July 29, 2013
Monday Morning Ten Pack
July 29, 2013
Mookie Betts, 2B, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
A fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Betts was a multi-sport athlete with good feel for baseball, an ideal talent to bring into the professional fold. In a limited look, his plus athleticism was obvious, as he showed easy plus speed on times to first and when on base. His swing had bat speed and was short to the ball, and rarely did it fail to find some contact, showing off his natural bat-to-ball ability. The pop isn’t empty but more line-drive than over-the-fence, and with his wheels, could produce solid extra-base hit numbers. In the field, the glove wasn’t flashy but the range was above average, and the overall defensive profile could give him some left-side versatility if he’s eventually pushed into a utility role. While Betts doesn’t look to be a top prospect with a first-division ceiling, he does have the type of feel for the game and athletic talent to develop into an interesting player, one with bat-to-ball skills at the plate and some leather in the field. He’s fun to watch. Big motor in a little frame. –Jason Parks
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)
After taking the Carolina League by storm, the 22-year-old left-handed hitter has continued his hot hitting in the Eastern League, posting a .331/.424/.468 line in 33 games at the level. Cecchini’s grinding, patient approach at the plate has served him well during his transition to facing higher quality arms. A typical plate appearance by the third base prospect sees him methodically work the count for an offering he can attack. Cecchini’s secondary skills have certainly shown to be up to the initial task, and early signs point toward these traits continuing to have the necessary impact within his game to carry the player to the big leagues.
The big question for Cecchini is how the power is going to further develop and translate at the major-league level. As he possesses both the size and strength to drive the ball with lift, it comes down to how well the young hitter can adapt his smooth lefty stroke to tap into the natural power. Cecchini may ultimately end up with average home run totals at the highest level, but the hitting and on-base ability lend clues that a projection of a big-league regular is within reach. –Chris Mellen
Dorssys Paulino, SS, Indians (Low-A Lake County)
Paulino was challenged with a full-season assignment with Low-A Lake County to start the year, and will complete the 2013 season in the Midwest League at the ripe old age of 18. He has largely kept his head above water, though the rigors of the long year may be beginning to take a toll, as Paulino has recently begun pressing more at the plate and expanding his zone--leading to more swing-and-miss than he has generally shown in the past. Paulino is capable of creating leverage without sacrificing contact ability, due to quick hands and compact stroke (when on), but profiles more as a gap-to-gap line drive producer than an over-the-fence threat.
Defensively, the young middle infielder continues to play a passive shortstop, too often creating difficult hops and lines for himself. He lacks the fluidity in action to project as a future six-spotter, but he has the arm for third and could profile well at the keystone, where there would be less pressure on the power tool. While 2013 has not been a breakout year for Paulino, the fact that he has held his own as an 18-year-old in full-season ball speaks highly of both his current talent level and potential future profile. –Nick J. Faleris
Trevor Cahill, RHP, Diamondbacks (Rookie AZL Rehab)
The 25-year-old Cahill tore through the teenagers of the rookie Arizona League in Thursday’s rehab start, tossing five innings of one-hit ball while walking two and striking out nine. It was a strong performance in which Cahill flashed his usual stuff––an 87-93 mph sinking fastball, upper-80s cut-slider, mid-80s changeup, and low-80s curveball. By most measures, Cahill isn’t a ‘sexy’ arm; he doesn’t wield mid-90s velocity or a plus-plus breaking ball. But his ability to manipulate a baseball––the force behind his consistently absurd groundball rates––is a joy to watch in an intimate back-field setting. For example, check out this 91 mph fastball that he threw to AZL Angels shortstop Erick Salcedo. Cahill’s fastball moved so much that, despite ending up mid-plate, the 20-year-old Salcedo completely bailed out. The rest of Cahill’s outing was fun to watch, as well, with the whiffle-ball like movement on his fastball and changeup. You can see the full video here. –Jason Cole
Sergio Alcantara, SS, Diamodnbacks (Rookie Arizona League)
Born on July 10, 1996, Alcantara is the rookie Arizona League’s youngest player at age 17. After signing out of the Dominican Republic for a reported $700,000 bonus last July, the shortstop has spent his entire debut season stateside. A switch-hitter who checks in at 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, Alcantara flashes a potential plus defensive profile with good hands, range, arm, and strong all-around instincts. I’m not sure how much he’ll hit, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the bat. Although his .176/.340/.247 slash line is underwhelming, he does have some feel (20 BB in 23 games) and will show bat speed from both sides. At the least, Alcantara is a player worth watching given his instincts and glove. Here’s video. –Jason Cole
Michael O’Neill, OF, Yankees (Short-Season Staten Island)
