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Scouting Twins Prospects: Sawyer Gipson-Long


To put it bluntly, the surface-level stats of Minnesota Twins pitching prospect Sawyer Gipson-Long aren't overly impressive. Since coming to the Twins with the 179th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Gipson-Long has registered a record of 7-7 with a 4.30 ERA in 22 starts in the minors. 

However, as the intelligent readers of Twins Daily know full well, surface-level stats are much like an iceberg. They give some insight into who a pitcher is and how they perform, but there is often more lying under the surface, waiting to be discovered. Sawyer Gipson-Long is very much an iceberg.

Gipson-Long stands at a robust and athletic 6-foot-4-inches tall with long arms and legs. His windup is smooth, athletic, and repeatable, and he utilizes a three-quarter arm slot for all three of his pitches.

Gipson-Long's pitch mix consists primarily of a fastball and slider, though he does throw in an occasional changeup as well. What makes the former Mercer Bear stand out from most of his fellow pitching prospects is his overall command and control. To put it bluntly, the kid doesn't throw balls. In his 102 1/3 total innings in the minors, Gipson-Long has walked a total of 24 batters, has hit only two, and has issued a mere six wild pitches. 

 

 

However, Gipson-Long's impressiveness doesn't stop there. He's also struck out 144 and has never posted a FIP above 3.34, despite owning ERAs of 5.40 and 4.54 at rookie ball and Low-A. Since being called up to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9, Gipson-Long has struck out 26 batters, walked two, and glided to a 1.86 FIP. 

In short, Gipson-Long has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the Twins system since 2019. And, yet, you won't find his name on any top prospect list, not even Twins Daily's.

While being able to watch Gipson-Long's starts has been difficult due to Low-A Ft. Myers not broadcasting their games, leaving his name outside of the Twins' top 30 prospects has been a grand oversight, in my opinion. His fastball has pop and plays well up in the zone. His slider is a solid strikeout pitch that often leaves opposing batters flailing. And he's shown some signs of having a decent changeup. 

It would not surprise me if Gipson-Long quickly rises through the Twins system and begins making appearances on the top prospect lists in the not-so-distant future. What he is doing is truly not that different from, say, Louie Varland, and, frankly, Gipson-Long's stuff may be better, particularly when considering his command.

There is no such thing as a sure-thing baseball prospect, especially concerning pitchers. However, what Gipson-Long has done this season should not be ignored. He's been great and should be considered among the likes of Varland, Drew Strotman, and Chris Vallimont as good, under-the-radar pitching prospects. 

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Thanks for the great article.

I noticed his peripherals recently and remembered his name from being a second day draft pick, but it's good to get some recent scouting data.  I wonder if he's a bit too in the zone which has lead to a bit higher batting averages against him than you might expect with the rest of his peripherals.  If he's already got the command he can work on refining his approach in different counts and situations though.  That slider looked perfectly placed to get hitters at any level though.

We're starting to see a lot of potentially solid mid-rotation arms pop up from all over the system.  It seems like developing those top of the rotation arms is still a challenge as always, but I definitely believe they've built up the depth to fill up the middle and back of the rotation with competent homegrown guys for years to come.  Hopefully if the front office can stop needing to fill out the rotation in free agency they can get a couple top targets to build around.

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I don't have a problem with Gipson-long being left out of the top 30. There is a huge amount of mid-level talent in the Twins' system and it makes it hard to rank players. While the strikeout and walk numbers are very good, he gives up a ton of hits. The stats on batted balls is pretty sketchy from the minors, but it looks like he's a high ground ball rate pitcher which is nice. The ERA is suffering because of a high BABIP. That indicates one of two things. One, his stuff doesn't play and batters are barreling him up frequently or two, he's just been unlucky at every level so far.

Here's hoping the changeup turns into something nice for him and he's able to get some starts in without the red flag on the hits/BABIP.

