Scouting Mets Prospect: Chris Schwinden

Schwinden needs to figure out the EL in 2011

Chris Schwinden was very effective pitching at lower levels. However, his ascent to Double-A came with lumps and now the right-hander must figure out a way to achieve previous success at his highest level yet. What will help him achieve that success? What strengths can he rely on? Check out this scouting report to find out.

Vital Statistics
Name: Chris Schwinden
DOB: September 22, 1986
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Status: 22nd Round (2008) – Fresno Pacific

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2010

Binghamton

4-7

0

79.1

100

19

69

5.56

2010

St. Lucie

3-0

0

34.1

34

5

23

1.83

2009

St. Lucie

1-0

0

11.1

12

3

4

3.97

2009

Savannah

9-6

0

126.2

126

15

88

3.28

2008

Brooklyn

4-1

0

62.2

53

12

70

2.01



Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball: Schwinden does not overpower with his fastball, but what he lacks in overall velocity, he makes up with command and movement. In 2010, Schwinden's fastball was clocked at 90-92 MPH with solid tailing movement down and in to right-handers. He does a good job of keeping the fastball on the corners and down in the zone. He uses the fastball to turn the count in his favor early in at-bats, but will also use it to generate ground balls or sneak it by hitters in two-strike counts when they may expect a breaking ball. Despite a very high ERA in Double-A (5.56 in 79.1 IP), Schwinden achieved a respectable strikeout ratio (92 in 113.2 IP) because of his fastball command.

Other Pitches: Schwinden's top secondary pitch is his changeup which has shown a wide range of velocity in observations of the past two seasons. In 2009, his changeup was in the mid to high-70s. In 2010 observations, his changeup was more 80-84 MPH. The right-hander shows very good arm speed with the pitch, but when the velocity increases, he loses the good sink that makes it a formidable pitch. At lower speeds, he gets the late bite that can force hitters to swing through the pitch. At higher velocities, the pitch stays up, flattens out and become hittable – a potential source of his inconsistency while with Binghamton.

Schwinden's slider was 84-86 MPH and he exhibits good command with the pitch, but its movement and break are only average. He lacks aggressiveness with the pitch, and at times with Binghamton appeared like he was trying to place it rather than attack with it. That is an element pitching coaches continue to focus on with Schwinden – attack with the slider to better set up his fastball and changeup. When he tries to aim the pitch, it ends up having opposite effects and becomes hittable.

He wraps up his repertoire with an overhand curveball that rests in the high-70s. When right, the late tilt draws a number of swings and weak contact. Release point is key with the pitch. When he does not stay on top of the pitch and his release point drops more to three-quarters, the pitch loses its tilt and comes out more slurvy. When it does, Schwinden is subjected to harder contact.

Pitching: Schwinden's success is predicated on command, using all four of pitches and working all parts of the strike zone. That has been the backbone to his career so far. He has walked only 54 batters in roughly 304 innings to date, a trend coaches want to see continue from Schwinden, while becoming more aggressive. The latter is very necessary as more advanced hitters possess better execution. Greater pitchability and the ability to use all of his pitches will be important to his success moving forward. Schwinden walks very few batters, but he has to discover the means to get outs while pitching in the strike zone.

Projection: Schwinden was in the back end of the Top 50 last year, but slipped out after he struggled at Double-A (.306 OBA in 2010). He has a solid base of tools led by very strong fastball command, but there are questions about the viability of his secondary pitches moving forward. He lacks the overpowering pitch that would make him a candidate for a bullpen switch. How his breaking pitches advance this year, and the kind of success they do or do not lead to, will determine if he can eventually land in the back of a National League rotation.

ETA: 2013. Schwinden should return to Double-A this season, but he may not be guaranteed a rotation spot given the arms moving up from St. Lucie and the likelihood of a rotation spot going to Brad Holt. That means Schwinden will have to maximize his opportunities. If he can do that, he may get his shot during the 2013 season whether it's with the Mets or elsewhere.

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