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March 22, 2012

Prospects Will Break Your Heart

Baseball Is My Stereo

by Jason Parks

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“Baseball is my stereo, and this is how you set it up and this is how you make it play.” –George Washington 

I spend every day of my life standing on a field watching somebody with talent do something talented, and the past two days might have been the best so far in my journey towards enlightenment. The following is going to be a no frills breakdown of the action I’ve witnessed over the past 48 hours, starting with notes on several prospects in the Padres system, and a few notes on the Dominican Prospect League’s elite travel team, a roster stacked with future July 2nd players. Many of these players will command six-figure bonuses, and a few top-tier prospects could (and perhaps should) command signing bonuses in excess of seven-figures. These are notes as they appear in my notebooks, free from the charm and bitterness of my tongue, or the context of a proper narrative. This is baseball in the raw. 

San Diego Padres:

2B Cory Spangenberg:
More naturally athletic than expected; body was good, with well-proportioned frame, good hips, strong legs, and core; player was both quick and fast, showing efficient exit from the box and full speed after a few strides; clocked player (left-side) in the 4.15-4.2 range on multiple looks; assigned speed grade as 6 (60 on 20/80). With bat, player was balanced and athletic in swing, showing well above-average hand speed, triggering quickly and efficiently; made hard contact and worked with pitch offered, taking outside pitches to left-field and balls thrown middle-in were barreled to the pull-side; easy plus hit tool; potential to hit .300 thanks to contact ability, approach, and speed component; confused by plus breaking ball late in game, but stayed on all fastballs and didn’t chase outside of zone; hit tool could develop into 7; shows strength in swing and some loft; swing plane wasn’t linear; don’t see big power, but line-drive stroke will play in the gaps; 5 power is possible; glove was solid at 2B; no fundamental mistakes; lacks flash, but plays hard; arm can make all throws from position and handles pivot on DP without max-exertion; gamer type with legit tools; future 6 player at maturity.

OF Reymond Fuentes:
Near-elite athlete, with top-of-the-line speed; two drag bunts (left-side) clocked sub 3.8 (3.8; 3.7); showed quick bat on line-drive double, hitting an average fastball to the fence on the pull-side; out in front of several balls; struggled to recover from guesses; failed to make contact on off-speed pitches; hard to project hit tool because of limited view; characteristics present for contact; arm was soft in the field, but might play up if glove-to-hand transfer is smooth and throws accurate; left-field arm; showed good instincts on jumps and routes in drills, but chances were limited in game action; player profile incomplete.

Adys Portillo:
One-inning appearance; fastball sat 96-97 mph and touched 98, with a little late movement off the arm-side; easy release and explosive arm speed; delivery was cleaner than last season; looked more athletic with mechanics; follow-through was a little clumsy and towards first base; slider was soft and deliberate, but I can see the pitch working if he can stay over it and throw it off the fastball; was very loose in the zone during appearance, but stuff played; fastball could be 8 pitch if located with any consistency; future major league closer if package comes together; special arm strength.

OF Luis Domoromo:
Interesting player; good athlete, with coordination and agility; really stings the ball at the plate; hard contact all day long; chews up average fastballs; made hard contact on changeup on the outer-half of the plate; swing has some pop; hitter has an approach and plan at the plate; runs well; didn’t get opportunity in the field; no grade on arm; no grade on glove; more than a non-prospect; need more looks; could be 5 player. I’m intrigued.

OF Donovan Tate:
Super athletic body; muscular chest with added mass since 2011 season; some concern that the type of muscle will limit flexibility and lead to injury (hamstring, etc); body looks mature; not much additional space for growth/strength; arm played well in drills and in games, mostly in right field; easy plus grade, with excellent strength and carry, and decent accuracy; slower clocks to 1B than last season, but still comfortably in the plus range; six times clocked in the ~4.25 range from the right side; 8.00 range from home-to-2B. Doesn’t explode out of box, but reaches full speed after a few strides; very loose speed at peak, losing some body control and overrunning base/struggling to come to a quiet stop; used speed well in outfield, showing range in both drills and game action; athleticism isn’t going to be a problem.

Impressed me by staying back on several balls from a quality arm, tracking from the hand very well and driving the pitches for extra-base hits; stayed on fastball as well, barreling velocity up to 93 mph; showed good extension to make contact with balls on the outer half; wasn’t cheating into zone ahead of pitch; bat speed was present; mechanical profile is fluid, with a quicker path to the ball than last season, with less loft in the swing but a smoother stroke; flatter plane; good barreling ability.

