My favorite part of Spring Training is the Pitch F/X data available at two of the Arizona Pitch F/X parks at Surprise and Peoria. Luckily, the Mariners play in Peoria, so for their “home games” we get Pitch F/X data. This allows us to get advanced looks at pitchers we normally wouldn’t get to. Today, I wanted to look at Andrew Carraway, who made a one inning appearance out of the bullpen on Friday, his first outing in a publicly available Pitch F/X park. I have seen Carraway pitch multiple times on MiLB.TV with Tacoma, and Marc of USSMariner did a great interview with Carraway that has a lot of great information on him, but this post will be basically all Pitch F/X data, as we try to see if we can learn anything about him from his short outing. He threw 9 pitches, so again, we have to emphasize that it is a small sample size.
Of the 9 he threw, 6 of them were fastballs, and they averaged 89.53 MPH, touching exactly 90 MPH. The fastballs were somewhat different in GameDay break from a pitch to pitch bias, but was around 4″ 12″ BRK. In movement, the pitch is really similar to Pete Ruiz (from Arizona Fall League data), who throws harder, but also hasn’t made AA yet.
According to the Pitch F/X movement data, his 4-seam fastball is very similar to Freddy Garcia’s, even in velocity. Since the Pitch F/X era out of starting pitchers that have thrown at least 200 fastballs, Garcia’s is one of the worst fastballs in both getting grounders and getting whiffs. Of course, just from a scouting report, we know Carraway has some deception, but not a very good fastball. We know that having a good fastball is extremely important to MLB success, and it looks like he has a bad fastball. What about his other pitches?
He threw a cutter at 84.28 MPH. It could be a slider, but interestingly MLBAM data (the non adjusted data) had him not throwing the cutter, but instead throwing 2 changeups. Considering that the movement is so different on the two pitches, they are probably not the same pitch. The one that was designated a cutter by the Brooks Baseball classifications has 6″ 6″ break according to GameDay, which is what we saw from Paul Demny’s cutter in the Arizona Fall League, though Demny’s is thrown harder. For what it is worth, you can find 4-seam fastballs, changeups, and sliders with somewhat similar movement.
If it is a cutter, it has nice vertical movement compared to other cutters, but it’s closest comps are somewhat mixed, Dice-K, Brian Bannister, and Horacio Ramirez. Horacio, as Mariner fans well know, struggled in the Majors, and actually has the worst whiff/swing % out of qualified cutters. Daisuke and Bannister also didn’t get many whiffs. They were also average to below average in grounders as well. It doesn’t appear that it is a good cutter if the readings are accurate.
His curveball was at 77.86 MPH with 12″ 4″ BRK according to GameDay. It is hard to find comparisons for his curve because, while his 12 inch break is obviously quite common, his 4 PFX inch break is much lower than other curves. I can’t think that it is a good thing though.
In horizontal movement, it is most like JA Happ’s, on the dramatic side of not much movement. On the vertical side, it is most like Mike Minor and P.J. Walters’, around the middle, but on the lower end of vertical movement. Both of those curveballs have a good whiff/swing %, but they are both mediocre at best at getting grounders. Happ’s is sort of mediocre at both, better at getting grounders than whiffs.
Carraway’s Changeup was at 85.68 MPH. 8″ 8″ BRK according to GameDay. That seems like a hard changeup, and Perioa is known for classifying slow fastballs as changeups (there was a controversy with Felix last year). However, the break was much much different than his fastballs, suggesting that it was a true change.
In vertical movement his change is below average, most similar to Casey Coleman. Carraway’s change is a little harder, but Coleman’s change is below average in both grounders and whiffs.
So across the board, it seems that Carraway’s pitches are well below average. Of course, there are other things that go into pitching as well, such as command and, the deception that Carraway seems to have. With the Pitch F/X data we have, we can’t really quantify these things. However, we can see where he releases the ball. In picture format:
For comparison, let’s look at the data from Hector Noesi’s start of the game
While I was initially a little surprised at how far out Carraway released the ball out because of his somewhat unorthodox delivery, he clearly releases the ball higher and closer to his body than Noesi (which is a good thing because Noesi has gigantic platoon splits. Carraway doesn’t have real platoon splits and is actually slightly better against lefties than righties). Kameron Loe is a guy who I would say sort of comes over the top (though he has large platoon splits), but Carraway releases the ball closer to his body than Loe does (though obviously not as high). Just looking at spin charts, he is pretty normal, his fastball spinning about 200 degrees, his curve barely spinning, and his change about 250 degrees. This is comparative to Felix Hernandez, and pretty normal. The “other change” that the MLB tags obviously misidentified is clearly shown as a mistake by looking at the spin chart. Since it is right at the fastball, cutter seems like a likely explanation (for comparison, Felix’s “cutter” spins less than his fastball, sinker more than his fastball, and his slider is inconsistent, but does not spin much at all, which probably rules out Carraway’s misidentified pitch as a slider):
Since we are working with absurdly small sample sizes, obviously Pitch F/X isn’t going to help us with trends or anything, but, with all the cautiousness put out in the open, it does appear that he likes to work glove side, that is, away, from right-handed hitters. I think these two different views show this:
Again, this could be just randomness in an absurdly small sample size, just how he pitched in a couple at-bats, a control lapse, or any number of other things. However, it would make sense that he would work away from right-handed hitters since he doesn’t throw hard.
I obviously want to see a larger sample size of data when it comes to Carraway, and we should get more data as spring training comes along, but this should help color how we look at him, especially watching him throughout spring training and in Tacoma during the season.