Thursday, August 5, 2010

White Sox on Sale

No, we're not talking about getting six pairs of socks for $3.99. We're here to take a quick look at the first player from the 2010 Draft to make it to the big leagues, the 13th pick of the 1st round, Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox.

The majority of chatter out there states that Sale will be a Major League starting pitcher with at least three above average pitches, including a fastball, changeup, and sweeping curve ball - which reports state is the weakest of his three pitches. Still, he can throw all of them for strikes and should be a solid reliever even as a fastball/changeup pitcher.

He's tall, 6'6", and weighs just about 175 lbs, as a 21 year old. We expect great things from him, as he grows into his body and receives the tutelage of pitching coach, Don Cooper. Some of Cooper's best success stories have included times when he's taught his cutter. Sale's prefered fastball, allegedly is a 2-seamer. Once he gets some time in The Show, we should be able to study his Pitch f/x data on Texasleaguers. If he learns an effective Major League cutter, he will be dangerous.

In just 10 1/3 minor league innings this season, across High A and Triple A ball, Sale struck out 19 batters, walked 6, and gave up just 6 hits. Minor League Splits shows he had a miniscule Line Drive percentage of 11.1%. His FIP is an unexpected 4.00, but that was atributed to two fluky HR's he gave up in Triple A. In fact, he gave up onnly 2 flyballs in Triple A, and they both went for HR's. According to Minor League Splits, the HR's were luck induced because if you neutralize his numbers for luck, his FIP falls to 1.55. His Triple A strikeout per 9 innings ratio is a truly unique 21.3.

I'm a sucker for potential, prospect buzz, anticipation, and upside. So, Chris Sale has naturally catapulted himself onto our rotisserie team, and we expect him to develop into someone better than Derek Holland but not as good as Clayton Kershaw or David Price. Guys like Ricky Romero and teammate John Danks might be more benchmarks to see how he could perform in the next couple of years. Who knows? He could be another Andrew Miller.

To get some more details on what he does for a living, let's look at snippets from some of our friends in the ol' blogosphere.

Feb 6, 2010 - John Klima, Baseball Beginnings

"STRENGTHS: Hard, sinking FB primary weapon, 91-93. Hard SL, 87-88, good CH, 81-84, weapon pitch. Balanced and coordinated, good arm action, lands well, command average with room for development.

WEAKNESSES: Occasionally overthrows, opens up and loses delivery. Needs to continue developing downhill plane on all pitches.

SUMMARY: Should be three-pitch left-handed starter at ML level."

May 1, 2010 - Joe Hamrahi, Baseball Daily Digest

"The very first thing you notice about Chris Sale is his body. The kid is tall, 6’ 6” tall, and skinny. He’s not unhealthy looking, but he could put on another 20-25 pounds and still be considered very lean.

[snip]

Sale comes at hitters from a high three-quarter slot delivery. He has the ability to drop down and throw side arm, and some who have seen him claim he can even show a more regular three-quarter delivery.

The lanky left-hander has a very herky-jerky approach to the plate, and he tucks and hides the ball well. He’s deceptive and gives the illusion of many body parts flying around. Yet, his arm motion is smooth and clean, and he puts limited stress on his shoulder. I’d like him to use his legs more, but with physical maturity and strength, he should eventually be able to drive more off the core of his body."

June 7, 2010 - Andy Seiler, MLB Bonus Baby [dot] com

"[Sale] has upside as a number two starter. His fastball is a plus pitch that generally sits 91-94, touching 96, and he commands it with plus precision. He gets a lot of life on it due to his three-quarters release point, and it’s one of the best left-handed fastballs in this class. His best secondary pitch is a plus changeup with excellent depth and fade, and it’s a Major League-ready pitch. His third pitch is an average slider that isn’t commanded nearly as well, and there are concerns about his inability to spin a breaking ball."

June 7, 2010 - Jeff Sackmann, The Harball Times

"Another talent that arguably should've gone in the top ten. He's the owner of a couple of my favorite draft-day stats: Only one walk against a lefty all year, and an identical 31/5 groundball/flyball out ratio against lefties in both 2009 and 2010. You have to make some allowances for his level of competition at FGCU, but after his performance in the Cape last summer, there's no doubt he's an elite guy."

Welcome to Good Friends, Chris Sale. This might just be a cup of coffee with our rotisserie team, but we genuinely feel he can have an immediate impact as a LOOGY. It may depend how Ozzie uses him. As a LOOGY, he's ready. As a starter, I would expect him to struggle initially, like David Price. In the role we envision, he should have a similar impact as other guys who recently debuted to great success in the 'pen: K-Rod, Joba, and Price himself. It'll be exciting to find out.

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