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May 6, 2014

Eyewitness Accounts

Eyewitness Accounts for May 6, 2014

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff


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Josh Hader

Born: 04/07/1994 (Age: 20)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 160
Mechanics
Low three-quarters slot; works from the extreme third-base side of the rubber; long limbs; long arm action; pause at the start of the windup; hides the ball incredibly well from start to finish; lot of moving parts in the delivery; struggles to repeat mechanics; loses release point toward end of outings; controls the running game with two different types of pick-off moves; light and lanky body type with room to add weight.
Evaluator Ron Shah
Report Date 05/02/2014
Affiliate Lancaster Jethawks (High-A, Astros)
Dates Seen 04/22/14; 04/26/14
OFP/Risk 55/High
Realistic No. 4 Starter
MLB ETA 2017
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 55 60 89-92 93 Four-seam fastball with late arm-side run; keeps it down; pounds it inside to same- and opposite-sided hitters; sits 91-92 (T93) in early innings before losing velocity in fourth and fifth frames; ball gets on hitters quickly regardless of velocity; added strength and improved conditioning should allow for consistent plus fastball velocity.
Curveball 45 55 77 79 Inconsistent offering that flashes above-average potential at 76-77 mph due to tight spin with sudden, late vertical break; slurve at higher velocities; loose spin at lower ranges; fights his arm slot at times. Pitcher can get the pitch over for a quality called strike when working backward or freeze same-sided hitters on the inside corners for a called strike three.
Changeup 45 55 83-84 85 Similarly to the curveball, the changeup flashes above-average potential. When he turns the wrist over, the offering comes in with deception and horizontal action. Improving consistency with arm action; plays well off of the fastball right now, but does get firm; needs to loosen up some for an increased velocity separation.
Overall

Hader is an interesting prospect in the sense that some his strengths may also be his weaknesses. He does not possess an overpowering pitch, but there is plenty of deception in his delivery, allowing each of his offerings to play up. Hitters are simply never comfortable from the moment they step in the box. In fact, I saw one hitter swing and miss at a pitch that hit him square on for strike three.

However, all the moving parts within his mechanics make it hard for him to repeat his arm slot for five innings. Finding a consistency and being able to repeat in the long term will be the key.

I believe there is enough going on here to warrant a no. 4 starter ceiling for the recently turned 20-year-old. Hader is undoubtedly a long-term project, as noted by the 2017 ETA, but the wait could be worth it once he is a complete product. In the meantime, I would like to see him work on adding a slider to his repertoire as a fourth pitch. Perhaps more importantly, he will need to continue to build arm strength while improving his strength and conditioning.





Lucas Sims

Born: 05/10/1994 (Age: 19)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 195
Mechanics
Nice frame; strong legs; muscular top; mild room for growth; mechanics are very clean; stays compact and repeats his delivery; arm action is smooth; solid arm speed; big leg kick; good extension; solid plane; quick on the mound; quick to home plate; delivery times in 1.36-1.46 range.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 04/18/2014
Affiliate Lynchburg Hillcats (High-A, Braves)
Dates Seen 4/14/2014
OFP/Risk 60/Medium
Realistic No. 3 Starter
MLB ETA 2016
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 50 60 90-93 94 Good extension and drive; terrific plane; fastball shows late life with mild arm-side run; Plays up due to tick stutter in delivery from high leg kick; commanded the pitch well most of the night; command becomes loose when overthrows; worked it quick and pounded all corners of the plate; not afraid to attack hitters inside; room for growth into frame could provide potential uptick in velocity; already sits comfortably at 90-93
CB 60 60 74-78 78 Plus pitch; 12-to-6 break; great depth; tight spin; two-plane break; some struggles with release point but still effective; hitters struggled to pick up spin out of hand; strikeout pitch; true weapon; ability and braveness to throw in any count; ability to back-door and also wrap around hitters.
CH 45 60 81-84 86 Shows some fade; decent feel; arm-side run; really drops off the table at times; inconsistent currently; velocity fluctuates; becomes firm at higher velocity; ability to replicate FB arm speed; command is loose; fringe-average currently; ability to throw against LHH and RHH; refinement will come from more repetition; clearly working on this pitch in games; will occasionally flash plus.
Overall

