Check it out, if you can.
Reid Nichols is the Director of Player Development for the Brewers.
Some highlights include interviewer David Laurila asking if there was an organizational approach to hitting and pitching. Nichols responded that the foremost thing they try to instill in hitters is selectivity: waiting for a pitch, seeing more pitches. “[T]he more pitches they see, the more succes they will have.” This is encouraging, of course. I only wish Geoff Jenkins was brought through the system under this philosophy. Apparently, when Jenkers was in the minors, the old regime stressed leg kicks that disrupt a hitter’s timing, swinging at first pitches, and getting to a point where the organization “owes you something” other than the $7.5million they’re (over)paying you.
In all seriousnes now, while the comment hitting philosophy bit was underwhelming, some interesting stuff came out when Nichols was asked about how the Brewers handle pitchers, and what they try to instill in them. Nichols said the team implements pitch counts per season, per game, and per inning. A per inning pitch count means that if a young starter is in his third inning or later, and his count for the inning gets to around 30, he’s yanked. That’s probably a good thing: it might prevent Jeremy Jeffress from becoming Kerry Wood.
Nichols seemed to brush off Laurila’s question about K rates, saying “they’re somewhat of an indicator,” but his comment on how the organization uses GB/FB information was more interesting, if not very substantial. Most pitchers start out as starters, and as time passes, they’re separated. Somehow, though it’s not clear how from Nichols’ comment, GB:FB ratio informs what role a pitcher will play in the organization as he moves up. One way to think of this is maybe a power pitcher with a lot of K’s but who continually works up in the zone and yields a higher FB% and, therefore, more taters might be relegated to a short relief role, where his power might be maximized, while the chances for a FB to turn into a HR are minimized.
The other thing that I found interesting was the distiction between farm systems with depth, and ones with blue chippers. The Brewers have a little of both, having just graduated Prince (Jiggly Puff), Rickie (Skittles), and Corey (Sunglasses), with Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun in the wings, and solid depth at several positions otherwise, including pitching. Nichols doesn’t give a solid answer to whether he’d prefer depth to one or two excellent prospects (thankfully he doesn’t have to choose!), but he does say he’d “rather have Prince Fielder at first base than three guys who are pretty good and waiting for a chance.” I guess this means that Prince is better than pretty good.
All in all, it’s always great that the Brewers are getting recognition. Let’s just hope that there are some results to go with it.
Check it out, if you can.