Bradfo Sho, Ep. 85: The Red Sox quest to find some pitchers

The Bradfo Sho
Sunday, June 3rd

With the MLB Draft upon us, it is a perfect time to explore how the Red Sox are going about finding their next homegrown big league pitcher. The organization has come under fire in recent years for its inability to develop hurlers for the major league club. Now, that's where Brian Bannister comes in. The Red Sox assistant coach joins the podcast to explain how he views the challenges and strategies when it comes to drafting and developing pitchers. Bannister takes a deep dive into what has worked, what hasn't and how things have changed over the past few years. If you like inside baseball, this is one you're going to want to listen to.

00:27:25

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Add road show. That might open definitely probably would have brought that I don't. Query where you don't know what you're stupid Brad broad show. That's delicious. I well. I am honored to have prime minister. On without me right now and if there isn't a better person whoever it rather have on me and I'm not just saying that because we're sitting in the luxurious four seasons hotel and and denial I'm not only say that the it's always interesting when I talked to Bryant. But I'll also say that because the draft this year I think the draft has changed a lot and and this is what I'm glad Brian's here to talk to me about it because I think that you sort of are at the forefront of this. Distant. I guess in a nutshell when you look at the draft and you look at these players be first when you're looking at the dirt to draft them and then looking to develop them. Even to do three years ago hasn't changed exponentially. Yes you know since I joked that you know moment to decide. I'd always rather take a position player because I think. You're more likely to you don't position players. Because they can use our what a schism the other run tool there had told me a good arm good defense unity they can be calm. Any type or role player on a Major League team pitchers are very unique in that. There's usually only a couple arms and he straps that actually have. All the church or a check all the boxes they can become a starting pitcher. And so there's really not enough of a supply. Of good arms to go around to all thirty teams they're they're just isn't it's it's a fact of the nature of the team because when you circuit in endurance. It's not about. Just commands or just repeating. It's about the angles in the movement of pitchers are being able to create with their arms hands. Starters are able to do everything the guys that last 1015 years in the big leagues. Do everything you do them all well and most pitchers bodies just can't do that and so most this time. With most amateur kid you looking at you and you acknowledged there's flaws are deficiencies or movements that are and I deal. And I think every team tries to develop pitchers are starters but I think tees as they've. Got more information started understands. Under the hood with all the data. What actually makes pictures. Viable to Major League level. Teams have been faster so slow guys into the bullpen. Both of their velocity a little bit at least turn them into something usable the Major League level. It's been struggling for years to make you guys starter. But I think your body still especially with our higher fixed tries to make guys starters. But the reality is if you're winning ballclub year after year it's really hard. To get an arm that can do everything because they're finite and there's not enough to go around. So we knew change wanted to change from the example I gave to see you good teams are gonna spend a lot of money for a safer trump takes. Or even you know high round draft pick. And say we're selling a lot of money doing them because we like his arm. And we sanction that arm will develop enough to become like you said it's starting pitcher in the major leagues and now it's much more complicated that. When did it change and how oh. Major League Baseball viewed pitching wind when it comes the draft. You know what's what's in your seeing is that. Developing pitchers. Is a little bit of an awkward turn because. There's actually things about pitchers we can't develop. You know the with the way their bodies are put together. Do. Range of movement on their shoulder the way that their arms snap straight at at the release point. Those are fundamental things are almost genetic qualities about pitchers that we we don't change on the development side. So there's certain pitches that a pitcher throws particularly that fastball that. There's very little. Opportunity for us on the development side to change hope a pitcher's fastball moves. That's a very genetic quality talent pitcher's body is put together and you know sometimes they might. So there are two seamer sort of forcing her by it. Usually that's the hardest thing to change is is a pitcher's fastball. And so really you when we talk about development. Near the big guy you drafts of the guys you acquire an international market. A lot of things they do is what they're always gonna do they're always gonna have. A compensation movement and their delivery or their body lacked some. Amount arrange remote motion and so they can't get to the ideal position that they should BOC to throw the best fastball possible. So a lot of what we do on the development side it is. War with all the other pitches that actually can be developed and so. You know that the quality of the changeup. The purity of the slider. You know at a split finger down the road. Work on the pitch makes a work on the sequencing of pitches a lot of that is where. Development actually has an impact you know you can you can get a got to throw harder by using his body and turning more officially. But when you get back to back actual movement. Of the fastball. That there's a lot of things that are pretty much set in stone and so what's hard is you look at all these amateurs available was drafts. And there's only couple that actually. Make their fastball move like the elite pitchers in the major leagues the last for a long time as cites the as teaser got smarter. They do is sugar coat guys in the bullpen they're quicker to make adjustments. With the pitchers in their systems that with things they know they can change. You know yours you're still trying to create that perfect starting pitcher. But a lot of times you