June 2, 2014
Monday Morning Ten Pack
June 2, 2014
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Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Reds (Double-A Pensacola)
In last week’s “Scout Quotes” article, it was mentioned by one industry source that Lorenzen had jumped to the top of the Reds system, above the mighty Robert Stephenson, one of the top right-handed arms in the entire minors. While I absolutely disagree with the opinion that Lorenzen is somehow a superior prospect to Stephenson, the reports so far this season have painted a much more pleasant picture of the former supplemental first round pick than I witnessed in camp. At the time, I thought the 22-year-old arm was highly athletic with an electric fastball, but I thought the delivery was stiff and the secondary arsenal underwhelming. It was a reliever all the way for me, an opinion that bordered on consensus at the time.
Fast-forward a few months and Lorenzen’s developmental progress is slowly winning hearts and minds, and several sources see not only a future starter but one with impact potential. I think the major-league outcome is still very abstract, as the delivery has some red flags that could limit effectiveness in longer outings; stays tall and stiff, with a deep ball pickup and rigid arm action. The command is below-average at present, and even though he can comfortably pump his fastball in the 93-95 range, he struggles with control when he overthrows in the elite velocity range. The slider could be a money pitch with big velocity and some tilt, the changeup has improved dramatically from what I saw this spring, and he’s even mixing in an occasional curveball to keep hitters off his high-intensity offerings. As a reliever, Lorenzen could eventually lock down a late-innings role and develop into a lethal setup option at the highest level. But his real value could come in a rotation, a projection that most doubted at the start of the day but one that is looking more possible with each passing start. –Jason Parks
Mason Katz, 2B, Cardinals (Low-A Peoria)
Most soon-to-be 24-year-olds in the Midwest League have to dominate in order to stand out as prospects—and even then it’s a stretch—which makes Katz the exception to the exception, because the on-the-field production isn’t exactly helping his case as a player worth keeping an eye on; in just over 50 games this season, Katz is still looking up at the Mendoza line and getting abused by arm-side pitching night after night. So what gives? Several scout sources believe in the bat, despite the defensive profile or the present production, and given the dearth of legit sticks at the keystone at the major-league level, a fringe hit/plus power type (.250/20 bombs) would offer a great deal of value at the position.
Katz isn’t a notable defender at second, lacks speed, lacks size or projection, lacks youth, willingly attended LSU (kidding), and has yet to show much with the bat so far in his professional sample, but the thunder in the stick is legit, especially to the pull side, and if he can take steps with his swing to bring that raw into game action, he’s going to be a deep [read: Laurentian Abyss level depth] sleeper worth paying attention to. –Jason Parks
Hunter Dozier, 3B, Royals (High-A Wilmington)
The Royals were quick to move Dozier off the shortstop position, as his overall frame and ability was more feasible for third base. Dozier has a great body, with powerful legs and a muscular top. He looks like a major leaguer on the field, and at times his play will replicate that. This weekend was my second series seeing Dozier, and the approach at the plate continues to impress. He has a good eye, often laying off the questionable secondary offerings low in the zone. Parker Bridwell was throwing his plus change low and away to Dozier, and he laid off two in a row. Bridwell then attempted to bust him inside with a 92 mph fastball and Dozier pulled in his hands slightly and ripped a double down the left field line. The swing was smooth, compact and displayed his barrel-to-ball skills. With plus bat speed and a violent-yet-controlled swing, Dozier could end up tapping into the plus raw power hibernating currently. He has some work to do at third base, with his footwork being choppy at times—but the overall defensive ability is presently average at the time. –Tucker Blair
Parker Bridwell, RHP, Orioles (High-A Frederick)
I have now seen Bridwell five times this season, anywhere from poor to plus. Bridwell is an enigma, and had become one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch in the past few seasons. The talent was always there, but nothing was matching up. However, the month of May has been such a step forward for Bridwell that I am beginning to believe he might be one of the better prospects within the Orioles' system. On Friday he sliced and diced the Wilmington lineup, with nine strikeouts and 20 swinging strikes, 13 coming off the changeup. His change has become the most improved pitch in the Orioles' system, showing great fade and that parachute action we all love to see out of a plus change. He has command and confidence to throw it in any count, against any hitter. With a potential plus fastball that sits 91-93, a solid-average slider that sits 80-83, and the plus change, Bridwell should start turning some heads. He has improved in every start I have seen, progressing from having zero command and no feel for his slider or change. Now he is sitting comfortably in that 91-93 velocity band and picking off hitters with the secondary stuff. He has a legitimate arsenal and it sure looks as if everyone wrote him off way too early. –Tucker Blair
David Dahl, OF, Rockies (Low-A Asheville)
