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May 13, 2014

Eyewitness Accounts

May 13, 2014

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff


Aroni Nina

Born: 04/09/1990 (Age: 24)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 178
Mechanics
Slender, tall build; not a stick figure but slight muscle; stays tall and throws front side through; gets extreme hip and shoulder rotation; arm comes through fast; longer arm action and arm slot can vary; extreme arm strength; front side can overrotate and arm can come through late, making him lose control; well below-average command profile.
Evaluator CJ Wittmann
Report Date 05/04/2014
Affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A, Royals)
Dates Seen various times
OFP/Risk 55/high
Realistic 45; up and down middle innings reliever
MLB ETA 2015
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 50 60 90-98 98 Arm-side life; big downhill plane; explodes out of hand; has some control but little command; saw him 90-92 one outing with slower arm motion; 95-98 another outing, letting it rip.

Nina FB is premium velocity more presently but it plays down due to lack of command. He can be effectively wild at times but struggles to spot it on a consistent basis.
CB 60 70 79-82 83 Wipeout pitch; hard snap; two-plane break; hard bite with depth; good 11-to-5 shape; comes from same arm slot as FB; flashed plus-plus ability; will throw in zone for strike and as chase pitch.

The pitch itself won't need to improve as it can be plus-plus now but it plays down due to lack of command. If he improves the FB command then the CB will play to its full potential in fear of FB. Presently, hitters can sit on the CB or FB (whichever is being thrown for a strike) and not worry about the other pitch.
Overall

His FB/CB combination is as good as that of any reliever in the Carolina League. When Nina is sitting 96-98 with life and staying on top of his CB at 80-81, he’s deadly. The command profile is well below average, but Nina is effectively wild. His arm speed was noticeably much faster this outing and he could have been told to tone it down for more command. After that didn’t work, he just let it rip. When everything is in unison, his stuff is electric. Although he is an older guy there is still high risk here; his stuff is electric but he lacks to the command for it to be effective to his full potential. If the command improves and his FB/CB combo plays to 60/70 then he could be a late innings reliever. The upside is there, it's just a matter of whether Nina can achieve it.


Steven Okert

Born: 07/09/1991 (Age: 22)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 210
Mechanics
Athletic body; low 3/4 slot; 6-3/210 is accurate; long levers; clean mechanics; repeats; ball comes out of his hand very easy; shows the ball in the back of his delivery; good command profile; competes on the mound.
Evaluator Chris Rodriguez
Report Date 05/06/2014
Affiliate San Jose Giants (High-A, Giants)
Dates Seen 4/6/14
OFP/Risk 55/Moderate
Realistic 50; Middle-reliever/lefty specialist
MLB ETA 2015
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 60 65 93-96 97 Big-time arm strength; some run at the lower velos; spotted the pitch well; very tough to square down in the zone; pounded the pitch in on hitters; moved the pitch to both sides of the plate; also left it middle-middle on occasion; still some room for improvement command wise; plus-plus potential.
SL 50 60 81-82 83 Flashed plus; plenty of horizontal movement; has good shape; can be a slurve at lower velos; deception; maintained same slot and arm speed; killer against lefties; command needs tightening; crossed the heart of the plate often.
Overall

Okert is an advanced college arm with two potential plus-pitches (the fastball is one already). He has a lot of confidence in both pitches and is able to use both in any count vs. lefties and righties. I believe he has late-innings potential (eighth inning) and could very well reach that. It's just a matter of logging innings and facing tougher competition. The risk factor could be low, but I went moderate because he hasn't achieved success yet at Double-A, which he could and should reach this year.


Henry Owens

Born: 07/21/1992 (Age: 21)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 6' 6" Weight: 205
Mechanics
Easy delivery; low energy expending; loose thrower; 3/4 arm slot; across body delivery; soft front foot landing; ball comes out of body late; long arm enables leverage when locked into release point; can release early when landing isn't in sync with arm; lot of body to control.
Evaluator Chris Mellen
Report Date 05/08/2014
Affiliate Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A, Red Sox)
Dates Seen 5/8/2014
OFP/Risk 60/Moderate
Realistic 4th Starter
MLB ETA 2014
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 50 55 89-91 93 Solid-average command; downward movement through strike zone when creating leverage; some late tail; jumped on hitters due to deceptive release; flat when elevated; type of fastball that will need to be spotted consistently at highest level; will change eye level; tended to pitch middle-away to righties; will need to stay on hands when pitching inside to righties; can work too much up when not finishing.
Changeup 60 60 77-80 80 Solid-average command; displays arm-side fade; can also turn over to glove side; quality depth and action to offering; excellent arm speed; seamless release to fastball; bat-missing offering at highest level; throws for strikes; confident to use at any point in the count; can leave in middle of the plate from time to time.
Curveball 45 50 71-74 74 Fringe-average command; big, slow bend; not a lot of power to pitch—on the soft side; could stand to throw harder to get bats started quicker; hitters can sit back on it; used sparingly in the outing; will alter shape; more of a change-of-pace than chase pitch; don't project it to miss a lot of bats.
Overall

Owens' fastball velocity was on the pedestrian side in this outing, but the tall left-hander used his body well to consistently throw downhill when delivering the offering. Throughout the start, he stayed on top of the ball and was able to replicate his release point with the majority of his heaters. This enabled Owens to throw to spots in the lower tier of the strike zone, where the plane he created forced hitters to get on top of the ball.

