McInturff: Hitters from the South, pitchers from the North?

From Adam McInturff at Baseball Prospectus on May 3, 2016:

Each June, high school pitching in the amateur draft is (more or less) is accepted to be the most volatile demographic. On the flip side, there’s been compelling research suggesting prep hitters from powerhouse baseball states such as California, Georgia, Texas, and Florida have a higher correlation with big-league contributions than high school hitters from non-hotbed states. Numerous components of amateur player development undeniably fall in favor of the hotbed-state hitter, especially relative to the kid coming coming out of the snow: Your typical Georgian, for example, gets to play outdoors year-round, while facing off against higher-quality pitching in the aggregate on a game-to-game basis. More swings for development, and more exposure to the sorts of pitches that force development, makes for a more mature hitter, the eminently logical thinking goes.

However, the valuation in regards to a high school pitching prospect hailing from outside these regions seems to be less “one size fits all” across the industry than it does for a hitter. A high school pitcher from a non-hotbed state usually has more projection remaining mechanically and stuff-wise. Additionally, from an injury-prevention standpoint, they’ve generally thrown a lot fewer pitches and innings overall by the ages of 17 or 18. “You draft hitters from the south, pitchers from the north,” one scouting axiom says.

This raises the question of whether there’s a quantifiable difference in the probability of a high school arm making it depending on his home state, or a difference in how much and for how long said pitcher will contribute once he gets there. In an attempt to measure this, I used all prep pitchers drafted in the top 30 picks between 1996 and 2010—15 drafts in all—in the hopes that I’d be working with a reliable sample, but one without too many recently drafted players still too young for us to make a summary judgments on their careers.

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Originally published: May 3, 2016. Last Updated: May 3, 2016.