fall short because. There's just something or what about the way his body moves toward the ways bodies put together today. Prevents him from creating that quality that misses bats consistently. You have a big guy. That I think a perfect example Soro what you're talking about and what I also wanna continue to talk about is that first round pick from last year Tim Hauck. To tune out quarry is a guy you Missouri first round picks. Com. Good arm big guy everything else. But as you explain to me having in spring training this was a perfect example of what we're talking about things or change rear. Big guy throws hard all right go get him before now waves. William sort of we see the qualities that we can implement with view we're gonna those were. Break you down build you back up. A lot of the things you're talking about what did the non fastball pitches. Bomb to talk a little bit against using tanner has that example of how. He he may be it is the perfect perfect example of a guy. How we look at first round picks and. Yes your dinners big body good arm. You have to weigh the piece of Missouri. Rotational delivery primarily to see her primarily a slider which showed an occasional changeup. Yes the movement on his pitches did you hear a comparison to somebody recognizes there's a law like Carson Smith. So you know good sinker. Sweeping slider and you know there's suicide there's a lot of similarities there. And so you know you see a lot of those guys around the major leagues and missed a lot of them are successful leverage relievers. You know they've been user sliders CO STC's Jack got bad knees checked you know there's there's lots of guys that. Have a lot of those characteristics of their fastball on the slider and then they're very successfully leaders. And so you see here a lot of the starting pitchers and of having success. From a low slot delivery. And it's it's a Max Scherzer type it's a Pedro Martinez type view that that's the high upside to get big guys with the low slot. That are able to. Power forcing fastball for example so. We do with the picture. You're looking you. To develop the optimal form of himself you know his body does certain things. And you're looking. To get the most out of that and so yeah it seems. In the past ended up in development you let a guy just pitch for a couple years and kind of he would he turns into need to work on refining his command at this fastball. Repeating his delivery you know us staying back and remember all the cliches. But I think now always were able to compare. Apples apples directly between amateur players and me and Major League pitchers. You're able to see you what to some worries are what the differences of aaron's I think you have to be willing. To take risks even if they're just short term risks to see. What pitchers are capable of doing it it's fitting did until more optimal version of themselves. You know commit to bode better curve ball committed all the better slider you know it is they're changing gripped by deal. And they throw wipe outs quarter. And so these are some of the things we're not we're not trying to. Develop pitchers that. Did to Fenway fans. You know they'd be needing years have figured out of there. We're trying to develop pitchers whereas some way about stuff so that by the time they get to send way they're gonna succeed. Once they're there because we weave when a market where. We don't tolerate failure we expect to win every year. We don't have the luxury of a small market team who's in a down cycle or rebuilding or tanking shorter the term he only uses. Word they can throw some young pitchers out of room on the mound and low sales for a couple of years and figured out. And then did successfully. For the next three or four years voice self control room. Few one of the challenges of our market is if we're gonna put a homegrown pitcher into our honor pitching staff. We want to succeed right away that's that's a challenge for young pitcher. It's just a day that expectations and and what our goals are every year so. We reduce facing new challenges and so we've. Talked about a lot of different ways that weekend. Do things I hope our young guys are you prepared. To make their secondary pitches better. To find that right mix of pitches. And done. When you when you talk about fastballs. There's risk that a pitcher can't do it and so we always. A very objective when it comes and as a pitcher is trying something new not succeeding there and you know it's highly likely his body can't hear. So what how going back to thinner and murdered in spring training. She developed a curveball this was changed yielding his style is he's a czar slot but really changed is his whole body angle. To drill the curve ball. So what you like you're talking about. That was taking a little bit of a risk that was take a little really gamble on you have to be patient I don't know where it stands for that. But that's sort of where you're talking about like we're gonna break it down and it's a little bit arrest. But we think for a long term this is gonna pay up because we do want you to be your best position by the time that you are ready to the major leagues. Yeah so if you work side having gone in Missouri you worked with the guy by the name of Brian. I think is doing this he's now the Baltic coast to Seattle Mariners. So if he runs a facility outside Saint Louis called. And you know live access to things like rap Soto which is. It's data capturing the guys so he got a little exposure there. Before Brian is. Higher by the Mariners this offseason to be the bullpen coach. Sushi he. Wanted to throw knuckle curve then and worked on it there. But you look at this current mix and you know Canada explain where his performances today. Yeah. Four out of five pitches he's throwing right now you know foresee Mirza and knuckle curve balls. Our pitches that he has never thrown before so he's he's out there. Competing with pitches that he doesn't. A lot of experience with and deal with that constant uncertainty. You get to do you know lever situation in game in the there's not a lot of history with a pitch. Six he's sort of tunnel work and he's one of the best kids have ever been around. And she works harder than anybody ever seen. You know he's got the aptitude for pitching. When you look at it he threw. Eighty to 90% sinkers and sliders in college a year later. He's sorry 90% for savers knuckle curve balls and so there's