I think the title should read Scouting the RedHawks: Jordan Lyles, because that was the main event. The Oklahoma City pitching staff is still nothing that stands out like the lineup. The lineup is quietly a strong lineup, but the pitching staff only has a few impressive arms, and even fewer real prospects. To be honest, I think the manager feels the same as he seemed to use the same few pitchers every night. Both Fernando Rodriguez and Jose Valdez pitched multiple innings on Tuesday and came in to pitch on one nights rest on Thursday. But, since then he's lost his closer in Jose Valdez, and judging by the game threads, ya'll seem to be fans of his.
As I said before, I'm not a scout. But, I am pretty confident in my abilities to evaluate pitchers as whether or not they'll be major leaguers and how well they'll do. It's a little easier to do at this level because they are just a step away. It's a little more difficult as you get further down the ladder and into amateurs. At the lower levels, you can get by with pure stuff or outstanding control/command. But, as you move up, they both have to improve. At this level, you can still get by without either one being great, but you've have to have developed them a good bit. Pitchers are facing top prospects and guys who have major league experience, you can't make too many mistakes.
After the jump, I evaluate what I saw as well as comments from a scout on Lyles. Plus, as an added bonus, I've got a clip of a few warm-up pitches from Lyles.
I showed up late to his outing, so I didn't even see a full inning of his two inning start. I said last year that I wasn't a fan of moving him to the rotation in AA. He had a little success from the rotation but he is struggling this year. He has some good stuff but he doesn't induce enough groundouts to be a rotation candidate in my opinion. From what I remember and few reports that I've seen, he uses his changeup a lot along with his fastball. He obviously can have success with it, thats how he has moved all the way up to the majors. He has the stuff and he can control it, but the command is lacking. He gets it in the zone but can't pinpoint his location. He's leaving it higher in the zone and the quad-A lineup of Nashville (sorry Ol' Pete) took advantage of it.
Villar was out of uniform Thursday night and was in the stands with the gun and I got a chance to talk with him briefly. He's a very laid back guy and not cocky at all. He was very appreciative letting him know that there are fans out there who know who he is and are cheering for his success.
I'm not real big on the guy. I know a few of ya'll like him. To me he's a situational lefty. I like him better than the name that shall not be mentioned, that manned the LOOGY role in Houston last year. So, thats good that we have a guy in AAA who is better than him. He had success when I saw him, he wasn't what I would call dominant, yet effective. His stuff isn't the best, but when he's on he can command his pitches.
Hyphen is very similar to Chacin in that the stuff isn't great but can control his pitches, at times. Hyphen left a lot of his pitches up and had trouble commanding his stuff. I'd be more comfortable with Chacin right now as a reliever call up.
You all saw his side-arm delivery in ST and know that he gives a different look. His fastball does have good movement because of that delivery. He may not get this sink others might, but his horizontal movement is solid. He may still need a little more work before his gets his shot in Houston.
I mentioned in a recap that his results could be misleading. His stuff is good. He throws hard, very hard. He really makes the mitt pop. But, have you ever heard the phrase, "wildly effective?' Thats Fien. He can get the ball in the strike zone, but I honestly don't think he knows where it's going. The majority of his pitches looked good, until you noticed that the catcher was having to really work to catch the balls. But, because his stuff is hard, he got a lot of swing throughs. I like his stuff and if he can command them, we'll be talking about a late-inning pitcher. But, he's got work to do.
If anyone else gets called up to work in the major league bullpen, this has to be the guy. He doesn't throw as hard as Fien or Jose Valdez, but he has good movement on his breaking ball and can command it the majority of the time. He is fairly efficient in his pitch counts which allows him to pitch two or three innings at times. I really like this pitcher. I don't know exact velocities, but I'd say a low 90's fastball.
I don't know much more than ya'll know now. Mid 90's fastball that he gets low in the zone along with a power curve that he can also pound the bottom of the strike zone with. He consistently gets his pitches in the lower half and his stuff is hard enough that he can get swing throughs against hitters with slower bat speeds.
The moment you all have been waiting for. He had one rough inning where a few pitches missed a little high that were taken advantage of. The big one though came on a pitch down and in I believe, that Brenden Katin took deep. The scout we talked to doesn't really know what happened with that pitch, but he honestly didn't care about that pitch. Those things will happen on occasion.
He worked primarily 89-92 with the 89 being the two-seamer and the 91-92 being his four-seam. For the most part he worked low with the two-seam and occasionally going up with the four-seam. His changeup, as always, was solid and got a few swing throughs. But, the main pitch I want to talk about is his curve. OremLK mentioned last year that his curve was night and day from when he was drafted and in Lexington. The old loopy curve is gone and its now a sharp break. It also looks like it comes in a lot harder than it used to. I think there were only a few good swings on it the whole night. The ball was consistently diving underneath bats and making hitters look silly. The command of it at times can still lack as there were a few curves that he threw high out of the zone, but they still were sharp breaks. I asked the scout if he like the curve and his simple response was a grin and an "oh yeah, it was good."
As for his rough spots this season, I wouldn't be surprised if they were coming off of his mistake curves up in the zone that are being capitalized on. It's unusual for guys his age to be able to completely command a curve or any other breaking ball, for that matter. There's no reason to worry about it at this point. Shamus brought up a good point yesterday in that he could be working particular pitches right now, and that seems very likely. He threw several pitches back to back throughout the night which indicates he could be doing exactly that.
Jordan Lyles.wmv (via bparker11)