Braden Tullis Scouting Report (2010)
Texas Rangers prospect Braden Tullis started his 2010 campaign with a bang, but ended with a fizzle after being moved into the Hickory Crawdads rotation. Overall, Tullis’ peripherals were a mixed bag including strong ground ball/walk rates, as well as a high BABIP and decreased strikeout rate from his debut.
The Tullis I scouted worked out of the pen with precision dominating a Savannah Sand Gnats lineup including two of the three best prospects in the organization as viewed in some circles. And while he was devastating a single time through the lineup, is there anything stuff-wise which would indicate a steep drop in performance the second or third time through a lineup?
Physical Projection: Listed at 6’2″, 200 lbs., Tullis seemed smaller on the mound which may be attributed to his being well-proportioned throughout. Personally, I’d describe him as “stocky” and see minimal projection left in his frame. And while this may limit his top end velocity projection, it does allow Tullis to repeat his delivery with relative ease which is what allows him to pound the outer black with both his fastball and curveball.
Mound Presence: On the mound, Tullis was a bulldog as he attacked Sand Gnats hitters in the strike zone. I did not have the opportunity to see him face adversity as his curveball and location left Savannah overmatched. Throughout the outing, he was intensely focused on the job at hand. Considering the perceived lack of confidence from fellow mound mates Neil Ramirez and Wilmer Font, it was a welcomed site and forced me to sit up and take notice.
Fastball: At 87-89, touching 90 MPH a handful of times, Tullis’ 4-seam fastball lacked the top end velocity one generally wants to see from right-handed pitchers. In game action, he shied away from challenging batters on the hands with the pitch and seemed content to pound the outer black against less polished competition. With Tullis using his curveball early-and-often, the fastball may have played up a couple of MPH as it definitely kept hitters off balance. However, his 4-seamer was pretty flat and simply did not have the oomph for me to believe it’s a good enough pitch to keep hitters honest a second or third time through a lineup.
Tullis also mixed in a 2-seamer at 85-87 MPH which he worked off the outer black to right-handed hitters. The pitch backed up nicely and had quite a bit of fade as well. It’s a weapon he can continue to develop which could prove to be an equalizer against left-handed hitters.
Curveball: Tullis’ bread-and-butter, the 79-81 MPH offering had enough depth and sharpness for me to consider it an above-average pitch. While not a true 12-6 breaker, his advanced command of the curveball allowed him to locate the pitch better than arguably any pitcher I saw all season. Pitchers his age simply do not throw breaking pitches with such confidence based on the arms I’ve had the opportunity to scout. I do have to wonder how Tullis’ reliance on his curveball at such a young age will effect his fastball development long term, but seeing a floor of a ground ball machine out of a big league pen is pretty good for a pitcher in the “Sally”.
Changeup: Used sparingly, I would have liked to have seen more of the 81 MPH offering. The pitch had similar depth and fade to his 2-seam fastball, but registered at 4-6 miles slower. While not there yet, the pitch has significant promise.
Braden Tullis was a beast out of the Hickory pen, but I can understand why he struggled as a starter. Going forward, he finds himself needing to add velocity, movement, or both to his 4-seam fastball while not sacrificing the command he already has. Regardless, he’s still quite a find as an 8th round pick who signed for less than six figures.
In an organization which has spent quite a bit on arms who were disappointing to see in person, pitchers like Braden Tullis are a welcome sight. It will be interesting to see how the Rangers organization chooses to develop him as I can see Tullis moving quickly as a reliever, but experiencing his share of growing pains in a minor league rotation.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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