Michael Main. RHP, 6' 2", 170 lbs. The Texas Rangers selected Michael Main 24th overall in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft. An extremely athletic two-way player in high schol, Main was on several draft boards as an outfielder.
I became a Main fan well in advance of the draft and thought the Rangers missed their chance at him when they selected Blake Beavan with the 17th overall pick. I was thrilled that he was still on the board at #24, and I was ecstatic when they called his name.
Main has been impressive since being drafted, but at instructs this past fall, Rick Adair, in an interview with Mike Hindman, had the following to say:
"He's throwing an extremely high percentage of major league-quality pitches right now. Michael just has the ability to take in coaching, information and come up with ideas. His makeup is tremendous. Mentally he's easily the most polished guy out of high school I've ever been around."
Coming into this season, Rangers fans were more excited than ever to have Main in the farm system.
Main might have the latest forearm turnover in the history of baseball. When his front foot finally plants, his elbow still hasn't reached driveline height, and he's in a borderline inverted L position. This is usually a flag for more serious elbow torque, but he appears to almost completely avoid the reverse forearm bounce pitfall.
Like Tae Kyung Ahn, Main lands with a lot of weight on his front leg, but what Main does differently is very important. Main keeps his hips and shoulders closed very well unlike Ahn, and he manages to keep his center of mass moving forward where Ahn's momentum was more dramatically slowed at landing.
You can see that Main pulls off the rubber fairly hard without dragging his foot. It's likely that he's pulling himself forward with his front leg and therefore creating more ground-reactive force for his pitch. A lot of pitchers push back to help their hip rotation, but Main's "pull" doesn't seem to negatively affect his hips. The lack of a foot drag definitely helps his back hip come forward freely.
Main's arm doesn't appear to be doing a whole lot of work. That's usually a good thing, but Main's arm does all of its work in a shorter period of time than just about every other pitcher on the planet because of his extremely late hand-break and ball pick-up. This leaves less room for error and can lead to timing issues that adversely affect command and velocity when the timing is just slightly off.
Main pronates into his release very well.
His initial arm deceleration is good, and he drives his shoulder all the way through release to help ease rotator cuff stress. His final follow-through is fairly average with a little bit of arm wrap but no major red flags.
Kyle Ocampo. RHP, 6' 3", 195 lbs. Another right-handed pitcher, Ocampo was also a member of the 2007 draft class. Taken in the 13th round, Ocampo was a raw pitching talent with some herky-jerky mechanics. He signed too late to play in 2007, and made his debut in the Arizona Rookie League as a 19-year-old in 2008: 52.0 IP, 47 H, 19 BB, 56 K, 3.29 ERA, 1.27 WHIP.
At instructs after the 2008 season, Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com posted an interview with Kyle Ocampo (subscription required). In the interview, Ocampo breaks down his pitching arsenal - 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and change up - and discusses the adjustments he's making to become a better pitcher.
Ocampo has a very noticeable head jerk, but overall, his mechanics are much smoother and cleaner than when I previously saw him at spring training in 2008. He still has a lot of wasted back-and-forth movement. For example, he kicks his leg out, picks it up, and then tucks it back where it would have been if he'd just picked it straight up. Like most pitching coaches, I tend not to like wasted movement because it represents an unnecessary expense of energy.
As long as his command remains decent, the Rangers aren't likely to mess with his delivery too much.
Ocampo's leg drive is very energetic, but once he lands, his legs are done. His back leg sits there as dead weight while his front leg does nothing more than create a trunk pivot at his front hip.
He picks the ball up late and has a pretty late forearm turnover, but he, too, appears to avoid a significant reverse forearm bounce. Ocampo does this by picking his elbow up pretty steadily to his release point; this also helps limit forearm flyout and gives him a near-vertical forearm at release. (A vertical forearm allows a pitcher to throw a greater variety of pitches. From there, a pitcher can safely create back-spin, front-spin, side-spin in either direction, and anything in between.)
Ocampo doesn't appear to pronate into his release on either his fastball or his change up, though he clearly pronates after release.
His follow-through is fairly clean, but his forearm appears to slam into his front hip. This shows a lack of body control, but since his forearm takes the beating, it shouldn't lead to shoulder issues.
Ocampo is still a work in progress, so I expect continued refinement of his mechanics over time. He's got the stuff, and it's just a matter of keeping him healthy and of finding consistency and command of enough quality pitches to keep moving through the system.
Note: The last pitch in Ocampo's video is a change up. His mechanics look a little different to me when he throws it. I doubt that it's as obvious at full speed as it is in slow-motion.