Meet Taylor Jungmann | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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The Brewers graduate their third organizational arm to the MLB within a 10 day span, this time handing a start to one of the system’s most high profile arms. Taylor Jungmann is now equal parts “hype” and “disappointment,” as the starter was almost immediately billed as a “quick jump” to the big leagues after the Brewers selected him from the University of Texas 12th overall in the 2011 draft. Jungmann has an exceptional amateur pedigree, as the righty won the Dick Howswer Award for best collegiate baseball player in 2011. In case you’re skeptical of that award, the award has a history of MLB stars and everyday players as its legacy (Brewers fans will especially recognize Rickie Weeks and Brooks Kieschnick among the winners).

Unfortunately, Jungmann did not deliver on that quick trip to the MLB, which resulted in some levels of disappointment or dismissal from some Brewers fans. This is the unfortunate thing with hype: when certain draft picks are made, they are not accompanied with a reminder that each player will take the path to the MLB that represents his talent, challenges, roadblocks, and resolve. So, even if there is a necessary industry that profits from assessing certain draft picks as “quick trips to the MLB,” or “sure things,” or “monster stars,” those expectations often complicate the picture more than necessary. Stephen Strasburg is my favorite example of this type of hype (and the Brewers’ own saga with Weeks proves this as well): Strasburg has become one of the most solid right-handed starters in the MLB, but his college hype, draft hype, and contract will almost always make him appear to be a “disappointment” (even though every fan, when pressed, would admit that they would love a Strasburg from their first round pitching selection. The same can be said for Weeks, who started at 2B for nearly a decade).

What this should teach us with Jungmann is that we can question our own methods and expectations as fans and analysts, and also assess Jungmann on his own terms of stuff, development, and potential. There is no need to doom an arm with unrealistic or unnecessary hype before he throws a pitch. So, it is time for us to ignore the hype and look at what Jungmann offers to the big league club.

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2012 “Prospect of the Day” Awards on April 6, May 23, and August 13.
2013 “Prospect of the Day” Awards on April 23 and May 31
2012 Scouting Reports
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Building & Rebuilding #6: 2015 Depth

Recent Interview

Have a listen to Jungmann discussing the baseball, thin air, and pitching mechanics in Colorado. The righty also addresses the idea of “expectations,” noting that he places expectations on himself, and does not pay attention to external expectations.

pitch f/x Logs
According to BrooksBaseball, Jungmann threw pitches that were tracked by pitch f/x during his stint in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. Those numbers show how the righty morphed his stuff from his mid-90s “four-seam fastball” with the University of Texas. After losing command of his fastball in 2013, Jungmann developed a sinker that would generate more movement (while sacrificing velocity). In the Arizona Fall League, BrooksBaseball tracked the sinker between 89-and-90, which is low compared to recent scouting reports and game reports. BaseballAmerica, for instance, tracks the sinker in the 90-to-92 MPH range.

BrooksBaseball also tracked 27 breaking-balls and six change ups. Jungmann’s curve has been described as “big” and “slurvy,” and BaseballAmerica tracked the pitch in the upper-70s. By contrast, pitch f/x showed the breaking ball between 80 and 81, slicing down-and-away approximately six inches below the sinker (in terms of “break”). Therefore, BrooksBaseball calls the pitch a slider, but regardless of its name, Jungmann will use the pitch to offset his sinker and give batters a different look (at his best, he locates the pitch for a strike, which results in strike outs looking as well as swinging).

2015 Campaign
After a 2014 campaign that saw Jungmann put everything together between the Brewers’ previous AA Huntsville and AAA Nashville affiliates, the righty’s time in AAA Colorado Springs tells a different story. However, given the general explosion of runs allowed up in Colorado, I am inclined to review those statistics with a grain of salt. Indeed, Jungmann has worked in front of a generally porous defense, or in “thin air” that helps batted balls find the field more frequently.

Jungmann IP / R K / BB / HR BABIP GB:FB/LD% BF / K% / BB%
First Four Starts 16.7 / 19 15 / 10 / 1 .426 1.80 / 16% 82 / 18.3 / 12.2
Starts Five-to-Eight 22.0 / 14 20 / 11 / 0 .344 1.35 / 11% 94 / 21.2 / 11.7
Starts Nine-to-Eleven 20.7 / 11 19 K / 8 BB / 1 HR .278 1.28 / 16% 82 / 23.2 / 9.8
PCL 20.0 IP / 11 R average .314 34517 / 18.9 / 8.6

Brewers fans ought to toss out Jungmann’s runs allowed for a moment, and glance at his strikeout and walk development. While maintaining a consistent line drive rate, Jungmann lowered his walk rate over his last three starts at AAA. Furthermore, the righty consistently improved his strike out rate, which is a welcome sign from a sinker-pitcher that works in the low-90s. Even against the Pacific Coast League’s high .314 BABIP, Jungmann’s tallies of .426 and .344 to open the season look atrocious, and it’s difficult to figure out how a pitcher can pitch more groundballs than flyballs, limit line drives, and still allow hits on between 34%-and-43% of batted balls in play. Basically, this means that it will be difficult to translate Jungmann’s statistics even to the batting-friendly confines of Miller Park, so fans should hold on to the fact that while Jungmann’s walk rate was coming back to average, he also maintained an average-or-better strike out rate throughout his time in Colorado Springs.

Impact and Legacy
Brewers fans will want to see Jungmann succeed immediately, as some type of retribution for his draft pick and development. It will be hard for some to look at his draft position and not criticize the righty’s performance and potential rotational position. Many scouting reports repeat the notion that Jungmann has a back-end rotation potential, with some adding that he might become an innings eater (thanks to his 6’6″ frame). Perhaps it’s easier for fans to be thrilled by someone like Tyler Cravy, a 17th Round Pick, or even a fourth rounder like Tyler Wagner as a “back end starter” or “organizational depth” arm. However, if Jungmann can enter the Brewers’ rotation and stabilize it during these forthcoming rebuilding years, he will give the club a chance to fill innings with a low cost, controllable contract. This alone will help the organization, even if the original dreams of Jungmann darting to the MLB in time to help for the 2013 or 2014 pennant races never materialized.

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