A third-round pick from the University of Michigan, O’Neill is off to a slow start in short-season ball, hitting just .259/.311/.345 through 33 games. While it can be a dangerous exercise to scout prospects in their debut summer––especially when they’re coming off a long amateur season––the early returns on O’Neill haven’t been very positive. The 21-year-old is a borderline plus runner at present with an average arm, but scouts aren’t sold that he’ll have the range necessary for an up-the-middle future. At the plate, O’Neill’s iffy pitch recognition has kept his decent bat speed and raw juice from appearing in games, leading to a 30 percent K rate with little game power. It’s far too soon to write him off, but the pitch recognition and defensive profile have been disappointing thus far. Here’s video. –Jason Cole
A.J Cole, RHP, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg)
Cole continues to show that his stuff is trending in the right direction after he took a step back in 2012 to regain his form. The 21-year-old right-hander primarily leans on an explosive fastball that routinely operates in the mid-90s, with the ability to crank it up to 97 mph when reaching back. Both the curveball and changeup will flash plus potential, but Cole is still in the learning stages of staying consistent with his delivery when throwing these offerings. Recently promoted to Double-A, the hard-throwing righty will be challenged to further polish his overall game. The strike-throwing ability is there, as demonstrated by his 23 walks in 97 1/3 innings at High A Potomac, but Cole needs work harnessing his command within the strike zone, as he tends to grab too much of the plate with his heater and try to challenge hitters up. Progress with pitchability is a big key as to whether Cole can stick in the long term as a starter or move to the bullpen, where he can air it out in shorter bursts. –Chris Mellen
Larry Greene, Jr, OF, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
Expectations were high for the former first-round pick, even if the reports suggested he was a raw, long-term project coming out of high school in Georgia. I was disappointed in my small sample of Greene, as he looked shorter than his listed height and heavier than his listed weight. He was a stump out in left field, showing below-average speed and an average-at-best arm. It wasn’t pretty. It was worse at the plate, where the 20-year-old struggled with pitch recognition and a slow trigger, producing a long, unproductive swing. He couldn’t catch up to anything over 90 mph, and arm-side pitching just brutalized him. Given the body, the less-than-attractive defensive profile, and the all-or-nothing power grab at the plate, Greene doesn’t look the part of a first-round talent; in fact, if I wasn’t already aware of his draft status and amateur reports, I would have assumed Greene was a senior sign type, one with a Double-A ceiling and only one raw tool worth paying attention to. It wasn’t pretty or fun to watch. –Jason Parks
Trevor Gott, RHP, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne)
Gott was one of the most impressive “performance” relief arms at the collegiate level this year, holding opponents to a .235 batting average while posting 10.5 strikeouts per nine to go with 1.5 walks per nine, a 1.07 WHIP and a 1.20 ERA. Further, Gott navigated 30 innings, including a tough SEC schedule, without allowing a home run. The former Kentucky closer is undersized for a power arm, scraping an even six feet, and he has struggled to maintain his stuff in clustered appearances, leading to his drop to the sixth round where the Padres popped him with the 178th overall pick.
He has eased into his pro career thus far, logging 17 innings against overmatched competition in short-season ball and the Low-A Midwest League. Through those 17 innings, Gott has whiffed 23, induced an excellent groundball rate, and held the opposition to a .122 batting average against. Capable of reaching the mid-90s with his fastball, Gott has worked primarily in the low 90s, mixing in an upper-70s to low-80s 11-to-5 breaker, most effective as a bury pitch. If Gott proves durable enough to maintain his plus- to plus-plus fastball through a heavy pro workload, there is late-inning potential in the arm. He may not be truly tested until he begins to face more discerning bats capable of laying off the breaking ball--most likely in Double-A. –Nick J. Faleris
Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Low-A Beloit)
2013 has not gone as hoped for the former supplemental first rounder, as the Beloit first baseman has slogged through a .222/.332/.393 slash line over 100 Midwest League contests. In search of more power, he has sacrificed a contract-friendly compact stroke for a little more length and leverage and has struggled to find a consistent launching point for his hands. The result has been an inconsistent weight transfer and barrel delivery, leading to strikeouts and soft contact.
Olson continues to show a solid understanding of the strike zone, so the issues appear to be more mechanical than analytical. Still, he will need to dramatically improve his contact ability if he is to start climbing the developmental ladder. Another point of concern is the stark left-right split that is beginning to emerge. Olson is hitting just .163/.243/.250 against same-side pitching, giving up 90 points of batting average, 130 points of on-base percentage, and over 200 points of slugging compared to his production versus righties. Expect the Athletics to take a close look at Olson’s swing through fall instructs, as these are issues that should probably be worked out before he’s forced to face off against more advanced pitchers capable of exploiting his holes. –Nick J. Faleris
Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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