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Pitching Mechanics Analysis
Jess Todd

Updated 9/8/2008

Jess Todd is currently tearing up the minor leagues, so I'm feeling pretty good about how I rated him in the 2007 draft. Here is the e-mail exchange I had with the person I was working with.

This guy has a bad delivery and arm action BUT a plus slider at 84-85 and late hard tilt. Solid out pitch and fastball is 90-93. He is a one inning guy and maybe best chance would be as setup guy.
- ____

After looking at a couple of video clips of Jess Todd throwing, here's what I had to say.

Here are my thoughts...
1. His delivery IS unusual. Feels pretty max-effort. I'm not sure that it's necessarily bad (but it may mean that he's topped out in terms of velocity).
2. Timing seems to be better than Welker's (at least in the front view). PAS forearm seems to be pretty much vertical at the moment his shoulders start to turn.
3. I like his arm action better than Welker's. His PAS elbow doesn't get too high (but it is borderline). He also seems to lead his hand break more with his PAS hand than with his PAS elbow, which is good.
4. Points 2 and 3 make me wonder if Todd is actually a better starter prospect than Welker. Why was he closing? Has he had injury problems or problems with stamina? Was it just due to the fact that he only had two pitches?
5. His major reverse-rotation of his shoulders reminds me of Bob Feller (which is good) but also of Rick Ankiel (which is bad).
6. He seems to kind of leap toward the plate like Roy Oswalt or Tim Lincecum.
7. Lower body action reminds me of Bartolo Colon.
8. I like his stride (but he does seem to stride somewhat open).
9. Seems to get very good separation between his hips and shoulders.
10. Seems to finish in a better fielding position than Welker (I forgot to mention that I didn't how Welker finished). He didn't seem to be in a good position to field his position.
- Chris

FYI, the "Welker" I refer to above is Duke Welker, who was generally regarded more highly than Jess Todd but who I didn't like due to his Inverted L.
     The fact that Jess Todd relies so heavily on his slider makes me nervous because of the load it puts on the elbow, but he might be able to survive this as a setup guy or other type of reliever. Below is a video clip of Jess Todd pitching in the Spring of 2007.

Video Clip of Jess Todd

Jess Todd

Notice Jess Todd's good timing and how his Pitching Arm Side (PAS) forearm reaching the vertical, high-cocked position before his shoulders start to rotate in Frame 66. Notice how, while Jess Todd's PAS elbow does get a bit high, it drops before his shoulders start to rotate. Finally, notice how Jess Todd's hips rotate well ahead of his shoulders; how in Frame 66 his hips are open and his belt buckle is pointing at home plate while his shoulders are closed and facing Third Base.

Video Clip of Jess Todd

Jess Todd

You can see the same basic things in this catcher's eye view of Jess Todd. In particular, notice the good timing in Frame 42.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that, while Jess Todd's reliance on his slider makes me nervous about the long-term health of his elbow, his overall mechanics look solid and he might be able to survive this if he can develop a good change-up or even a fourth pitch.

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