Turns 20 shortly, but pitches like he is a 24-year-old; pitchability through the roof. I absolutely loved how he attacked hitters the entire night with a bulldog mentality. Sims was determined and pissed off on the mound, but in a controlled manner. He was in charge of the game the entire night. With three pitches that could be plus, Sims is one of those starters every team dreams of. The change lags behind the plus CB and the very underrated FB, but the pitch flashes plus and gradually improved as the game went along. Sims is advanced for his age and the only thing holding him back could be his need to build stamina and his general inexperience in professional baseball.


Aaron Sanchez

Born: 07/01/1992 (Age: 21)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 200
Mechanics
Three-quarters arm slot; loose, efficient delivery; doesn’t strain to create velocity; fast arm; soft landing; tends to stay high during finish of delivery; inconsistent throwing downhill; quick out of the stretch; short stride–not much lower body; 1.32-1.43 out of stretch; kept focus with men on base; held velocity deep into outing; doesn’t wear himself out.
Evaluator Chris Mellen
Report Date 05/03/2014
Affiliate New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A, Blue Jays)
Dates Seen 04/28/2014
OFP/Risk 65/Moderate
Realistic No. 2/3 starter
MLB ETA 2015
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 60 65 91-95 96 Command: average. Movement: hard arm-side run, with some sinking action; displays movement throughout velocity band.
Notes: Pitch explodes out of hand; very difficult to square up in lower tier of the zone; downright nasty when spotted below top of the thighs and finishing delivery; not as effective in upper tier; throws to arm side better than glove side; tended to overthrow when in the stretch; needs work consistently spotting pitch and staying out of middle of the plate; pitch can have a mind of its own.
CB 65 70 79-83 83 Command: plus. Movement: deep overhand break with power and teeth.
Notes: Capable of getting both swing-and-misses and freezes; easy present plus-to-better offering; will change shape when situation calls for it; highly confident in pitch–will throw at any point in the count; throws to both sides of the plate; will roll from time to time; throws from same angle as fastball; legit out pitch.
CH 45 50 86-89 89 Command: Below average. Movement: arm-side fade; can also bottom out.
Notes: Will slow arm down and telegraph; inconsistent turning pitch over; floats when fading; better look and action when thrown glove-side; more of a contact inducing pitch due to firmness and lack of action; got better as outing progressed; currently lags behind fastball and curveball.
Overall

Sanchez’s fastball has the velocity and movement to dominate outings when consistently spotted down in the zone. The combination of run and heavy action make it a very difficult offering to square up in the lower tier of the zone. I liked the overall look of the pitch, and feel it’s a fastball that can continue to play at the highest level. The pitcher is inconsistent finishing his delivery, especially out of the stretch in this outing, and it caused the heater to stay up. While this particular lineup didn’t do much damage, it’s an area where the pitch tends to be easier to square and better hitters are going to be able to handle it.

I see Sanchez always having to work and fight to reel his fastball in. First, the right-hander isn’t that great at throwing downhill. He tends to stay more upright in his delivery, which leads to having trouble staying above the fastball. This showed inning-to-inning and at times batter-to-batter. Also, the natural movement of the pitch actually gives him less margin of error. Sanchez needs to be more precise and consistently account for the movement when trying to spot it. Overall, I see it more likely that the command hovers around average or so.

In this outing the righty didn’t throw a secondary offering until the fourth inning, but the curveball immediately showed as a premium offering. The depth and shape of the pitch are excellent, with Sanchez displaying strong feel for it. I see the potential to miss a lot of bats and neutralize hitters with the curve, along with it to be considered one of the better ones in the league. His ability to consistently throw it for strikes in different shapes is impressive. The changeup looked a lot better when thrown to the glove side. The action was deeper. This pitch will be a third offering in Sanchez’s repertoire, but can be viable if strategically worked into sequences.

