Something really interesting happened on Twitter yesterday, and I’m not sure how many people saw it. It’s something that I’ve wondered about for a long time, and we may be finally getting some answers for.
It’s no secret that the Royals have had their fair share of problems developing starting pitchers. You hate to assume, but there were plenty of rumors swirling around about the Royals front office banning long toss and trying to create cookie-cutter pitchers, among other things. It’s probably not that surprising when you think about it, considering how bad KC has been in the area of developing starting pitchers.
On Tuesday afternoon, Kyle Boddy of DriveLine baseball posted a series of tweets by former Royals minor leaguer Harold Mozingo. Take a look:
A couple of these comments seem to confirm some of the rumors that have swirled around the Royals pitcher development system for quite some time. Here’s a couple of tweets from David Lesky of Baseball Prospectus KC to consider as well:
While it’s safe to assume that the Royals pitching development philosophies have changed over the years, one still has to wonder if the Royals aren’t still in the Stone Age compared to other organizations. Here’s a list of thoughts I have in reaction to Harold Mozingo’s tweets:
- No two pitchers are the same. They may be very similar, but they aren’t the same. You can not have “absolutes,” as Mozingo suggests in that first tweet, when it comes to developing pitchers. Some RHPs throw sinkers, some throw 4-seam darts. The first base side of the rubber often benefits sinker ballers more than the right side, because it gives the sinker more room to run over the plate. Telling a sinker ball pitcher he must pitch on the right side of the rubber can completely mess up his game that got him drafted in the first place. You can’t make Kyle Hendricks be Kelvin Herrera.
- When it comes to specific mechanics, like landing on your heel vs. your toe, some mechanics can be more optimal than others. That being said, Dan Quisenberry’s knuckles nearly dragged the ground and he was a pretty good pitcher, right? Suggesting mechanical fixes to a pitcher is one thing, demanding that everyone in your organization do something 100% the same doesn’t even make sense.
- I almost don’t believe that the Royals told their pitchers not to throw 2-seam fastballs. I’m not going to call Harold Mozingo a liar. I just don’t want to believe that the Royals would be so stupid as to tell EVERY pitcher that they can’t throw a 2-seam. If that’s real, the Royals have got some SERIOUS issues on their hands.
- Kyle Boddy referenced the fact that Mike Montgomery was told not to throw his slider when he was drafted by KC. Obviously, we don’t have both sides of this story, so take this with a grain of salt. If Montgomery was struggling to throw sliders for a strike, maybe the Royals were just introducing a curveball to him as a chance to throw more strikes. But if the Royals really took away Montgomery’s slider just because they believed a curveball would work better, that’s worrisome. I’m taking this note with a grain of salt.
- The long toss thing is interesting to me. I remember rumors about the Royals telling Dylan Bundy that they didn’t like his LT program swirling around back in 2011. I couldn’t believe it at the time. I have heard from multiple people close to the organization that the Royals, apparently, really don’t like long toss. Which is another thing to be open minded about. NO long toss would be ridiculous, but some players LT routines may also be just as ridiculous. I remember people used to say Barry Zito would warm up by throwing baseballs from foul pole to foul pole. I’m all for routines and being comfortable, but at some point you’re over doing the idea of long toss. Then again, from what I have heard, the Royals prefer their pitchers to do as little long toss as possible, which sounds worrisome. There’s a lot of good that can be had from a productive long toss program.
I’ve been around baseball my entire life. I played in high school and college. I’ve coached at the high school level. I have never once heard of a coach telling a group of players not to long toss. I’ve also never once heard a coach suggest to a group of pitchers not to throw 2-seam fastballs. Because I’ve never pitched for the Royals, I don’t know exactly what their rules are or were. But I have talked to multiple people who have, and a lot of them agree with what Mozingo and Boddy had to say yesterday on Twitter. The Royals have not been good at developing their own starting pitchers, and we my be starting to see more and more as to why.