Trackman Traits - Pitching: 2022 RHP/1B Clayton Poliey (Don Bosco Prep)


Zach Guth
Advanced Scout

 

Welcome back to Trackman Traits. In this piece we will be dissecting the numbers the Trackman produces and the effect they can have on a pitcher's approach. Below there will be definitions of each category that we believe to be the most important for a young arm to keep in mind as well as breaking down an arm and giving suggestions on how they can improve their game. Keep in mind, in some categories it is better to be further away from average even if the numbers are wavering on below average. 

FASTBALL VELOCITY

Fastball velocity doesn't go much deeper than just looking at the numbers and comparing them to the graphic below! Fastball velocity complements just about all of the other metrics that are measured. If you throw hard, it makes all your other pitches/metrics even better.

FASTBALL SPIN RATE

Spin rate is a measurement that if you are below average or above average, you can pitch with more room for error. On the other hand, if you are average you should try to throw in the bottom half of the zone with exceptional command. High spin fastballs profile as one that is frequently described as having "late life". Low spin fastballs tend to profile as a fastball that has heavy feel to it. Pitch movement is still dependent on spin direction of the pitch but Trackman does not have that metric displayed on profiles. 


BAUER UNITS

Bauer Units are an easier way of determining how useful the spin numbers are compared to the velocity. We can calculate this metric by taking average spin rate and dividing it by average velocity. Bauer Units are useful because we can have a case of two pitchers with the same spin numbers, ex. 2200 RPM, but one pitcher throws 90 MPH and the other throws 83 MPH. The pitcher throwing 90 MPH with 2200 spin is not as impressive as the pitcher throwing 83 MPH with the same spin. Typically, we would tell the harder throwing pitcher to throw up in the zone purely off his velocity and his high spin, but because his Bauer Units would equate to around 24 that would be only 1 unit off of average (23), therefore he would want to hammer the bottom of the zone. On the other side, the pitcher throwing 83 MPH has a Bauer Unit measurement of 26 which is incredibly impressive. This would allow him to throw up in the zone even though his velocity is not blow away type numbers because he produces above average spin with that slated velocity. 

FASTBALL INDUCED VERTICAL BREAK

As far as deception and importance goes, fast induced vertical break (IVB) may be the most important. Induced vertical break is not what is sounds. IVB simply means the pitch is "breaking" upward from the average level a pitch falls from release to home plate. This is a stat that you want to stay away from being average at. Fortunately, this can be tweaked slightly depending on release height. To put it simply, the higher number =  more "rise" the pitch has compared to average. Lower number = more depth the pitch has to it. 

VERTICAL APPROACH ANGLE

Vertical Approach Angle (VAA) is essentially how steep or shallow the ball is entering the strike zone. The average entry into the zone is around -5.5 degrees for the Division 1 college level. Anything below or above that number is considered an outlier and would be ideal because it is not what the hitter is used to seeing. A VAA of -4.5 degrees would be considered a shallow entry, this, with some other variables mixed in (IVB, velocity, release height), allow for success up in the zone due to the "ride" or even sometimes "rising" effect. A VAA of -6 degrees would be considered a steep entry. This is the type of ball that has a lot of success in the bottom of the zone (including the same variables mentioned previously) because it feels like the pitcher is throwing it off Mt Everest. With the perfect combination of low IVB and high release it could be a very steep entry that would be hard to hit. 

 

Clayton Poliey

Class of 2022 / RHP

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2022
  • Primary Position: RHP
    Secondary Position: 1B
  • High School: Don Bosco Prep
    State: NJ
  • Summer Team: Wladyka
  • Height: 6-0
    Weight: 180lbs
  • Bat/Throw: R/R

Videos

(9/20/20)




Fastball Breakdown

Velocity: Poliey has come along since the last time has attended an event. Last September, he was holding 82-85 MPH, recently in March he pumped things up only a mile an hour for his max velo but he increased his ranged to 84-86 MPH. Increasing cruising velo is arguably more impressive than increasing the velo ceiling. Slotting himself in the top 10% of high school arms, Poliey has proved to be a possible power arm in the future. 

Spin Rate: Poliey has one of the highest HS spin rates for a FB that I, personally, have looked at in Trackman data. Having a high spin ceiling for a FB means that if he is inducing the appropriate tilt, he can throw a top level FB that finds success in the upper half of the zone. As we know with spin rate, it is not one of those things that can be tuned in and you magically gain 1000 RPMs, so what Poliey is doing is very impressive to garner this much spin with velo that doesn't typically produce such spin numbers. 

Bauer Units: So of course, with insane spin compared to his FB numbers we are going to see wild Bauer Unit measurements. Coming in at 29 units with the MLB league average being 23, there is room to play with FB location and how he pitches due to the fact that his ball is traveling far more differently through the air than a typical 86 MPH fastball would. 

Induced Vertical Break: Poliey sitting at 19 inches of induced vertical break and flashing low twenties is something to take a deeper look at. These are both elite numbers when it comes to a HS pitcher throwing 86 MPH. This gives Poliey the freedom to go up in the zone and miss over barrels. Typically swings and misses occur under the barrel, but in this case a "rising" or "riding" fastball will in fact miss over top the bat due to the hitter's perception of the pitch and how they react to an "average" fastball. This approach will produce many more fly balls and swings and misses, versus the typical "pitch to contact" guy who induces weak roll over contact and ground balls. 

Vertical Approach Angle: Poliey has a VAA of around -4.5 degrees if we were to average them out, but sometimes he was working the FB in the top of the zone with around a -3.5 degree entry. This means his fastball entry into the zone is extremely shallow which basically proves our point further and gives us more reason to say that Poliey would see wild success in the upper half of the zone with his above average velocity fastball. I would expect to see some swings and misses on his fastball where hitters are reacting like it is a 93 MPH fastball. This is all due to the fact that his FB is staying on one plane longer than the average 87 MPH fastball would. Poliey is a potential power arm with a FB that not many high school pitchers around him probably have in their arsenal, he will be one to watch moving forward as baseball in New Jersey continues to roll on. 



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