“We stepped outside that circle for a long time, in a lot of ways. But it wasn’t reality.”
Think about that for a moment. Can that really be true — that the number of smokeballers blowing 95 mph and up has tripled in five years? Even other pitchers have a hard time comprehending that phenomenon.
“I’ve never seen as many hard throwers on every single team as I do now,” says Derek Lowe. “It seems like every team has three or four guys coming out of that bullpen throwing 95 miles an hour.”
But this word of caution: We can’t be totally sure if those numbers are accurate. They might tell us more about how we measure velocity now than about the pitchers we’re measuring. So we went about this another way: We asked scouting directors what they see when they show up at high school and college games.
“When I first started doing this 25 years ago, if you saw a kid touch 90 (mph) at 17 years old, you were like, ‘Oh my God,’” says the Indians’ vice president of scouting operations, John Mirabelli. “That guy became an automatic prospect. Now, just about every guy (on a scouting director’s radar) throws 90, and most of them throw 92. And you never saw amateur guys throwing in the upper 90s. Now you see it all the time. It’s unbelievable.”
Other scouting directors spun the same tales, over and over. And that tells us something: This is NOT a mirage.