A Closer Look: Matt German

This is a post I’ve been wanting to do for a while because I find Matt German’s case to be intriguing. For those who don’t know, he’s a 6-foot junkballer tearing up Reading after doing a pretty good job in Clearwater last year. I thought he deserved some press just based on the stats he’s posted thus far.

I couldn’t find any scouting reports on him, but to the best of my knowledge he throws in the low-to-mid 80s with off-speed stuff that seems to have AA hitters positively stumped.

(Note: he was undrafted out of Northern Illinois in 2007)

Statistical goodness:

2007 (SS/A): 35 IP, 46 K, 13 K, 24 H, 1 HR, 53% GB, .298  BABIP

2008 (A+): 58.2 IP, 64 K, 24 BB, 45 H, 45% GB, 5% HR/FB, .287 BABIP

2009 (AA): 11.2 IP, 16 K, 6 BB, 6 H, 39% GB, O HR .240 BABIP

2009 splits:  vs LH – 4 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 8 K, 3.0 GO/AO

vs RH – 7.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K, .25 GO/AO

A couple things to point out here:

  1. The K rate is holding up well, admittedly in a small sample size, as he’s made the jump that’s thought to be the hardest in the minor leagues.
  2. The BABIP is low, and it should tick up a little bit, but he’s always been on the low side. A good sign, but since minor league stats are limited, I can’t dig up an underlying cause.
  3. He’s been mostly talked about as a LOOGY prospect, but since I can’t see splits for anything but the current year, I can’t speak to that as far as a large sample size would go. His 09 stats do seem to support that, however.
  4. Warning flags: dipping groundball rate is a definite concern, as is the low homerun/flybll rates throughout his career.

His stats this year indicate he hasn’t been used as a LOOGY. However, he’s been far more dominant against southpaws, recording 8/12 outs against lefties by strikeout. Of his other 4 outs against lefties, 3 have been by groundball.

So what do you think? LOOGY/fungible bullpen arm, or minor league filler? He feels a little bit like RJ Swindle, last year’s Lehigh Valley statistical darling.

Feel free to discuss. Like we’ve said before, being able to partially fill your bullpen with homegrown players saves lots of money and resources.

43 thoughts on “A Closer Look: Matt German

  1. I bet a lot of people here are confused about this guy.

    His success belies his “stuff” which doesn’t seem to deserve the numbers he has been putting up since his arrival.

    He may be the the Phils most mysterious player in their minor lg system.

    Withal, szhould his numbers continue to shine, he MIGHT become a viable reliever at the ML level…but that may seem a stretch…yet credit where it is due.

    Bears watching for sure…if just for curiousity’s sake…yet…

  2. If Mike Myers could do it, there is always a chance he could too. At least in contrast to Swindle he’s not a super slow curveball pitcher, his slider is justifiably tough (on lefties).

  3. Only one way to find out. There is one case where moving him up to Lehigh shouldn’t cause a firestorm that would leave room for Schwimer.
    It would be interesting if he gets to spend some time with Moyer in September.

  4. I’ve been intrigued by this guy since SS. He intrigued me because he was 6’8″. Since he’s shrunk to 6′, I can’t see him going all the way to the show. Of course, height shouldn’t be the main determinate on whether you hit the big leagues.

    He’s been successful and you can’t take that away. Swindle is a good comp. for him right now. Swindle pitched in the show last year and he’s been up in 2009 until recently. I hope German gets the same opportunity.

    I will be cheering for him to make it but I’d say chances are slim.

  5. Another good outing by Worley. Supposedly he had a problem with control, but seems great so far. Like to see more coverage of him.

  6. If this kid was born in the 30’s I have no doubt he could have made it to the majors, the question that keeps popping into my mind is… If these numbers continue he’ll get his shot.

  7. Always like seeing guys like this get a shot but logic says that his chances of seeing the big club for any extended time is slim.

    As stated, his best shot will be as a loogy but the Phillies don’t seem to be a team that likes to carry pitchers that are that limited.

  8. a very unique and intersting prospect. i think that most of the guys like him that make it in the bigs also have a funky delivery, a la chad bradford. has anyone seen him pitch? is he an over the top motion or side armer? that might also help his case. without a funky delivery, i am struggling to think of analogies. thoughts?

  9. PP thanks as you know this prospect , who purely on stats has amaze me, first he was 6’8 then 6′ now I know that he most likely is a loogy at best. with that kind of speed,, can’t see much more.

