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July 3, 2013

Eyewitness Accounts

Wednesday, July 3

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff

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Direct Links to Individual Player Reports

Miguel Sano Maikel Franco Johnny Hellweg
Tyler Collins A.J. Jimenez Michael Wacha
Eugenio Suarez


Miguel Sano

3B

Minnesota Twins

DOB: 05/11/1993

Height 6’4’’

Bats: Right

MLB ETA: 2014

Weight 247

Throws: Right

Current Team: Double-A New Britain

Date(s) Seen 06/27-6/30/2013

Filed by/date: Jason Parks, 7/02/13

How Acquired: International free agent; DR; 2009

Have Video? No

Physical/Health

Impressive size/strength; built like NFL tight end; long arms; proportioned waist/shoulders; broad chest; very athletic for size; body not a red flag

Hit Tool

Not great; should play; wide setup without a lot of noise; front foot tap without big lift; generates with explosive hip rotation; good hand position in setup/load; it’s easy and fluid but has length; leveraged; anchors on the back leg/opens hips and brings it; struggles to match plane to vertical movement; concerns about inner-third coverage; will have swing/miss because of exaggerated plane and limited zone presence; could hit ~.265-plus.

Grade: Present 4/Future 5

Power

Elite; natural power stroke; swing has lift and creates backspin; shows impressive power to all fields; doesn’t need sweet spot to leave the yard; can create “the sound;” torque created by hip rotation creates impressive bat speed; raw strength is 8; looks to extend on balls out and up; excellent secondary extension through the ball; its extreme; he’s going to hit 35-plus bombs at major-league level at maturity.

Grade: Present 8/Future 8

Glove

Much better than expected; will eventually play as average or above; good lower-half actions; bends well; good first step; lacks crazy range; very good at coming in on balls; hands are solid; will let balls play him; will improve through repetition; can stay at the position.

Grade: Present 4/Future High 5

Arm

Arm is very strong; fundamentally sound mechanics; sets himself and throws from high/shoulder slot; accuracy should be fine; standout tool.

Grade: Present 7/Future 7

Baserunning/Speed

Can clock sub 4.2 home-to-first; good second gear; slow start but is a plus runner at full speed; good instincts on base; plays with his head up; not a base clogger.

Grade: Present 6/ Future 5

Other

Showed strong on-the-field effort; took batting practice and infield work seriously; stayed focused in the game (despite rain delay and poor conditions); highly competitive and will show emotion on the field; good overall approach at the plate; knows the strike zone; will chase and miss, but appears to have good pitch recognition skills.

Overall

Player shows all five tools; power is elite and will carry him; hit tool is good enough to let power play, but won’t be a high average hitter; has some OBP skills; runs very well for his size; excellent top gear; glove will keep him at third; not flashy but excels coming in on the ball and has a plus-plus arm; makeup to play at advanced level at early age; strong approach to the mundane aspects of the game (daily BP/fielding, etc); top tier talent.

OFP Grade: Role 7; all-star

Risk Factor: Moderate

***


Maikel Franco

3B

Philadelphia Phillies

DOB: 08/06/1992

Height : 6’1’’

Bats: Right

MLB ETA: 2014

Weight: 180

Throws: Right

Current Team: Double-A Reading

Date(s) Seen: 06-27/30-13

Filed by/date: Jason Parks, 7/02/13

How Acquired: International free agent; DR; 2010

Have Video? No

Physical/Health

High maintenance body; athletic but doughy; no chance he is 180 lbs; upper body is muscular but not chiseled; big butt; lower half could see more expansion before he reaches maturity.

Hit Tool

Crushing in Double-A and in game action, but I question the tool projection; swing is long; hand load is aggressive and deep, with an upward trajectory at its deepest point before coming back down and into the hitting zone; hand-eye is near elite and allows bat to find ball despite poor guesses or long stroke; high front leg lift and explosive hip rotation limits bat control and balance when forced to slow down process; it works at present buts it noisy and very fastball friendly; don’t see a lot of swing-and-miss, but hard contact could turn soft against better pitching; will expand his zone; will struggle with velocity on the inner-third and above the hands; will need adjustment period at highest level; don’t see a high average hitter; .250-plus is possible but aggressive approach could limit tool utility.

