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New Article: "Matt Hobgood: Mid-Term Report" by Doc Shorebird

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Sure wish we had this guy in the system instead.

Tell you the truth, I'm not impressed with those numbers in the California League for a 22-year old especially for a guy who most scouts don't believe will stick at short.

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Just wanted to offer my thoughts on Hobgood. I was going to make a separate thread, but didn't want to clutter up the board.

In any case, I did a write-up on my site, which you can read here, but be warned it's Subscriber-based content. However, I'll delve into the hidden content here...

First, in regards to his velocity, there was no radar gun, but I was able to get a glimpse of the scoreboard on four of his pitches:

Three fastballs - 89 and 87

One Curveball - 76

One Change-Up - 82

It's possible the radar gun was off considering the opposing pitcher I also saw clocked at 87 and he's usually a little higher than that. But still, not good news on the velocity front, which I'll go over a bit more in a second.

What I found most striking was how inconsistent his mechanics were. They would vary from pitch-to-pitch. His arm slot would range anywhere from high 3/4 to a normal 3/4 slot. Other inconsistencies included the timing of his hand break, the amount of arch in his bat as he loaded his arm, the amount of bend in his back leg as he strides forward...numerous inconsistencies.

Now, the inconsistent mechanics could certainly impact his velocity, but he's definitely a different pitcher mechanically than he was when drafted. It's something I'll probably do a future article on, but here is a quick summary...

1. They have slowed him down....tempo (the rate the body is moving into release) is about two or three frames slower than it was prior to being drafted. He's more under control...less "violence" in his delivery.

2. They have shortened the stride of his delivery...that may have involved incorporating a less forceful "kick-out", which is something that he uses to initiate an aggressive rotation of the hips...

The shorter stride, the slower tempo, the smoother delivery, and possibly the less forceful/aggressive kick-out -- each change can hinder a pitcher's velocity, especially when all four mechanical adjustments are used on one pitcher.

The one positive change they have made to his mechanics were on the front side. His glove is in a much more stable position out in front of the chest, especially on his fastball, which helps in keeping the front shoulder closed and is associated with better command. However, his front side mechanics do change when throwing the curveball.

And of course, none of that matters if a pitcher can't repeat his mechanics consistently, which Hobgood isn't doing right now.

The biggest positive for me was definitely the curveball. It can be a true out pitch and he actually commanded the pitch better than his fastball. I'd like to see him stick with the higher arm slot because that is the slot his curveball comes from.

Change-up showed promise, but was a little inconsistent and he didn't throw many.

I think the biggest thing to take from this is the development team the Orioles have in place seems to have worked with Hobgood on correcting his mechanical problems. Thus far, the results being decreased velocity, a struggle to repeat his mechanics, and inconsistent command. What does that tell you?

Nice write up. Thanks.

Has to make you wonder what they would have done if we took Lincecum. No way they'd let him stick with his crazy mechanics.

I've read numerous articles and heard many analysts talk about how changing a pitcher's mechanics too much can be a bad thing. Some guys thrive on a deceptive delivery, which may or may not have some bad mechanics, because it helps them hide the ball better or because it's simply a distraction for the hitter. I wish the O's wouldn't over think things like this sometimes. I understand changing a pitcher's mechanics if he's having trouble finding the zone or if there's something there that could shorten his career, but this organization needs to learn how to refrain from fixing things that aren't broken. I am getting the feeling that they're giving a very young, unpolished pitcher too much to think about all at once by piling on four mechanical changes at the same time.

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Ouch. If your observations are accurate (and I believe that you know what you're talking about) then Joe Jordan must be pretty ticked at what has happened to his Overall #5.

Sounds to me as if Hobgood may be Ground Zero in the scouting/development war.

(BTW, 5-7 MPH isn't much differential between FB and change).

Pitching is the one place where Jordan has faith in the development. Let's give this time before we start blaming development for Hobgood's lack of performance so far.

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I think the biggest thing to take from this is the development team the Orioles have in place seems to have worked with Hobgood on correcting his mechanical problems. Thus far, the results being decreased velocity, a struggle to repeat his mechanics, and inconsistent command. What does that tell you?

It tells me that he's being rebuilt so he can hold up over the long term. It's not at all surprising that his velocity has dropped by 4 mph (87-90 versus 91-94) when his comfort zone has changed so drastically and he hasn't finished his refinement.

