Notes From Akron: Thomas Pannone Makes First Start in AA

Courtesy of Lets Go Tribe

Unveiling more of WFNY Indians coverage: Mike Hattery will be frequenting Akron throughout 2017 to provide reports and insight.

Thomas Pannone is one of the quiet risers in the Cleveland Indians farm system, coming off a minor league player of the month award in the Carolina League, allowing zero earned runs over 27.2 innings. Pannone was strong yet again in his Akron debut going 5 2/3 IP with six strikeouts and zero runs allowed. Akron Manager Mark Budzinski who had Pannone in Lynchburg for 2016 noted that the southpaw had made adjustments which improved both his velocity and his direction towards the plate.

For a depiction of Pannone’s most common outcomes look at the chart below.

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As big league hitters become more and more obsessed with raising their launch angle and producing more home runs, ground ball pitchers become more and more of a commodity. For this reason, Pannone’s outstanding strikeout rate plus ground ball rate is reason for Indians fans to be excited.

Arsenal report

Fastball: On a cold evening in Akron at 48 degrees Pannone sat 90-91 running it up to 92-93 multiple times with two-strike counts. Held the velocity from the stretch. After 60 pitches was sitting mostly 89-91 running it up just a few times. The command to arm side was strong, not as good to glove side. When Pannone dialed up the velocity he sailed it a few times arm side but it was not a striking issue. Finally, the offerings had some nice arm-side run with a bit of weight which is a key to Pannone’s ground ball inducing arsenal. Pannone has experienced an uptick in strikeouts which he credits to fastball velocity gains based on an adjustment he says is “my feel for my delivery, I am getting into my legs a lot”.

Changeup: Offering 82-84. Decent offering that Pannone used to induce a couple of ground balls, lightly used offering early in the game.

Curveball: Nice 11-5 movement can command the offering in the strike zone as well as burying it with more depth in the dirt in advantageous counts. Pannone has good feel for his curveball altering the depth and velocity in order depending on the situation. Pannone grabbed three strikeouts on buried curveballs  one in the dirt two others down, these had sharper  depth. Pannone also used a loopier curveball to grab a strikes against left-handed and right-handed hitters. Pannone stated “When I have a count that I can strike a guy out on, and I want to bury the pitch, I put a little more effort into it, I pull down on it a little bit harder”. Whereas the lefty alters the pitch when he needs a pitch in the strike zone as he said “When I am trying to lay in for a strike, I take a lot off, I pull back, get that loopy shape and try to ride  it off the plane of my fastball.”

The mechanics for Pannone are pretty fluid but also deceptive, especially to left-handed hitters. Floor is a lefty reliever.

Others notes from Akron

Indians uber-prospect Francisco Mejia flashed some offense with a really nice swing against Yankees prospect Chance Adams.

Tyler Krieger had a couple of really impressive plate appearances. Krieger has a nice patient approach and used the whole depending on location. Krieger barreled a ball to pull field right at an outfielder and then hit a nice two hopper through the box for a single.

Bobby Bradley hit a monster shot to right field. Bradley once again flashed that plus plus power but similarly interesting Bradley posted yet another game without a strikeout which. Bradley has been working on using more of the field in 2017 but it has not come at a cost to his power which is a positive sign.