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Charting Zakery ‘Wasi’ Wasilewski

The Vancouver Canadians played game two of their crucial series versus the Everett Aquasox last Saturday.  With me actually able to make it and Virginia native Zakery Wasilewski starting, I took the opportunity to chart someone besides Miguel Castro.  Let’s be honest though, charting anyone other than Castro (Labourt excepted) is like Christmas as a teenager.  It’s still exciting. But nothing like the sheer joy you feel as a child.

Now that I’ve sold the article, on with the show.  Saturday was Wasi’s sixth start of the season.  After a hot start (we had him on the YourVanCs podcast on the 2nd of July and, at that time, all his rate stats bar K/9 had improved from first two pro seasons), he has struggled a bit.  In fact, in his previous start against the North division leading Spokane Indians he gave up six hit, including three home runs and a triple in the first inning.  Hopefully that was rock bottom.

The particulars:

Pitch Count FBs Curve Change
Totals 81 42 18 21
Strikes 47 Min 86 76 82
Balls 34 Max 92 83 86
Avg Velo 89 78 84

Wasi got off to a great start Saturday, spotting his fastball well and throwing it often, especially earlier in the count before finishing hitters off with breaking stuff.  Through two innings, Zak threw 21 pitches, 13 of which were fastballs.

Things went slightly sour when, after getting a leadoff pop out to start the third, he walked the 9 hole.

Jordan Cowan (L) 3rd/0on/1out BB
Velo 76 76 77 91 90 89
Pitch 2 2 2 1 1 1
Result T B F B B B

Although the three straight fastballs for balls were pretty close (my notes said he was nibbling a bit) after that Wasilewski seemed to lose his release point with his fastball completely.

He gave up a single through the right side on a hit and run, that run scored on a 4-3 put-out with infield back, then he walked the next two hitters.  Everything was up and away and my notes have things like ‘even swinging strike was a ball’ and ‘missing all over’.

Wasi got out of the bases loaded jam by striking out Kristian Brito, going change, change, curve and the curve was good, with late life, diving into the right-hander and inducing a check swing.

(As an aside, I had a mini-rant when charting Miguel Castro about his pitch selection to Brito, not challenging him with a show me fastball, eventually giving up a double on a hanging slider which was the 4th breaking ball of the at bat.  Over the course of the rest of the series, it became pretty apparent that the C’s plan with Brito was to throw a steady diet of off-speed.  Simply because he couldn’t hit ’em and basically swung from his toilet.)

The rest of the start, Zak turned to his breaking balls more, giving up two more runs over the course of the start, one in the 4th and another in the 6th.  Both were scored in similar fashion, where he gave up a ‘placement’ double, runner was moved over to third, and wild pitches scored them.  Both the WPs were curve balls in the dirt.  I didn’t make any notes on the catcher’s influence on either and can’t remember if they could or should have been blocked.

Either way, in both at bats, he was either behind or even in the count and was relying on his breaking ball to get him back rather than attack with the fastball.

Some video, which, will be the last from behind the pitcher during warmups, as you’ll notice at about the 1:45 min mark someone is coming out to chat to me and he doesn’t look happy.

In summary, and I realize it’s hard to draw too many conclusions based on one start, but here goes.

With his fastball averaging 89 mph, hitting the low 90s on occasion, Wasi by no means has plus velocity, but for a left-hander it will play.  He just needs to spot it well.  Working both halves of the plate at the bottom of the zone.

His curve is not bad.  With his 3/4 arm slot, it’ll never be a hard, biting curve, but has more of a 3-7 break so a bit slurvy. If under control it should be ok.  As per the table above, most are in the 76/77 mph range but he did run one up to 83 (which was a wild pitch, allowing a run).  Like many young pitchers showing a curve, Wasilewski is probably struggling trying to figure out what he wants to do with it.  Varying his velocity as he looks to throw one for a strike and one in the dirt to finish off a hitter.

Velocity-wise, averaging 84mph Zak’s change provides nice separation from the fastball.  I didn’t get a good read on his arm speed or slot to see if there was any difference there.  On the night, it didn’t have great movement or depth (check out the on thrown at 1:42 of the video, gives a feel of movement).  Of the 21 thrown, I only count two swinging strikes, with the rest (of the strikes) either fouled off or put in play.  Of the three pitches, I think this is the one that needs to the most work.

Tonight will be Wasilewski’s first start versus Eugene who are pretty poor at the moment.  For me, the telling time will be (like Jeremy Gabryszwski last year) when teams, and in particular, coaches, get their second looks at the C’s left-hander.  That starts next Tuesday when he is slated to start agains the South division leading Hillsboro Hops.

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