The majority of the contact has been loud and to all fields; multiple examples of hard contact, multiple walks, and productive at-bats; hit tool isn’t high quality, but swing looks more mature and conducive for contact ability; 50/55 future; strength and bat speed necessary for power projection exist; player could sell out for more power, with plus potential if contact and approach were sacrificed; solid-average power is possible at peak; more of a gap-to-gap doubles hitter that will flow from hard contact; tool futures could make him a 6 player, with solid-average to plus defense in a corner; shows ability to handle center field at present; doesn’t project as 6+ defender in center; routes and angles were a little clumsy up-the-middle; arm is very strong; easily above-average.

Swing looks better and hit tool could be solid-average; enough strength and bat speed for power, but the projection isn’t as extreme as in the past; more of a line-drive stroke than the lofty/backspin type necessary for home runs; could be average tool at maturity, and perhaps more if he can add dimensions to swing without losing contact ability; aggressive approach but working counts and putting himself in favorable hitting environments; on-the-field maturity looked fine; athletic and toolsy, but looking more like a baseball player than he did last season.

Dominican Prospect League

Name: Richard Urena
Position: SS
B/T: L/R
DOB: 02/26/1996
HT/WT: 6’1’’ 170 lbs.
Status: Eligible 7/2/2012
Notes: Body is athletic and lean; should be able to add good weight/strength without losing speed/quickness; quick stroke from the left-side of the plate; bat speed present; good pop and some projection of that tool; clean actions at shortstop; good backhand; body stays in control; keeps feet in athletic position; glove could be a 6; arm strength is a 6; good game awareness and feel; legit up-the-middle player with a possible hit tool and speed; should be a high-six figure talent.

Name: Amaurys Minier
Position: IF
B/T: S/R
DOB: 01/30/1996
HT/WT: 6’2’’ 190 lbs.
Status: Eligible 7/2/2012
Notes: Rotated between second base and shortstop; actions were clean at both positions; body was athletic and strong, but mature and likely to lose athleticism as he enters professional ball; arm is quite strong; average speed; bat is very impressive from both sides, with hard contact ability and plus power projection; necessary loft and backspin necessary for power is already present; the bat speed really stands out; fantastic hands; not a shortstop in professional ball; bat gives player seven-figure potential.

Name: Bienvenido Morales
Position: LHP
DOB: 06/26/1996
HT/WT: 6’2’’ 170 lbs.
Status: Eligible 7/2/2012
Notes: Great name; good physical projection; long limbs; body is athletic; arm is very loose; delivery a little uncoordinated at times; fastball sat 86-89, with some movement when he located the pitch down in the zone; struggled mightily with command; when he stayed over the ball, created good angle to plate; pitched from high ¾ slot, with a high leg in the delivery that helped disguise the ball; showed a few changeups in the 80-81 range that were too firm and lacked movement, but thrown well off the mechanics of the fastball; every curveball attempt either found the backstop or the helmet of the hitter; can’t really spin breaking ball; very interesting arm; arm strength is present; workable delivery; physical projection; left-handed; lots to really like; not sure of potential bonus.

Name: Gustavo Cabrera
Position: OF
B/T: R/R
DOB: 01/23/1996
HT/WT: 6’1’’ 190 lbs.
Status: Eligible 7/2/2012
Notes: The toolsiest player on the traveling DPL squad; ran a ~6.35 60-yard dash during the morning showcase; consensus opinion is that the speed is closer to a 6 than an 8; appears larger than listed 6’1’’ height; body is mature for age, but has more room for additional strength/mass; could end up closer to 6’3’’ 220; arm is easy plus; accuracy is hit or miss; batting practice power brought every eye to the fence; can launch to all fields; drops hands in cage and sends bat through the zone on elevated plane; seven-figure player on the batting practice alone; doesn’t play as well in games; doesn’t look as athletic at the plate; swing is top-heavy and lacks the same bat speed; fatigue could be an issue after so many showcase games/travel; shortened stroke with two strikes; didn’t get many pitches to drive; offensive promise is clear, but context of batting practice prowess influenced opinion; shows lots of tools and physical strength for 16-year-old; should be among the highest paid players in the July 2nd market.

Addendum: While watching the 60-yard workouts, a friend in the industry and I had the following exchange:
 
Me:  “Good time. 6.5 seconds. That kid was really running.”
Friend in the industry: “He is running for his life. It’s weird to think about, but that’s essentially what happening. He is running for a better life. It’s a very deep and difficult thing to grasp.”
 
Gives you some perspective. 

“I have 15 more scouting reports on the impressive talent provided by the Dominican Prospect League, but I’ve run out of space on the page. Perhaps I’ll revisit these reports at the dawn of the July 2nd window.” –Mark Twain 

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

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