USA TODAY Sports
What did the Astros see in Alex White, and what can we expect going forward?
Alex White was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 2009 MLB draft. He was then traded in 2011 to the Colorado Rockies in the deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians. He struggled in his ten appearances during 2011, and last season he wasn't much better. On December fifth White was traded again, this time to the Astros. I wanted to take a look at his PitchF/X profile to see if there are any bright spots, and what, if anything, could be expected of him in 2013.
According to Brooks Baseball, Alex White throws four pitches. He features a fourseam fastball, a sinker, a slider, and a splitter. His fastball has solid velocity, averaging 92 MPH, and his slider is roughly 8 MPH slower.
White's fastball doesn't have a ton of movement, but it isn't completely flat either. When he used it against right-handed hitters it was a fairly successful pitch. Batters only got four extra base hits, and hit into groundballs nearly half of the time. Line drives were somewhat of a problem, in the end righties only slugged .456 while maintaining an average slightly above the the .300 mark. Lefties had slightly more success, hitting .314 while slugging over .500.
His sinker might have arguably been his best pitch. While batters did have a fairly high slugging average, every other category was exceptional. While facing both left and right handed hitters he induced groundballs over 60% of the time. Left handers in particular had a difficult time at hitting line drives, and for the season hit line drives less than ten percent of the time.
His slider and splitter were both fairly more successful when used against lefties, batters whiffed on swings over 25% of the time, and hit into groundballs over half of the time. He only gave up two extra base hits to left-handed hitters, one of which was a home run with the splitter.
White rarely used his splitter against righties, but the slider still did a good job at getting whiffs and groundballs. He did give up a few more extra base hits though against righties, four of them occurred via the home run.
While these results are nice and all, White's biggest concern is his command, or lack thereof. In 2012 White's fastball was the only pitch to have a Zone% above 50%, in fact, that was the only pitch with a Zone% above 40%. Clearly White will need to make some adjustments.
He also finished the year with a below average walk rate, and gave up over one home run per nine innings. Pitching in Coors will do that to you, and moving to Minute Maid Park should help going forward. His 5.23 FIP and 4.72 xFIP aren't exactly something to get excited about, but he is only 24, and given the proper adjustments he could eventually turn into a decent back end of the rotation pitcher in the big leagues.
Thanks to FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball for the data used in this piece.