It seems to me that many want to judge Hobgood (and Jordan) way too prematurely. That's like choosing Miss America out of a bunch of 10 year old girls.

Here are the positives:

1. Hobgood has a very good GB rate, indicating his 2S fastball is well located, has great movement, or both.

2. Hobgood's supposed power curve still appears to be a power curve.

3. Hobgood's working hard on a change. Only having a 5 mph difference is an obvious indicator that it's still a work in progress, but it sure is nice to see him working on it so soon.

4. His mechanics aren't repeating yet, but according to the quoted post they're much easier. This is incredibly important for long term success. Just ask Brandon Erbe and Chorye Spoone.

If all goes as planned, Hobgood will be a pitcher with a boring 2S, high GB rate, bat-missing curveball, change and velocity in the low to mid 90's. Will he get there, I don't know, but that profiles pretty well.

I like the plan and am unwilling to judge him as a prospect or #5 pick this early in the progression. I want him to get in better shape, so I really hope the O's are working on his core and his eating habits as much as they appear to be working on his legs and mechanics.

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It tells me that he's being rebuilt so he can hold up over the long term. It's not at all surprising that his velocity has dropped by 4 mph (87-90 versus 91-94) when his comfort zone has changed so drastically and he hasn't finished his refinement.

It seems to me that many want to judge Hobgood (and Jordan) way too prematurely. That's like choosing Miss America out of a bunch of 10 year old girls.

Here are the positives:

1. Hobgood has a very good GB rate, indicating his 2S fastball is well located, has great movement, or both.

2. Hobgood's supposed power curve still appears to be a power curve.

3. Hobgood's working hard on a change. Only having a 5 mph difference is an obvious indicator that it's still a work in progress, but it sure is nice to see him working on it so soon.

4. His mechanics aren't repeating yet, but according to the quoted post they're much easier. This is incredibly important for long term success. Just ask Brandon Erbe and Chorye Spoone.

If all goes as planned, Hobgood will be a pitcher with a boring 2S, high GB rate, bat-missing curveball, change and velocity in the low to mid 90's. Will he get there, I don't know, but that profiles pretty well.

I like the plan and am unwilling to judge him as a prospect or #5 pick this early in the progression. I want him to get in better shape, so I really hope the O's are working on his core and his eating habits as much as they appear to be working on his legs and mechanics.

Thank you for your comments (and everyone else's too, they are all interesting). Your comments are accurate and very reasoned. Others made some good points too, and a couple missed the points that I was trying to make. Perhaps there was too much covered and I should have stuck just with the basic premise.

As far as your concern with Hobgood working on the core muscles, that is coming along. The plan is to do it consistently and slowly but surely so as not to cause setbacks along the way. Hobgood has learned a lot during the first half and is now making progress in reducing body fat. One of the reasons for asksing the questions that I asked was that there was an earlier thread in which speculation ran out of hand regarding Matt's weight. Tony reported that a National League scout said that Matt's weight had gone over 300 pounds. While that is a true statement by Tony, it was inaccurate by the scout. Matt has never approached 300 pounds. I do know what his highest weight was, but I don't want to put numbers out -- whatever the numbers may be -- that sets off another round of criticism. The fact that is important is that Matt has learned something about which habits lead to weight gain. He weighed 265 the day of the interview. By now he may be one or two pounds lower, with even more muscle and less body-fat. The current and long-term trends are what is important - not any number. I didn't see much criticism about Diaz - according to a thread here, he is also at 6'4" weighing 320 plus pounds. He can throw hard and has gotten promoted.

The points that I had hoped that I made in the article were that the coaches and instructors are pleased that Matt has made some progress, that his FB and CB are plus, and his change is average but is improving.

Matt feels sorry for Joe Jordan getting all this heat from fans because Jordan chose Hobgood. Please don't jump all over Hobgood because someone saw a bright future for him and selected him high in the draft. Matt is trying his best to live up to the expectations put on him by others. These are not excuses - just facts. He is 19, has calorie-efficient genes, needs to learn to pitch and not just throw, and is making continued progress with his changeup. That's a lot for any 19 year old, and Matt is doing a decent job. Not perfect -but decent.