David Dahl possesses all five tools and is just beginning to tap into them. Any worries about makeup are superfluous. The four game sample I saw was not the best showing for Dahl but it was insightful. He is still trying to find a consistent timing pattern in his swing and showcased multiple striding styles over the series. The bat speed and balance in his swing are outstanding. There isn’t much to speak of in terms on an approach at the plate. Currently he is very much a see-ball, hit-ball type of player. The offensive ceiling is enormous. His speed works well on both sides of the ball, with consistent sub-four-second times to first base. On defense David is a stud. When you combine his ability to get great jumps on the ball with his speed you have a guy who will have no problem patrolling the vast outfield of Coors Field. –Ryan Parker
Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Low-A Charleston)
Aaron Judge is a young Russell Branyan. The raw power is 6+ but is entirely derived from his strength. His swing showcases several flaws including an early wrapping of his bat and a tendency to sink into his backside rather than coil and drive through his hips. He hit two balls over the batters eye in the most recent series but his passive approach lets other hittable pitches go by. He is patient to the point of frustration but his approach lacks refinement as he will greatly expand the zone when behind. His hit tool has chance to be average but will likely settle in the 45 range on the 20-80 scale. He may only have a few more years left in RF before his lack of speed forces him to 1B. His top end speed isn’t horrible but it takes a very long time to get there. His combination of size and strength is essentially unmatched in the low minors at the moment. –Ryan Parker
Corey Seager, 3B, Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
I made the trek to Lancaster on Saturday night to take in what should have been a great pitching matchup between Julio Urias and Mark Appel. But it was Corey Seager’s 3-for-5 performance—including mashing a first-pitch, 95 mph fastball from Appel into the stratosphere—that stuck with me the most. To get a sense of how impressive the 20-year-old has been, take a look at his slash line of .400/.455/.700 in the month of May. But to fully appreciate Seager, one needs to observe his mental approach on a pitch-by-pitch basis at the plate, because it is his ability to pick apart pitchers with his brain that impresses me the most. Players that can do that quite frankly don’t belong in High-A, and I get the sense the Dodgers 2012 first round draft choice won’t be here for much longer. – Ron Shah
Roman Quinn, SS, Phillies (High-A Clearwater)
Quinn is back in action after spending most of April getting back into game shape at extended spring training. After blowing out his achilles many were concerned that he would lose a step or two, but I can confirm he's still in possession of some nice wheels. Consistently clocked home to first in the 3.9-4.0 range, he even busted a 3.44 on a jailbreak bunt all from the right side. Unfortunately for Quinn the speed aspect of his game was the only shiny tool in his box. At the plate from the right side he was exploited time and time again. Pitchers were attacking him with fastballs and off-speed down and in and he failed to make even the slightest of contact or adjustment. His swing was long and the bat was dragging through the zone at a snail’s pace.
From the left side Quinn looked comfortable and relaxed. His swing was level and the bat speed increased. His approach was also much more sound as a lefty. He shortened up and was looking to go with pitches with a line-drive swing. There wasn't a lot of action for him in the field, but on the few balls that did go his way Quinn looked rather stiff with his actions. He didn't have to range too far on any play, but looked like he was fighting the ball into his glove. It's been 10 games since his return, so he's still knocking off some rust and catching back up to the speed of the game. Let's not panic yet, folks. –Chris King
Victor Roache, OF, Brewers (High-A Brevard County)
One plus-plus tool will take you a long way, but if it's not a hit tool, there's typically a shelf life on it. In the case of Roache, a former first-round pick by the Brewers in 2012, the plus-plus tool is his raw power (which, it's important to distinguish, is much different than his in-game power), but his hit tool, his aggressive approach at the plate, and his inability to recognize quality breaking pitches drastically limit how well that power will play in games. His swing is rotational and limits his ability to reach pitches on the outer half. Roache will crush mistakes, especially from left-handed pitchers, which could allow him to carve out a niche in the majors, but the ceiling is limited and the profile is not one that allows for a large role. –Jeff Moore
Ismael Guillon, LHP, Reds (Low-A Dayton)
Guillon is going through his third stint in the Midwest League, after a handful of starts there in 2012, as well as a disappointing first half of last season. He stands 6'2, 210 and has a live arm from the left side. Mechanically, Guillon often fails to get his weight back over the rubber and lunges forward, rushes, and misses high in the strike zone. In the outing when I saw him, Guillon was 91-93 mph early in the outing and 88-91 by the third inning, showing arm-side run and consistently trying to hit the glove side of the plate. His goal was to pound right-handed hitters inside with the fastball and then go away with his devastating, swing-and-miss changeup.
Guillon’s changeup is one of the best in all of the minor leagues. It’s anywhere from 75-80, with outstanding deception and vertical drop. He also features a fringe-average curveball around 78 MPH that he can throw as a "show me" offering for strikes, which hitters off of his other two pitches. Guillon still offers no. 4 starter upside, but at age 22 in the MWL, it's now or never for him. His walk rate last year was 7 per 9, and even though it's only 3.8 now, the command is still not where it needs to be. Guillon’s stuff is far too good for the low minors, but it’s the fastball command that will determine whether he ever makes it above Double-A. –Jordan Gorosh
Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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