Yesterday (as I wrote in the short posts after the trades), the Mariners traded Steve Delabar for Eric Thames and then Brandon League for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom. So today, I watched some of their games and posted some notes:
The left-handed hitter has an open stance but brings it in when the pitch is thrown. In just watching him swing, I didn’t think his bat speed was an issue. When he was drafted in 2008, reports were that he had good power along with a good swing. However, he was blown away by some good fastballs in the games and videos I watched. He also had problems laying off the breaking ball. It isn’t an overly violent swing but is certainly a powerful one. Thames is an aggressive hitter, looking for fastballs. It seemed like pitchers were working him low.
Here is Thames spray chart courtesy of Texas Leaguers:
Almost all of his power and most of his hits are pulled. Here are the pitches he has swung at in his career:
As you can see, pitches tend to want to throw it inside on him, suggesting some bat speed problems. He likes to swing at the high fastball, as the hitter tool from Baseball Prospectus and Brooks Baseball shows:
As I noted above, he also chases the breaking ball:
Defensively, his arm is bad as advertised. There isn’t a lot of strength behind it. He is an awkward runner, with not good speed at all and it really limits his range.
When promoted last year to the Majors for the first time, he was seen as a guy who is most likely a platoon player. He has shown massive splits in the minors, but so far in the Majors he has only been slightly above league average against right-handers while not very good at all against lefties. Baseball America says that he could still possibly hit 15-20 homers a year, but isn’t sure whether or not he will be worth playing enough to get to that point.
The relief pitcher has good size but is not big. He attacks the zone with fastballs and it looked like he was pitching to contact. The right-hander was hitting 92-93 MPH on his fastball. He threw his breaking ball (a slider) for a strike, but his fastball is definately his feature pitch, throwing it almost exclusively. Despite monster strikeout rates, I am not sure how he misses bats with this stuff. He got some whiffs on high fastballs when I saw him, but it isn’t overly impressive unless he is just hiding it really well (which doesn’t appear to be the case with a pretty normal looking delivery). He relies on placing the fastball both high and low and moving it all over the zone. Some of them seemed to have a little bit of sink. He walks a lot of hitters, and it appears that he is just slinging the fastball. He may not be intentionally locating it everywhere.
Landry was the lead-off hitter for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He looks like an aggressive hitter, wanting to swing the bat (but he wasn’t wildly chasing). He seems to make pretty good contact, other than a couple fastballs that were blown by him. His size and style of play point to a center field profile, despite playing left field when I saw him. Baseball America says he can play center, but probably projects as a 4th outfielder. While he will never be a power hitter, he isn’t just a slap hitter, as he can drive the ball pretty well. He looks like a good athlete out in the field, which made sense as he was repeatedly trying to bunt for hits. However, he was hitting a lot of balls in the air (after unsuccessful bunts), which doesn’t let him take advantage of his speed (I timed him to first at about 4.06, which is pretty fast although not burner speed). His arm didn’t look very good, especially struggling with accuracy, in the times I saw him throw.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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