Braves Sean Gilmartin: Tale Of Two Starts

Sean Gilmartin, the Atlanta Braves 2011 first round pick embarrassed South Atlantic League opponents in a brief, but impressive stint where he posted a staggering K/BB ratio of 15/1 over five starts. Of course as an uber-polished lefty out of a Florida State, a major ACC program, he was expected to succeed against younger opponents. However, Gilmartin’s production proved dominant enough to earn a spot in the Arizona Fall League and pitched well enough for me to pencil him into the 2012 Mississippi staff (double-A) accelerating his timetable

After a first look at Gilmartin against Rockies enigmatic prospect Tyler Matzek, my initial reaction was, “that’s it”? Yes, he struck out four in two and two-thirds allowing no earned runs, but his fastball sat 87-89 MPH, touching 91, with soft off-speed pitches. The movement was present to induce soft contact at the upper levels, but very little swing-and-miss potential. It was an underwhelming debut which left me wanting for more.

A couple of weeks later, Gilmartin threw again versus Kannapolis, a White Sox farm team and scouted as a completely different pitcher. The lefty was touched for a home run early, but settled in striking out nine in five and two-thirds showing considerably better stuff and command.

In taking the best and worst from both starts, Gilmartin was able to pitch full innings at 89-91 MPH with command and late tail to the arm side. When his velocity dipped to 87-89 MPH, the pitch was not nearly as effective. In both starts, Gilmartin started slow and gained velocity after rocky first innings. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but worth noting nonetheless.

As a pitcher and catcher growing up, I was exposed to two lines of thinking from coaches. The first, “throw as hard as you can for as long as you can”, terrifies me and my partially torn ulnar ligament from years of misuse. The other more arm friendly advice, “just play catch with the mitt”, must have been said with Gilmartin in mind as his arm action is easy and effortless. This allows him to maximize his fastball movement, alleviates stress on his arm and command pitches within the strike zone.

Gilmartin’s curveball was of the soft, big breaking variety. At 70-71 MPH, the pitch featured significant 12/6 action. At its best, a touch of late bite deep in the zone was present, but it’s unlikely to induce many whiffs at the Major League level. In game action, he utilized both off-speed pitches much more than I would have expected and wonder just how honest he will be able to keep more advanced hitters with his fastball.

At 75-79 MPH, Gilmartin’s changeup was extremely impressive the second time around. Against Kannapolis, the pitch featured excellent arm side fade and drop. Additionally, his arm action was exceptional and identical to his fastball leaving it an offering which flashed plus. However, against Asheville, I noticed a slowing of his arm action and his feel for the pitch wasn’t nearly as strong. These things happen, but it was a tad surprising considering his reputation as a command/control specialist from the college ranks.

For me personally, the Gilmartin versus Mike Minor prospect chatter makes sense on the surface – First round picks, major college programs, left-handed, etc. Having seen both early in their Braves careers, first hand looks leave me thinking the comps are a bit lazy and undersell the ability of Mike Minor.

Sean Gilmartin is a solid pitching prospect, but Minor projected better at the time due to a stronger, more durable build and a slider he kept in his back pocket. Gilmartin’s lean build doesn’t really project for additional size, nor does he possess that swing-and-miss offering which points to more of a back end starter ceiling.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


30 Responses to “Braves Sean Gilmartin: Tale Of Two Starts”

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  1. Dan (Lansing) says:

    Nice article Mike. Good read.

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  2. Schu says:

    Agreed. Thanks for the article.

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  3. Chad says:

    I was hoping Gilmartin would follow the Minor example and develop beyond the “solid control lefty” label. Still, a 4th starter isn’t anything to sneeze at, even if he was a late first rounder. Hopefully his stock steadily improves as he succeeds and will provide a decent trade chip or, baseball gods forbid, the starters ahead of him falter unamiously.

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  4. Chad says:

    unanimously

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  5. Ben Duronio says:

    His changeup really impresses me also. I agree that the instant comp of Minor and Gilmartin is lazy.

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    • bsally says:

      Agreed that his changeup is his best pitch. The caveat there though is that every MPH off his fastball makes the change that much less effective-hopefully he can keep his velocity above 90 MPH consistently.

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  6. RandomGuy says:

    Was anyone else reminded of Zito when watching that video? That delivery looks very similar to what I remember from Barry.

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    • Bubb says:

      Question: In his prime, what made Zito so good? What does Zito have that Gilmartin and Tyler Anderson don’t?

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      • Lanenator says:

        The Coliseum.

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      • BX says:

        Well, not only the Coliseum, but Mark Ellis’ and Eric Chavez’s defense.

        Those LOB% numbers were perennially nice.

        To be fair, he had a pretty good K/9 when he won the CY, something he’s far lost since then.

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    • Mike says:

      Zito? Really? Sorry, not seeing it. Zito has pronounced inverted L action is his pitching motion, where as Gilmartin in this video keeps the elbow down and more tucked until he gets the pitching arm into the cocked position. Completely different throwing styles.

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  7. JdeWitt88 says:

    Great article, got the privilege to watch him pitch every Friday night while at FSU.

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  8. gillymom says:

    Sean Gilmartin was never a cross country runner. The only sports he ever played are baseball, and golf for leisure. Baseball has been his whole life since he was 2 yrs old.

    He is an outstanding young man and one heck of a ball player.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I read he was recruited for cross country at FSU. Is this not the case?

