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Player Scouting, Baseball Mechanics, and Sabermetric Analysis Combined into One

Sunday, September 28, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg

Scouting Oakland Pitching Prospect Brett Hunter

As I mentioned in my earlier piece on Yankee prospect Brett Marshall, there was another Brett I wanted to look at--Brett Hunter of the Oakland Athletics.

Brett Hunter | RHP | Drafted - Round 7, 2008 | Oakland Athletics

Hunter possesses some of the more unique mechanics of any pitcher drafted in last June's draft. I see his mechanics as a much more exaggerated version of Carlos Marmol.

The video of Hunter saw him pitching exclusively from the stretch without much of a lifting of the knee. He's still takes a long stride by bending the back leg and extending his front leg high and stretching it forward before landing.

Brett Hunter Brett Hunter

You'll notice Hunter's upper body bends forward a great deal. This allows Hunter to achieve some significant torque through the separation between his torso and hips. Its that segment that reminds me of Marmol.

Below is the best shot I could get of Marmol from a side view. He has more of a traditional leg kick he, but you can see how far the upper body bends forward before springing back to a more upright position. It's almost as if he is loading the torso and creating tension before its uncoiled forward.

Carlos-MarmolCarlos-Marmol-Side

Hunter's arm action is long, as he straightens his arm completely out before beginning the loading process. Like Marshall, you see the elbow above the shoulder, but that's not actually the case since the upper body is bent forward and the arm only appears to be above the shoulder. Hunter flips his arm around in a somewhat unconventional way to get to a cocked position.

There are some injury concerns with Hunter as he spent much of his 2008 season battling injuries to his shoulder. Anytime a pitcher is dealing with a shoulder injury, it should be a cause for concern.

Stuff

Fastball - before hurting himself, Hunter's fastball would touch 97, though he would more often sit between 92 and 95. He was clocked closer to 92 or 93 when he got back from injury, which leads to more movement on the pitch. Overall, Hunter's fastball is plus, flashing plus-plus at times. Command can be an issue, however.

Curveball - it's more of a slurve that Hunter throws. He'll need to get more consistent with the pitch in terms of tightness and command. He gets in trouble when leaves the curveball up in the zone. The pitch plays as above average, flashing plus at times. Hunter's curveball is on the right, while the fastball is featured on the left:

Brett-Hunter-fastballBrett-Hunter-curveball

One thing I noticed was the external rotation into release is different when he throws his breaking ball and fastball. See if you can see the differences below (fastball is on left, curveball is on right):

Brett-Hunter-releaseBrett-Hunter-curve-release

More force is applied to his arm throwing his fastball, so you're seeing his forearm "lie back" a little further than when throwing his curveball. I think he needs to do a better job of disguising his breaking ball at release or he'll run the risk of tipping off his pitches. I do think I need to see a better quality video to determine whether Hunter could actually be tipping off his pitches.

My feeling is that Hunter will be best served as a reliever. I'm not sure he has the command or the third pitch to make it as a starter--at least not at this point. Plus, the bigger question is could he last 180 - 200 innings per season? I'm not convinced he would be able to.

With all that said, the potential to be a top-flight set-up man or even a closer from out of the bullpen is there, especially if he can harness the command of his pitches.

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