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May 7, 2014

Eyewitness Accounts

May 7, 2014

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff


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Jake Thompson

Born: 01/31/1994 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 235
Mechanics
Three-quarters delivery with arms, legs, and funk. Physical, maxed out body. Repeats often, and generates excellent tilt. Front leg can get stiff, and arm action might get long. Generates plenty of torque.
Evaluator Jordan Gorosh
Report Date 05/01/2014
Affiliate Lakeland Flying Tigers (High-A, Tigers)
Dates Seen Backfields 3/2014
OFP/Risk 55/moderate;
Realistic Low no. 3, High no. 4 Starter
MLB ETA 2016
Video Yes
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 45 55 91 93 Throws both a two-seam and four-seam FB. More often two-seam, generates plenty of groundballs. Has massive plane, and spots the pitch well. Pitch has run and sink, often generating weak contact when down in zone. Pitch has life as well.
Slider 55 60 83 85 Two-plane break, with hard torque. Go-to pitch, has plenty of spin and late movement. Swing-and-miss pitch, and bread-and-butter out pitch both at present and future. Will continue to gain command of the pitch, and with even more advanced sequencing will play up to a true plus pitch at MLB level.
Curveball 50 55 79 81 A bit slower than slider, and can be used as either chase pitch or thrown for a strike. Has 10-to-4 shape, with tight spin.
Change up 40 50 80 82 Threw it during backfield sessions more frequently. Doesn't yet trust it in games. Has some run and arm-side fade. Can fail to throw it with conviction, but is a work in progress. As he continues up the ladder, should develop enough feel to make this a major-league-average pitch.
Overall

Thompson is a large, physically maxed-out 20-year-old kid who projects to be a mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter at the major-league level. He's got mound presence, feel for sequencing, and a high pitching IQ. He can pitch backward and throw either breaking pitch for a strike in any count. His fastball command is very good for a prospect his age, and will continue to get better. If he can continue to hold his velocity into the late innings, which has been a concern so far, he should have no problem throwing 200-plus innings at the major-league level. If it doesn't work as a starter, he'd absolutely be able to contribute at the back of a bullpen.


Bryan Mitchell

Born: 04/19/1991 (Age: 23)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 205
Mechanics
Crossfire action; short arm action to 3/4 slot; cuts hips off and landing spot can vary; has trouble repeating mechanics.
Evaluator CJ Wittmann
Report Date 05/05/2014
Affiliate Trenton Thunder (Double-A, Yankees)
Dates Seen 4/3/14
OFP/Risk 50/moderate
Realistic 45; middle-innings reliever
MLB ETA 2015
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 60 65 93-96 97 Arm-side sink; ball comes out easy from hand; present plus and could get to plus-plus with improved command and velo tick up from the bullpen.
CB 55 60 83-86 86 Thrown at SL velo; power CB; 10-to-4 shape; hard bite and late break; will sit at this velo from bullpen and could play plus from fear of FB and improved command.
Overall

Bryan Mitchell is a starter presently but the stuff will work better out of the bullpen. The FB has premium velocity and arm-side sink from 3/4 slot that could play up from the bullpen with improved command. The CB is thrown at SL velocity and can get slurvy at times but it could play plus out of FB fear and improved command of the pitch as well. Mitchell could be an effective bullpen arm in the near future.


Julio Urias

Born: 08/12/1996 (Age: 17)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 5' 11" Weight: 160
Mechanics
Taller than listed height; closer to 6'1''; some thickness around the middle; body could become high maintenance; throws from standard 3/4 slot; very easy delivery and release; deliberate stride; hips are very active; creates angle and stays over the ball; slow to plate with runners on (1.45-1.55); good PFP
Evaluator Jason Parks
Report Date 05/05/2014
Affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High-A, Dodgers)
Dates Seen Spring Training 2014
OFP/Risk 65/Moderate
Realistic 60; no. 3 starter
MLB ETA 2015
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 60 65 91-94 95 Easy plus offering; has velocity whenever he wants it; worked mostly in the 92-94 range; could spike but lost ability to locate; showed advanced feel for movement manipulation; run/cut/sink; overall command is fringe-average at present but has ability to lock in and paint when it clicks; grade to jump to near plus-plus if command play to solid-average or better.
SL 60 65 79-85 86 Multimillion-dollar pitch; shows two distinct shapes; can show more vertical movement (curveball like) in the 79-81 range; sharper with more tilt in the 82-85 range; shows more command of slider than any other offering, including fastball; sharper slider wears fastball disguise and then offers deep slice; can throw for a strike or lengthen and drop out of the zone; major-league-quality pitch at present; could get even better with experience.
CH 45 55 81-83 83 Flashed above-average potential; command was below average; stayed consistent in the delivery and the action, but had a tendency to elevate the offering; pitch lacked movement above the belt; flat and hittable; when he worked down and on the corners, he achieved good fading action to the arm side and some sink; when its on, the deception and fade will play solid-average (or better); didn't go to the change with runners on first, even against RH.
Overall

Advanced pitchability; major-league-quality body; chance for three plus offerings; fastball/slider combo is nasty; changeup should get there; command needs work, perhaps a full-grade jump to really take off; more polish than projection, and I don't see a true frontline future; no. 2 starter on first-division team with likely outcome falling just a little under that. Special arm given the age and present combination of stuff/feel for craft.


