Saturday, May 28, 2016

Felipe Paulino: A Brief Scouting Report



As we've detailed on twitter (@GraveyardBall), the Lions have signed MLB/MiLB veteran on Sunday. Paulino's recent Instagram post made this inevitable.  

Recent tape of Paulino is rather scarce since he hasn't appeared in the big leagues since 2014 with the Chicago White Sox. Paulino has appeared with the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, and the Chicago White Sox and has bounced around several organizations in the minor leagues. He most recently appeared in Spring Training with the Cleveland Indians and pitched for their AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.

The tape I've found comes from the inaugural WBSC Premier12 from this past November, where Paulino played for Venezuela. He is listed as a Dominican-Venezuelan, as he was born in the Dominican Republic but appears to have grown up in Venezuela. He'd make one start in this tournament and that so happened to be against the Dominican Republic.

It was in this start that Paulino would finish with a line of 3.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. I took away a few observations from his start, for one, his fastball ranged from 148-154 km/h (91-95 mph) and early on had some good downward plane, but there seemed to be a good amount of pitches that ran out of the strike zone. And that's right in line with what has seemed to plague him through his career, with just a quick glance at his past numbers, walks have been a major problem for Paulino.

He saw much more success with his offspeed repertoire, and I noticed that with that early success of his breaking pitches, he started to pitch backwards, a trait found more common with Japanese pitchers. I think this strategy is what started leading up to Paulino's problems in this start, as he threw too many breaking balls out over the plate, mostly his slider.

He throws a slider, a changeup, and a curveball that has a grip that looks like a knucklecurve grip. Fangraphs has noted that he likes to throw his curve and changeup to lefties, and that changeup in particular, looked quite effective as Dominican hitters would chase it in the dirt, time and time again.
When his breaking stuff ended up in the dirt, Paulino saw success, when it hung up a little bit, Dominican hitters were right on it.

With all that said, the Indians organization used Paulino exclusively as a reliever this season. So we can speculate that the Lions see Paulino as a guy who can be more effective in short bursts. And provide the solution to relieving the heavy workload that Norio Tanabe has been forced to place on Kazuhisa Makita. 

I see a lot of flaws in Paulino's game, but he has proven he can strike guys out, and with the lack of effective bullpen arms after CC Lee's deactivation, Paulino seems like a necessary guy to bring in mid-season.

See the start for yourself here.

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