Grade: Present 4/Future Low 5

Power

Legit plus raw power; generates excellent bat speed from hand speed and torque (hips); bat plane allows for lift; drives the ball with authority; impressive batting practice displays; punishes fringe fastballs; takes advantage of mistakes; has 25-plus home run potential at highest level.

Grade: Present 5/Future 6

Glove

Hard to evaluate; shows good hands on one play and stiff hands on the next; could be focus issues in the field; lacks big range but can show some lateral quickness; doesn’t bend well at the waist; coordinated with extreme hand/eye but not a smooth fielder; glove-to-hand transfer is fine; could improve with repetition if he wants to improve.

Grade: Present 4/Future High 4

Arm

Plus [raw] arm strength delivered from the hip; slinger; accuracy effected by casual mechanics; quick release and zip, but rushed setup and slot limit full utility.

Grade: Present 5/Future High 5

Baserunning/Speed

Awkward runner; lower half is big cargo to haul; mostly 4.7-plus times home-to-first; second gear is a little better, but still a well below average tool.

Grade: Present 3/Future 2

Other

I want to see Franco against better competition, but he seems to struggle picking up secondary stuff; perhaps its because his mechanical approach is all one speed and aggressive; perhaps its not obvious yet because he knows how to time to fringe velocity without losing the ability to recover to bad guesses. But something seemed off; need more looks.

Overall

Franco really draws back the bow in his swing, and I question his ability to make consistent hard contact at the highest level; the timing kick is aggressive and getting the front foot down against premium velocity could be an issue. The hand/eye Is so good that he might be one of those players that just makes it work despite the obvious swing length and aggressiveness; the power is good enough to play despite a hit tool that could play down; defensive profile at third Is below average at present; unlikely to reach average utility; well below average run; body could be issue down the line; not a star player; hit tool could spoil the major league party.

OFP Grade: 5; second-division player

Risk Factor: Moderate

***

Johnny Hellweg

RHP

Milwaukee Brewers

DOB: 10/29/1988

Height: 6’9”

Bats: R

MLB ETA: 2013

Weight: 205

Throws: R

Current Team: MLB (seen in AAA)

Date Seen: 05/05/2013

Filed By/Date: Jason Cole, 07/02/2013

How Acquired: Trade from LA Angels (with others) for RHP Zack Greinke

Have Video?: Yes

Mechanics

Standard 3/4 arm slot; clean delivery and arm action; good arm speed producing seemingly low-effort velocity; ultra-long limbs; lots of body to control; had difficulty repeating and making adjustments when arm began to drag behind body; will always be a battle given his length; gets excellent extension toward plate, enabling fastball to jump on hitters; doesn’t pitch as tall as height would suggest but gets some downhill; life and extension help make up for it.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 94-100 mph, sit 94-97. Command: Well below average present, future below average. Movement: explosive; heavy late arm-side run; gets easily plus life at both lower and upper reaches of velocity. Notes: consistently missed arm side, as arm dragged behind his body; struggled to adjust; overcorrected and yanked at times; huge velocity and life make it a barrel-missing groundball pitch at worst; will miss more bats if command improves.

Grade: Present 80/Future 80

#2 Pitch

Curveball, Velocity: 81-84 mph. Command: Below average present, future average. Movement: two-plane break with good depth; slider-like with more pronounced horizontal break when thrown harder. Notes: flashed usable breaking ball but played down due to highly inconsistent command; some feel to vary break and velocity; third-best pitch in this look.

Grade: Present 40/Future 50

#3 Pitch

Changeup, Velocity: 85-89 mph. Command: Below average present, future average. Movement: some fade and sink. Notes: can overthrow, causing the offering to come out flat in the upper 80s; flashed average in 85-86 mph range with good arm speed and life; has a chance to play up due to hitters preparing for elite fastball; developing pitch and may become his better secondary at end of day.

Grade: Present 40/Future 50

Other

Fastball-heavy approach; threw just one curveball and one changeup through three innings; cruised through three; fell out of delivery and failed to adjust in fourth, leading to four walks in a five-batter span before being chased from the game.