This pitcher has high-end stuff, and is capable of putting dominant stretches together, especially if he is working down in the zone with his fastball. I see Sanchez likely to battle inconsistencies due to the aforementioned things above, but having the potential to impact a team as an above-average player over the long haul of a career. My gut says the upside is a third starter, with the ability to have a career year or two above that.









Jorge Alfaro

Born: 06/11/1993 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 185
Primary Position: C
Secondary Position: 1B
Physical/Health
Man-strength; accurate height; weight appears closer to 220; chiseled; highly athletic; body projects well.
Evaluator Jason Parks
Report Date 05/01/2014
Dates Seen Spring Training 2014
Affiliate Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A, Rangers)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2015 High 70 60; first-division player No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 55 Torque-heavy swing that can get loose and hard to control; approach puts him in poor hitting counts and he struggles to work himself back into at-bats; bat speed is plus-plus and capable of pulling major league quality velocity; struggles with secondary stuff; massive when he gets extension but not a short to the ball type that can maneuver the barrel with great ease or work with challenging pitches; .265-275 type
Power 60 Raw power is 70; game power likely to play in the plus range; excellent strength; excellent bat speed; power core is right-center gap; looks to extend and drive the baseball out of the park; lift in the swing; 25+ bombs in the future.
Baserunning/Speed 55 Routinely clocks sub 4.2 times to first; easy plus (at present) with the second gear; likely to slow with continued physical maturity and physical demands on the position; will have well above-average speed for a catcher; better-than-you-think athlete.
Glove 60 Receiving skills continue to improve; softer and more stable with the glove; no longer stabs and drifts; hands and wrists are very strong; broad shoulders and a big target; can get overly aggressive in the running game and cost a pitcher a few strikes throughout a game; blocks the ball very well because of the athleticism and improved footwork; plus with more refinement.
Arm 80 Elite arm strength; routinely pops sub 1.85; clocked catcher during sample in the 1.75 range; quick release; throws lasers on a line; true weapon; can get overly aggressive on back-picks and isn't quick to forget missed opportunities; will control running game at highest level.
Overall

Rare five-tool talent at the position; arm strength is elite and utility has a chance to get there; raw power is plus-plus and should play at highest level; hit tool and approach aren't on the same level as other attributes; torque-heavy swing is hard to make quick pitch adjustments with and can be fooled by sequence and off-speed; hit tool could play to solid-average if everything clicks; won't be contact heavy hitter but should be able to hit for 25 HRs from a premium defensive spot; tool-based ceiling suggests franchise player potential; makeup and work ethic to fail and adjust.


Brandon Nimmo

Born: 03/27/1993 (Age: 21)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 205
Primary Position: CF
Secondary Position: RF
Physical/Health
Tall frame, strong and well-developed for a 21-year-old, but with broad shoulders that still allow for some room to fill out.
Evaluator Jeff Moore
Report Date 05/03/2014
Dates Seen 4/5/14, 4/9/14, 4/24/14
Affiliate St. Lucie Mets (High-A, Mets)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2016 Moderate 60 50; major-league regular No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 55 Classic left-handed stance with quiet hands and a slight knee bend. Features a short swing, especially for a tall player, with a slight natural uppercut. Not an ultra-quick bat but enough to handle anything but the highest velocity. Has natural ability to put the barrel on the ball and is willing to use the whole field. Hits with a line-drive approach and is extremely patient at the plate, even in RBI situations. Hit tool will play up because of patience, which helps him get into hitter's counts.
Power 55 Does not have the premium bat speed needed to generate plus power, but does have good size and strength, a slight uppercut and creates natural backspin to help the ball carry. Still learning how to drive the ball, and his in-game power is limited by his all-fields/line-drive approach.
Baserunning/Speed 55 Does not have quick acceleration but runs well under way; long-strider.
Glove 50 Good route runner, makes the most of his speed in the outfield. Can play adequate defense in center field or plus defense on the corners.
Arm 50 Average arm strength. Will play in center or left; below-average in right field but won't be a liability.
Overall

