Saturday, December 31, 2011

Difference for Matt Harvey was the stretch...

Conventional wisdom had Zack Wheeler as the number one Mets prospect with Matt Harvey a close two, as MLB and Baseball America ranked the two pitchers.

But as the prospect lists have started to come out not everybody has gone with conventional wisdom; Jon Sickels of Minor League ball, Bullpen Banter, and Mets Prospect Hub all rank Harvey as the top prospect.

Mack's Mets page on the sidebar has Wheeler one and Harvey two but in an informal poll for Baseball Instinct his writers reversed that order.

I haven't seen a list come out yet from Keith Law of ESPN or Kevin Goldstein of BP.

So what happened to Harvey this past season that vaulted him into a competition for the top spot on the prospect list.  Let's not forget that Harvey was selected with the overall 7th pick in the 2010 draft, but coming out of college the biggest concern was his control.  Matt dominated A+ ball and after initial struggles in AA came on strong at the end of the season.

He's averaging over one walk less per nine (BB/9= 3.1/4.7) then Wheeler while posting the same amount of strikeouts (SO/9=10).  The difference in their ERA/WHIP is marginal with Harvey holding slightly better numbers ERA 3.32/3.68 and WHIP 1.26/ 1.36.

With Harvey looking good in AA while Wheeler hasn't been above A+, the debate has been called polished=Harvey Vs. potential=Wheeler. I've heard many say Harvey is getting the benefit of the doubt because he's closer to the majors while most believe Wheeler has the higher ceiling.

But what made Harvey come on so strong, Baseball Instincts believe they figured it out.  It seems like a tweak in his delivery specifically to his landing stretch improved his control...

There was a simple tweak that was made during spring training and in this second video, this one from Bullpen Banter, you can see his leg extension is more exaggerated: The change is what allowed him to make a strength out of what has been the biggest enemy. His command. Through college, his upright delivery has made command of his pitches difficult. His pure ability allowed to still outshine most of the competition anyway. And now, his command is becoming one of his biggest strengths. source Baseball Instincts