Overall

Given Hellweg’s well below average present fastball command and lack of a plus secondary pitch, his total profile screams bullpen. He’s a late growth spurt guy and could be a late bloomer who repeats better down the line. He’ll get every chance to start with Milwaukee but will likely end up in a bullpen role, where he can rely heavily on his ultra-lively mid-to-upper-90s heat to miss barrels. He should also miss more bats in a bullpen role. Unless the command takes serious steps forward, however, there will always be inconsistency.

OFP: 50; middle-to-setup relief

Risk Factor: Moderate

***

Tyler Collins

OF

Detroit Tigers

DOB – 6/6/1990

Height – 5’11

Bats – L

MLB ETA – 2015

Weight – 215

Throws – L

Current Team – Erie (Double-A, Eastern League)

Date(s) Seen – 6/14/13 to 6/16/13

Filed by/date – Mark Anderson, 6/27/13

How Acquired – 2011 Draft, 6th Round

Have Video? No

Physical/Health

Looks shorter than listed height; thick, muscular body; built more like an NFL fullback than an MLB OF; quality athlete; explosive strength; lacks flexibility because of muscularity; physically maxed out.

Hit Tool

Looked extremely pull happy during three-game viewing; pulled off a lot of pitches; short stride with minimal head movement; plus bat speed; hands get started a little late, leading to trouble with velocity; hangs in well against LHP, working oppo with contact-oriented approach; produces hard line drives when he barrels the ball; no ability to make adjustments to pitchers; contact is not consistently hard; shows willingness to chase spin/soft out of the zone; projects for lots of swing-and-miss against advanced arms; at his best when working left-center to right-center; looked lost at times; natural hitting ability is present but inability to read and adjust is alarming; prior hit belief in hit projection is in question; likely fringe hitter.

Grade: Present 3/Future 4+

Power

Fantastic strength and associated bat speed; line-drive-oriented swing that lacks loft; has power to all fields but is showing desire to pull the ball more frequently; raw power is usable despite swing-and-miss issues; when contact is made it is frequently very hard; has potential for lots of doubles and 15-20 home runs with everyday playing time.

Grade: Present 5/Future 5

Glove

Not a good defender; left-field limited and below average there; lacks instincts; jumps are often late; routes get wide at times and direct path to the ball is rare; struggles coming in on the ball; plays hard and gives max effort on defense, just doesn’t have natural ability.

Grade: Present 4/Future 4

Arm

Short arm action; below average raw arm strength; lacks carry on throws and accuracy is sub par; no projection; arm further restricts defensive profile to left field.

Grade: Present 4/Future 4

Other

No feel for the game; frequently tries to do too much; extremely hard on himself; very emotional on the field, particularly when things don’t go well; plays with extremely aggressive style.

Baserunning/Speed

Runs hard at all times; shows average home-to-first times; gets out of the box well; runs slightly above average once underway; lacks basestealing instincts but has enough speed to steal 10-12 bases with regular playing time; can be overaggressive when running the bases.

Grade: Present 5/Future 5

Overall

Athleticism, bat speed and strength all intrigue; complete lack of feel for the game; any adjustments to opposing pitchers are completely accidental; will be a streaky hitter; has potential for decent average and pop when he’s going right; can be a complete black hole when he’s off; defense is not an asset; limited to left field only with poor reads/routes and a poor arm; solid runner; intense competitor; can be too hard on himself; can let past failures impact him moving forward; needs to focus on contact and working the middle of the field, rather than selling out for power; potential part-time role at the MLB level.

Grade: 4; bench bat/fourth outfielder

Risk Factor: Moderate

***

A.J. Jimenez

C

Toronto Blue Jays

DOB – 5/1/1990

Height – 6’0

Bats – R

MLB ETA – 2014

Weight – 210

Throws – R

Current Team – New Hampshire (Double-A, Eastern League)

Date(s) Seen – 6/14/13 to 6/16/13

Filed By/Date – Mark Anderson 6/20/13

How Acquired – 2008 Draft, 9th Round

Have Video? No

Physical/Health

Very good athlete; physically ripped; strong, muscular upper body and sturdy lower half; body fits the position well; Tommy John surgery in 2012 that was a continuation of elbow issues before the draft; still recovering but coming along well.