Nimmo is still figuring out what kind of player he is going to be. He's built like a power hitter but approaches his at-bats like a table-setter, and his game fits that mold. While none of his traditional tools stand out, he does have one premium ability—plate discipline. He refuses to expand the strike zone, even when he has an easy run-producing opportunity. He can be an above-average hitter, but the hit tool will play up because of the plate discipline. He could be a plus on-base player. His defensive profile is still a question, but if he gets on base and provides plus defense in an outfield corner, he could start on a first-division team.


Bubba Starling

Born: 08/03/1992 (Age: 21)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 180
Primary Position: CF
Secondary Position: RF
Physical/Health
Looks the part; excellent size/strength; fast-twitch athlete; healthy
Evaluator Jason Parks
Report Date 05/03/2014
Dates Seen Spring Training 2014
Affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A, Royals)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2017 High 55 40; 5th outfielder No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 30 Well below average; lacks much projection; low neurological ceiling when it comes to bat-to-ball skills; obvious pitch recognition and reaction issues; poor balance at the plate; stays tall and isn't fluid in his actions; isn't a free swinger/hacker but easily fooled by sequence and off-speed offerings; can beat him inside with velocity; crushed by arm-side pitching; mistake hitter with bat speed and strength but lacks major league quality pitch recognition skills and will never hit high-end pitching.
Power 50 Above-average raw power because of strength, bat speed and lift in swing; poor contact ability will limit raw power from finding game utility; could play to solid-average if everything clicks, but most likely below average against major league pitching.
Baserunning/Speed 60 Routinely clocks in the sub 4.2 range to first; excellent second gear; can start slow out of the blocks but can reach sprint speed after a few strides; runs the bases well and will have some SB potential; range in CF is above average, with very good recovery speed during game action.
Glove 55 I think the defense is overrated; he can clearly play the position but I don't see the well above-average skills others seem to. He can track and use his athleticism to make route adjustments; glove plays fine; has plus speed but doesn't impact the outfield game like you would expect; solid-average overall.
Arm 65 Easy plus arm; raw arm strength could be 70; good line and carry on throws; accuracy can come and go, but overall tool should be a weapon in the field.
Overall

Athleticism and loud raw tools but well below-average hit tool will spoil the party; terminal pitch recognition skills; will struggle with contact and could fail to eclipse Mendoza line; raw power exists because of bat speed and strength, but unlikely to play to potential because of aforementioned hit tool/recognition issues; plus athlete with major league quality defensive profile in center; speed is weapon; arm is weapon; overall profile is Drew Stubbs-lite.


Tim Anderson

Born: 06/23/1993 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 180
Primary Position: SS
Secondary Position: 2B
Physical/Health
Shorter than listed 6’1”; very athletic build; filled out well in lower half presently with more room for growth; plus-plus athlete; just started playing baseball Junior Year of HS; super raw.
Evaluator CJ Wittmann
Report Date 05/04/2014
Dates Seen 4/11-14/14
Affiliate Winston-Salem White Sox (High-A, White Sox)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2016 Extreme 65 50; major-league regular No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 60 Wide setup; loose, easy hands; Brandon Phillips-like pre-swing setup (bat wiggle); small wrist lock before starting swing; explosive hands; plus-plus bat speed; swing has natural lift; has some natural bat-to-ball skills; great strength in wrists and hands giving him good barrel control; exception hand-eye coordination; presently still learning to use the right side; often makes hard contact and can square velocity; needs refinement in approach and plate discipline; presently will expand the zone; recognizes spin but unable to barrel it presently; has trouble with anything down in the zone; hasn’t shown the ability to adjust presently but still super raw.
Power 55 Sneaky plus raw pop; has present gap-to-gap pop; more pull side power presently; raw pop comes from natural lift and plus-plus bat speed; has the ability to backspin the ball; will hit plenty of doubles with HR potential.
Baserunning/Speed 70 Consistently in 4.04-4.07 range from right side; gets out of the box quickly and accelerates; still raw on bases; instinctive baserunner but needs work reading pickoff moves; will be a threat on the basepaths.
Glove 55 Has soft hands; exceptional hand-eye coordination; good footwork around bag; doesn’t react well off the bat; instincts are lacking but has speed to make up for it; range is limited; couldn’t get to ball in deep SS hole; collects and gathers himself well up the middle; has the hands to stay in the infield; needs repetition; presently below average at SS but with reps could play to average; would feel more comfortable with a move to 2B.