  10. Nepp you must be right the cube lists him as 6′. Franklyn and Johan German are big guys can u say mixup.

    Anyway if you look at his stats including the last two years of college then close your eye and pretend he is 6’5”. He would look like a world beater.

  11. He’s done nothing but put up good numbers, even if he has mediocre stuff. I would figure that he will get a shot eventually, if not with the Phillies then on some other team. A guy like him might be an ideal throw in on a trade. (i.e “We won’t trade Worley, but how about Brummett and German?”

    And I know this thread is about German, but someone else asked about Yonderman Rodriguez earlier. He’s certainly got my attention too (and also has me wondering what happened to Overbeck)

    – Jeff

  12. Jeff O – don’t confuse low to mid-80’s speed with “mediocre stuff”. the point of James’s post is that he has great stuff. in this case, “junkballer” is a positive term. you don’t get that k rate without an ability to move the ball around and locate.

  13. PP then maybe you or some one else can tell us about another pitcher who has been successful {beside moyer} with that kind of speed and stuff. I just can’t think of anyone

  14. Yeah, poor choice of words on my part. You don’t need to be throwing in the mid 90s to have good stuff

    The guy has been successful at every level, and hopefully will continue.

  15. “PP Fan Says:
    April 30, 2009 at 7:00 am
    a very unique and intersting prospect. i think that most of the guys like him that make it in the bigs also have a funky delivery, a la chad bradford. has anyone seen him pitch?”

    German doesn’t have the same delivery as Candelaria, but close to the same angle. Its as low as you can go without being a submariner. His breaking ball is firm enough that it sweeps a little like Candelaria, but John threw harder.

  16. “PP Fan Says:
    April 30, 2009 at 8:42 am
    Jeff O – don’t confuse low to mid-80’s speed with “mediocre stuff”. the point of James’s post is that he has great stuff. in this case, “junkballer” is a positive term. you don’t get that k rate without an ability to move the ball around and locate.’

    Stuff and pitchability are 2 different things. Its jamie Moyer’s ability to pitch without good stuff that makes him so good. Guys who can compete in the minors without good stuff are a dime a dozen. Everyone with success deserves shot, but reality is what it is- most fail, a few hang on.

  17. Though i might add a caveat that i’d consider Jamie’s changeup to qualify for ‘good stuff’.

  18. “olgrandad Says:
    April 30, 2009 at 9:10 am
    Has anyone seen him pitch? What can reliably be said
    about his stuff?”

    Every other day when this question comes up- nobody else seems to reply- he’s been through, what, 4 levels of the system now. Somebody besides myself must have seen him by now right?

    he was 80-84mph in the games i saw him in lakewood- mostly 82.

  19. I’ve seen him relieve at Reading. Nothing above 83 mph, slow stuff down to 71. They didn’t hit him. Success at AA is not to be written off lightly, but we’ll see how things go when the weather heats up. I remember Adam Walker didn’t throw hard at Reading either, but got guys out, then hurt his arm, then traded. He was bigger and not a side armer. I suspect German will be like Kendrick, but as a reliever, if he stays healthy. If he’s got his control and guys don’t see too much of him, he probably can keep climbing to the bigs. A great fastball is great to work off, but most big leaguers and even AA guys can cream even a fast fastball, unless the pitcher has good off-speed stuff and good control. The Phillies tend to look their worst as a team against junk. That said, AA hitters seem more susceptible to junk than major leaguers. When you saw really awful nights from guys like Golson and even Howard at AA, it was when they were being baffled by the slow stuff.

  20. The low BABIP rate may have something to do with his low GB rate. I saw a discussion about this in relation to SP Chris Young. Pitchers with high FB rates also tend to have much lower BABIP numbers.

  21. Allentown I Always thought that without a decent fastball, the hitters will start to lay on the slow stuff because if they are looking breaking ball and you throw a fastball its not fastenough to have them off balance, But if you have a good fastball, it makes your slow stuff more efficent , with a good fastball you can’t lean on breaking stuff,

  22. German stumped them in FSL last year the first time around too. At Reading he is the set up guy with Escalona and Zagurski closing. Though Bastardo is now starting, German probably ranks behind them as lefty reliever propsects on that staff.

    The big story for Reading was the work of Vance Worley last night with a reported 93 mph fast ball. He was finally using his change up effectively to retire at one point 15 straight according to reports. When I saw him pitch several starts ago in Harrisburg he had a great change up with the bottom dropping out of it in the pen warming up but rarely used it in the game.

