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April 22, 2014

Notes from the Field

Sally, Florida State, and Southern League Notes

by Jeff Moore and Ethan Purser

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South Atlantic League (Low-A)

(Ethan Purser)

RF Elier Hernandez (Royals)
6’3”, 197-pound frame (listed); starting to see some lower-half definition; room for additional mass and definition in his upper half; corner outfield profile; above-average arm will play in right; speed is currently average with multiple times in the 4.3 range; projects as fringe-average down the road; starts with loose hands just off the ear and loads low to just below his back shoulder; short, quick swing with great extension through the ball; plus bat speed; plane is fairly flat with a slight touch of lift at the end; clean lower-half actions; strides to toe and plants heel for trigger; lands slightly closed and struggles to get the back hip through on occasion; as a result, best contact is currently to the opposite field and up the middle, though he was able to get his hands inside a fastball and smash a double to left on one occasion during this two-game sample.

Biggest current weakness is poor pitch recognition against breaking balls; swung through more than a handful of curveballs during the two games; in one particular at-bat, whiffed on three breaking balls, failing to make the in-at-bat adjustment; possesses physical tools to be an above-average hitter with above-average power, but a long way to go with regard to pitch recognition in order to unlock these physical gifts; offensive tools are likely to play lower; ceiling of an above-average regular in right field (High 5); realistically a role 5 player (average regular) at maturity; still young enough to make the necessary adjustments.

SS Humberto Arteaga (Royals)
Defensive specialist; easy 65 glove, could play at plus-plus; smooth actions with incredibly soft hands; can react to bad hops with ease due to special hands in the field; reactions are preternatural; reads the ball off the bat well and seems to be moving to the ball before it’s hit; can get flashy and go for the highlight reel play rather than the sure out; incredibly fun to watch but will need to tighten this part of his game; arm is another plus tool in the field; very strong with a quick release; currently a fringe-average runner despite the great range in the field; 4.35 on a dig, mostly in the 4.4 range; projects as below average as he continues to fill out.

Biggest knock is a lack of strength at the dish; starts with hands beside his ear and an open stance with front heel off the ground (on his toes); small leg kick to close it down; stroke is on the long side; bat has a tendency to drag/wave through the zone without much authority; hands aren’t as special at the plate as they are in the field; doesn’t control the barrel well; bat speed is pedestrian; 40-grade future on the bat; 25 grade future on the power; will make it to the majors at the behest of the glove, but the bat will limit his ultimate role; role: high 4; bench/utility profile.

Southern League (Double-A)

(Ethan Purser)

RHP Garrett Gould (Dodgers)
Listed at 6’4”, 190 pounds; probably 30-40 pounds heavier than that, and that’s being generous; body is fluffy/doughy through the midsection with a large backside; not necessarily a bad body for an innings eater, but it’s worth noting that the body has changed substantially since he was drafted and athleticism will never be an attribute; predictably, the delivery was stiff/robotic, as he was landing on a rigid front leg and not getting much extension out front; exhibits some deception via a hip turn at balance point; arm plunges deep on the backside with a bit of wrist curl, but he keeps it hidden behind his body via an elbow-y pickup; tendency to fall off to the first-base side, displaying a significant head jerk to accommodate a high three-quarters arm slot; 1.35-1.45 to the plate from the stretch when using the slide step.

Fastball sat anywhere from 86-90 mph, touching 91-92 on occasion; natural cutting action in the lower registers and two-seamer displayed average arm-side run on the hands of right-handed hitters; broke a couple of bats with the offering; larger story was the lack of fastball command; couldn’t establish first-pitch strikes with the heater and was forced to pitch from behind all evening; the end result was a lot of 1-0, 2-0 counts where he was forced to go up and over the heart of the plate and, as a result, threw more “bad” strikes than quality strikes; 40-grade offering (future) with fringe-average to average velocity and below-average command; improvement in command is not expected due to delivery/athleticism flaws noted above.

Curveball flashed plus from 77-81 mph, touching 82; break ranged from true 12-6 to 11-5; flashed swing-and-miss potential with plenty of depth when located effectively but left the pitch up and spinning on occasion; 55-grade future offering; changeup flashed slightly above average with good arm-side sink and run; good arm speed; got some whiffs from left-handed hitters when located to the arm side; location/command wavered, leaving the pitch up and over the plate far too often; 50-grade future offering; probable role is a middle reliever/swingman; role: high 4.

RHP Jose Urena (Marlins)
Very lean, lithe body; lanky frame that is starting to show some development but is still very wiry; frame to add good weight; plus athleticism; arm is lightning quick; fairly simple delivery into balance point with decent tempo throughout; breaks hands at letters and shows a very short arm circle in the back; gets arm up very quickly and, as a result, shows the ball to the hitter for a long time; visibility of arm is similar to Randall Delgado in this regard; standard three-quarters release point; front foot steps over an imaginary block during stride phase; throws slightly across body; lands very hard on his heel, but it didn’t seem to hinder his control during this start; decent extension post release; can open up and come out of his delivery on occasion, missing to high and to the arm side and falling off toward first base; 1.35-1.5 from the stretch.