Hit Tool

Balanced set-up at the plate and remains balanced throughout swing; hands start a little high, up towards shoulder level; loads very late with hands still high at pitch release; quick/sharp load to drop hands and pull them back; load leads to some trouble with velocity as the bat is late to the zone if his timing is off; plus bat speed with a relatively short swing path once he gets going; modest approach and will expand strike zone with quality breaking balls; reads CH well and can stay back and take the other way; willing to work to the opposite field; line drives from gap to gap; fringy hitter with present rough edges and OBP driven by batting average.

Grade: Present 3/Future 4+

Power

Below average raw power despite present strength and bat speed; good doubles hitter with 25-plus potential annually; lacks home run projection with line drive approach; potential 6-10 home runs a year at peak.

Grade: Present 3/Future 3+

Glove

Leads the overall profile; true asset behind the plate; chance to be a difference maker as backstop; tremendous receiver of the baseball; makes it all look very easy; handles velocity extremely well; pockets the ball routinely; receives breaking balls and changeup with the same acumen as fastballs; incredibly strong wrists and hands; holds the glove firmly in position after the pitch with no noticeable drift at any point in two games; gets down quickly to block balls; very adept at keeping breaking balls in front of him; can pick the ball too but prefers to drop and block; wasn’t tested by baserunners but showed good footwork in warm-ups; strong arm and hints of quality footwork/transfer suggest he can post good pop times; called aggressive games with pitchers attacking hitters with fastballs; appeared to have good rapport with staff; needs some polish after missed time with injury; very strong overall defensive profile that can carry an MLB career.

Grade: Present 5+/Future 6+

Arm

Still coming back from injury; shows no ill effects; ball comes out cleanly with good velocity and tremendous accuracy; consistently average with frequent plus showings; just a year removed from surgery, potential for true plus arm at full strength; arm is good enough to deter baserunners.

Grade: Present 5/Future 6

Other

Surprising athlete for his position; converted outfielder; moves well on the diamond; appears to enjoy every minute on the field; strong competitor with some outward emotion; high aptitude for the game; rates highly on the softer points of the game.

Baserunning/Speed

Below average down the line with 4.41 and 4.44 digs; can show a little better when up to speed; decent instincts shown on the bases and potential to be a solid baserunner; speed will never be part of his game. Good enough athlete to maintain most of his speed despite rigors of the position.

Grade: Present 4/Future 4

Overall

Very impressed with defensive profile; has all the tools to be a top-flight defender that is considered one of the best in the game; receiving is first rate; very good blocker; has arm strength and projects to see more added as he gets further away from surgery; strong plus defensive profile that will push him to MLB; can make contact; has offensive weaknesses including big velo; still potential to hit .260-.265 at peak; won’t pad OBP outside of batting average; power and speed are below average and not significant elements of his game; could show some doubles power at peak; still a little raw all-around because of time missed; defense-first overall profile; will be an MLB player but likely stretched as a regular.

Grade: 4+; second division/platoon catcher

Risk Factor: Moderate

***

Michael Wacha

RHP

St. Louis Cardinals

DOB: 07/01/1991

Height: 6’6”

Bats: R

MLB ETA: 2013

Weight: 210

Throws: R

Current Team: AAA Memphis

Date Seen: 06/18/2013

Filed by/date: Jason Cole, 07/02/2013

How Acquired: Drafted 1st round; 19th overall; Cardinals 2012

Have Video?: Yes

Mechanics

Good athlete who repeats delivery and maintains direction to plate, enabling solid command/control profile; up-down misses are a bigger issue than side-to-side; average deception; starter’s delivery and build; high 3/4 slot; uses 6’6” frame and slot well, generating steep downhill plane with all three pitches.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 90-96 mph, sit 92-94. Command: fringe-average present, future solid-average. Movement: some wiggle down in zone but often lacking; pitch can become straight and hittable, particularly when it unintentionally creeps up in zone. Notes: control is very good; within-the-zone command lags behind at present; should improve due to delivery and general feel for pitching; can miss bats with plus velocity/steep plane, but will give up some hits given command and lack of movement.

