Friday, December 5, 2014

Howdy Michael!

Lost with all of the talk about the other recent signings, the Braves added a right-hand flamethrower out of Camden, South Carolina in the form of Michael Kohn. He joins other minor league signings this offseason and will receive an invite to spring training.

Kohn, which makes me want to have a Star Trek moment and scream it, is a 28 year-old who has spent his entire career in the Angels organization before being told by a Rally Monkey that his services were no longer needed. Before that, though, the Angels showed a great deal of confidence in the young right-hander. An infielder in college, Kohn bulked up for hitting and sacrificed his potential at pitching, despite having velocity in the mid-90's. Casey Kotchman's sister, a softball player at the College of Charleston where Kohn played baseball, alerted her father, also a scout with the Angels, about the arm that was wasted as an infielder in college. Despite throwing only a baker's dozen of innings in college, Kohn was drafted as a pitcher in 2008.

Impressively, he finished the 2010 season in the Angels pen. He struck out nearly a batter an inning that year for the Angels, but his biggest issue was also on display. All but one of his 16 walks with the Angels in 21.1 ING were unintentional walks. He wasn't wild, per say, as he uncorked no wild pitches, but walking 17% of the batters you face makes it very difficult on both your ability to perform and your teams ability to avoid big innings.

2011 wasn't much better and worse, he was advised to do the thing all Braves fans fear for their pitchers - Tommy John surgery. The procedural forced him to miss all of 2012, but to his credit, he did bounce back in 2013, setting career highs in every category while spending most of the season in the majors. His BB% was down to about 12% and he still struck out nearly a batter an inning, but he surrendered too many long balls (7 in 53 innings). This gave him a 4.56 FIP.

In his final season in the Angels organization, Kohn had the same struggles he has had his entire career. He walked 20 in 23.1 ING in the majors, though I should add that one was intentional. He struck out 26. His expected FIP breached 5.00.

As a buy-low candidate, Kohn could be a find if pitching coach Roger McDowell can do his magic. He's not particularly splits challenged (in fact, righties have handled him better) and has the velocity. In addition to his fastball, he has replaced a splitter with a change-up against lefties in efforts to save his elbow following his 2012 injuries. Against righties, he sports a slider that, at times, is inconsistent. One thing stands out to me, though, when I look at his fangraphs heat map. Because his control is so spotty, his pitches often elevate toward the middle of the zone. This might be either just bad location or trying to avoid another walk after falling behind (or both). Either way, this could help explain why hitters time his fastball and demolish it. Craig Kimbrel can't live in the middle of the zone and he's 100 times the pitcher Kohn is.

Still, if McDowell can do something wonderful with him...I demand as many Star Trek II references as possible. And not the new one. The old one. With Ricardo Montalb├ín.

No comments:

Post a Comment