St. Lucie right-handed pitcher Stephen Villines took the mound last night and pitched yet another scoreless inning. With this inning under his belt, Villines has not allowed an earned run in his last 11 appearances.
In fact, since Villines has been called up to St. Lucie, he has allowed an earned run in only one of his 13 appearances. In those appearances, he’s 2-0 with three saves, a 0.51 ERA, and a 0.623 WHIP.
When you see this level of dominance from a 10th Round draft pick, it is surprising, and it causes you to look for reasons why. Well, with Villines, one thing which immediately stands out is his delivery:
As you can clearly see, Villines hides the ball well, especially against right-handed batters. The motion not only serves to be deceptive, but it does create some extra movement on all of his pitches.
That movement and deception is necessary for Villines. Unlike the pitchers the Mets have acquired over the past couple of trade deadlines, Villines is not coming close to 100 MPH, and as a result, he’s not getting batters out with sheer velocity.
Instead, Villines has an upper 80s fastball, which like his slider and changeup, has good movement. While this isn’t classic back of the bullpen stuff, the movement and deception has led to outs.
And not just ground outs (1.27 career ground out – fly out ratio), but also strikeouts.
So far this season, he has struck out 12.5 batters per nine innings. In his minor league career, he’s struck out 12.9 per nine.
This is partially due to Villines’ exceptional control. Last year, in his first professional season, he walked just one batter. This year he’s walked just nine of the 200 batters he’s faced this year.
That’s not even a half of a percent. Overall, Villines has walked just 0.45 percent of the batters he’s faced. He’s done that while striking out 35.50 percent of the batters he’s faced. Those are extraordinary numbers.
With those numbers, you wonder what his ceiling could be. Well, even with him living in the 80s, we shouldn’t write him off just yet.
With them, the key was throwing strikes and getting an opportunity to prove themselves. With respect to Villines, he throws strikes. Time will tell if he gets a chance to prove himself.