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1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

I don't have a problem with Gipson-long being left out of the top 30. There is a huge amount of mid-level talent in the Twins' system and it makes it hard to rank players. While the strikeout and walk numbers are very good, he gives up a ton of hits. The stats on batted balls is pretty sketchy from the minors, but it looks like he's a high ground ball rate pitcher which is nice. The ERA is suffering because of a high BABIP. That indicates one of two things. One, his stuff doesn't play and batters are barreling him up frequently or two, he's just been unlucky at every level so far.

Here's hoping the changeup turns into something nice for him and he's able to get some starts in without the red flag on the hits/BABIP.

The thing with BABIP is that it's wildly variable in small samples. 102 IP is a pretty small sample in the grand scheme, so I'm not overly concerned about his numbers. In the High-A games I've watched (again small sample size!) opposing batters really struggled to even touch his stuff. His stuff'll probably even play better with a better defense behind him.

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2 hours ago, bean5302 said:

I don't have a problem with Gipson-long being left out of the top 30. There is a huge amount of mid-level talent in the Twins' system and it makes it hard to rank players. While the strikeout and walk numbers are very good, he gives up a ton of hits. The stats on batted balls is pretty sketchy from the minors, but it looks like he's a high ground ball rate pitcher which is nice. The ERA is suffering because of a high BABIP. That indicates one of two things. One, his stuff doesn't play and batters are barreling him up frequently or two, he's just been unlucky at every level so far.

Here's hoping the changeup turns into something nice for him and he's able to get some starts in without the red flag on the hits/BABIP.

Infield defenses in low A don't tend to be great at suppressing BABIP on ground balls

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40 minutes ago, 2wins87 said:

Infield defenses in low A don't tend to be great at suppressing BABIP on ground balls

BABIP doesn't inflate because of errors. In A+ this year for the 165 pitchers with 50+ innings, the median BABIP is .305.

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1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

BABIP doesn't inflate because of errors. In A+ this year for the 165 pitchers with 50+ innings, the median BABIP is .305.

There are a lot of ways that inexperienced, stretched, or just bad defense can lead to guys getting on base without the official scorer handing out an error.

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I LOVE these reports on milb talent! And I appreciate this and every other report. It helps us get to know these prosoects better, and remind us who they are.

And I can't help but humbly apologize as about a week ago I commented how good a start Gipson-Long had after a similar TDpost. And then I realized I was thinking about Gross. So I offer humble apologies from someone who SHOULD know better considering how faithful I try to follow the system.

And then I not only felt a little better after I realized they were BOTH drafted in 2019, Gipson-Long in the 6th round, and Gross in the 10th round, but also because they are very similar in regard to prospect status. There has been this very long discussion about our FO building an infrastructure similar to Houston and Cleveland and TB,  and it sends my mind racing!

These are the kind of pitchers drafted by those organizations and turned in to quality starters. You do realize that Balazovic and Winder, and Ryan, and others, weren't top of the of the order  draft picks, right?

 

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3 hours ago, 2wins87 said:

There are a lot of ways that inexperienced, stretched, or just bad defense can lead to guys getting on base without the official scorer handing out an error.

 

  • A = .319 (Gipson-long .369 vs. Twins A- pitchers with 10+ IP .319)
  • A+= .305 (Gipson-long .421 vs. Twins A+ pitchers with 10+ IP .300)
  • AA = .302
  • AAA = .302
  • MLB = .281

All the leagues are all showing typical BABIP results over thousands of innings played. Low-A's elevated BABIP across the league may reflect some defensive hiccups, but there's no evidence Gipson-long has been the victim of poor defense which just didn't result in an error being charged.

 

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On 8/31/2021 at 9:18 AM, Dodecahedron said:

G-L could be one of those guys who figures things out, but if that happens it will probably be as a very good reliever.

Waaaaaaay too early to jump to to a conclusion.  He is 23 and we lost  a season of development last year.  We have seen them add velo with other guys.  A couple MPH could make a big difference and this guy has the frame and athleticism.  Refining the changeup for a 3rd pitch would be big and he has plus control.  Let's not write the guy off top the BP just yet.  The negativity around here is a real downer.

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