Braves Prospect Ronan Pacheco Is The Anti-Graphs

In 2011, the Atlanta Braves found themselves the envy of professional baseball behind a quartet of impressive young arms in Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Mike Minor and Arodys Vizcaino. The chatter about these young pitchers remained loud throughout the season to the point where other arms in the system were overshadowed. A handful of those names made headlines only after being dealt to the Houston Astros for Michael Bourn. That trade created a pitching void at the middle levels of the Braves organization. Cue Ronan Pacheco.

In the history of Fangraphs, I wonder how many positive pieces have ever been written about a 23-year year old pitcher in the lower minors who strikes out less than six-per-nine innings while walking a shade under four-per-nine? Knowing full well this piece will draw the ire of a great many Fangraphs readers based on the numbers alone, Pacheco is simply too perfect an example of a pitcher who bucks just about every prospect stereotype on both the statistical and scouting sides to not discuss.

A contact versed in not only scouting, but statistical analysis put it best when he said:

“I don’t know what Ronan Pacheco is. I don’t know if he’ll every play in the Major Leagues. However, I see Pacheco and I want him in my organization.”

This general statement was repeated to me multiple times over the course of the 2011 season to the point where Pacheco generated more prospect buzz in Rome than fellow left-handed pitcher Carlos Perez, voted the top prospect in the Appalachian league just last season.

Physically, Ronan Pacheco has what I would consider to be a pitcher with an awkward build (6-foot-6, 170 lbs.) and extremely deceptive mechanics. When watching him pitch, It’s difficult to concentrate on his release point with what appear to be arms and legs flying everywhere. And while the average prospect fan envisions scouts looking for that perfect pitching formula of size, projection and clean mechanics, scouts also like pitchers with “funk” and will target them as potential “acquires” in smaller deals or as players to be named later.

In game action, Pacheco possessed a fastball with wicked tail away from right-handed hitters. Consistently sitting 91-93 MPH, touching 94, the pitch featured plus velocity for a lefty. Additionally, Pacheco may even have more in the tank as I’ve received reports of his touching 96 MPH with movement from contacts. This pitch is the primary reason for Pacheco’s 66% ground ball percentage in the South Atlantic League and a strong foundation to work from.

And while Pacheco worked predominantly off of his fastball, he flashed an upper-70’s curveball and low-80’s changeup. Pacheco had a difficult time locating the curveball and hung it a handful of times. At its best, it was more of a big breaker than something I’d consider to be sharp. It may have enough movement to keep left-handed hitters at bay (2.36 ERA, 5.38 GO/AO), but it’s simply not sharp enough to work against right-handers.

Pacheco’s third pitch is a changeup at 80-81 MPH. In game action, he slowed his delivery and worked to guide the pitch more than throw it. Left-handers often use the change to fade it away from right-handed hitters, but Pacheco lacks the feel to locate consistently at this point as exhibited by a severe drop off in right-handed splits (6.02 ERA, 2.77 GO/AO).

By all accounts, Ronan Pacheco is an imperfect pitcher in many ways and every indicator for future success one can point to supports that assessment. However, it’s important to understand scouts often identify and attempt to acquire the “imperfect” to fill defined roles. And while nobody will confuse Ronan Pacheco with Clayton Kershaw anytime soon, a bit of smoothing out of his mechanics may provide for improved command and a rapid ascent up the organizational ladder as a left-handed specialist.



Print This Post



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.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
4 years 10 months ago

Just a quick estimate based off that video and how you describe his game, his ceiling looks to be a decent MLB LOOGY. The Braves must have figured something out in their coaching, because both Venters and O’Flaherty throw a hard fastball that tail away from righties. His velocity might improve if he adds a little weight, he is too skinny.

mcbrown
Member
mcbrown
4 years 10 months ago

66% groundball rate??? Do groundball rates generally diminish significantly for pitchers as they rise through the minors, or is that rate indicative of a potentially elite skill level?

If the latter, then… wow.

mcbrown
Member
mcbrown
4 years 10 months ago

Maybe “wow” was a bit of an overreaction. 6 K/9, 4 BB/9, 60% GB rate = Charlie Morton, average-ish MLB pitcher. Still, an average MLB pitcher is a pretty valuable thing.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 10 months ago

In general: as you move up through the levels of the minors, groundball rate decreases and power numbers increase.

Independent of that, minor league batted ball data tends to be pretty unreliable and inconsistent (especially at the lower levels).

fantasystud1305
Member
fantasystud1305
4 years 10 months ago

Life is rough for us Braves fans.

Choo
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I like it. More write-ups and video featuring funky prospects and the scouts who love them, please.

dan Stan
Guest
dan Stan
4 years 10 months ago

Cool article Mike.

Jon
Guest
Jon
4 years 10 months ago

Nice read. Very different than anything I’ve read on here before. Good stuff Mike!

Justin
Guest
Justin
4 years 10 months ago

“Pacheco’s GO/AO was 2.84, which I assume would rank amongst the best in MILB.”

I know for a fact that John Hellweg has a 5.00 GO/AO ratio in 14 starts this season at A+. He’s at 2.74 on the year but 5.00 as a starter is insane.

R_Magillicutty
Guest
R_Magillicutty
4 years 10 months ago

Nice article, and way to include video. This is why I come here. Ronan’s mannerisms reminded me of former Expo great Carlos Perez

Tommy
Guest
Tommy
4 years 10 months ago

Mike am I completely wrong or does it seem that the tide tends to be swinging toward younger bats as opposed to young pitchers? Obviously prospects as a whole are seen as much more valuable than they were even 5 or 6 years ago, but I feel like with the rise in the dominance in big league pitching that there has been a definite hike in the value of young bats. It just seems to me that bats were more expensive this year and especially power bats.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
4 years 10 months ago

I do think there will be a shift toward true power bats. With steroids out of the game, power hitting is going to be harder and harder to acquire. Teams will definitely focus on power potential more, as there are fewer legitimate 30+ homer guys now.

johnw
Guest
johnw
4 years 10 months ago

Steroids are not out of the game. HGH testing is a joke… just show. Athletes and bodybuilders have moved on to PEDs that can only be detected by muscle biopsy. The latest, like IGF-1, are more effective than ever!

mdr
Guest
mdr
4 years 10 months ago

That follow through ain’t exactly setting him up for a lot of gold gloves. Maybe a footnote, but seems noteworthy for a dude with such a high gb rate.

wpDiscuz