Friday, May 4, 2007

The real life "Wild Thing"

"Those glasses look good -- I had a pair just like 'em."
"Hey, seein' is the most important thing son."

These were words uttered by characters in the movie Major League, in reference to Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, and may perhaps be soon uttered from Mel Stottlemyre Jr, pitching coach of the Class-A South Bend Silverhawks, to pitcher Jason Neighborgall.

I actually found this story on the front page of Yahoo, and it's pretty hilarious. Here are the stats from a handful of Neighborgall's most recent appearances:

0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP

0 IP, 0 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K

0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 WP

0 IP, 0 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 3 WP, 2 HBP

0 IP, 0 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 3 WP, 1 HBP

That is pretty damn incredible. When rating pitchers, scouts rate a pitch between 20 and 80, 20 being the lowest and 80 being the highest. Francisco Liriano's slider would be an 80. Randy Johnson's fastball was at one time an 80. Barry Zito's curve would be close to an 80. This kid averages 100 mph with his fastball and has a "nose to toes" off-the-table curve, and both would be ranked an 80. He just need to learn control before he kills someone - the coaches won't even let him throw his curve anymore until he can manage his fastball. In three years at Georgia Tech before being drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2005, he had 113 BB and 115 K in 101 IP, with 4 no-hitters.

To quote the author of the article, "He's not Rick Ankiel. He doesn't lose [control] instantaneously. It's been missing for years." The team isn't ready to give up on a kid with supposedly two "80" pitches, but he'll never get past AA with erratic control. I really hope I get to see him pitch in the Midwest League before he leaves A-ball, because brawls are always fun.

"Should we go get him?"
"Nah, leave him in...let's see how he reacts."
(Vaughn beans batter in back)
"I think you can go get him now."

Twins L (15-13)
Brewers L (18-10)
Reds L (13-15)

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