How many pitches is too many?
June, 1, 2009
By Jason A. Churchill | ESPN Insider
In light of the 25-inning marathon between Boston College and Texas at the Austin Regional on Saturday, two longtime baseball executives were more than happy to express their opinions on the usage of the two young relievers in that game.
"Weren't we just talking about how 150 pitches for a starting pitcher is too many?" one inquired, referring to my asking about UCLA freshman Trevor Bauer and his recent 147-pitch outing. "Of course [169 pitches] is too many for [Austin] Wood. What was his high before that, 50 or 60, maybe?"
Wood's previous season high for innings was three before going 13 innings for Texas on Saturday.
"It's just crazy," another personnel executive added. "When I was with the Pirates, we would have called that a deal-breaker. It's one thing to stretch a starter out 30 or 40 pitches longer than normal, but to double or triple the work for any arm is not something you want to see, especially in a kid you may draft one day. Now clubs could certainly see both arms as ticking time bombs. Pitching when your arm is tired, overworked or hurt is how you tear labrums and rotator cuffs and end up in the Deep South seeing Dr. Andrews."
Eagles left-hander Mike Belfiore threw a career-high 129 pitches in the game, too, and one scout whose club was all over him as a potential late-first or sandwich-round selection says his club might need to rethink the idea.
"We're not going to assume he's hurt," he said. "But now we're less likely to assume he's not. We're going to have to talk about it internally. Our GM and team officials will have to get together on it. Belfiore's stock dropped for us, though."
- LSU RF Jared Mitchell went 2-for-4 on Sunday, with a walk and stolen base, and is having a strong Baton Rouge Regional. Mitchell also went 2-for-3 on Saturday, adding two walks and two steals. For the season, the five-tool prospect is hitting .333/.478/.569 with 50 walks, 58 strikeouts and 33 stolen bases. There is still talk of Mitchell going some time late in Round 1, but that kind of talk includes 25 other prospects, too.
- North Carolina OF/1B Dustin Ackley singled, doubled and homered in the Tar Heels' 12-1 win over Kansas in Sunday's Chapel Hill Regional final. It was his 21st long ball of the season, and the 3-for-5 effort pushed his season line to .417/.520/.781 with 42 extra-base hits. It also might have assured Ackley of his third straight .400 or better season.
Clemson left-hander Chris Dwyer went 8 2/3 innings and fanned 13 versus Oklahoma State in the Clemson Regional on Sunday. The freshman-eligible hurler has been as up-and-down as any arm in the class and isn't a Day 1 talent, but could be someone's easy sign in the third round.
Tigers 1B Ben Paulsen had two hits, including his 13th home run of the year, in the 15-1 win. He also drew a walk and hit the ball hard all weekend, homering in the first game of the day to help put Clemson in the finale. Paulsen, a left-handed bat, is hitting .373/.439/.635 with 35 extra-base hits and is likely to be one club's selection before Round 2 is over.
- Florida closer Billy Bullock tossed a scoreless ninth in a 16-5 win over Miami, striking out two and allowing two runners on a walk and a single. Bullock's mid-90s heat, which has reached 98 this spring, is enticing to clubs that want a late-inning reliever to help sooner, rather than later. Bullock and Stanford RHP Drew Storen are widely considered the top two relief prospects in the class.
- One scout at the Gainesville Regional this weekend liked what he saw from Miami shortstop Ryan Jackson, saying "he's not helpless at the plate; there's just not a lot of present power. But he's plenty good in the field, and he's a pretty good athlete with some skills to work with. He does have average on-base skills." Jackson went 3-for-10 in two games Sunday and is hitting .263/.362/.381.