there's going to be volatility is performance. Because he's trying something new and stuff it's with the goal of creating higher upside for himself. But we're also very objective you know it's something that doesn't work for his body. We're not gonna force them to do it and so there's a collaborative process there and you know seniors he can. Gates of the positions in his mechanics where he can repeat of foresee fastball with life and carried. And throw a curveball for a strike would death. And you don't see it those are saying is that it. She can't accomplish after certain amount of time we we know he can throw a sinker and slider. I think everybody's mind there's a little more out sided views. Capable of throwing the forcing knuckle curve. But the kids got tremendous talent. Does have tremendous upside today and it's it's been fun to watch him go through the process. We're also constantly evaluating you know what's best for him and everywhere that sweet spot is what's in regards to what pitches he's throwing in what is mixes. Both those amazing because of oil we're talking about changes where. It's not even a year out from the guy being cast in the first round this sort of what I come back to the initial conversation. And normally all the things you talked about it would have been after. Four years start really working out this figure out something else is change arm angle this to this truth to that. Them in this process started almost immediately after the guy I was drafted. Which is which. I had five years ago would be insane yet and yet he's still throwing its receiver. You know the knuckle curve ball with some things he wanted to do. Is he likes the pitch. So. We know we know what his body yardage can do and students. You see what else is key rules throwing. But he's he's a good athlete and a tremendous worker and so it's been fun to watch him go through the process. When you looked at when you the first hole when you when we talk about the drafts mural with a team right now. What is what is sort of your role would have when it comes to the drafted today run but guys by you today. What do what do you what are you doing as a draft is ramping up here. He goes with my obligations. At the Major League level. I've been able to do less and less. With the drafts and on the minor league side. In the last year or so just because we have such a good team on the field with the Major League level. And trying to make sure there were winning every ballgame we can't of their. And I've we've also added more people on the minor league side and in that analytic department. To hold outs in those topics. So we have some really good people. Giving feedback and building out infrastructure with regards the draft so. You know I did. I did copies of this information. But compared to two years ago much source involved and you. So. When you go back to. Com the conversation I remembered Dave's sameness. A few years ago that this conversation was a Red Sox. And develop pitching. And that they were gonna and he was awesome I say we have on one meeting at the winner meetings about what we're gonna do it did change things and do this and do that. Com there's a lot of upside in this system right now but it's. You touch a little bit on. The are you wanna make sure guys are ready you're ready to go when he comes the major leagues. What are some of the other things when that conversation was being had a few years ago. What other some other things that you felt like you could you guys could tweak to sort of change narrative because there you know this is a results business right. The Clay Buchholz. Is for the last of those develop guy who went on to be an all star. What are some of the things that you guys have altered in this respect. You know would've moved. Classic phrases surrounds. Around the game is that you don't. Young position players and veteran pitchers. Edit it said that for a reason and you you look at recent. World Series clubs. You know you look at the cubs you know homegrown core position players and they acquire their pitching. You look at that pastors right now you know young position players and it's clear cold just of airliner Charlie Morton they acquired. This visit common theme throughout the deem and it goes back to. The fact there's very few truly elite arms and any draft class. And there's not enough for all thirty teams Newman no matter what it. He's trying to do there's not enough arms go around and so. Teams have tended historically to hit more on their position players. And build up a greater supply of them at their core and then been able to. Finally acquire those arms. That. Have all the characteristics that allow them to be ones or twos in the big leagues. Wind. You know maybe they're winning ballclub and they're all gone by the time you they picked it back into the first rounds. At their draft position and in previous years so. I think every team. Identifies three B Morris I don't think every team has access to bound for various reasons any given year. And so the concept to development. I think a lot of the high upside arms if you're not picking at the top of the first round. Com when you take calculated risks with the high school kids. You know you see a lot of hi and pitchers come from. The beginning of the second rounds were a team was willing to take a risk on a higher upside kid and end the road. That process awhile longer. There's more risk but it seems that's when you see. A lot of the pitchers that. Would eventually become a top of the first round pick in college. Balloon head and team is just sit on a lot of teams failed that two so there is more risk. So right these. It's it's a tough process. To draft pitchers and it's not always. The fault of the did all that stuff because there's only so many variables that you can tweak. With pitchers. And if you don't acquire them in the first place. You you've never fully get them to a very high level that I think people expect. You can't make. Magic for something that's not there. A pitcher's body you know you can only do so many thanks within the way there are works in ways that are their legs work. And so you're you're trying to do the best you can in good that's why a you a lot of teams viewed as safer because the position player. But why we never give up and we try and find diamonds in the rough later in the draft. That we think we can do open those characteristics. So it's it's usually culmination