While the pitcher did get some swings-and-misses when elevated with his fastball, I don't see the pitch being effective in this area against big league hitters. Owens is deceptive overall, with the ball seaming to jump out of his body at the last instance, but he's likely to get hurt often working in this area. I do have some concerns about how the fastball is going to play if this was a peak representation of the command.

Owens' changeup showed as his best pitch in this outing. There's plenty of fastball guise, and hitters consistently swung over the top of it. My feel is that this offering will continue to play as the lefty advances further. The deception, along with the separation in velocity, will force even the better of hitters to commit early. Owens' sprinkled his curveball in toward the end of the start, and I'm not big on the present look of the pitch. The lack of power will give major-league hitters a chance to recover even when they have committed early.

Owens will need to demonstrate solid-average-to-plus command of his fastball on a consistent basis to fully reach his ceiling. In this outing, it looked like the pitcher was focusing hard on finishing his delivery and working down in the zone. The execution showed. There is a finer margin of error here given the profile of the overall repertoire. On nights when Owens' fastball is just a bit off, it is likely to be difficult. I see the prospect over the long haul projecting toward the back of a rotation, where he can provide a lot of innings and value as a reliable, complimentary piece of a good staff.











Steven Moya

Born: 09/08/1991 (Age: 22)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 6" Weight: 230
Primary Position: RF
Secondary Position: LF
Physical/Health
Tall and lean; giant's body with room for growth into frame; skinny legs; lean, muscular top; major-league body with huge projection
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 05/04/2014
Dates Seen 4/22/14 - 4/24/14, 5/3/14
Affiliate Erie SeaWolves (Double-A, Tigers)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2015 High 45 30: Organizational Player No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 20 Swing is very inconsistent; hands will drift and drop; long extension; swing can become elongated; bat path through zone is inconsistent; plus bat speed; poor eye and cannot pick up spin; struggles with low and away offerings; load is inconsistent and sometimes non-existent; rolls over on a ton of pitches; will step in the bucket and drop shoulder; poor hitter that showed no improvement in the entire series.
Power 50 Plus to plus-plus raw power; mammoth power tool but lacks the skill-set to exemplify tool against major league competition without cheating; does not play at all in-game; slight uppercut in swing; plus bat speed.
Baserunning/Speed 50 Average runner with long legs; takes a bit to get into second gear; 4.22 and 4.25 to first base on groundballs to second. Speed is not a detriment in corner OF.
Glove 45 Defense is adventurous; route running is sub-par; moves well toward the line; struggles in gap; first step is solid; displayed some trouble going back on balls; fringe-average due to consistencies and lacking pure instincts.
Arm 55 Plus arm but plays down due to inaccuracy; can make all throws on a line; comes from a terrific plane and shows ability to laser it to home and third.
Overall

Moya is a physical specimen, but you have to be concerned about the complete lack of a hit tool. The plate discipline is poor and he shows no ability to learn in-game. The swing is generally inconsistent and makes you forget the terrific power he displays in batting practice. Moya is a batting practice champion and an organizational player in games at this point.


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
Build is strong; big, broad shoulders and wide hips; can fill out a little more; another great body set-up; plus athlete.
Evaluator CJ Wittmann
Report Date 05/04/2014
Dates Seen 4/8-14/14
Affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks (High-A, Royals)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2016 extreme 60 45; bench OF No
Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 30 Wide base; open stance setup to start; hands start quiet but has a bad wrist hitch in load; when starting to swing, back elbow pinches to his hip and back shoulder dips; swing path is on upward path through the hitting zone; has little barrel control and has trouble adjusting; has serious pitch recognition issues and little plate discipline; will expand the zone often; has plus bat speed; has trouble with anything down in the zone; big swing-and-miss; at times, will show good approach then look lost; will use the right side often; will get tied up with velo on the inner half; often makes weak contact in BP and in game.
Power 45 Plus-plus raw; big lift and bat speed helps; can get good extension post contact on balls on outer half; BP pull-side power but yet to translate to game; hit tool will always limit power potential.
Baserunning/Speed 70 Consistently in the 4.1 range; instinctive runner; smart on the base paths.
Glove 60 Reads/routes were good off the bat; plus range due to plus run; very good athlete and has athleticism for bad reads; makes routine play.
Arm 70 Gathers himself well before throwing; uses whole body to get maximum effort in throw; ball explodes out of hand with velocity; reaches all places on a line and accuracy.
Overall

He’ll play and reach the highest level based on the defensive profile but hit tool will limit the power and be sub par.
Starling made one in-game adjustment I took note of. In his second at-bat, he rolled over an outside FB for a 6-4 groundout. Next at-bat was thrown the same pitch, let it travel and crushed it to RF for a HR. Bubba will flash stuff like this then, punch out on pitches that were never near the zone. Frustrating. I just don’t think the kid ever puts it together at the plate enough to be a major-league regular.








Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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Related Content:  Boston Red Sox,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

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