Two Cardinals Prospects: An Eyewitness Report

As has been the case each of the past two years, the present author has recently transported his dumb body to Jupiter, FL, America — spring home of the Miami Marlins, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the author’s (now) 93-year-old grandfather.

Thursday, on the backfields of Roger Dean Stadium, the Cardinals’ minor-league clubs scrimmaged each other — with the provisional rosters from Triple-A Memphis playing the one from Double-A Springfield and High-A Palm Beach facing Class-A Peoria.

What follows is an eyewitness report regarding two Cardinals pitching prospects from those games — a document which is different from a scouting report proper insofar as it has been composed not by scout but by a nearly informed internet weblogger.

On Tim Cooney
Left-hander Tim Cooney‘s name has appeared not only within the electronic pages of FanGraphs, but also that site’s absurd cousin, NotGraphs. As such, it was a pleasure to see it (i.e. Cooney’s name) appear on the back of his jersey yesterday, and the back of his jersey (along with the rest of Cooney himself) on the mound of Field No. 2, facing Triple-A Memphis.

Cooney was brilliant following a May promotion last season to Double-A, recording strikeout and walk rates of 25.2% and 3.6%, respectively, in 118.1 innings over 20 starts. As both his draft slot (he was a third-round selection out of Wake Forest) and prospect rankings (he appears this offseason within the top 10 of both FanGraphs’ and Baseball America’s organizational lists, but on neither entity’s top-100 overall prospect charts) suggest, the 23-year-old Cooney is considered useful future major-leaguer, if not star. Characteristic of many college left-handers regarded that way, Cooney’s value is derived less from raw armspeed and more from his polish and command.

On Thursday, Cooney appeared to throw four pitches: a four-seam fastball at about 89-92 mph, a slutter-type situation (referred to as a slider from now) at 83-85, a changeup at about that same velocity, and then a more traditional, vertically oriented curveball at around 77 mph. The fastball has its uses, but Cooney used it mainly as a means by to find his way to his secondary pitches, which are all superior.

His second-inning encounter with left-handed-batting outfielder Adam Melker was representative of Cooney’s approach, which plate appearance the left-hander began with an 84 mph slider for a called strike on the outer half of the plate. Cooney followed that first offering with a second slider — in this case on the inside corner — which Melker managed to foul off. Next, Cooney threw a 92 mph fastball just above the top of the zone for a ball — which pitch was perhaps designed to set up the next one, a well-shaped 77 mph curve that would have probably been a low strike were Melker not able to just get a piece of it. Still up 1-2, Cooney threw his third slider of the at-bat for a strike looking on the inside corner, effectively freezing the batter.

Cooney’s confrontation with Melker illustrates two properties that appear to be true about the left-hander, if not actually true. The first is this: when given a chance, Cooney’s preference is to utilize his curve when he needs an outpitch. The second is this other one: Cooney is very comfortable with the slider-cutter offering, is willing to throw it early in the count to either side of the plate, and is also able to use it a chase pitch, if necessary.

On Alex Reyes
In early Februrary, my colleague Nathaniel Stoltz proclaimed very young right-hander Alexander Reyes the best pitching prospect you’ve never heard of. Given his capacities as an analyst, I’m very comfortable deferring to Stoltz on any broader ideas regarding both Reyes’s present and also future talent. As long as I’m sitting by this computer, though — and as long as you’re doing nothing better, anyway — it seems as though there’s no harm in adding 200 or so more words regarding Reyes to the internet.

Stoltz’s enthusiasm for Reyes is manifold, but mostly appears to center on two particular qualities — namely, (a) the right-hander’s excellent armspeed and also (b) his above-average and/or plus curveball.

Both elements of Reyes’s repertoire were on display in a general way during his Thursday appearance and specifically during Ronnierd Garcia‘s second-inning plate appearance. Reyes began the encounter with a silly, silly curveball at 76 mph on the inside corner to the right-handed-batting Garcia. To say that Garcia abandoned any thoughts of offering at the ball almost immediately would be correct. To say that he was surprised to see said curve find its way back over the plate is also an instance of true truth. Reyes followed the curve with a 95 mph fastball at the very top of the zone, a pitch which Garcia was able to foul back. Reyes then finished the encounter, throwing a well-shaped slider at 80 mph low and just outside the zone — at which pitch Garcia offered tepidly.

One should note that Reyes’s velocity actually did appear to decline as he entered his third inning of work, when the fastball began to sit more regularly in the 91-94 mph range. Not elite, that, but quite promising from a 19-year-old who can command it and also has a legitimate breaking pitch with which to support it.




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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


47 Responses to “Two Cardinals Prospects: An Eyewitness Report”

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  1. Steven Wright, Knuckleballer says:

    …”an instance of true truth.” I will have to think about that one for a while. =) -> =/ -> =(

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  2. guy who knows where the beds are says:

    I fucking hate your self-fellating prose Carson.

    -32 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • I assure you, friend, that if I could fellate myself I wouldn’t spend so much time on this goddamn ornate prose.

      +55 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • BDF says:

        If you stop and really think about the reality of auto-fellation for a moment, I doubt you’d be implying that it would be taking up so much of your time that ornate prose would be out of the question.

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      • I believe what the guy … Is referring to, although in a very rude manner, is the frequent attempts at a “witty” and “smart” dialogue.

        I personally think it draws attention from the subject, which is never a good thing.

        That’s why I personally think Cistullis interviews with players are his best work. Because then he’s being “forced” to lay off the “clever” attitude, and go with his excellent skills as a reporter.

        Cistulli is one of the best and most knowledgable writers on the topic of baseball.

        I just think it’s unfortunate that he has to put on a shtick. Instead of just plain writing, the way Gammons, Olney, Stark and other accomplished writers work.

