On Saturday, the Universities of Virginia and Miami played an ACC baseball game that I got on television. Since the broadcast had a radar gun, I decided to put all the pitches by the two starting pitchers, Scott Silverstein and Bryan Radziewski, in a spreadsheet, and if nothing else, get a better look at their velocities. If you want to view the spreadsheet, you can by following this link, but I will just explain the results below. I classified the pitches manually, and we are using the broadcast gun, so there are bound to be errors, but I think these sort of charting methods are useful, especially since we have grown used to looking at MLB pitchers through Pitch F/X and not via traditional scouting methods. This sort of bridges the gap between the two slightly. Both pitchers are left-handers and both are draft eligible this season. Both pitchers also have already had some arm or shoulder problems, which are certainly red flags.
Scott Silverstein is a redshirt senior, so he is certainly an older pitcher, which definitely hurts his prospect status. For comparison, he was born in May of 1990. Jose Fernandez, the Marlins top pitching prospect who just made the Major league team, was born in July of 1992. So refinement is key, because he would need to move through a system incredibly fast to be considered a prospect. Silverstein did not appear in Baseball America’s ACC preview, but he started in a Saturday game for Virginia. He is also a 6-6 240 left-handed pitcher, which makes him interesting, at least to me.
His average pitch was thrown at 85.05 MPH. This is closest to Hector Santiago when the White Sox let him start a few games (Jeremy Sowers and Mark Rzepczynski also provide close comparisons, and neither were very good starters). Despite having a good outing, Silverstein threw just 87 pitches. He got 11 whiffs (12.6 %, a good percentage). He hit one batter, got 5 groundballs versus 7 flyballs. He gave up 13 fouls, 14.94 % of his pitches, which is a high number. Overall, he had a 70.1 strike percentage. This is actually a little high, but I think at this stage at you would rather there be too many strikes than not enough strikes.
His fastball was 88-94 MPH, with a 90.64 MPH average. Out of left-handed starters in the Pitch F/X era, he would fit in at a tick above average (in the top 49.6 %), closest to Travis Blackley. As the game went along, Silverstein got extremely changeup happy. He threw 32 changeups overall (36.8 %), a high percentage of changes. Out of starting pitchers that have thrown at least 170 innings in the Pitch F/X era, only Tom Glavine and Kenny Rogers, both at the end of the careers, threw a higher percentage of changeups. Silverstein’s change had a 79.91 MPH average in the game, which is closest to the changes of Andy Pettitte, Jeremy Hellickson, and Jered Weaver, pretty good company. His curveball, sort of a 2 plane break curve, was thrown at 73-79 MPH, with a 76.3 MPH average. This is closest to Steve Trachsel, a pitcher who threw a ton of changeups.
Of course, we don’t know what his medicals look like, and clearly that is a big deal when looking at Silverstein. A lot of his comparisons are to not very good left-handed starters/borderline relievers. However, he has a decent fastball, can throw a couple different pitches for strikes, and is a gigantic human being. Again, at the very least, he is interesting.
Bryan Radziewski is a junior left-hander that pitches for the University of Miami. Other than his throwing hand, he is nearly a complete opposite of Silverstein. Radziewski does not have MLB size (listed at 5-10), and doesn’t throw nearly as hard either. Radziewski’s average pitch was 80.36 MPH. This is closest to failed prospect now minor leaguer (Rangers’ AA) Ryan Feierabend, 143rd out of 160 left-handed starters in the Pitch F/X era. However, even though he didn’t have a great start against Virginia, he has been dominant this year. Of course, stuff matters much more than college statistics, and it is much more predictive, but the numbers are at least interesting enough to look at his stuff.
In his outing against Virginia, he threw 105 pitches, and got 6 whiffs, which is well below where you would want it to be. He got 8 groundballs and 12 flyballs, and threw strikes 63.8 % of the time, an okay percentage. He gave up fouls a little more than Silvertstein as well, at 15.2% of the time.
His fastball was anywhere from 83-88, averaging 85.38 MPH. Only 7 starters in the Pitch F/X era (170 innings minimum) have had an average fastball velocity below that, and they were all veterans at the end of their careers (with the exception of R.A. Dickey, a knuckleballer, which Radziewski is obviously not). So obviously, this is not a MLB fastball, but let’s look at his other pitches.
His breaking pitch was a what I am going to call a curveball. It looked like a soft slider with some sweeping action, and the broadcast even called it a cutter. Just for ease and comparisons, I will call it a curveball, which it looked like at times. It was anywhere between 69 to 79 (it was probably two different pitches, a cutter/slider, and a slow curve), averaging 75.24 MPH. This is closest to Cliff Lee, Josh Tomlin, and Aaron Harang. He threw this pitch 44 times, or about 42 % of the time (seemingly supporting that he was actually a 4 pitch pitcher).
He also threw a change 12 times (about 11% of the time). The pitch was thrown 76-81 MPH and averaged 79.83 MPH, barely below Silverstein’s and closest to Kenny Rogers and Jason Vargas, two lefties who threw a ton of changeups.
So we both by the results of the outing, and the pitches in general, Silverstein is clearly the better pitcher. Just looking at body type and general fastball velocity would have told us the same thing, but I think the further in depth look gives us an even better idea. For Radziewski to have any success in professional ball, he is going to have to rely more on his changeup that doesn’t appear to be a bad pitch. The lack of a fastball makes him rather unattractive as a prospect though.