  23. FYI…not sure if anyone has seen this yet or not…but there is a Heitor Correa sighting! 😉 Lakewood signed/ activated him today…

  24. mikemike —
    I think that is more true at the major league level. Even at AA a lot of guys can’t hit the slow, curvy stuff. You do need to change speed and change location and have more than one pitch. Like Jamie Moyer, German does this. Fooling the hitters is key. Throwing all the same slow stuff won’t work, and getting the ball up and in the middle of the plate will get you crushed, but German doesn’t do this. It really is like Kendrick. When he first came up, he kept the ball down, had very good control, and was new to the hitters. As those things changed, success vanished.

  25. I saw the Phils on TBS this past weekend. I was jumping back and forth between that and the NFL Draft. Moyer was pitching and one of the announcers said (paraphrasing), when Moyer needs an out, he usually throws slower. A lot of guys try to dial it up a notch but Jamie tries to lull you to sleep. Soft tossers have to think that way. Since this is about Matt German, I went the long way ’round to say, guys like German and Kendrick have to think slower not harder or faster to get guys out. Or maybe develop an “eephus” pitch like “Spaceman” Lee.

    I live in New England and I get to see Wakefield pitch quite a bit. Sometimes I think Moyer throws slower than the Wake knuckler.

  26. I would love to see German and Schwimmer both get bumped up now. Germand has been so successful in AA, I’d love to see how he does in AAA because those are mostly veteran guys and a pitcher has to be better to survive there. Schwimmer is just overpowering at Clearwater and needs to be up in Reading to see how he does, especially because he’s a little older. Control is what its about for these pitchers and Stutes has been amazing in that regard from day one with the Phillies. I read the Reading Eagle article someone attached in the Knapp post. thanks for the article. I’m old enough that I remember the Four Aces and how hopeful everyone was before they all flamed out. Luckily, I also recall another amazing A ball rotation in Spartanburg that led the league by like 30 games. The two aces were Myers and Madson and that’s worked out pretty good. Every day I look at the minor league scores and want to see low numbers for the opponents. Pitching wins, it always has…

  27. Bellman I hear ya. That is why if German has a future spending
    September on the phils bench talking to Moyer even if he just mops up is critical. That is if the teams values him .
    Btw hasn’t Bisenius just about pitched himself off the 40man

  28. On Worley, he had a good outing, but the team he was pitching against wasn’t so hot. They only have four guys hitting above .250 and no prospect names I recognize.

    In other news, Taylor is heating up! 6-game hitting streak.

  29. Boston Plan How many times are you going to face a lot of future major league hitters, especially in double a most are journeymen fillers for the one or two kids who have a chance. look at Reading you hope they all are future players but maybe two of them have a chance.

  30. Other historical comps for slow tossers: Randy Jones, Stu Miller, Bobby Shantz and Warren Spahn in his later years.

    If you have tough breaking pitches and can command all your pitches all the time, you have a chance. But that’s what it takes. Guys who command 80-90% of the time and then groove one will not make it. Takes a special power of concentration.

    Consistency and getting better at higher levels are always good signs. Good guy to watch an pull for. I will give him starting odds of 30% on making it in majors for more than a cuppa joe–but will be hoping I am proved wrong.

  31. “PP then maybe you or some one else can tell us about another pitcher who has been successful {beside moyer} with that kind of speed and stuff. I just can’t think of anyone”

    A couple of comps to consider:

    Omar Daal, who had some very good seasons and threw no harder than German.

    Joe Roa, who also never registered on the radar gun above background noise, and while he didn’t light it up in Philly, he did have a few seasons in the bigs.

  32. Omar Daal was that the pitcher we got who lost 19 games the year before for schilling?

  33. I actually followed both German and Swindle a teeny bit in college – they’re similar players (though I liked/like Swindle a skotch more). Low 80s fast ball, reliant on average-to-plus slider. As noted, he’s a sidearmer. Another lefty with that sort of velocity in the high minors is SF’s Geno Espineli (though I prefer German and his slider).
    Daal had better stuff than either of these guys. Roa may have had better command, but was less deceptive.

  34. “Daal had better stuff than either of these guys”

    Yeah, he was high 80’s- though at the end i guess he did slip to the low 80s, but that isn’t when he was successful.

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