What Statcast said about Ragans' start, Garcia's homer

March 13th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the regular season, opening Statcast for data on the games we’re watching is a daily occurrence.

In the Cactus League, not so much.

There’s only one ballpark fitted with data tracking equipment: Salt River Fields. So when the Royals traveled east Tuesday and didn’t have their game rained out against the Rockies like they did last week, it was exciting to see some numbers that backed up the eye test this spring.

Here are three numbers that stood out in the Royals’ 4-2 loss:

99.5 mph
The max 99.5 mph velocity from was more of the same from the Royals starter looking to build on his breakout second half in 2023. Ragans averaged 97.3 mph on his heater Tuesday, and that was actually down slightly from the triple digits we’ve seen in the past.

Things didn’t go as smoothly for Ragans in the beginning of his outing as the Rockies tagged him for four runs on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts. But the way he finished his outing is what he’d like to build on, when he worked a quick and clean third inning and needed four pitches to get two outs in the fourth before Chris Stratton took over.

“The mechanics in the first inning especially felt a little off,” Ragans said. “Kind of came out of my hip. And then I changed some things with my hands that kept me a little more stacked. But I felt good. I got ahead of guys. It was more so just the putting away of guys.”

Some other interesting things we gleaned from Statcast regarding Ragans on Tuesday was that his average cutter velocity of 93.2 mph was 1.4 mph more than it averaged last year.

That has been the case all spring, and it varies as his fastball velocity varies. But Ragans is OK with the harder cutter as he works to make the pitch more effective this year.

“I don’t mind it,” Ragans said. “As close to the fastball it can get, and then a little different movement. I don’t mind it.”

Ragans’ spin rates were off early on in the start, but by the end, the numbers looked more like last year’s averages.

Of the 59 pitches Ragans threw Tuesday, 28 of them -- 47% -- were fastballs.

“If I could go back, [I would] probably mix in a little more cutters and sliders earlier [in at-bats] just to get them off the fastball,” Ragans said. “But I trust my stuff. I know that I can get guys out with a fastball.”

405 feet
’s first spring homer didn’t disappoint. In a 1-1 count against Rockies starter Cal Quantrill, Garcia smoked a sinker 405 feet onto the left-field berm, with an exit velocity of 102.9 mph.

The pitch was on the inside part of the plate for Garcia -- but he turned on it with his quick hands and bat speed. There is power in there for the 24-year-old, who has a .966 OPS this spring.

“He got good extension on it, and that was a no-doubter,” manager Matt Quatraro said.

Now, Garcia is not suddenly a home run hitter because of one spring dinger. But Royals have believed an increase in power will come as Garcia matures, and perhaps he taps into more in ‘24. His second season in the Majors will have to come with adjustments as pitchers try to expose weak spots in his swing. Garcia hits the ball hard, but had a 48% ground-ball rate last year, so seeing more line drives and letting his strength play could be key to unlocking another level for the third baseman.

“I would say probably more than last year,” Quatraro said of Garcia’s power potential. “But we’re not going to jump to 25 homers. I’d be surprised, but it would be OK. We’d take that, and so would he.”

107.8 mph
The hardest hit ball from a Royal on Tuesday came from In fact, of the five hardest-hit balls of the game, three came off Witt’s bat:

• 107.8 mph -- single in the fifth inning

• 104.7 mph -- single in the first inning

• 104 mph -- flyout in the third inning

The Royals pride themselves on making quality contact with the ball, and that’s a staple of this lineup. Witt leads the charge, but he’s not alone -- and wasn’t Tuesday.

The first four at-bats Tuesday came from Royals starters MJ Melendez, Witt, Vinnie Pasquantino and Garcia, and all ended with hard-bit balls of 95 mph or above.