I had several long chats with Adam Loewen while he was here. Everyone thought it would be a breeze for Adam at Delmarva and he would be gone by mid-May. After all, his contract spelled out that he would be on the Orioles roster by 2006. It didn't happen. Adam was working hard, too, and was frustrated.

Adam's fast ball was 92. Matt is hitting 91 now and hit 94 earlier in the year. Loewen was two inches taller and a year older. Yet his record was similar to Matt's, but with more strikeouts. But HE WAS NOT DOMINATING as most thought he would. He was a selected fourth overall and was older than Matt. Matt was selected fifth overall.

I believe that some of you think the word "development" means go straight up the ladder to the majors without any setbacks and do this within three years. That's not what my dictionary says.

Thanks for reading the report and thanks again for taking the time to comment. Reading them is like hanging out at the local pub and getting into it. One of the great contributions of baseball is to let everyone vent some. The same is true of the Hangout. Vent and lessen the frustrations of another losing Oriole season. Your comments are greatly appreciated, even if we may differ in opinion. But, that's why we have Yankee fans and Orioles fans, democrats and republicans, and I understand that some have differing religious beliefs as well.

Edited by DrShorebird
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Doc - you've seen him pitch, and lots of other top prospects. What's *your* opinion of where he's at?

Waaay too early to tell! He is not in any grove yet. He certainly has the potential to be a fine major league workhorse pitcher. First he has to learn to pitch -- obvious and he is working on it and I predict that he will learn well. Second, he has to be able to consistently hit his spots (yes, that is part of number one above). Control is the name of the game. Even though Matt is satisfied with his command at this stage, he needs to get into a grove. He is coming off of soreness and changes in form. He is emphasizing smooth delivery now and is not even trying to throw "hard." He tried to throw hard only on one pitch in his previous outing (He still hit 91 a couple of times). After a few more outings and a return of his strength, he should be able to start finding his grove again. He was in a fairly decent grove in spring training. Thirdly, he needs to be around older pitchers who have learned good nutrition and supplement programs beyond the 1970s era advice formally given him. He needs to continue a slow bu sure restructuring of his body composition. Howeverr, he is STRONG and FAST on fielding ground balls now. Don't be mislead that he is out of shape. he has countryboy strength and fields his position well and very quickly. Yes, he can reduce his body fat. Yes, he can learn about mid-night snacking. He will - especially if he gets to work out in the off-season with professional exercise physiologists and sports nutritionists -- those living in this millennia.

His future will probably be very bright, but if I could predict the future, I would be rich.

It is meaningless to try to gage him until he is taught what they want to teach him, until his body matures physically and until he is then allowed to find his own grove. I don't care what the numers on the radar gun are. I care only that he can command what he throws. Fans should give him a couple of years to develop that command!

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Thank you for your comments (and everyone else's too, they are all interesting). Your comments are accurate and very reasoned. Others made some good points too, and a couple missed the points that I was trying to make. Perhaps there was too much covered and I should have stuck just with the basic premise.

As far as your concern with Hobgood working on the core muscles, that is coming along. The plan is to do it consistently and slowly but surely so as not to cause setbacks along the way. Hobgood has learned a lot during the first half and is now making progress in reducing body fat. One of the reasons for asksing the questions that I asked was that there was an earlier thread in which speculation ran out of hand regarding Matt's weight. Tony reported that a National League scout said that Matt's weight had gone over 300 pounds. While that is a true statement by Tony, it was inaccurate by the scout. Matt has never approached 300 pounds. I do know what his highest weight was, but I don't want to put numbers out -- whatever the numbers may be -- that sets off another round of criticism. The fact that is important is that Matt has learned something about which habits lead to weight gain. He weighed 265 the day of the interview. By now he may be one or two pounds lower, with even more muscle and less body-fat. The current and long-term trends are what is important - not any number. I didn't see much criticism about Diaz - according to a thread here, he is also at 6'4" weighing 320 plus pounds. He can throw hard and has gotten promoted.

The points that I had hoped that I made in the article were that the coaches and instructors are pleased that Matt has made some progress, that his FB and CB are plus, and his change is average but is improving.

Matt feels sorry for Joe Jordan getting all this heat from fans because Jordan chose Hobgood. Please don't jump all over Hobgood because someone saw a bright future for him and selected him high in the draft. Matt is trying his best to live up to the expectations put on him by others. These are not excuses - just facts. He is 19, has calorie-efficient genes, needs to learn to pitch and not just throw, and is making continued progress with his changeup. That's a lot for any 19 year old, and Matt is doing a decent job. Not perfect -but decent.

I had several long chats with Adam Loewen while he was here. Everyone thought it would be a breeze for Adam at Delmarva and he would be gone by mid-May. After all, his contract spelled out that he would be on the Orioles roster by 2006. It didn't happen. Adam was working hard, too, and was frustrated.

Adam's fast ball was 92. Matt is hitting 91 now and hit 94 earlier in the year. Loewen was two inches taller and a year older. Yet his record was similar to Matt's, but with more strikeouts. But HE WAS NOT DOMINATING as most thought he would. He was a selected fourth overall and was older than Matt. Matt was selected fifth overall.

I believe that some of you think the word "development" means go straight up the ladder to the majors without any setbacks and do this within three years. That's not what my dictionary says.

Thanks for reading the report and thanks again for taking the time to comment. Reading them is like hanging out at the local pub and getting into it. One of the great contributions of baseball is to let everyone vent some. The same is true of the Hangout. Vent and lessen the frustrations of another losing Oriole season. Your comments are greatly appreciated, even if we may differ in opinion. But, that's why we have Yankee fans and Orioles fans, democrats and republicans, and I understand that some have differing religious beliefs as well.

I've never seen so many excuses for a prospect,although Rowell may come close. Comparing him to Diaz is nonsense. Diaz was not the 5th pick in the country, is not 19, but he is "at this point" minor league filler". Nothing in common except they both need to get serious about being a professional athlete. Matt may be a great kid, but so far he is a big disappointment.

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Man this pisses me off if this is true!:mad::cussing::angryfire: What the hell is wrong with the scouting department and especially Jordan if he couldn't tell his top choice had "mechanical issues" before they invested the frigging #5 pick on him? That to me is beyond stupid, its almost insanely stupid :rolleyes::cussing:

I'm no expert, but I'd venture to guess that the overwhelming majority of pitchers drafted out of high school need to undergo some type mechanical changes. I'm not saying that the developmental staff is 100% correct in this situation, but if they believe that they've made the correct adjustments, it may take some time for Hobgood to repeat them consistently.

I also think your opinion is "insanely stupid" if you really believe that Jordan was oblivious to the idea that Hobgood would need some time to iron out his issues. I'm not the biggest fan of this pick, but if Matt is willing to work his tail off, then I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in his first full season of pro ball.

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I've never seen so many excuses for a prospect,although Rowell may come close. Comparing him to Diaz is nonsense. Diaz was not the 5th pick in the country, is not 19, but he is "at this point" minor league filler". Nothing in common except they both need to get serious about being a professional athlete. Matt may be a great kid, but so far he is a big disappointment.

Ok, I'll bite. At this level what determines a disappointment versus someone succeeding, and if you say statistics and call it a day I'm smashing my head in a door.

Why is it that people expect first round draft picks to all put up all-star numbers at every level, INCLUDING levels intended for development more than experience????

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I believe that some of you think the word "development" means go straight up the ladder to the majors without any setbacks and do this within three years. That's not what my dictionary says.

For a first round pick, it should be pretty close to that.

Hobgood sounds like he should have been taken much, much later.

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Personally, I would be very hesitant to draft a high school athlete in the first round. I have met too many nice gentlemen (e.g., Brian Bass, Billy Rowell)who did not meet everyone's expectations for a first round pick. The risk is just not worth the potential reward unless there is a very, very, very special selection. It is safer to select college guys with a longer track record for a first round choice.

However, I personally get peeved when fans dump on the player. It is not the player's fault that he was drafted in the first round. The player still has to develop and fans should be patient with the PLAYER. If fans don't like a selection, they should vent on the selector, not the selectee. If they are disappointed with a draft pick's performance, they are wasting their energy moaning about the player. The player didn't make the choice. Give the player a little love and root for him to develop. Complain about the wisdom of the selection - not the performance of the selectee.

Edited by DrShorebird
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Personally, I would be very hesitant to draft a high school athlete in the first round. I have met too many nice gentlemen (e.g., Brian Bass, Billy Rowell)who did not meet everyone's expectations for a first round pick. The risk is just not worth the potential reward unless there is a very, very, very special selection. It is safer to select college guys with a longer track record for a first round choice.

However, I personally get peeved when fans dump on the player. It is not the player's fault that he was drafted in the first round. The player still has to develop and fans should be patient with the PLAYER. If fans don't like a selection, they should vent on the selector, not the selectee. If they are disappointed with a draft pick's performance, they are wasting their energy moaning about the player. The player didn't make the choice. Give the player a little love and root for him to develop. Complain about the wisdom of the selection - not the performance of the selectee.

Gotta love the Doc for showing some wisdom amidst the sea of finger pointing.:clap3:

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Nice write up. Thanks.

Has to make you wonder what they would have done if we took Lincecum. No way they'd let him stick with his crazy mechanics.

I've read numerous articles and heard many analysts talk about how changing a pitcher's mechanics too much can be a bad thing. Some guys thrive on a deceptive delivery, which may or may not have some bad mechanics, because it helps them hide the ball better or because it's simply a distraction for the hitter. I wish the O's wouldn't over think things like this sometimes. I understand changing a pitcher's mechanics if he's having trouble finding the zone or if there's something there that could shorten his career, but this organization needs to learn how to refrain from fixing things that aren't broken. I am getting the feeling that they're giving a very young, unpolished pitcher too much to think about all at once by piling on four mechanical changes at the same time.

You want a pitcher's mechanics to be efficient. If they aren't efficient, you want to work with the pitcher on getting them to be more efficient without having to sacrificing any quality in stuff.

And to be clear, Hobgood's mechanics were inconsistent in high school and did need some tweaking. But what do you expect when you slow down his tempo, lessen the intent in which he throws with and possibly the force he uses to initiate his hip rotation?

Hopefully he can get used to his "new" mechanics and then as time goes by, he can get his body moving faster and incorporate some of the effort he had in his prior delivery so he get his velocity back up. Not the method I would use, but it could certainly work. At least his diminished velocity is not health related.

The one area they have to fix now, however, is that arm slot. I can't believe how much it fluctuated in that start I saw.

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It tells me that he's being rebuilt so he can hold up over the long term. It's not at all surprising that his velocity has dropped by 4 mph (87-90 versus 91-94) when his comfort zone has changed so drastically and he hasn't finished his refinement.

That's possible. As I mentioned in my post above, as time goes on, they may incorporate back into his delivery some of the velocity generating attributes he dropped after high school.

1. Hobgood has a very good GB rate, indicating his 2S fastball is well located, has great movement, or both.

He does get good sink on his fastball. When he throws it for strikes, it's generally well located. However, he needs to control it better.

2. Hobgood's supposed power curve still appears to be a power curve.

I do like his curveball a lot.

3. Hobgood's working hard on a change. Only having a 5 mph difference is an obvious indicator that it's still a work in progress, but it sure is nice to see him working on it so soon.

His change-up had promise. I wouldn't read too much into the radar gun readings since we're talking about four pitches. But I'd like to see him throw it more since it's a feel pitch and will only get better with repetition.

4. His mechanics aren't repeating yet, but according to the quoted post they're much easier. This is incredibly important for long term success. Just ask Brandon Erbe and Chorye Spoone.

He has "smoother" mechanics, but they have smoothed out some of the things he did that helped him generate velocity. Hopefully he will incorporate them back into his delivery at some point.

If all goes as planned, Hobgood will be a pitcher with a boring 2S, high GB rate, bat-missing curveball, change and velocity in the low to mid 90's. Will he get there, I don't know, but that profiles pretty well.

Hopefully...that's a best case scenario right there though.

I like the plan and am unwilling to judge him as a prospect or #5 pick this early in the progression. I want him to get in better shape, so I really hope the O's are working on his core and his eating habits as much as they appear to be working on his legs and mechanics.

I don't think it's too early to judge him for what he is at this point. It is too soon to be declaring him a bust and not recognize that player development is not a static, linear progression. There are peaks and valleys a player goes through obviously and Hobgood is still very early in his development process.

I was disappointed in a few things I saw, but encouraged by a couple of other things I saw. I'd like to see the inconsistent arm slot addressed immediately and hopefully, as I said earlier, they incorporate some of the velocity producing elements of his delivery back into his mechanics once they feel he's comfortable enough with his "new" delivery.

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