Breaking Down Jarrett Arakawa and Corey Littrell

by Greg Lowder in

On Sunday, I saw Harwich visit Orleans in a match-up between the Mariners' Corey Littrell (Kentucky) and the Firebirds' Jarrett Arakawa (Hawaii).  Undrafted out of high school, Arakawa was, as of Sunday, one of the league leaders in ERA.  He's coming off a sophomore season that saw him throw 97 innings in 15 starts while striking out 70, walking only 18, and supporting an ERA of 2.88. Standing 6-0 and 180 pounds, Arakawa throws from a low three quarter arm slot from the left side.  His fastball sits between 82 and 84 while his curveball and change-up are both low-70s offerings.  He can throw all of his pitches for strikes which is his one potential strength and tremendous weakness.  His stuff is so non-existent that he has to be perfect in executing his pitches.  His margin of error is razor thin.  If he hits the corners and keeps the ball down, he's able to stay out of trouble, but if he elevates his fastball, or loses command within the strike zone then he's going to give up a lot of loud contact.

The far more interesting pitcher on the mound Sunday was Corey Littrell.  Harwich's 6-foot-3 195 pound lefty was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2010 draft by the Nationals and is coming off of a sophomore season where he had a 2.74 ERA through 98.2 innings, 16 starts, including 87 strikeouts and 25 walks.  Unlike Arakawa, Littrell has the body frame that will hold and benefit from additional weight.

Corey Littrell uses his three quarter arm slot and high leg kick to throw five distinct pitches.  Littrell is very slow to the plate even when there are runners on base, clocking times between 1.64 and 1.94 seconds.  He's a little long in the back of his delivery and this causes him to rush through the latter part of his delivery even though he stays in line to the plate.

His fastball is deceptively fast at 91/92 early and 89/90 as the game progressed.  There's some arm-side movement but nothing, yet, that makes his fastball a plus pitch.  His best pitch is his 80-82 mph change-up that shows good arm speed, feel, and consistency.  He's able to keep the ball low and will use it in any count and isn't afraid to run it on consecutive pitches.  Littrell's slider and curveball are a work in progress.  His slider lacks a hard bite as it breaks early at upwards of 84/85 mph.  He'll vary the speed of his curveball between a slower loopy 73 mph hook and more of a 79 mph power curve.  A scout I spoke with wondered if he'd be better off dropping the slider and trying to add a cutter.

There are certainly things to like about Littrell.  He showed good pitchability and a real feel for the change-up.  His future will be determined by how his body fills out, which should increase the quality of his fastball, and whether or not his curveball gains any consistency.