Analysis of Mike Minor’s ML Debut

Last night Mike Minor took the mound in his first major league start. Minor is the first of many great pitching prospects that the Braves have in their farm system. Arodys Vizcaino, Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Craig Kimbrel, among others, are going to be the next generation of Braves pitchers. The Braves could be putting together a carbon-copy of the 90’s Braves teams that thrived on pitching. If you are a Braves fan, there is great reason to be excited about the future of the team.

By looking at the box score, you probably thought that Minor’s start was just, well, meh. I would agree, but I would also disagree. First, lets meet his repertoire. Minor features a low 90’s fastball, a low 80’s changeup, as well as a high 70’s curve/slider. If you look at his pitch f/x data, it says he throws an 83 mph two-seamer. Its not. Should be classified as a changeup cause it looks like both are exactly the same and move identically. His fastball is fairly straight but it had a little more movement as the game progressed, his change up has some nice sinking action, and he has a sweeping curve/slider. Here are some things that really stood out to me about the 22 year old’s debut.

– It is very difficult to tell the difference between his fastball and changeup, as far as his mechanics are concerned- he had excellent arm action on his change. It ended up being a very successful pitch and helped him with men on base.
– Minor had a lot of trouble in the fourth inning. A couple of bloop hits led to a couple of runs with just one out in the inning. Minor was able to work out of that inning by striking out Jason Castro and Bud Norris on changeup’s. Say what you want about the quality of those two that he struck out, but he easily could have lost his poise after he gave up a couple of runs in that inning off balls that weren’t hit very hard (other than the Brett Wallace double).
– I was also extremely impressed that Minor was able to work through the 5th inning extremely quickly and efficiently. He threw just 10 pitches and it was arguably his best inning of the night.
– Minor generally pitched around the strikezone and looked to have that pinpoint control that scouting reports said he had. He only issued one walk which was to Hunter Pence in the 6th inning when it looked as if he was getting tired. Braves announcer Chip Caray and Joe Simpson said his ability to command the strike zone and his great mechanics reminded them of Tom Glavine. Ironically, I saw a lot of Glavine in him too.

Now here are some things that alarmed me about Minor’s debut.
– The velocity on his fastball began to decrease by a couple mph in the 6th inning and around the 75-80 pitch mark. Here is a graph of his pitch speed in reference to the number of pitches he threw. As you can see, as the game progressed he began to lose some velocity on the fastball. If I remember correctly, Minor only touched 91 a couple times from the 5th inning on. He ranged from primarily 88-90.

– His fastball lacks movement. It is fairly straight. A lot of pitchers try to establish dominance with the fastball and then move to off-speed pitches later in the count to get hitters out. It looks like that was the approach Minor took last night with the Astros hitters who were trying to be very aggressive. His fastball was being hit well for some loud outs last night.

Hopefully Mike Minor can be a good replacement for Kris Medlen for the rest of the season. We can’t conclude too much since hes only pitched 6 innings at the major league level, and faced the Astros, who have a lot of guys that could be in the minor leagues anyway. However, it does look like hes got some nice potential and should be serviceable as a low end starter for the Braves the rest of the season.

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