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      • glassSheets says:

        If you read that from Baseball America’s content then I think ne of us came to the wrong conclusion. I read it as he was recruited across the country (as he was from CA), not that he was recruited for cross country.

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  9. Bronnt says:

    Appreciate the scouting, good article.

    Of course, one thing to note about Minor is that he was considered a bit of a soft-tosser in college. His fastball at Vanderbilt didn’t get much above 91, and it really didn’t during his brief stint immediately after being signed. It was the next year, after he’d rested over the winter, that suddenly his fastball was sitting 92 and touching 94, that caused him to explode up the prospect rankings.

    I don’t think the comparison was that lazy. You’ll find a lot of similarities to this scouting report if you look up Minor from 3 years ago. To wit: “Good command, decent movement on the fastball, ranges from 88-92, he throws a big curve, and his change-up is his best pitch.” Those comments were used to describe Minor, and it’s almost exactly the same things the author just said about Sean Gilmartin. The biggest difference is that Minor demonstrated an unexpected jump in velocity in his first full season. It hasn’t really stuck, since he seems to lose velocity late in the year, but it’s the main difference between the two prospects at this point in Gilmartin’s development. Heck, it’s unlikely, but Gilmartin might even see a similar bump, and then it would be difficult to distinguish the two as prospects.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      It’s not that you are incorrect, but I pointed out reasons why I think the comps are a little lazy. You are welcome to disagree.

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      • Phantom Stranger says:

        Agreed, I really don’t see the comparison except that they are both lefty starters coming out of the Braves’ system. No comment yet on Gilmartin, though I have seen enough of Minor to believe he will never be more than a fifth starter/good bullpen guy. Minor really needs another pitch to consistently get outs as a starter at the MLB level.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        He throws 4, though the slider does lag behind the other 3, in part because he wasn’t allowed to throw it in 2010. The curve took a big step forward last year as far as becoming a swing and miss pitch. In the majors last year he got whiffs on 15.8% of the curves he threw, which worked out to over 40% of the time that guys swung at it. That’s even better than a guy like Tommy Hanson, who features a curve as one of his out pitches.

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  10. Keith Law says:

    I hate them both

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  11. Dodgersbythebay says:

    Great article!
    I know this may not be the place but i have a question for some of the more tenured saber-metric gurus out there. I am new to saber-metrics and i am calculating a formula of valuation. It is well known that one win above replacement is worth over 5 million on the open market. However, it was found by BP that one additional win added makes the team around 1.1 million( more concessions, playoff appearance probability, higher amount of concessions and merchandise sold, not to mention TV deals). Therefore, a team is theoretically losing 3.9 million on a player if they pay roughly 5 million per Win added. Yet this is not true. For instance, Casey Kotchman accumulated 2.8 war last season yet only -.9 over the last two seasons. Essentially, teams look at previous season and age more than they look at previous season. So how can we calculate a formula in which it weights age and previous WARs to isolate the true value of WAR on the open market. I have ideas to calculate this which includes finding average player salary and the average war of a player during the 2011 season, not to mention the average salary for each age on the open market. I would analyze the player’s last 3 seasons of WAR rather than the previous. Anyways, i need to know if anyone knows were i can find stats like these since i have no idea and am relatively new to saber-metrics. Please reply here or email me @ mdubu21@aim.com. Thank you!

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  12. Gabe Abreu says:

    i think some people really undervalue mike minor, i really do think he has a No.2 starter ceiling once we gets a feel for his breaking pitches.. Reminds me a little to john danks..

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  13. Jonathan Lindberg says:

    @ Mike Newman: Is the article title a reference to that film ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ by any chance? :P

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    • Jonathan Lindberg says:

      Or a tale of two cities?

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      • Bronnt says:

        Ah, right. That’s like some trashy 19th century hackneyed romance novel, right? Nice obscure reference there ;)

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      • Mike Newman says:

        You all give me way too much credit. I live in the south so we ain’t much for reading in these parts…

        In all seriousness, Tale of Two Cities is one of the most recognizable book titles in the history of man. Tale of Two Pitchers is more of a reference to the improvement in his stuff from start 1 to start 2, but whatever works!

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  14. Tomas says:

    I understand the point of view that he is just another Jaime Moyer type/ Tom Glavine. They don’t have overpowering stuff, but they’re control is great. I Gilmartin has not good but great control, he can be better than a number 4 starter, look at Glavine for comparisons. Not every pitcher, specially left handers, need to throw 92 + to be effective.

    Everybody putting the same label on Minor and Gilmartin, and both have done well at every level, so until they struggle, please stop labeling him as #4 starters.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Tomas,

      Your comment is a great example of a disconnect between projection and expectation.

      Moyer has won 267 games over 4,000 IP
      Glavine won 305 games over 4,400 IP

      If you had a crystal ball and said Gilmartin would do the same, he would have a chance to be the single most successful pick of this draft class.

      People who agree he’s more of a #4 see the same thing. Average fastball + solid curve, but not swing-and-miss + potential for plus changeup. In terms of velocity and frequency of pitches thrown, his stuff actually comps pretty well to Marlins Brad Hand, only Hand throws his CB with more oomph.

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      • MatM says:

        Except Gilmartin’s control is clearly much better; Hand’s BB/9 was in the 3-4 range while in the minors and Gilmartin’s was 1.96 over the 120 innings he had in AA last year.

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