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September 3, 2010 at 9:31 AM

The Book: Madison Younginer

RHP Madison Younginer
Date: August 31, 2010
Team: Lowell Spinners

Line: 5.0 innings, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, 3 walks

Stuff: Featuring a fastball, curveball, and change-up, Younginer works with three pitches that all show major league potential. Sitting 92-93 MPH, his fastball moves downward through the strike zone, with late life, and can peak at 95 MPH when he reaches back. Younginer’s two-seam fastball runs in on right-handed hitters, and this version usually sits around 90 MPH. He has below-average command of his fastball and trouble consistently spotting up with the pitch, but it shows good projection to generate more swings and misses as he continues to learn how to reel it in. Younginer’s best pitch is a classic mid-70s 12-to-6 curveball with sharp, tight break and excellent depth as it breaks down hard through the strike zone. A devastating out-pitch in the making, his curveball should evolve into a consistent plus pitch. Younginer already shows excellent feel for the offering and exhibits about average command, with the ability to throw it for strikes low in the strike zone. Younginer sparingly uses his change-up, but he generates good arm speed when throwing it and creates some late fade with the pitch. He could stand to improve the separation between his change-up and fastball to get hitters out in front more – his change-up currently sits 84-85 MPH – and incorporate it more into his patterns as he gains trust to use it.

Delivery: Younginer’s inconsistent fastball command and the way to improve it are tied to improving the mechanics of his delivery. An over-the-top thrower, he has very long arm action in the back and lacks fluidity when getting himself started. His delivery is also slow, which makes him prone to stolen bases. Younginer starts by bringing his front shoulder up as he rocks back while extending his throwing arm further out, before moving his body forward and bringing his arm back up to deliver the ball. All of this extra motion, stiff landing, and rigid body actions causes him to have trouble keeping a consistent release point, and makes it difficult for him to fluidly repeat his delivery. The result is very spotty fastball command and varying points at which his fastball comes out of his hand. It also seems to zap some of his velocity and keep him from consistently operating in his upper reaches. When Younginer has his delivery under control and works from a constant release point, he gets on top of his fastball well and finishes his curveball with a lot of snap. His stuff looks very good and is difficult for batters to hit, with both his fastball and curveball getting swings and misses. But, his delivery currently varies from inning-to-inning or even batter-to-batter, making him extremely inconsistent with his command and negatively affecting his stuff in the process.

Take: A prospect with a live arm in the lower levels of the Red Sox organization, Younginer is in the very raw stages of his development and has a lot of work ahead of him. The foundation is there for him to build upon, and over time he should work some of the kinks out of his delivery to find something that he can consistently work with. As he becomes more fluid with his mechanics, his fastball can operate with a bit more velocity, as he presently tends to fight himself through his motion, which causes his arm to drag. When Younginer is on top of the ball and throwing downhill, his heater jumps on hitters and causes late swings. Already looking like an offering with plus to better potential, his curveball has the makings of a tough strikeout pitch that he can bury down and out of the strike zone or freeze batters with knee-buckling bend. Getting ahead in the count early with his fastball will enable him to lean on this offering to finish batters off and make him much more difficult to hit. Strong results will probably be a little ways off, as Younginer’s work with improving his command and delivery are going to take some time. Initial signs of improvement should come with more swings and misses leading to higher strikeout totals, along with a reduction in the number of walks he issues by limiting the wild spells. Possessing the raw stuff to project as a starting pitcher and with the ceiling of one at the front of a rotation, much of whether he is going to stick in that role down the line is tied into the development of his change-up, which he shows good feel for, but has yet to learn to trust to work into his repertoire on a consistent basis. From what Younginer shows in terms of feel and natural ability, strong improvement with this offering over the next season or so is within reach as he continues his repetitions. If he does hit a roadblock in developing into a pitcher with three solid-average to better pitches, he could fit more into a bullpen role where his stuff looks like it could play up into that of a late-inning reliever. But, at this point in the game for Younginer and given his age, there is a lot of projection in front of him. A ways off from the upper levels of the Red Sox system and only at the start of a professional career, Younginer is a player that’s going to have to work through a lot of development to polish off the package and rise up through the ranks, but one that could pay high dividends if all of the raw ability comes together.