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Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #1 by Jordan Tuwiner » November 11th, 2010, 4:23 pm

Zach Britton

Adam Foster wrote:The more I look at how Britton leverages (stiff front leg) toward home, the less confident I am in him handling a SP's workload.


Adam Foster wrote:Just pounded out a top 10 pitching prospect. Zach Britton's short stride & armsy delivery didn't help him in our rankings.


Manny Machado

Adam Foster wrote:I want to believe in Manny Machado, but as a hitter, he isn't in the same league as Nick Castellanos.


Adam Foster wrote:Got a glowing report tonight on Machado from a scout who saw him in HS. Been waiting to hear something like that before I jumped on board.


Adam Foster wrote:Much stronger core from Castellanos. Better balance. Better approach. RT @USA_FutureWatch Any further explanation on Castellanos v. Machado?
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #2 by Shorebirdfan » November 11th, 2010, 7:48 pm

So the guy who listed Josh Bell ahead of Madison Bumgarner and Dominic Brown on his 2010 prospects list isn't a big fan of Britton or Machado? Yeah, I'm OK with that.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #3 by Jordan Tuwiner » November 11th, 2010, 10:40 pm

Shorebirdfan wrote:So the guy who listed Josh Bell ahead of Madison Bumgarner and Dominic Brown on his 2010 prospects list isn't a big fan of Britton or Machado? Yeah, I'm OK with that.


http://projectprospect.com/article/2010 ... spect-list

They certainly missed on a few guys, but they also had guys like Mike Leake and Dan Hudson pretty high up. They do a good job of going out and seeing players, and they were on the ball with their concerns of injury with Strasburg.

They don't have as many contacts as Baseball America, but they do a nice job of combining what they see with what they hear from scouts and putting it all together.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #4 by Don » November 12th, 2010, 11:53 am

Image

While that site is more responsible without adding agenda, cough cough BA, they do not have the vast amount of resources to see every guy every time out. What little people know this year was Britton had some stiffness in his right knee spanning 5-6 weeks? He would have looked stiff with the front leg and unless you have a great deal of knowledge about leverage, etc... it heightens the arm action as a result.

If you look at the photo above I can clearly point out what is to like about his repeatable delivery.

1. Slot/ Arm angle of glove hand - He elbow is below the shoulder girdle. He starts to pull in the glove hand towards his body right before planting. This along with the plant show a solid downward plane action.

2. Slight knee bend - I agree you never want to be stiff, but you want enough flexion. I stress to those I teach adjusting somewhere between 30-45 degree angle. The angle is important because it allows the push off from the back leg and move the hips, etc... towards the plate. Too little and not enough force to drive and too much zaps most of the power. Injury concerns are high with little knee bend in the planting foot. Pitchers would tend to generate too much arm torque. Britton is clearly fine with this when completely healthy. It might be a fatigue problem, but from a mechanical standpoint it is not a concern I would have as his pitching coach.

3. Arm of throwing hand - His elbow and slot are simply outstanding and repeatable. Elbow is below the shoulder and the ball is facing first base. There is little pressure on the shoulder girdle and elbow.

Whiel he is not bashing him to say that he is a "doomed" pitcher. I do not know what he was seeing to make those assessments. One bad outing or someone showing tape of a bad outing. I have seen Zach Britton throw 6 times in the past two years. I am not as concerned about his long term makeup and feel that he stuff could be mid-rotation. His slider is good enough to keep hitters honest and I consider it an "Out" pitch. Combine this with a solid locating low to mid 90's fastball and a quality change up, his makeup can last through the order more than once. This is why I feel he can stick as a starter.
Last edited by Don on November 12th, 2010, 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #5 by Don » November 12th, 2010, 12:08 pm

I want to be a little more clear if you want to teach anyone.

The plant of your front leg should start at roughly 30-45 degrees, but it is natural to bend down even greater as a result driving forward towards the plate. The pitcher would have the ball by the earhole and the front leg should be easily 75-85 degrees bent.

When Foster is talkng about the short stride, it is the plant foot in relation to the glove as a giant key indicator. He probably could kick it out a few inches more with his stride, but it is nothing alarming to suggest injury or command concerns. He could see an increase in velocity with a slightly better hip turning and a small increase in stride should do it, but at what risk. This setup is not going to harm him and he already has control with low to mid 90's fastball.

Each can have thier opinion, but nothing stops me from thinking this guy has quality stuff that make him a future major league starter.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #6 by Lucky Jim » November 13th, 2010, 5:18 pm

Interesting. I'd like to hear a bit what some others who are high on Britton - Keith Law, for instance - have to say about Foster's take. Agree w/ all of the above, though - it's a difficult and uncertain thing abstracting from such a small sample, and this is the first I've heard anyone concerned w/ durability or workload, re: Britton.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #7 by AdamFoster » November 15th, 2010, 1:15 am

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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #8 by Lucky Jim » November 15th, 2010, 9:09 pm

A nice illustration of the mechanical issue you identified.

A little less relevant in terms of the "global" view of whether this is an issue of real concern, though: I'm not sure what a gif of a single pitch proves. Especially without any commentary. I mean, it doesn't solve the sample size problem, which is crucial.

We appreciate the animation, of course. I'm a fan of your site, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that all of the above in this thread was said w/ respect...

...but - as noted - that doesn't make it any less valid to want to (a) hear from others who've seen him at other times and perhaps didn't see the problem; (b) hear from others who've seen him more often to see if it's a repeating problem; and (c) hear from those who are higher on him than you are and see what their responses to your observation are.

