The Arizona Fall League has one stadium in the league that has Hawkeye set up and available to the public (though you do need to know where to access the data from, and then how to grab it – and that is not an easy process). The Cincinnati Reds players on the Glendale Desert Dogs played in the stadium four times, giving us a very small sample size worth of information to look at. It certainly is not going to give us any sort of definitive data, but it does give us something and some of that data is quite useful.

The Position Players

Cincinnati sent a good set of position prospects out to Arizona with Matt McLain, Noelvi Marte, and Rece Hinds all joining Glendale. McLain and Hinds both missed time with injuries during the season, and Marte was heading to the league to get some experience at third base to broaden his abilities given just how crowded the Reds shortstop position currently is.

Laser-Rocket Arms

Rece Hinds had the top throw among the Reds position players, though as an outfielder he does have the advantage of the set up that plays into things. His top throw was at 96 MPH. For comparison to the big leagues, the average right field throw (on competitive throws) was 90.5 MPH. There were 156 players this season with a throw from the outfield according to Baseball Savant and 96 MPH would have been tied for 51st in the game for the top velocity by a player.

Noelvi Marte was not far behind Hinds, maxing out at 95.5 MPH with one of his throws. The average arm strength on competitive throws for third basemen in the big leagues last year was 85.7 MPH. Looking at the data from Baseball Savant, 95.5 MPH would have been the 3rd best “max throw” at third base if it had happened in the big leagues.

Matt McLain only had six throws registered in the games and three of them came in at 81 MPH. The other three weren’t competitive throws at all (one was a toss around the infield after a fly out, one was a flip to the bag at second base, and the other was 34.3 MPH but the play description makes it tough to understand what happened with the play). The average competitive throw from shortstop in the big leagues was 85.9 MPH this year. With such a small sample size we probably shouldn’t put too much into McLain’s arm strength numbers here.

Winning the race

When a player averages 30 feet per second on their sprints, Statcasts considers that to be elite-level speed. That, of course, is the average on their competitive runs, not their top speeds. The league average sprint speed in 2022 was 27 feet per second (on competitive runs). Only 10 players in baseball averaged 30 feet per second or better (minimum 10 competitive runs).

Matt McLain topped out at 29.3 feet per second, and topped 29.0 two other times. Noelvi Marte topped out at 29.4 feet per second and had another run come in at 29.0. Rece Hinds bested them both. He topped out at 29.8 feet per second, had two other runs top 29.0, and four more at 28.0 or higher. Raise your hand if you had Rece Hinds having the fastest times among these three players before you read this.

Hitting it hard

There’s definitely a small sample size alert here that needs to be noted. Matt McLain’s sample size here is just two games, Noelvi Marte’s sample size is just three games, and Rece Hinds’ sample size was just four games.

Player Exit Velo Result
Matt McLain 98.5 Flyout
Matt McLain 90.1 Lineout
Matt McLain 49.3 Single
Noelvi Marte 105.1 Groundout
Noelvi Marte 104.8 Single
Noelvi Marte 103.6 Groundout
Noelvi Marte 101.1 Single
Noelvi Marte 100.3 Flyout
Noelvi Marte 98.0 Home Run
Noelvi Marte 93.2 Flyout
Noelvi Marte 77.8 Flyout
Noelvi Marte 77.7 Single
Noelvi Marte 71.0 Pop Out
Noelvi Marte 67.9 Grounded Into DP
Rece Hinds 110.6 Lineout
Rece Hinds 106.0 Double
Rece Hinds 104.7 Single
Rece Hinds 96.4 Groundout
Rece Hinds 96.1 Flyout
Rece Hinds 92.9 Flyout
Rece Hinds 80.4 Groundout
Rece Hinds 77.5 Groundout
Rece Hinds 76.4 Single
Rece Hinds 70.7 Groundout

The Pitchers

Cincinnati’s pitching crew that headed to Arizona wasn’t as highly regarded as their positional counterparts. None of the four pitchers that pitched in the AFL this fall were ranked among the Reds Top 25 prospects on the 2023 list. Much like the hitting data – the sample size is small here. Some of the data is useful, but don’t weigh it too much.

Bringing the heat

There was one guy who stood out on this list, and unsurprisingly, it’s also the guy among the group who found success out in Arizona. Sam Benschoter topped out at 96.8 MPH and averaged 95.4 MPH. Of course this was just 19 pitches, but Benschoter has spent parts of the last two seasons in Daytona where the league also has had Hawkeye and his fastest registered pitch in the regular season was 95.8 MPH. So he went out to Arizona and showed velocity he’d never shown before.

Among the Reds prospects it was Jake Gozzo who fired off the fastest pitch of the AFL season with a 97.6 MPH fastball and he averaged 96.2 with the offering. Vin Timpanelli topped out at 97.1 MPH and averaged 94.9. Christian Roa topped out at 96.4 MPH and averaged 93.4 MPH.

Spin it around

Jake Gozzo showed off the highest spin rates among the Reds pitchers in the AFL. His fastball, change up, and curveball all had spin rates between 2500-2650 RPM (at the high end, not average). Sam Benschoter showed off good spin rates, too. His cutter, fastball, and slider all had rates in the mid 2300’s to upper 2400’s.

Christian Roa doesn’t really have any high-spin rate pitches. He topped 2400 RMP with two offerings – one curveball and one slider. His cutter had spin rates in the 2300-2350 range, with his fastball being in the 2000-2200 range.

Vin Timpanelli is a low-spin rate guy. His fastball had spin rates anywhere from 1500 (!!) to 2100. The average spin rate on a fastball is 2200 in MLB. Being lower than that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ideally you want to be different than the average because it’s going to give the pitch a different *look* than what the batters eyes are expecting to happen. The lower the spin rate on a fastball the more it’s going to “sink”, while the higher it is the more it will “rise”.

6 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    Surprised Marte is as fast as he is…..yet just 23 steals and caught 9 times.

  2. MBS

    Marte’s arm seems to play very well at 3B. I know he didn’t exactly looked polished at the position, but if they move him to 3B starting this spring he’ll have a year plus in the minors to get used to the hot corner.

    Hinds has the arm, and wheels for RF, I would love to see what he could do if he was healthy all season.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah, I’m not concerned about Marte and playing third base. The tools and ability is there, he just needs reps. That said, I don’t know how much time at third base he’s going to be getting next year, either. It did not sound like the AFL thing was more than just to get him time there rather than an actual position change.

  3. DaveCT

    I’m not surprised at Hinds’ speed, given the long history of reports of his athleticism. He’s probably be a running back or free safety if he was in football.

  4. DaveCT

    Benschoter, with that velocity and those spin rates, is becoming more interesting. I suspect they’ll follow current practice and keep him on a starting pathway, but he could move quickly as a reliever, too. He’s likely a sleeper, even for many here at RML, but I think he’s a good representative of our current collection of less heralded but, IMO, solid starting pitchers.