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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

P2Daily: Pirates Pitching Metrics From the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League recently wrapped up this past Saturday, with the Surprise Saguaros – the team the Pirates prospects were assigned to – winning the championship.

John Dreker broke down the AFL season performances of all eight players, with the Pirates’ first round picks from 2019-2021 all playing big parts in the championship run.

Early on in the AFL schedule, we were getting a good majority of the games tracked through Baseball Savant, so we were able to get a lot of the pitch metrics and exit velocity results from those playing.

Despite the incredibly small sample sizes (only a handful of games were available on Baseball Savant), here are some observations from the data that is available. A link to a spreadsheet with the full data can be found here.

Quinn Priester Recap

I actually did a quick update on Priester early on in the AFL schedule, he didn’t have any more of his outings tracked, so none of his metrics changed from then, and this is really just a recap. 

His slider generated whiffs over 50% of the time it was swung at. I mentioned before, but watching Preister more throughout the AFL it’s worth mentioning again: His slider may be slowly approaching the same level as his curve, as crazy as that sounds.

When it comes to pitch tunneling, his sinker and changeup are nearly identical in both vertical break (21.94 inches with sinker, 26.41 offspeed) and horizontal break (12.39 sinker, 11.83 offspeed), so they have the potential to work really well off each other. The velocity was about five MPH apart from each other, which isn’t horrible. A bit more of a difference would be even better.

Omar Cruz’s Changeup Is Really Good

Omar Cruz worked more out of the bullpen this past season, and while the lefty doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, with a changeup like he has, it doesn’t really matter. Cruz got whiffs on 70% of the swings against his changeup, and had a 42.85% called strike/whiff rate. His offspeed has a 10 mph difference from the fastball, as well as a difference of nearly 600 rpm on its spin rate. 

Cruz may not seem like your traditional reliever, but with his ability to miss bats – plus the fact he’s a lefty, something the Pirates don’t have on their 40-man right now – he may be more of a relief prospect than originally thought.

His exit velocity numbers were also amazing. Hitters averaged an exit velocity of 74.21 mph and a launch angle of -5.4° with only 11% of his batted balls going 95+ mph.

Colin Selby Slider Is Good, He Still Got Hit Hard

I alluded to it on Twitter the other day about how good his slider was doing in Arizona, showing great spin and missing a lot of bats. We saw it again on the big stage, with Selby pitching in the championship game. 

There was a lot of offense in Arizona, and the EV numbers were definitely reflective of that (circling back to Cruz, that makes what he did so much more impressive). Selby only allowed nine batted ball events, but five of them went for at least 95 mph — three hit the century mark. Hitters averaged a 97.34 mph exit velocity off of Selby, which isn’t good, but also would have been almost impossible to maintain throughout the entire AFL schedule. 

It’s unfortunate that the tracking was cut short, not even the championship game was available on Baseball Savant. One month isn’t a great sample size to go off, but seeing as this is the first bit of data like this available on most of these players this season, it would have been interesting to see how they finished things out.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

I have no idea what the Pirates will do this offseason. I won’t be surprised if they go the same route they’ve gone in previous offseasons. I also won’t be surprised if they surprise a lot of people by adding a more significant player than we’ve seen in previous offseasons.

I wrote about why I think now is the time to start adding players from the outside for a future contender.

**Williams: It’s Time For the Pirates to Start Opening the Window

John Dreker has the latest updates from winter ball, where Andres Alvarez continues hitting. Alvarez had a huge season with Altoona this year, with 20 homers and 21 stolen bases from the 2019 22nd rounder. Read about his big game below:

**Winter Leagues: Huge Game for Andres Alvarez in Colombia

If you missed yesterday’s updates, here they are, with more information on the stuff from Colin Selby.

**P2Daily: Getting to Know the Newest Members of the Pirates 40-Man Roster

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Wednesday is the start of our opinion features on P2Weekly. Check out my column below, and check back on Thursday at noon for the latest Prospect Roundtable.

Williams: It’s Time For the Pirates to Start Opening the Window

If you missed our article drop on Tuesday, John Dreker recapped the AFL and season awards, while Anthony Murphy recapped the 2019-2021 drafts.

**Pirates 2022 AFL Recap: Three First Round Picks Stand Out in Arizona

**Recapping the First Full Professional Season From the Pirates 2021 Draft Class

**Recapping the Progress of Ben Cherington’s First Draft Class With the Pirates

**How Have the 2019 Pirates Draft Picks Performed After a Crazy Three Years?

**Pirates Prospects 2022 Award Winners

Pirates Discussion

Weekly Pirates Discussion: Free Agent Targets For the 2023 Rotation

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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Thank you for an excellent update on 3 pitchers I hope we will see soon doing their thing for the Pirates.

Priester getting better with experience and as the competition gets better – that’s an excellent plus situation for the Pirates. Omar Cruz could be that type of lefty pitcher who converts to a RP from being a SP and starts to put it together in quicker time. Any RP with an excellent Changeup is a keeper IMO, but the Pirates are too bloated with RP’s who seem to almost all be middle relief types, or multiple MI’s, or multiple OF’s.

IF’s – what are we planning to do with Hoy Park, Diego Castillo, and Kevin Newman?

OF’s – we now have 10 listed on the 40 and they are all “now” guys. Are we still limited to 3 OF on defense? So we need 7 other OF’s?


Some of these things you’re speaking to are very good like the tunneling etc. but the exit velocity stats etc are the definition of small sample size. I mean Cruz had what 20 innings pitched?


Doesn’t fit this thread, but I saw some mention of a townhall of sorts with ben, travis, etc.? Is that a real thing/ did anything worthwhile happen during it?

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