The Armchair Scouting Report: Miguel Sano, Vincent Velasquez

Some scouts use acute observation to discern the subtle movements of a player’s muscles and tendons in mid-swing.  Some scouts can hear the difference between a fastball and a curveball by the sound of a pitch hitting leather.  Our amateur scout insists that he has been imbued with perceptive scouting powers by the ghost of Sparky Anderson himself.  Rather than become a very specific superhero, he writes for us each week in The Armchair Scouting Report, where the league’s most talked about players have their games picked apart by a man too busy watching baseball to answer his freaking email.

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Credit: Pioneer Press: John Autey
Credit: Pioneer Press: John Autey

Miguel Sano

Miguel Sano is going to be fine.

Thank you for reading, see you next week.

Oh, you want more?  Can’t just take my word for it?  Well I hope you’re paying me hourly.

Sano, much like the rest of the Twins lineup, is striking out at a prolific rate (19 K’s in 49 plate appearances).  Additionally he only has a single homer so far this season and his batting average is .191 at the time of writing.  But even though this doesn’t sound like someone who is fine, there are plenty of statistics that indicate he is close to breaking out of this early season funk.

1) Sano has 8 walks and a .309 OBP so far this season.  No, 8 walks isn’t Joey Votto or Kevin Youkilis, but it is nearly the same rate that Sano was walking last season (14 and 15 percent respectively).

2) Sano’s HR/Fly Ball rate is a miniscule 5.3% as opposed to 18.2% last season, a statistic which indicates that he is suffering from a bit of bad luck.  Sano’s BAbip is also 100 points lower than it was last season, another indicator of bad luck.  Finally Sano’s Hard hit average is still 35%, not as high as the 43% he hit last season but not low enough to justify his .191 average.  In fact his soft hit rate is actually better than it was last season (7.1 and 11.7% respectively).  (All Statistics from Baseball Reference, we bow down to thee)

But you didn’t come here to read my nerdy statistics.  The eyeball test says that Sano is rounding into form.  Sano has hits in 5 of the last 6 games, as well as two doubles and a homer during that span.  The swing and approach that makes Sano such an attractive power hitter is still there, complete with massive power generation through the lower body and ability to draw walks.  The strikeout numbers may seem elevated but are actually in line with last year’s rate, and I see nothing in his pitch selection that shows a regression from last year’s skills.  Any power hitter like Sano is going to go through hot and cold streaks.  If you’re a fantasy owner I suggest you buy low, as you won’t be able to for much longer.

Oh, but Sano can’t play the outfield.  Seriously.  It’s bad.

Vincent Velasquez

Matt Slocum
Matt Slocum

The last review was replete with statistics so this one will be a little less dorky.

Velasquez is a power pitcher who, in his now infamous 16 strikeout performance, took advantage of a San Diego Padres lineup that can’t hit and has never seen him before.  His fastball routinely clocked in the mid to upper nineties and his curveball had a deep but recognizable break.  However, most of his fastball outs were up in the zone “blow it by you” pitches that are not going to work against a more talented lineup.  Also the breaking ball, while lively, is still a work in progress.  Velasquez hung two breaking pitches in his start against the Mets and paid dearly for the mistake.

The real pitch to watch for Velasquez is going to be his sinker.  The pitch is coming in at 93mph, which is absurd, and the movement looks more like a two-seamer, but either way it is an extremely valuable pitch if Velasquez can spot it.

All in all I am confident when I say that Velasquez probably won’t have another performance like the one he had against the Padres, since the stars aligned in just the right way to make that happen.  However, because of his velocity and a curveball that I think can be at least average if not a little better, I do believe Velasquez has a possible future as a number 2 starting pitcher given time and better command.  Beware though, those fancy “professional scouts” out there have said that Velasquez has a checkered injury history, so durability may be a concern going forward.

Last Minute Musings:

Ryan Howard can not hit left handed pitching to save his life.  That was the case last year as well, but it somehow looks worse this year.

Bryce Harper hit his first two career grand slams this week.  In back to back games.

David Ortiz stole a base.  I do not project this to continue.

Drew Smyly is the best pitcher on the Rays staff.  If his dominance continues don’t be surprised if he becomes a dark horse Cy Young candidate.

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Feature Image:  Hannah Foslien/Associated Press