        Cistulli may be the best pitch analysist in bb writing today.

        This was an attempt at some constructive criticism. Hopefully I don’t offend any fans of Cistulli or himself.

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      • Wass says:

        Unfortunately, as this site gains popularity it attracts more and more commenters like this. I personally am a huge fan of the manner in which Cistulli writes as well as the quality of content he provides. I’m not sure how removing all the individual styles the authors on this site provide would do anything but lessen the quality of the site. It’s fine if you disagree, but realize that this is your opinion, and if you really would like the author to change it sure as hell won’t happen due to your obnoxious comment. If all you want to do is complain then keep it to yourself.

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    • he ain't Faulkner but that's okay says:

      So why read him? I personally enjoy a little wit with analysis. Keep up the good work Carson.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Idiot post detection service: ACTIVATED says:

      Hey “guy”, what is your education level? What I read is a descriptive report about a couple of baseball players which is the type of stuff that keeps me coming back to FanGraphs… so you should probably go back to your MMA, WWE, and NFL, or your mom’s basement, which all may be achievable simultaneously.

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    • bilbovibrator says:

      yeah the way he writes is kind of annoying(takes a second to “translate”) cuz i done a lot of drugs but i hope he goes even prosier next time. if prose is even the right word to describe this..

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  3. Over educated guy says:

    This seems like a weird comment. I, also, found the “prose” to be really tedious, while not witty enough to offset said tedium. Were my education dollars wasted? Are you the author’s mom?

    I’m all for spicing up a descriptive report, but let’s face it – this is no great shakes in the “spice” department. Perhaps you, too, should diversify a little.

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  4. baltic fox says:

    What’s with the focus on prose anyway? Is this the New Yorker or fangraphs?

    Sometimes Carson is pretty funny and sometimes, well, let’s just say Jon Stewart can sleep peacefully at night.

    But he did alert me to Danny Salazar and Joc Pederson very early last year. I’ve received a lot of inquiries about these guys in my AL only and NL only leagues, and I’m very happy about that.

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  5. Guy who does not know where the beds are says:

    Where are the beds? Maybe you could deliver me one?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. RetireNutting says:

    This site is both useful and irritating at times. Guess it’s my own fault for reading internet comments, however.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. ms says:

    Enjoyed the article and found the prose entertaining. Thank you, Carson.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. YOLO69420 says:

    tl;dr

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  9. QuetzalCuddyer says:

    Carson Cistulli is a national treasure

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. tz says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that Fangraphs should adopt Ronnierd Garcia as its mascot?

    What a name.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Sidney says:

    Thank you guy who knows where the beds are. For years I’ve detested the way the author of the above post has written. It is self fellating and pompous. He should just title every article “Look how witty and smart I am”. Sucks every time he writes about something I’m interested in because I have to read through his shit.

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  12. BMarkham says:

    Jeez, good article but very little discussion on that actual article. Over at VEB (Cardinals SB Nation) we are both very excited about both these guys, and it’s good to see an unbiased observer have positive impressions of both.

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  13. Oh for goodness' sake says:

    @guy who knows where the beds are, @baltic fox:

    It seems to me that:
    - Carson always writes well, often writes extremely well, and is usually informative;
    - you are reading his stuff for free.
    Why, exactly, are you moaning?

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    • chuckb says:

      Because it’s the internet and their delusions of grandeur lead them to believe anyone gives a good goddamn what they think.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JoeC says:

      Because this generation has bellies of a pudding-like consistency and is used to getting what they WANT. NOW!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. BDF says:

    Great post if only for the comments it generated. Real window into some collective psyche. This was a superior piece of Cistulliana. More straight-ish baseball writing wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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  15. Monkeyfish says:

    This would have been a better read if it were only five sentences long

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Fortune cookie says:

    In bed.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. You Need a Tampon says:

    As someone who reads entirely too much on the Internet, I’m well acquainted with an irritating prose. This is nothing of the sort. If you want blurb-like articles and straightforward, “just the facts,” reporting than there are plenty of outlets that provide just that. Trolling the comments and exaggerating the perceived flaws accomplishes absolutely nothing. However, I disagree with those who take the stance, “if you don’t like it, don’t read it.” That’s just silly. But I do think it’s reasonable to say, “if you don’t like it, don’t comment.” By doing so you become one of those people who complain to glorified telemarketers after your “meal” at Wendy’s wasn’t satisfactory. Or one of those who write into NBC because they said “whore” on Law & Order and you don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s sad, rude, annoying and pointless all rolled into one big ball and served over brunch.

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  18. Come again? says:

    If the sentence is so cumbersome that it requires re-reading to be adequately understood, it should probably be re-written. “His second-inning encounter with left-handed-batting outfielder Adam Melker was representative of Cooney’s approach, which plate appearance the left-hander began with an 84 mph slider for a called strike on the outer half of the plate.”

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    • JoeC says:

      Perfectly understandable sentence. Perhaps you need some ginkgo biloba or summin’?

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    • chuckb says:

      Is this meant to be sarcastic? Maybe I just missed it. The only comment you have is that 1 sentence from the article could have been worded better? Isn’t this true in every article here or any other site on the internet? The standard here, rather than being substantively meaningful, is grammatical perfection?

      I appreciate good grammar as much as the next guy, but I read fangraphs for its content. I’m willing to overlook minor grammatical missteps because I hope to be informed by the article’s content. This article, in my view, was a success despite the sentence you referred to (I mean, to which you referred).

      I just can’t imagine grammatical perfection from every article I read on the internet nor can I imagine feeling the need to comment every time someone typed an imperfect sentence.

      I apologize for all my grammatical errors here.

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  19. KEVIN says:

    Tim Cooney going for the no-no vs. Iowa as we speak.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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