I'd assume you agree that big samples and multiple perspectives are a better source of information for those who have to live by the second-hand, no? Is this an observation you've heard expressed by others? (Noting that being the sole person to see something has a kind of proprietary value.)
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #9 by AdamFoster » November 15th, 2010, 9:58 pm

It would be helpful to have had a chance to see Britton pitch multiple times over the years and document his mechanics throughout his time in the minors.

As far is if my observation would likely be seconded by others, I doubt it. From my experience, every scout has slightly differing views on mechanics. The Project Prospect mechanics stance tends to be a lot more aggressive toward injury risk than most scouts and publications. And the fact is that we're dealing with a lot of uncertainty with mechanics still.

I think most scouts and player development people are going to generally have a positive stance on players. He could become this. We could develop him into that.

We could go back and forth on pitching preferences for a while. But in the end, we're going to have some different views and reasons for holding them.

My main hesitation with Britton is his armsey delivery. He's not getting a lot of his lower half involved. I'd rather see a guy who generates power with his hips and brings his arm along for the ride than a guy who gets his velo and movement by whipping his arm toward the plate. His stride actually isn't as short as I initially took it for.

Britton could go on to have a long, healthy career. Or he could break down under the stress of a starter's work load next season. No one really knows yet. And a lot more goes into durability than mechanics. He hasn't had any significant injuries that I'm aware of so far in pro ball, either, which is a great sign.

I've debated mechanics with probably one hundred scouts + fans over the last year. In the end, different people have different beliefs and it's hard to really prove or disprove any with the tools and information that's currently available, which isn't to say that trying to make progress isn't productive. I'd be happy to discuss mechanics any time (adamf@projectprospect.com) or if you ever bump into me at a ball field. I just am hesitant, from previous experiences, to get too engaged in mechanics debates online. People act a little differently in forums.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #10 by AdamFoster » November 16th, 2010, 12:44 am

I decided to make another .gif just to make sure that I wasn't going off one weird day of mechanics for Britton. This one is of him in the Futures Game. He was throwing between-innings warmup pitches when this video was taken. Also added in the .gif from above so everyone could watch both at the same time.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #11 by Lucky Jim » November 16th, 2010, 3:39 am

Adam, all of this is great. And thank you very much for doing this for us.

I think most of us - who've been O's fans for a long time - can recognize that we both (desperately) hope for a good story and feel jaded by the many failures of our farm system. You've pointed out a legitimate issue, and it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

Here's hoping that the issue you've eyeball'd turns out to be inconsequential. But, if he breaks down, we'll know where to give the (begrudging) props.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #12 by Lucky Jim » November 16th, 2010, 3:45 am

Also, btw, an appreciated deference to uncertainty re: mechanics. It's always evolving. And not being rigid on what'll work long term and what won't is important, I think. (Which isn't to say we don't have an idea of the kinds of mechanics that don't work at all, obviously.)
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #13 by Don » November 16th, 2010, 10:21 am

Adam....I may have pitched 6 season of baseball proffessionally and still teach. I have taught 4 guys in the current MLB and MiLB. Still, I agree that no one knows everything about the game and similar aspects to prevent everything that can occur.

I try to teach those the safer aspect of mechanics that have been shown over the years and I wish I had that as well. I tore my labrum because I extended my hips too early and it forced me to cross my body. Could could not see it from any film, but the torque did not show and it caused my arm to pull through with more pressure that I should have done. I went from 96 mph to 84 mph in my return and life as a top prospect went out the window.....

I agree with your aspects and I thought I intially said that I agree with your site more so than others because I feel that your assessments do not come with an agenda.

I do know that he sees some stiffness in his knee because of the way he plants the front foot and it happened two last season. This could explain his increase limitation for the drive. He could still use a half foot increase as it would better help his rotation and could enhance his velocity and control. I feel his setups are not similar and I would like to know if it was injury related, simply exhaustion, maybe the mound.

I am not disagreeing with you Adam, but I see some good things from Britton as well. I know there are guys with shorter strides that had long term success and flamed out. I know guys with the weirdest mechanics that may never get injured. Sometimes it really is just plain old bad luck, but there are little things that can help prevent major arm issues.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #14 by Don » November 16th, 2010, 10:31 am

Adam one thing to notice is his plant and hip turn. It falls in line, but you see a bit of lag. Lag is great to have, but too much tends to take some gas out of your delivery. He has a "rotational" instead of "linear" delivery and you have to really get your hips out to see that Whip action and get maximum output. Maybe he should push off harder to see a full hip turn instead of 3/4 or 7/8 in both examples, but that could mean less control.

I do agree that the belt buckle to plate at realease is the sign for a pitcher getting every ounce of force from the lower half of the body in the throw. He is simply a fraction off.
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Re: Adam Foster on Zach Britton and Manny Machado

PostPost #15 by AdamFoster » November 16th, 2010, 12:04 pm

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful responses Jim and Don.

For the record, I wouldn't change anything drastically about Britton. He's gotten where he is because of those mechanics. And he could be just fine going forward with them.

Project Prospect endorsed him as the 14th best pitching prospect in baseball entering 2010. And he will likely be a top 10 pitching prospect for us entering 2011.

When you've put together the kind of minor league resume Britton has going, you've earned the honor of getting nitpicked by prospect fans and experts. He's elevated himself into the top 1% of his prospect class.
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