Jupiter TrackMan Leaderboard
professional teams and independent scouts are always searching for
the next thing that will give them the edge in evaluating, recruiting
and discovering players. The age old adage about scouting pitchers
has generally focused on velocity, but looking at how well a pitcher
spins a ball may be just as valuable.
Baseball was the talk of Perfect Game’s biggest tournament of the
year, the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. Through their 3D
radar technology they track 27 points of data that take place on any
given point of a play in baseball, from the time the ball is released
from the pitcher’s hand to when the ball is back in his hand to
start the next pitch.
pitchers want movement on their pitches. The tighter the movement,
the harder it is for a batter to barrel the ball up and drive it. At
Jupiter, a fastball that spun between 2100-2200 revolutions per
minute (RPM) slotted into the 50th percentile. The highest fastball
spin rate was 2685 RPM by Nolan Martinez of GBG Marucci, who also
topped out at 91 mph. In his one inning of work he generated one
swing and miss on his fastball and two weakly hit groundballs that
both left the bat at less than 65 mph.
breaking balls, the number was very similar with the median at
2100-2200 RPM. The highest spin breaking ball was was Texas Scout
Team Yankees righthander Dustin May who spun a 3105 RPM curveball.
May also showed the ability to generate spin on his fastball as well
at 2649 RPM while topping out at 92 mph. Though he did not generate a
swing and miss, he managed to pair his curveball and fastball well
together to get four groundball outs and two strikeouts.
advantage these pitchers have is that they already throw hard. With
both of them already topping 90 mph it gives them an advantage off
the bat; the fact that they generate spin merely helps their cause.
Where the value of RPM comes in finding pitchers who may lack the
prototypical velocity but are still effective.
Andres Alvarez for GBG Marucci was one of the more interesting cases
of this in Jupiter. Alvarez utilized a low three-quarters slot with a
deceptive but repeatable delivery on the mound and threw a fastball
that sat at 84-86 mph and topped out at 88. He spun his fastball at
2511 RPM and paired it with a tight 2507 RPM slider that dominated
hitters. Due to his ability to repeat his release point and keep his
mechanics solid throughout his start, Alvarez managed to toss six
shutout innings allowing just three softly hit singles and striking
out an impressive 13 batters.
the 93 pitches he threw, he generated 24 swings and misses, split
evenly between his fastball and slider. He may not have stood out
just by looking at his velocity, but his ability to generate spin
allows him to miss more barrels and either force those swings and
misses or generate the weak contact that leads to groundballs.
Jupiter, players who hit the ball on the ground had a batting average
of .239. If you look at line drives on the other hand, out of 1,472
plays where a ball was marked as a line drive 1,065 of them fell for
hits. That’s an average of .723.
this isn’t to say that just because a player spins the ball at a
high RPM, that he will in turn have success, the same way that a
player who throws hard won’t necessarily win on that alone. A
pitcher still has to keep the ball down, mix his pitches and follow
through with sound mechanics.
a brief overview, a higher spin rate is considered better, the same
way a higher velocity is. To generate spin allows you to garner more
swings and misses from opposing batters as well as weaker contact in
general. Despite just throwing hard, a pitcher can still leave the
ball straight and over the middle of the plate. If your ball moves
more with tight spin, even at a lower speed, the chances of a batter
barreling up a baseball and driving it in the air decrease.
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