Fastball worked anywhere from 89-92 mph, touching 93; decent downhill plane on the offering; shows both cut and two-seam looks; two-seamer displayed explosive late tail into the hands of right-handed hitters and elicited plenty of weak contact; showed good control of the pitch throughout, but struggled with leaving it up on occasion; easy to project pitch to plus (60-grade future offering) with plenty of late movement and good command/control; velocity could work higher as the season progresses, potentially forcing the future grade up a tick higher; breaking ball was secondary pitch of choice on the evening; showed two breaking ball looks — curveball from 78-80 with more depth and a softer break and a slider from 82-85 that broke laterally with less depth; curveball was used as more of a get-me-over/change-of-pace offering; slider displayed short break and wasn’t particularly sharp but flashed late slice with decent tilt; don’t think pitch will ever be a huge bat-misser but can be used to miss barrels at the highest level; 50-grade future offering.

Seemed to utilize breaking ball at the expense of the changeup in this particular start; changeup sat 86-87 mph; offering was a little firm and he left the pitch up and over the heart of the plate at times; at its best, the changeup featured late arm-side life with depth that played very well off the fastball; great arm speed that mimicked the fastball; located well to the arm side and used the pitch early in counts to induce weak contact; limited look at the pitch, but comfortable placing an above-average (55) future grade on the offering due to its ability to elicit weak contact and even miss a few bats, especially against lefties.

With a plus offering and two off-speeds that will play average to above-average, Urena profiles as a potential number three starter with an average command profile; pitcher will not miss a ton of bats at the highest level, but he has enough stuff to keep hitters honest while displaying the potential for enough pitchability to rely on weak contact throughout starts; control was slightly ahead of command in this outing, but flashed the ability to hit his spots within the zone; biggest question coming in was how pitcher would look the second time through an order, and Urena showed the ability to sequence and keep hitters honest through six frames; I believe in the player as a starting pitcher; role: high 5 (no. 3 starter).

Florida State League (High-A)

(Jeff Moore)

Josh Bell, OF, Bradenton (Pirates)
Plus athlete, plus tools. Great build/body, long legs, high butt. Runs well, not a center fielder but should be a plus right fielder with a plus arm. Long arm action—OF all the way. Switch-hitter at the plate. Swing has a tendency to get long from both sides. Plus bat speed from the right side, plus-plus bat speed from the left. As LH hitter, he stays on the ball better and is willing to use the whole field. As RH hitter, he doesn't have to sell out for power, but his swing suggests that he is. His need to get long arms extended will leave him susceptible to FB's on inner half. Extremely aggressive at the plate and looks to do his damage early in the count. Was fooled badly by a few breaking balls. Still raw and learning how to play the game, but the results are good thus far despite undeveloped instincts.

Jin-De Jhang, C, Bradenton (Pirates)
Long left-handed swing with a high finish. Pronounced weight transfer forward during swing. Average bat speed. Difficulty recognizing off-speed pitches on a number of occasions, and weight transfer left him with nothing but hands to reach out and feel for hittable pitches. Behind the plate, he has above-average arm strength, but his arm slot drops down to a 3/4 angle, which causes his throws to tail to the 2B side of the bag. He needs to get on top of his throws. Soft body that he handles well now but may be an issue as he ages.

Jhondaniel Medina, RHP, Bradenton (Pirates)
Acquired by the Pirates in 2012 for Yamaico Navarro, he has a much higher upside than his trade counterpart. In one viewing, he threw all fastballs in an inning of relief, and his command of them was erratic at best, but they were 94-95 with cutting action. Obviously there's a long way to go—command, control, anything off-speed—but 94-mph cutters are a good place to start for a potential reliever.

Gilbert Gomez, OF, St. Lucie (Mets)
Tall, thin, projectable body. Can play center field now but projects as a right fielder if he fills out. At the plate, he starts with the bat horizontal on his shoulder and uses a leg kick as a timing mechanism. Gomez features above-average bat speed and a good bat path for generating power. He has to sell out slightly to drive the ball, but not excessively so. His pull approach leaves him exposed on the outer half, and he appears to be guessing at times. He also expands the strike zone too often. He hasn't shown his power in games yet (never more than six HR in a season), but there's average power in his bat. He's been extremely slow moving through the Mets system, but I like what I've seen in a few looks. He's a guy I want to see more of.

Matt Juengel, 3B, Jupiter (Marlins)
A former 24th-round senior sign in 2012, Juengel did well in a full season of Low-A ball in 2013, producing decent power numbers despite incredibly low strikeout totals. Having gotten a look at him this year, it's easy to see why—Juengel has an aggressive approach but makes a ton of bad contact. He has a long swing and wants to get his arms extended but doesn't have the bat speed to do it consistently. His power is mostly derived from his size and length, but I've seen him swing through multiple average fastballs. Additionally, his below-average speed makes him a double play waiting to happen. I don't see enough bat speed for him to hit at higher levels.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeff's other articles. You can contact Jeff by clicking here
Ethan Purser is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ethan's other articles. You can contact Ethan by clicking here

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