Lance McCullers

Born: 10/02/1993 (Age: 20)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 205
Mechanics
Thick, muscular frame; could tack on some pounds down the road; low 3/4 slot; slings it; max effort; shows ball in the back of his delivery; brings his landing leg into his body and drives off the mound; landing point was more consistent in the first look; the second look he was landing closed (failure to rotate hip completely), which led to his wildness; missed arm-side and high with regularity; release point varies; loose control and command in both looks; don't see a good profile; has his moments when he's locked in, but that can change quickly; competes on the mound; gets frustrated and can overthrow.
Evaluator Chris Rodriguez
Report Date 05/05/2014
Affiliate Lancaster JetHawks (High-A, Astros)
Dates Seen 4/8, 4/12
OFP/Risk 60/Moderate
Realistic 55; Eighth-inning reliever
MLB ETA 2016
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 50 60 91-94 95 Plus arm strength; lots of 92s and 93s; has some run to it due to his arm slot; more movement at the lower velos; a tick slower later in the game; very hard pitch to square down in the zone; has trouble spotting the ball on the outer third vs. LHB; misses arm side often; control and command profile limit the potential for me; still a plus-pitch going forward.
CB 60 70 81-84 85 Power curveball; very tight spin with severe vertical drop; two-plane break; can turn it into a slurve at the higher velos but it's devastating; throws it in any count; very confident in this pitch; command needs tightening; shows ability to drop for strikes or chase; already a major-league-quality offering.
CH 30 40 83-85 86 Rarely threw it in his first look; flashed in his second appearance; had more feel; got a couple swings and misses, but not from above-average potential bats; has a little sink; arm slows; he can telegraph it; can be used as a change-of-pace pitch but bats at the highest level can and will time it up.
Overall

McCullers' overall numbers look very good for a 20-year-old thus far, especially in the high-octane offensive environment of the Cal League. The two appearances I witnessed (one start and one scheduled relief appearance) showed off his raw abilities; his arm strength and ability to break off a very good curve. But due to his lack of a third future plus pitch, fringy command profile, and inconsistent delivery, I'm hard pressed to see him find consistent success at the highest level as a starter. His perfect world ceiling is that of a innings-eating no. 3 starter, but I find his profile much better suited for the bullpen long term. The fastball could play up and curveball will always be there for him. He could be a very good reliever.


Dilson Herrera

Born: 03/03/1994 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 5' 10" Weight: 150
Primary Position: 2B
Secondary Position: SS
Physical/Health
Short but well built, muscular; not thick, but chiseled for his size. Quick-twitch athlete, plus athleticism.
Evaluator Jeff Moore
Report Date 05/05/2014
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 50 45, utility No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 55 Plus bat speed allows him to make up for some fundamental mistakes. Noticeable bat wrap around head causes loop in swing path to the ball and a longer swing than a player of his size should have. Wants to get swing started early but doesn't have to; bat speed would allow him to wait back. Will expand the strike zone for breaking stuff. Natural bat-to-ball skills are there to go with bat speed but needs to refine mechanics of swing and bat path.
Power 40 Good pop for a shorter player; a product of plus bat speed and strong, compact body. Wants to get hands extended to drive the ball. Should hit for gap power but sometimes sells out for fly-ball power. Could hit 10-12 home runs in a season.
Baserunning/Speed 60 Quick first step, above-average speed underway. Will bunt for hit and steal a base but not game-changing speed.
Glove 50 Plus range at second base due to quick first step and athleticism. Much more fluid on balls side to side than routine groundballs. Sits back on heels and his athleticism/hand-eye coordination help bail out average hands. Comfortable on pivot at second for double plays. Would be out of position at shortstop.
Arm 50 Plenty of arm to make all of the throws at second base, but not enough at short; not enough carry to make throw to first from 5/6 hole. Quick release helps on balls up the middle at 2B and on DP turns.
Overall

Despite plus athleticism, Herrera doesn't have any standout baseball tools. His best asset is his plus bat speed but he's still figuring out how to use it. If he refines his approach, he could be an above-average hitter at second base with moderate power for the position and some value on the bases. Most likely, however, is a utility role at second base and possibly in the outfield, where his athleticism would translate well.


Matt Skole

Born: 07/30/1989 (Age: 24)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 225
Primary Position: 1B
Secondary Position: 3B
Physical/Health
Big frame; powerful build; bulky top half; muscular legs; good body.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 05/05/2014
Dates Seen 4/3/2014 - 4/6/2014
Affiliate Harrisburg Senators (Double-A, Nationals)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2016 High 50 40; Bench Bat No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 35 Plus bat speed; elongated swing; too much of a process; noticeable hand-wrap; elbow moves; trouble catching up with mid to high end velocity; saw a lot of pitches but largely did nothing with them; able to pound him inside then sweep sliders away; needs to lessen noise in entire swing to make enough contact; great eye at plate; does not chase many pitches outside of the zone.
Power 55 Slight arc in swing; plus bat speed; plus raw power; plays down due to contact issues and elongated swing; Does not always barrel the ball, even in BP.
Baserunning/Speed 40 Not a burner; decent second gear; speed is not a factor in his game.
Glove 40 Poor third basemen; mechanical; feet stutter; does not read ball off bat well; better at first base; displays average range for the corners.
Arm 55 Arm is plus but plays down due to inaccuracy; does not always repeat the same arm slot on throws; struggles with this in infield practice as well.
Overall

I have seen Skole multiple times now, heading back to 2012 when he was with Hagerstown and Potomac. While he has raw power and a terrific eye at the plate, the swing has been extremely inconsistent. The year he missed due to injury may be a factor in development. However, he has a lot of work to do with the bat. The swing will never work if he cannot lessen the noise and shorten it. His fringe ability at the hot corners is also a hindrance on his overall future potential.


Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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<< Previous Article
The Lineup Card: 10 It... (05/07)
<< Previous Column
Eyewitness Accounts: E... (05/06)
Next Column >>
Eyewitness Accounts: E... (05/08)
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The Prospectus Hit Lis... (05/07)

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