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A brief scouting report on Connor Sadzeck, as Mariners option Nick Rumbelow to AAA

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The Mariners open their third eye to create roster flexibility.

Texas Rangers Photo Day
I did not edit this photo
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

We try to maintain a pretty good handle on which players have minor league options remaining, and due to Nick Rumbelow spending parts of 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 in both the majors and minors, we had assumed his minor league options had been used up. For those confused (and it is confusing), here’s the definition. The gist is that between being DFA’d after spending 2016 on the DL all year, Rumbelow has somehow eluded using all his options as we’d previously thought. As such, he’s the natural choice to be sent down to AAA to make space for new RHP Connor Sadzeck, which is exactly what is happening.

The alternatives were demoting more effective alternatives like Matt Festa or Chasen Bradford, or a DFA to a veteran like Cory Gearrin or Zac Rosscup. It would’ve been too early in the season to give up on the vets, and both Festa and Bradford have shown solid command. Both also have ample experience working multi-inning roles, something that will come into play as Seattle’s suspect rotation is challenged, not to mention when Yusei Kikuchi’s workload is monitored heavily.

Thanks to MLB inexplicably cutting their Advanced Media team to the bone, they’ve rendered their own highlight database nigh unusable. Without even a basic search function, it’s been surprisingly difficult to track down video of Sadzeck at work. Here he is, however, working against the Mariners last September.

The heat is high, in multiple ways.
MLB

The fastball is his leading pitch, but the command has been an issue for years. His secondaries include a slider in the upper-80s and a curveball in the upper-70s, the former of which you can see here against the Padres a few weeks prior.

Not a ton of movement but a bit of late bite.
MLB

Sadzeck seemed to have a bit better command of (and confidence in) his slider than his curve in the few outings I caught, but this is roughly what you’ll see if it’s in the realm of the zone.

This was, naturally, a called strike.
MLB

You can probably see it even just in the gifs above - Sadzeck’s release point on his breaking balls are completely different. Looking at Sadzeck’s release from either a 2D or 3D representation, his release point is not only inconsistent, it’s especially glaring between his slider and his heater. The curve, despite its shakier command, is a more consistently similar pitch in its release along with his heater, but the M’s may lean the other way and in fact encourage Sadzeck to try and adjust his arm slot on the fastball to better match his slider.

2D image = Career release points. 3D image = the above Padres game.
Baseball Savant

As of now, Sadzeck is an inconsistent reliever with high-leverage heat, but if the M’s can make something of his command where the Rangers could not they’ll have found something impressive.