August 7, 2012 at 7:25 AM
RHP Pat Light
Dates: July 14, 19, and 30, 2012
Team: Lowell Spinners
July 30, 2012 YouTube
July 30, 2012 YouTube
Combined Line: 6.0 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Fastball: Possessing a live, loose arm, Light generates easy velocity. His fastball ranged from 90-97 mph in each outing, mainly sitting 92-94 mph. Light is able to reach back for more velocity when he needs to, topping out at 97 in two of the starts and 96 in the other. At higher velocities, however, his fastball is relatively straight and becomes a pitch that is easy for hitters even in the New York-Penn League to fight off. Overall, in the three outings, Light recorded only seven swinging strikes compared with 24 foul balls just on his fastball. As an amateur, Light had similar issues as innings tended to be prolonged, resulting in him not being able to get in a groove and keep his pitch count down.
Light showed good control of his fastball in the three outings, even in his second one when he walked two hitters. Light’s command, on the other hand, has been shaky, and at times he looked as if he was aiming the ball rather than throwing it, especially when he failed to finish his delivery. The result was a lot of hittable fastballs. Light can get away with those at this point due to his plus to plus-plus velocity, but as he moves up more mature hitters will drive these pitches instead of fouling them off or swinging through them. Light also seemed to lose his delivery at times, resulting in his fastball getting away from him and having two-seam action with arm-side run. His velocity fluctuates in this case and can vary as much as 3-4 mph from pitch to pitch. Learning to repeat his delivery will help Light command his fastball and is key going forward. He is clearly working on it in the controlled two-inning outings he is throwing right now. For example, in his first outing he threw a total 32 pitches, 30 of which were fastballs.
Secondary Offerings: Light threw both his changeup and slider over the course of the three outings, but the frequency varied from outing to outing as he worked in two-inning stints. In the first of the three outings, Light threw just one change and one slider, but in his second outing he threw five of each. In his third outing, Light didn’t throw his changeup, but threw 11 sliders compared to 20 fastballs. The changeup he threw in his first outing came in at 84 mph and looked more like a fastball he took something off as he slowed his arm considerably when coming to the plate. In the second outing, Light’s changeup came in between 79-81 mph, but he lacked feel for the pitch. For the most part, his changeup lacked movement and floated to the plate but hitters weren’t able to make solid contact, fouling off two of them and hitting the third to the left fielder for a fly out. On one occasion, the changeup showed good fade, resulting in a swinging strikeout against a left-handed hitter. Presently, the pitch grades below average; improving this offering to more than a show-me pitch will be vital to his ability to start and get left-handed hitters out at the higher levels.
Light’s slider is ahead of his changeup, flashing plus at times, but only grades as a fringe-average offering due to a lack of consistency. In the three games scouted, Light threw a total of 16 sliders, including 11 in the third game. This game gave the best look at his slider, and it highlighted his inconsistency as he threw six for strikes and five for balls. Light threw his best slider of the outing in the first inning, striking out the second batter of the game swinging with an 86-mph pitch that showed good depth. He also froze two other hitters with 87-mph sliders, recording strikeouts looking. On the other hand, Light struggles with the pitch when he drops his arm slot and comes around the ball, resulting in the pitch being flat or rolling to the plate.
Take: Even though Light entered the system after three years of playing college baseball, he is still relatively raw as a pitcher. He has a very projectable frame, but lacks the polish seen in other first round picks such as Matt Barnes in 2011 and Brian Johnson in 2012. His raw stuff, however, is very good, possessing plus to plus-plus velocity and his slider projects as solid-average to plus when he reaches the majors. With these two pitches in his arsenal, at worst he has the ability to profile as a bullpen arm, potentially one who pitches in high leverage situations later in games. Of course, Light will be given every chance to start at this point as he has much more value there. To project as a starter, Light must learn to repeat his delivery. His struggles lead to inconsistent fastball command and issues with putting away hitters quickly that result in elevated pitch counts. He also needs to improve both of his secondary offerings, especially his changeup. Future scouting looks will focus on these areas. Next year he should have the two-inning limit taken off, providing insight into how he holds velocity as he gets the chance to work deeper into games, something he struggled with as an amateur. Longer outings will also allow for more extended looks at his secondary pitches as he continues to work on them and throw them more in game situations.
Ian Cundall is a Northeast Scout for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall