OK, I realize now I did research on Cueto and Bailey and then didn’t post it, leaving my claim that both were less than average at the major league level dangling.
Let’s start with Cueto.
Cueto has, for the last two years, pitched 350 major league innings and had a below league average 4.81 and 4.41 ERA in those two years–career ERA is 4.61. His ERA+ is 93 and 97 in those years, so it’s not the park’s fault. His career FIP, which calculates an ERA with non-balls in play (home runs, strike outs and walks), is 4.79, so he’s actually been helped by the defense behind him. His BABIP has been around .300, well below his minor league norm of .325 and about league-average. And finally, his left-on-base percentage was above-average at about 73% over those two years. All of these things, surprisingly, served to help him. On top of that, his HR/9 rate is 1.26, his ground ball to fly ball ratio is at 0.99 (~40/40) and his line drive rate is at ~19%. These are very bad things and in a large-sized sample. And just a little more: he’s pitched 62% strikes and yet 69% of his pitches out of the strike zone are getting hit. Basically, he’s been not good.
Now this could be the result of a few things, not just inability to control pitches, but maybe his stuff isn’t as good as it seemed at the scouting level or perhaps he’s just erratic. But his PitchFX seems to suggest that his pitches are fine and his release point has been stable. The only real problem seems to be that there’s not much movement on that slider, but he doesn’t throw it that much–plus, it works well with his change up, which he throws at the same speed but with different movement. And here’s the kicker, I can’t seem to find his day-to-day accuracy chart, but this Fangraphs post was talking about accuracy problems (and maybe that he was pitching injured all year long) and Hey-Zeus, I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch to say he was having accuracy problems all year. The only thing that can really be deduced, I think, is that because the GB/FB/LD rates were so irregular, his strikes thrown percentage was average and the only major outlier was the O-Zone contact percentage, he’s been having trouble locating the pitches within the strike zone.
As for Bailey, well just take a look at his BB/9. Someone pointed out to me that he had significant success in the last month or so at the major league level in 2009. This is true, but he was still walking 4.1 batters per nine innings at that point, so like Chapman, he’s got the stuff, but the control still has to come around. Bailey was also a rushed prospect, brought up at age 21, he had half a season of success in A+, AA and AAA before hitting the majors. Then he got punished. This year, at 23, he put up a BB/9 under 3 at AAA in 89 innings. So maybe there is hope on the horizon.
So this is something that two of their most important projects have had since the start of their careers and two things they’re still working on in the present time. Fortunately, they’re both young and have time to learn.
Back to Chapman, the Reds said they see a potential Randy Johnson but don’t regard his control problem as significant:
A source familiar with the Reds says Cincinnati was not overly concerned with Chapman’s control issues — he registered 5.37 walks per nine-innings in Cuba — and said that the Reds likened him to a young Randy Johnson, who also needed time to harness his left-handed power before progressing to a Cy Young Award winning career. Though some scouting reports project Chapman as a reliever, the Reds are said to consider him a starter, like Johnson.
Chapman is not a finished product, why on God’s earth would you start declaring him the second coming of Randy Johnson?
Probably the best thing to come of this is that the Reds have a number of coaches and scouts who are fluent in Spanish and plan on attaching a Dominican coach to him, like they supposedly did with Cueto. A good thing, but still, nobody in the organization has addressed control issues about him. That may be toeing the company line, but Jesus, somebody stop playing ignorant.