He’ll get every opportunity to stay at SS and it will be interesting to see his progress later in the year. I need more convincing.
Arm 50 Makes throws on a line to first; fast, clean arm; quick transfers to throwing hand and quick release; has trouble making throw from SS hole; arm is not a strength on left side; will be plenty for 2B.
Overall

There’s extreme, extreme risk here because Anderson is a different kind of raw. He has probably played in a lesser amount of games than everyone he’s playing against. He needs reps and reps and reps. He has electric hands that could let him stay in the infield but I don’t love his range at SS and his arm lacked the strength to make the throw in the hole. At the plate, this is probably the first time Anderson has seen consistent breaking balls. He recognizes spin early and tracks the ball but hasn’t shown the ability to barrel it. Presently, he still loves to pull the ball and is learning the use the right side. He makes consistent hard contact when balls are put into play though. I am confident he can make the necessary adjustments to adjust to spin and barrel it. He’s not off balance when he’s swinging; Anderson just doesn’t look use to them yet. He’s super raw and a long way away but if he puts it all together, he has an electric profile.




Anthony Kemp

Born: 10/31/1991 (Age: 22)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 5' 6" Weight: 165
Primary Position: 2B
Secondary Position: CF
Physical/Health
Small player; athletic body; strong for his size; 5-6/165 might be a little heavy; probably more around 155; not much projection left.
Evaluator Chris Rodriguez
Report Date 05/04/2014
Dates Seen 4/8, 4/10, 4/12, 4/17, 4/18, 4/22, 4/24
Affiliate Lancaster Jethawks (High-A, Astros)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2016 Moderate 50 45; valuable utility player No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 55 Square stance; small leg kick as timing mechanism; advanced bat; good bat speed; hands and wrists work very well together; plenty of strength to whip the bat through the zone; has no problems pulling velocity; goes up the middle with regularity; swing built for line drives; bat-to-ball ability is above average; tracks pitches all the way into the catcher's mitt; stays on off-speed and spin well; plate discipline is plus; tough out; arm-side pitching might give him problems going forward; leadoff hitter potential.
Power 20 Minimal power; has strength and bat speed, but swing is missing leverage and he's simply not a large man; gap power; plenty of doubles and triples; don't see double-digit home runs as a possibility.
Baserunning/Speed 60 Above-average speed; clocked between 4.10-4.18; not a extremely fast player but a guy who can certainly affect the game on the basepaths and in the field.
Glove 60 Very solid defensively at second base; range is well above average for the position; quick first step; plays the position with confidence and aggressiveness; makes all the plays; sticks in there at the bag for the double play, which tells you a lot about a small guy.
Arm 45 Fringy arm; short-arms the throws a bit but he gets the ball there; enough arm to be a plus defender at second base; putting it all together; limited to the right side of the infield; arm could play in left field and center field as well.
Overall

Kemp has been the most consistent hitter on the loaded Lancaster roster, spraying line drives all around the diamond. The approach is the best part of his game for me, as he consistently gets himself into hitter's counts and doesn't mind a walk. Pair this with a good defensive profile at second base and the ability to play other positions (left and center), a utility profile is the most realistic role for me. Player comparison: Skip Schumaker.

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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