Scouting Jeff Ames and Other Hudson Valley Renegades Pitchers
By Robbie Knopf
We talked at length yesterday about Justin O’Conner and his inconsistency, but there were also a trio of other players that I scouted from the press box on Tuesday, all pitchers: Jeff Ames, Rob Finneran, and Jose Molina (no, not the catcher, a relief pitcher).
You can see in this picture (taken with poor resolution by me) how far Ames’ arm goes behind his shoulder before coming all the way back around.
Ames, 21, is a big 6’4″, 220 and filled out, but he has a lot of work he still needs to do on his arsenal. The 42nd overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Ames features a crossfire delivery that provides deception but also comes with its own set of issues. Ames has some effort in his delivery, not a scary amount but still a little concerning, and he also can’t find a consistent release point, throwing off his control. I saw Ames throw out of a crazy amount of arm slots in the game, mostly ranging from high-three quarters to low-three quarters.
Ames throws a fastball, a changeup, and a slider. His fastball in the low-90’s features good run and nice sink when he is able to get on top of it, which is most of the time but certainly not all. Ames can get his fastball up to 95-96 MPH, but way too often when he does that he completely loses control of it. Ames gets into trouble when he leaves his fastball up in the zone, which is way too common an occurrence at this point. Ames’ changeup at its best shows great arm action and tantalizing late break with the bottom falling out at the end. But it varies quite a bit, at times flattening out, and he also tipped it a few times by slowing down his arm action. And then there’s the matter that he couldn’t always control it, let alone command it, leaving it up in the zone at times and a few times missing way off the plate. And then there’s his slider. When he had his high-three quarters arm slot on it, it looked exactly like his fastball before featuring devastating late break. But that was by no means all the time. He didn’t always know where it was going, and the worst thing was that it got slurvy at times. He actually got a strikeout as the hitter watched the slurvy slider go by and had an expression on his face like “what the heck was that?”
Ames shows flashes of three plus pitches that play up thanks to deception, but his delivery completely throws him off way too often. When he’s on, he’s dominant with three plus pitches that force swings-and-misses and weak contact. When he’s off, he walks every other batter and leaves pitches up in the zone as a tee for bullets coming off the opposition’s bats. Ames is 21 years old and has time to figure himself out as a pitcher, and if he does, he has good potential, maybe as high as a number two starter. Will that ever happen?
Finneran, who turns 23 in September, is the greatest pitcher in the history of Bentley University and was actually drafted out of their business school. Finneran, selected by the 37th round of the 2012 MLB Draft is relatively similar physically to Ames at 6’3″, 215 and also throws a fastball, a changeup, and a slider, but he is not nearly the same caliber prospect. Finneran is another guy with a pretty deceptive delivery. His fastball is in the 90-91 MPH range with some sink at its best, but too often it straightens out and is left hittable in the middle of the plate, and that’s when Finneran gets hit hard. Finneran’s changeup is probably his best pitch, featuring nice arm action with good late sink, but he throws it out of a slightly higher arm slot at times, preventing him from selling it. He also gets in trouble when he fails to get on top of it and fails to get the late bite. His slider is only a decent pitch, featuring late break but not an exceptional amount of it, and it gets slurvy at times as well. Finneran has a lot of work that needs to be done to get the movement on his fastball and stop leaving it up in the zone. His upside appears to be a middle reliever.
Jose Alberto Molina is interesting primarily because of his name, but he has some ability. A 21 year old lefty listed at 5’11”, 160 (he looked bigger to be), Molina features major control issues on his fastball as he overthrows it. But when Molina can just relax and throw his fastball in the lower 90’s, it features heavy sink. His changeup is another interesting pitch, featuring nice run and sink from the same arm slot. But he struggles to control and command both his offerings, limiting his consistency at this point. You always have to watch the lefties, and Molina is no exception. His upside appears to be a middle reliever who can come in and get out of jams with double plays.