"Pitching has got to be the foundation in the organization. Everybody wants a good pitcher. The more pitchers we have, the stronger our organization will be."
- Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals General Manager

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Question: Why does this blog exist?

Answer: JD Durbin.

Durbin came into spring training this year as the twins 10th best prospect, as rated by Baseball
America. He was out of options, so he would either have to make the team outright, or pass through waivers to get to AAA.

Durbin didn't make the opening day roster and on March 29, the Minnesota Twins designated Durbin for assignment to AAA. Before he got there, he was claimed by the Arizona Diamondbacks on waivers, and made the trip out to
Arizona for one appearance, in which he allowed 7 runs on 7 hits in the span of 2/3 of an inning. Not surprisingly, he was waived by the diamondbacks the next day.

Durbin was claimed again, this time by the red sox, and spent 4 days waiting to be added to their 40 man roster. But that didn't happen, and he was designated for assignment again on April 11.

The Phillies picked Durbin up on waivers and attempted the same procedure. This time Durbin passed through untouched, and he was assigned to AAA Ottawa. He has yet to report.

As evidenced by the fact that he was claimed on waivers by 3 different teams in the span of 3 weeks, Durbin has good value. There are general managers and scouts who think that, at some point in the near future, Durbin will be an effective major league ballplayer.

It’s just that none of them, other than Josh Byrnes, were willing to put their necks on the line and let him get some innings at the major league level to work through his issues.

Durbin threw 89 innings in AAA last season at a 2.33 era. Thanks to his page at minorleaguesplits.com, we can see that he has three faces that come out in different situations:

Vs. LHB:

Against LHB, Durbin dominates the pace of the game. His K and BB rates are both significantly above league average, but the rest of his line is wholly unremarkable. He seems to use all of his pitches, but his location is mediocre. If AAA batters swing, they K or put the ball into play weakly. If they’re patient, they walk.

Vs. RHB:

Against RHB, Durbin pitches to contact. He gets a lot of pop-ups and he gets a lot of line drives. He seems to primarily throw a heavy fastball, which limits the amount of outfield flies, but increases every other batted ball event.

W/ Men on base:

In this situation, Durbin seems to lose control. He allows a lot of baserunners and he throws a lot of pitches, but hitters don’t seem to be able to drive his pitches. He gets by on his raw stuff alone, which works well in AAA, but won’t cut it in the majors.

What can he do to improve?

Here’s the problem: Durbin has no control of his changeup. His curveball is an effective out pitch, but again, he can’t locate it for a strike. He has also had labrum issues, which makes it likely that his command issues are not entirely within his control.

But, his fastball is really nice, and would be an effective pitch if he could develop a secondary pitch to keep hitters off balance.

Were he willing to put his career on the line, I would suggest that he throw his curveball early and often when he gets back to AAA. If he could turn his curve into a reliable secondary pitch that he can locate for a strike, he could be an effective bullpen arm in the major leagues for as long as his arm held together.

No comments: