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Scouting Update: Peter Tago, RHP, Dana Hills HS (2010 Draft)

March 26, 2010

Sometimes, you already know what the radar gun is going to give you. So sometimes, it pays to stay past the third inning. That was the lesson of a recent Peter Tago outing.

Pitching Friday at Tesoro, Tago was 89-94 (91) early in the game, which is consistent for him, even if a little off from his first start of the season when, with relative ease in the early innings, he blew 94-95 gas. His curveball was 72-75 in this outing, which is serviceable for him, but I’ve seen him throw it harder and with a little bit more bite.

Now that we know what the gun says, fast forward to the fifth inning to learn what the gun cannot teach you. Working hard on what was not his freshest day, Tago’s velocity was 86-87 in the fifth inning. If I was the scouting director and my area guy told me his velocity fell off by the fifth inning, I would say ‘Thanks for the newsflash.’ Now tell me something about how the kid competes without his best stuff.

My point is that there is value in scouting pitchers without their best stuff, because they’re going to show you what they are made of. They are going to show you competitiveness. They are going to show you the ability to execute a breaking ball when they need to. They are going to show you if they have any idea of how to make a pitch in a big situation deep in a game. When you’re spending money on ballplayers, if you’re not looking at these features, you’re not doing your job.

Here’s what Tago showed in the fifth inning of a long day. Trailing 3-0 with his velocity slipping and battling his command, he threw me two big league pitches. One was a fastball with a little bit more power on it deep in a game, planted on the outside corner at 89. The second was a sharp breaking ball with the bases loaded planted for a strike. I don’t care if it didn’t have all the power he’s capable of. I care that it was the best he had that day. That’s all I needed to see. Here’s why.

If a guy shows me the ability to make two big pitches late in a game on an off-day in a competitive moment, I can project that he can repeat that in the seventh inning of a big league game more often five or six years from now. This stuff has value. Think about it. If the prospect can execute two of his best pitches when he’s gassed and battling as a high school pitcher, he should be able to throw five or six of his best bolts when he’s tiring and with the game on the line in the big leagues. 

If you give me a big league starter who can do that, that guy gets deeper into a game. It saves the bullpen. Tom Seaver believed winning without your best stuff separated the men from the boys. And if all you do is walk away because the gun isn’t telling you what you wanted, then you just proved that the gun is a crutch, and you aren’t much of a scout.

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