One of the things that I enjoy the most about writing here is that I’ve got a record that I can be held to. It’s really easy to log on to the internet and start dropping bombs on players. What’s difficult is establishing a conclusion and staying consistent with it. Keeping that in mind, I searched the archives to come up with my notes on one Jason Motte.
The conversion began in 2006 but Motte burst onto the scene in 2007 in Springfield. I made a point of watching an excessive amount of video on Motte.Starting on May 4th, when I was scouting Walters, it’s hard to pass on noticing Motte:
The more I see Motte, the more I think he really needs to develop some kind of secondary pitch. His fastball doesn’t feature a lot of movement although he can locate it relatively well.
So the theme begins. With the benefit of hindsight, I think I was underrating Motte’s fastball. Motte’s shown increasingly impressive command but the fastball is still very straight.
At the end of June, I reviewed some more tape:
Motte’s fastball is blazing fast but relatively straight. When he locates it down in the zone, it’s a plus-plus pitch. He has enough pure velocity to blow it by most minor leaguers but that will be harder to do at the next level. When he does miss it’s typically shoulder high and gets fouled out of play. He may have left 2-3 of the 30 above fastballs over the plate. There’s not really any growth in the fastball itself unless he suddenly develops movement on the pitch, which is the only thing holding it back from being an 80.
The common association to make after last year is a Grant Balfour comparison but a) that was one season in isolation and b) that strikes me as a best case scenario.
The slider isn’t a myth but it is very much a work in progress. My biggest complaint is that it doesn’t break away from right-handers enough.
His slider is still a sloppy pitch that’s below average for me. There’s a tendency to rationalize that it’s good enough to keep hitters honest on the fastball and, while that may be true, that doesn’t make the slider any better of a pitch inherently. If hitters find a tip for his slider, they’ll hit it because the break isn’t sharp or severe enough.
The command issues extend to both pitches. He needs to locate his fastball down in the zone more often.
It’s easy to overlook the increased command that Motte has shown over the last year. His walk rate dropped by a half a batter per nine from Springfield to Memphis and a full batter from Memphis to St. Louis. What he’s done this spring has been remarkable.
Overall, I gave him a AOFP of 58. I’m still expecting some bumps in the road for Motte as major league hitters see him for the second and third time.
I echoed the above statements again in July questioning the slider. The splitter is something that’s been mentioned as an alternative that Motte might be better off using. I’m not sure if that’s the case but I’d guess that any tinkering the club thought they might do with Motte is on hold until (and if) things unravel. With Chris Perez being optioned, Motte is the owner of his own destiny and the Cardinals appear to have caught some lightning in a bottle.