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David Festa, Jhonkensy Noel Among 10 Less Heralded Statcast Standouts (May 13) — College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects

David Festa, Jhonkensy Noel Among 10 Less Heralded Statcast Standouts (May 13) — College Baseball, MLB Draft, Prospects

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Twins RHP David Festa (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins via Getty Images)

Every Monday morning we’ll highlight 10 players who stood out to us based on their underlying Statcast metrics. These are not full scouting reports, but can often serve as good early indicators of prospects who might be ready to break out, or are demonstrating MLB-ready skills.

Last week, we talked about some well-known, MLB-ready talent in Triple-A, as well as some lesser-known relief prospects, including Kyle Nicolas, who was called up shortly after. This week, we’re going to constrain ourselves to players who aren’t as well known, but are showing some some interesting traits.

We lead this week’s installment with a 6-foot-6 pitcher sporting a 3.00 ERA and 48 strikeouts in just 30 innings pitched so far this season. Festa had one of his best games on May 11, going six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts.

The filled-in bubbles indicate pitches that induced whiffs, and we see that Festa had all three of his main pitches working for him on Saturday, inducing swings and misses with ease.

Let’s dig into Festa’s arsenal, starting with his four-seam fastball. There are four main ingredients I look for when looking at four-seam fastballs: velocity, vertical movement compared to the arm slot, the ability to attack the top of the zone, and release extension. Festa’s fastball has easy plus velo, averaging 95.3 mph, and he has good shape, with roughly 2 inches of IVB above what we’d expect given his arm angle. Last season he was at 94.8 with 17.1″ of IVB, this year he’s added half a tick and the 2″ of ride, which has been the key difference. He also gets plus-plus extension at nearly 7 feet.

Festa’s command still appears to be somewhat scattershot. Ideally, we’d want the three boxes at the top of the zone to be the largest boxes, but he’s all over the place. All in all, this is a fastball that will play in the major leagues from a pure stuff perspective, though he probably needs more time to refine his command.

A good vertical fastball is a tremendous base for a starter, but Festa’s best pitch is probably his slider, which has tremendous amounts of gyro spin. Gyro spin is spin that doesn’t contribute to movement, and is critical for creating a pitch that resists gravity less and will correlate strongly with swing and miss. He also throws it hard, averaging 87 mph, along with an elite 18.5″ of vertical separation off of the fastball….

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