheremy Brown     
Photo: Derek Curiel (Perfect Game)
If you follow along with Perfect Game, either on the website or social media, odds are you're familiar with California native and star center fielder Derek Curiel, the current No. 1 ranked player in the class of 2024. A player we've know about and have watched develop since the 13u level, as he was a member of the inaugural 13u Select Festival, Curiel made his debut at No. 8 in the initial class rankings thanks to a balanced skill set on both offense and defense and has only taken off from there over the last couple of years. The top spot in the rankings is one that Curiel hasn't relinquished since taking it over and it's scary to think he's only getting better nearly every time we see him, as he began tapping into some power this summer we hadn't seen before, which our breakdown below courtesy of PG Tech will show. 

Even back in 2019 in Norman, Okla., Curiel was showing some of the better bat-to-ball skills, showing the same hand-eye coordination and approach at the plate that we see today, something he talked about at this summer's PG Junior National prior to an at-bat. The approach is one that allows him to go with the pitch wherever it's located, whether a heater away or a two-strike breaker that catches too much plate on the inner half, the future LSU Tiger has the barrel accuracy and hand speed to make the necessary adjustment to put the ball in play. 

Lets go back to 2019 again real quick and take a look at Curiel's swing in slow motion and make note of how deep his hands get in his load back as his top arm is basically fully extended in an effort to generate as much bat speed and impact the ball as hard as he could at the time (worth noting he was listed at 5-foot-11, 145 pounds). Now, that aforementioned bat-to-ball skill has always been there for Curiel, as has the quickness to his hands as his numbers suggest, hitting .473 on the year with just 6 strikeouts over 67 plate appearances. So while the arm bar was there, it was also a natural part of his swing and something he had the timing for in his operation, as he was consistently able to get the barrel out front, rather than being a movement that added unnecessary length which inhibited any sort of offensive production. 

As has become a new norm in baseball across all levels, technology adds another component to the evaluation and developmental process for players of all ages, from the 13u/14u levels all the way to Major Leaguers, and it's something PG Tech brings to the table for all players who attend a Perfect Game Showcase. Before we get into breaking down Curiel's numbers and what they mean, this article will go into more depth about how you can best utilize PG Tech to help evolve your overall game. 

Event Avg EV Peak EV Pelvis Torso Arm  Hand Overall Body Speed
2021 PG Underclass AA Games 83 84 71 61 97 49 69.5
2022 PG Underclass AA Games 89 94 96 87 80 82 86.25

* The pelvis/torso/arm/hand/overall body are all speeds represented in percentiles when looking at other players who are built similarly to Curiel. 

Sure, you can look at Curiel's height and weight from the 2021 PG Underclass All-American Games and the 2022 rendition, see he went from 6-foot-1, 168 pounds to 6-foot-2, 175 pounds and make a safe assumption that any type of measurable is going to naturally test higher. While true and obviously even more so if we had numbers from when he was 13 years old, Curiel made some significant jumps across the board aside from one check point (arm speed), which actually dropped 17 percentile points, but by the time we're done breaking things down, it'll make sense (keep that 13u slow mo video in mind).

Again, it's important to keep in mind that these numbers above are percentile ranks amongst players of similar build as the metrics can't all be lumped together. They are dependent on a player's sequences and overall movements in their swing, meaning somebody like Jose Altuve could test higher than say Aaron Judge, more so because he needs to in order to produce certain results where Judge is so strong and physical, a simple flick of the wrist can do the trick without selling out...if that makes sense. So far that reason, things are compartmentalized by a players height/weight so they can be compared to players of similar size in theory. 

Back to the numbers for Curiel and we quickly see all but one category enjoyed a serious jump from average and peak exit velocity (83/84 mph to 89/94 mph) to overall body speed, which jumped nearly 20 points and is an average of the P.T.A.H. speeds. The huge jumps in both pelvis (P) and torso (T) suggests Curiel's strength gains in the midsection not only allow him to torque better and work from his base up through contact better, but also that he's tapped into some of the bigger deficiencies in his swing mechanics, thus sequencing better in his movements while fully utilizing his pelvis and torso in his process. The hand speed is more or less self-explanatory and is a direct result of the physical gains and mechanical adjustments, as is the drop of 17 in the arm speed category. Perhaps "drop" isn't the best adjective to use here. Remember that slow mo video from above I told you to remember? Arm speed is mostly in reference to the top arm, the one Curiel had to fully extended at 13u to generate momentum and gradually did so less each subsequent year leading into 2022. Now that he's stronger and fully engaging both his torso and pelvis in his swing, he's less reliant on that top arm in generating any and all types of force in his swing, instead letting the other areas of his swing do the heavy bulk of lifting while still seeing a serious jump in power projection throughout the summer circuit. 

It's easy to point out some of these gains and differences in a player we've repeatedly seen like Curiel, but with the implementation of PG Tech across all Perfect Game showcases, the collection of data will be at an all-time high, not only for coaches and scouts to look at, but also for players to absorb, break down and improve upon at home with the PG Tech app. 

A look at what each player will see on their personal dashboard within the PG Tech app. 

The difference of physicality from 2021 to 2022 for Curiel in additional to simply looking at his stats and seeing his doubles are +1 (4 up from 3), triples are +3 (5 from 2) and home runs are also +3 (3 from 0), it doesn't take a baseball insider to surmise he got stronger and began hitting the ball with more authority. But by tracking his swing almost a year apart to the day, we see HOW Curiel was able to tap into that power aside from saying "he's bigger and stronger" just like that pitcher who has the invisi-ball that hitters can't hit where metrics tell us it's a low release height with perfect spin rates and carry through the zone. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about how you can improve your exit velocity with PG Tech.