of the pitching side just isn't development is the hardest thing because. There's a lot of characteristics you can't change or developments cited worries you can on the hitting side. Do you know why you know there as I mentioned clay buckles but you one thing that should be pointed out. It's another thing that you have got out of hand in which is. Making the most out of guys making the most out of minor leaguers and maybe they're late round guys for making the most of them to the point where. Other organizations use them in Hawaii where maybe they didn't use them coming on the draft and has been a tremendously important. Thing I would imagine when we talked about some of these Major League trades and just talk a little bit about sort of how you view that how the importance of oh that aspect of things when it comes to edit an organization as a whole and certainly what your role. You might. The second half my title is dispatcher development. My primary focus throughout the organization. And there were I spent the majority of my time is on the concept of pitch quality. And it's really. You know what there is a perfect fast boat like what is a perfect slot or look like a perfect curve ball perfect change of. So then what are. This physical requirements. That a pitcher past past and how and the movements yes dude in order to create those close to perfect pitches. It's a UC pitchers around the game the pitch. The top of the league. And their bodies do things that allow them to create that its quality is not his velocity it's not just injury. It's angles they create its it's been axis on the ball. It's it's the movements they have to make what their body and there's so many limitations would most pitchers that they can't ever get that level no matter what you're trying to do. But my focus mainly is identifying. Areas where pitchers. Are not pitching of their ceiling there's something they could be optimize about them they could be throwing this it's more often they could have a different spin axis on the slider. You know throwing to different fastball would be more effective more often. They can make. Do more definite change of Brothers border and so black ice stadium now roam most of his time in most of my. Analysis research and commentary deals of that. And another area were spent a lot of time isn't now capturing. High speed video on players. Looking at their track mandated. Using other resources to identify when. They're not pitching success we what are they doing different uses her body moving differently as their arm slot different. How is their hand coming through the ball so a lot of a lot of what I do is optimization base and it is primarily with the Major League team. And and it it does cross down into the minor leagues. But it's a lot of it is coming up with the ideas and doing the research to figure out a lot. It is understand a lot of these concerts a lot more. As we've come so far and with the week the way it is and all information. Yet the cars they try to stay one step ahead so my goal you know every day. I check where we are relatives of rest solely on the pitching side of things bands you know watch word and other teams are doing. With their pitchers how they're pitching and how they hitters are reacting to a lot of research on the hitting side of things. So it's a lot of idea generation. Is where I contributed. Bus and always know our last question which is. What is the you just mentioned in a lot of different things a lot of different things how we are viewing come. The evolution of every analyzing pictures. What is the next thing that excites you what is the next thing that. Is it is out there story is being developed this and this is going to allow me to look. That pitchers in a way that may be haven't they general look at it before because. There's always been really we really did analytics in baseball and you know losing indeed the outfield defense are tired of sacks got to say they'll feel defense analytics has grown over the last year exponentially. So pitching wise is there anything out there like oh my god this is this is on the cusp. And this could actually beat show is something that maybe we didn't see before. You know we've we've got track and always we start with its effects in 2007 we've backtracked and since 2012. So I. Gone down that rabbit hole you know as far as I can go on sites I still spend every day looking at it. But now all we're giving you much more resources to actually study the body itself and and how pitchers move. With the high speed cameras and yeah you get to see up close how the ball comes off the fingertips and you know whether it's a pitcher's grip fits this. So Bob the more. There's something in his arm is doing or not doing that is affecting his pitches. I feet. The next wave is just learning more about. What mechanics actually far and wide bodies move the way they do. And really it's it's all on a predictable levels of the bid the better you can identify it. The more you can watch that next high school kid with a lot of upside or. Who's not throwing a certain pitch and and know that his body can do it and and know that down the road he's gonna throw it out and lead levels. So it's really understated the body because we've we've talked about mechanics forever we now have over at that did us did stayed. But we still don't truly understand what happens. Inning gave setting you know there's bio mechanical labs out there that for the markers on guys but that's not a game setting under game stress. And now we're certainly learn a lot more about what pitchers are doing. With their bodies painting competition. And. And what they're. What they're not capable of what their cable wars. I would like you to breakdown might forms the media game that is if nothing else because that is my goal line if I want to track prayer and I want I want. The bio at the mechanics I want I want the whole ball relaxed because. There that it is going to senate I feel like they have good like drives. Lou this is like you're with Tom Seaver you know this is like who sort of might might. My I guess. Might role model the top tier receiver model of putting the need pat on the back Clegg and drag him through so please do it and there is some high speed video earlier in the legislator and enjoy it yeah. Police say I Brian thanks so much has been a lot of fun quite severe stated.
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