Grade: Present 60/Future 60

#2 Pitch

Changeup, Velocity: 83-88 mph. Command: solid-average present, future plus. Movement: some fade and sink; cuts slightly at times. Notes: already a plus offering and should become plus-plus; highly deceptive; consistently throws with fastball arm speed; bat-missing pitch at the highest level; shows big confidence in it; will use to both left- and right-handed batters in any count.

Grade: Present 60/Future 70

#3 Pitch

Curveball, Velocity: 76-80 mph. Command: below average present, average future. Movement: can drop for strikes with near 12-to-6 movement; more two-plane with sharper bite at higher velocity. Notes: feel to pitch with curveball; varies velocity and break depending on situation; can guide it at times, hindering command; usable pitch that’s average at present; has made serious strides this season and should get to plus.

Grade: Present 50/Future 60

Other

Secondary stuff plays extremely well off fastball and downward plane; also has a cut-slider, but didn’t show it in this look; sits low 90s; can get extra, as he worked 94-96 after giving up a home run in the fifth inning; focused on pitching down in zone; could stand to elevate with purpose and change hitters’ eye level more often.

Overall

Wacha has some areas for improvement – particularly with his within-the-zone fastball command – but he’s remarkably close to being a finished product for a guy who was drafted last summer. He could likely be a usable major-league starter at present. While he won’t issue many walks, the lack of movement on his fastball will also make him hittable when the command isn’t there. His build, delivery, arsenal, and control/command profile all point to a future as a durable mid-rotation starter.

OFP: 60; no. 3 starter

Risk Factor: Low

***

Eugenio Suarez

SS

Detroit Tigers

DOB – 7/18/1991

Height – 5’11

Bats – R

MLB ETA – Late 2014

Weight – 180

Throws – R

Current Team – Erie (Double-A, Eastern League)

Date(s) Seen – 6/14/13 to 6/16/13

Filed by/Date – Mark Anderson, 6/27/13

How Acquired – International Free Agent, 2008

Have Video? No

Physical/Health

Small, slight frame; needs additional strength; limited physical projection; question durability as an everyday player; decent athlete.

Hit Tool

Simple, compact swing; fringy bat speed; controls the bat well and can make contact; contact-oriented approach; doesn’t always impact the ball because of lack of strength; decent approach; knows the strike zone and can work counts; struggles with spin; has a little swing-and-miss; won’t hit a ton; hitting ability fits in the bottom third of the order; still needs some development with pitch recognition and finding pitches to drive; possible fringy hitter long term.

Grade: Present 3/Future 4+

Power

Lacks strength; bat speed is unimpressive; ball doesn’t jump off his bat and contact is often soft; minimal projection with potential for only modest gap power.

Grade: Present 3/Future 3+

Glove

Has some tools for left side; soft hands; very good glove-to-hand transfer; gets rid of the ball quickly; intelligent defender; quick first step; very good instincts for the position; overall range is stretched at shortstop; moves better to glove side than into the hole; footwork gets a little sloppy and can impact throws; Double-A game moves a little fast for him now; needs to settle down and play within himself; has positional versatility in his past, including second base and outfield; potential average glove at shortstop; possibly better on right side.

Grade: Present 4/Future 5

Arm

Quick release; easy plus raw strength; plays down at times because of footwork driven accuracy issues; arm plays on left side; can make the throws from deep in the hole; likes to show it off at times.

Grade: Present 6/Future 6

Other

Very good feel for the game; knows what he’s doing in all situations; love the instincts; plays the game hard; grinder type; still has to settle into the advanced game; does a lot of things modestly well.

Baserunning/Speed

Showed 4.31-4.38 on multiple digs; high-effort runner; fringe-average speed down the line; good baserunning and basestealing instincts; potential to steal 10-15 bases annually despite fringy overall speed; good reads when running the bases and can take extra bases with aggressive style; lack of speed hinders range in the field as well; should hold speed through into physical maturity.

Grade: Present 4+/Future 4+

Overall

Classic grinder with limited tools; lack of significant hit projection and absence of substantial secondary offensive skills keeps him away from an everyday profile; despite modest range, has defensive chops for left side of the infield; tools play better at second base; has outfield experience in background; very versatile player with instincts for any position on the diamond; heady player; all-out style of play; the kind of guy every roster needs; should have big-league future but in a limited role.

Grade: 4; utility player

Risk Factor: High

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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