Extremes in Spin Rate, Miguel Amaya, Nico Hoerner, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Extremes in Spin Rate, Miguel Amaya, Nico Hoerner, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Think I might mess around and get myself some Taco Bell today. Don’t even care. It’s happening.

•   I don’t want to get TOO down the line on this point, but if I’m a Reds fan, I’m a little concerned if I see this:

•   I can’t speak to what’s appropriate for what ages/levels when you’re just talking about kids, but professional pitchers? I certainly hope the vast majority of Cubs pitchers – big leagues and minor leagues – are aware of their spin rates, how they change, how they impact pitch shapes, how you increase spin efficiency, etc. It’s not the be-all, end-all (no one thing is), but why would you forgo one of the ingredients in the pie? And although the pitcher, himself, doesn’t necessarily need to be obsessing about the numbers, I would think an awareness would be helpful.

•   To that end, if one of the Reds’ most important relievers says that he not only doesn’t know anything about it, but also doesn’t really care … that would seem concerning, especially for an organization that invested heavily in pitching development over the past year and a half (remember how they brought in DriveLine’s Kyle Boddy to run their pitching program?). Meanwhile, the Reds are also trying to unload half their roster, so I really don’t know what’s up with that org. Maybe Garrett just personally doesn’t want to worry about spin rate, as he’s been successful with one of the lowest fastball spin rates in baseball? (But of course, you know that having a low spin rate is not, alone, a reason for concern, because some guys actually make a low spin rate work to their advantage! Also, even if your raw spin rate isn’t great, if you have maximum spin efficiency with the spin you DO have, then it’s as if your effective spin rate is much higher! This stuff all matters! And it’s interesting! To me, anyway!)

•   For their part, you can tell the Cubs care a great deal about spin rate (among other things) based on the guys they target for signing, and the work they put in with those pitchers. Next group I want to see them target? Extreme LOW spin guys, because the Cubs have available to them the most extreme mold, who they can study for proprietary data mining and future application:

(via StatCast)

•   Know who that is without checking? The fastball velo and BB% markers should tip you off if the header image didn’t do it. That’s Kyle Hendricks, whose fastball spin rate is lower than almost every other pitcher in baseball. How do you make a low-velocity fastball work for you? Well, you locate it well and tunnel it with your other pitches, of course, but you also seek to maximize movement – and at a lower-velocity like that, you can do some crazy things with extreme low-spin (I’m reminded of that seam-shifted wake stuff, where Hendricks was an extreme outlier).

•   Miguel Amaya just won’t stop crushing the ball in Puerto Rico, which is just fine by me. His grand slam yesterday, paired with thoughts on how his work at South Bend this past summer could have helped to untap some power:

•   When you see Amaya, even at age 21, it’s not hard to see the power projections (even as you general expect that to come later for a catching prospect):

•   You don’t really want to change any expectations on Amaya based on his time in PR (or change your big league plans), but we do have to keep in mind that he was an above-average bat as one of the youngest hitters in the league back in 2019 in High-A. He did that while developing as a young catcher, and he was expected to have been at AA this past year (while now already on the 40-man). That is all to say, in a world without the pandemic, it wouldn’t have been crazy to suggest that Amaya’s bat could show big league readiness at some point in 2021. It would surprise me a great deal if that actually happens this coming year, but a AA-then-AAA season is not at all out of the question.

•   I do expect Nico Hoerner to play at the big league level in 2021, but probably not until after he sees time at AAA working on his approach. At every turn, though, the Cubs talk about Hoerner like he’s a lock to be on the big league roster:

•   I suppose right now, you could argue the roster is so thin that maybe you WOULD assume Hoerner would be on it, and as other additions come, it’ll become more plausible to say Hoerner could start at AAA. But the drum I keep betting is that the decision on Hoerner should have nothing to do with the roster at this point. The decision should be about making sure you get the best version of Hoerner for the next five+ years, not a guy whose offensive development is stagnated because you needed a cheap and versatile roster option.

•   Hoerner got pushed to the big leagues with almost no minor league experience in 2019 because of injuries on the infield and the unique opportunity to give a polished college bat a taste of The Show. Fine. It can be very helpful, as it started to show Hoerner how pitchers would take advantage of his contact skills and his inability to do much of anything with breaking pitches. Then, in 2020, the pandemic meant the Cubs could either let Hoerner keep playing at the big league level in real games, or head to an alternate site and play fake games. No great choice there, so I have no problem with what the Cubs chose – even as Hoerner struggled deeply at the plate, and those areas where he needs work were exposed even more substantially. But those were FLUKEY one-off decisions that shouldn’t necessarily mean Hoerner is viewed as a “big leaguer” just yet. If he needs time at AAA, what’s wrong with that? He’s only played 89 games in the minor leagues at all, and only 68 in the big leagues!

•   Classic:

•   I laughed, but where are the beers in hand:

•   I love this:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.