2013 Angels Prospects Countdown #23: Mark Sappington

The MWAH prospect countdown marches on with another member of the 2012 draft class and another pitcher the organization hasn't decided on a role for just yet.

Mark Sappington
Position: Pitcher  Highest Level: Rookie
Throws: Right  Height: 6'5" Weight: 209 lbs.
Age: 22  Born: 11/17/90

2012 Season Stats
Rookie: 36.2 IP, 1-1, 5.15 ERA, 31 H, 16 BB, 3 HR, 34 SO, 2.48 GO/AO, 3.96 FIP, .277 BABIP

Fastball – B+.  Sappington throws a hard, heavy fastball that sits between 92-97.  From what I’ve been told, as a starter, he settles in around 93 mph and as a reliever can easily dial up into the mid to high 90’s.  His big body and lanky limbs make this heat rather effortless and he’s grown just in the past couple of years, which suggests that this velocity he possesses is here to stay and he may even throw harder in the future.     

Off-speed Pitches – B-.  Sappington possesses a very good slider that has been described as a quality “out-pitch”.  His ability to remain in the rotation will be largely dependent upon his ability to develop a change-up, which I’ve been told he’s shown a knack for already, but it’s still early in his development as a pitcher.

Control – B.  Part of what attracted scouts to Sappington in the first place was his uncanny ability to throw strikes.  Normally, pitchers with Sappington’s build have a lot of moving parts which cases them to miss the zone more often than preferred.  But not Sappington, he can pound the strike zone and with his quality stuff, this could result in him reaching his highest potential as a major league quality starter.           

Command – D+.  This is where Sappington struggled a bit in his stint in Orem.  He missed his spots, and when hitters make contact in the Pioneer League, the ball flies considerably further than most environments.  But this is most certainly a skill that will improve over time.  

Mechanics – B-.  For such a big guy, Sappington came out of college with rather sound mechanics.  Unlike many lanky pitchers, he doesn’t rely solely on torque in order to generate velocity.  Rather, Sappington uses his strong legs and large frame to take the pressure off his shoulder and elbow, which do not appear too susceptible to injury, given the standard high three-quarter delivery he uses.   

Performance – C-.  I wouldn’t put too much stock in Sappington’s numbers in Orem.  Very few pitchers succeed in this environment, and the fact that Sappington posted a very good ground ball rate, high K’s and limited the walks are all great signs.  We won’t get a good read on his performance until Burlington (A Ball) next season.

Projection – B.  An “A” grade is still reserved for aces and all star position players. Sappington projects into the middle of a major league rotation if it all works out right (which there are a lot of signs that it will for Mark).  But again, much of this depends on his ability to develop a good change-up.  If he can’t stick in the rotation, many scouts are excited at the possibility of Sappington in the bullpen, where his ground ball tendencies, hard and heavy fastball and “plus” slider would make him a valuable commodity.

Estimated MLB Arrival Date – As a starter: 2016.  As a reliever: 2015.

(*As always, the above scouting report is provided by Scotty Allen of LA Angels Insider)

Season Summary: Sappington, the Angels fifth-round selection in the 2012 draft, is something of a late bloomer, which might explain why the Halos haven't decided quite what to do with him yet.  Mark is a big dude now, but he only grew into his frame the last few years, so he is relatively new to this whole "throwing in the mid-nineties" thing.  He also is coming from a D-III school, so it wasn't as if he was facing top competition like fellow draftee Michael Roth.  That makes him a bit more raw than most college players, but it also gives him a bit more upside since he isn't as far along the developmental curve.  By most accounts, Sappington is destined for a relief role since he is really just a guy who throws gas and that's about it right now.  Despite that, the Angels allowed him to spend most of his Rookie League season as a starter, at least in spirit because he never had an outing of more than three innings, but that is pretty typical.

Sappington did acquit himself nicely in his short season though, despite what his ERA may suggest.  Bad defense and a bad strand rate served to inflate that number and really, 36+ innings of rookie ball is a stupid sample size anyway.  The things Sappington did show though was an ability miss bats and get the ball on the ground, which are very important, especially if he shifts to relief full-time.  His walk rate was higher than one would like to see, but not alarmingly so.

What to Expect in 2013: In all likelihood, Sappington will be making the jump to Low-A in 2013 and at least start the year in the rotation.  Again, the consensus is that he is bound to end up as a reliever, but given his big arm, the Halos owe it to Mark and themselves to at least see if they can't turn him into a quality starting pitcher.  How long he will last in that role remains to be seen as it is largely dependent on the development of his change-up.  He'll need to show progress with his off-speed pitches and control to convince the organization that they shouldn't just thrust him into the bullpen and fast track him to the majors.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of Monkeywithahalo.com and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.