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June 9, 2014

Monday Morning Ten Pack

June 9, 2014

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff

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Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants (Double-A Richmond)
Against a weak-hitting Reading team on Saturday night, Kyle Crick only allowed one run in a five-inning start, striking out three while walking only one hitter. On the surface, the evening was a success, even more so when you learn that his fastball sat in the 95-97 range most of the evening, touching 98 on several occasions. But Crick struggled all evening to find his command, missing arm-side and up with frequency and failing to find the handle on his secondary arsenal.

This was my first look at Crick this season, and despite the fact that he’s a prototypical power arm from near my old stomping grounds in North Texas, I came away with more questions than answers, and I wrote up the 21-year-old righty as a late-inning reliever rather than a frontline starter. In an existential scouting crisis, I struggled with the tool grades and the overall profile, as it seemed unusual to watch a young power arm hold easy plus-plus velocity for five innings yet not come away feeling he had a plus-plus fastball or a plus-plus profile. The command just hasn’t been there for Crick so far in his professional journey, and without even average feel for command or a consistent secondary arsenal, it’s hard for me to justify a lofty rotation grade based on the performance. –Jason Parks

Angel Villalona, 1B, Giants (Double-A Richmond)
Most people know Villalona’s backstory by now, the details of which you can investigate on your own, thus forming your own conclusions about the legitimacy of his current freedom. I’ll focus on the scouting side of his profile, and based on a good look this weekend, I came away highly impressed with his raw power and sour on every other aspect of his game. The 23-year-old Dominican has a very soft body, with a pudgy torso and a thick lower half, all but suffocating his natural athleticism and quickness. He is basically a designated hitter masquerading as a first baseman, as he struggles with throws that don’t hit his chest and his footwork around the bag doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Villalona's bread will receive its butter from his power, the raw aspect of which is at least 70-grade; in batting practice, he hit the scoreboard beyond the left-field fence, and hit two bombs in the first two games of the series. But the game power will suffer from a hit tool that will play below average, and its hard to project much utility given his noisy feet in the box, inconsistent swing, and his struggle to recognize, track, and execute against quality off-speed offerings. Villalona is a mistake hitter with a tremendous amount of raw strength, and he’s going to run into some bombs at every level he plays as a result. But I just don’t see the necessary bat-to-ball skills to translate to the highest level, and I think the profile is more upper-minors masher than legit power option in the majors. –Jason Parks

Devon Travis, 2B, Detroit Tigers (Double-A Erie)
In this business it is often far easier to pick and poke and talk about what a player can’t do, because for the most part the players we are evaluating have some MLB caliber tools, and we have to find the reason they aren’t going to realize their potential. At times, though, it is just as important to discuss what a player can do that will make him a big leaguer. In the case of Travis, he can defend very well at second base and he can flat out hit the baseball. The hitting mechanics are a little unorthodox—namely hitting off his front foot most of the time—but he consistently barrels the ball and drives it to all fields with very good strength for his size.

Watching Travis for four games in the last six days, I walked away with an improved impression of the player and a firm belief in his MLB future. Travis is a high-energy player who always plays hard and gets the most out of his two above-average MLB tools; defense and hitting ability. Those two tools will carry him to the big leagues, and while he may end up a second-division player, he should have a solid career that more than justifies his over-slot signing bonus from the 2012 draft. –Mark Anderson

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Orioles (Double-A Bowie)
After my recent look at Rodriguez it was fairly clear that the left-handed starter needs to consistently live down in the strike zone and on the corners with his fastball. When his 90-93 mph heater was executed in this area, it moved downward due to the plane and angle the pitcher created via his frame. The pitch lost that look, though, when elevated, and the lack of strong overall movement left it extremely flat and hittable. It was a tale of two fastball looks. The 21-year-old’s delivery is very repeatable, with little restriction and extra moving parts for getting his arm into slot. I took it as a positive sign that with continued repetition the present fringe-average fastball command can grow to better than average.

Rodriguez’s pitchability also flashed at times during my look. The lefty worked to mix his entire arsenal into sequences from the onset, and demonstrated an understanding of what he needs to do to be successful. While the execution was spotty and the game results weren’t there, I liked the strength of his mental game. It gave me the feel that Rodriguez has more room for growth. The secondary stuff does need tightening to miss more bats. I saw his 82-85 mph slider as having the most potential to move forward given the way he feels the offering. It can approach plus. This isn’t a flashy arm; I saw a back-end starter, but one who has the ingredients to maximize his talent into a well-rounded package. –Chris Mellen

Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (Low-A Hickory)
I first saw the outfielder last season and the fluidity of his actions jumped out immediately. Mazara is a player that looks extremely natural on the field. I absolutely love his swing. It’s one of those strokes that looks effortless and sneaks up on your eyes before the ball suddenly explodes off his bat with that distinct “crack.” Mazara’s powerful wrists and forearms enable him to generate excellent bat speed. I see the hit tool to hit in the .280s. The hands are loose and can guide the head of the bat. There’s post-contact extension that leads to carry and loft too. He has the ingredients to turn his well above-average raw into legit over-the-fence power. As aesthetically pleasing as the 19-year-old is from an offensive tools standpoint, it all comes down to the development of his secondary skills, which comes from experience. There’s a large element of patience involved with a prospect like Mazara, and high risk because of the gaps that need to be closed, but I am betting it clicks and will click big in the long-run. –Chris Mellen

Roman Quinn, SS, Phillies (High-A Clearwater)
Quinn made it into last week’s Ten-Pack as well and serves as an example of why it’s important for scouts to get multiple looks at a player at different times during the season and during his developmental path. Our Chris King saw him last week and noted that he “looked like he was fighting the ball into his glove” at shortstop. I sat in on Quinn and his underwhelming Clearwater Phillies for a four-game series in Palm Beach and saw the exact opposite. Quinn looked smooth in the field and showed off the plus range that you’d expect from a player with 80 speed. He made two far-ranging plays, one in each direction, and showed off a plus arm capable of making throws from anywhere in the infield. His hands aren’t Francisco Lindor-soft, but he worked his way through the ball aggressively and gained ground before he threw—important aspects in fielding a ground ball.

It’s important to note that Quinn is just recently returning from a torn Achillies (he returned to game action two weeks ago) and is still getting caught back up with game speed, which is likely the reason for differing views on the same player. Chris caught him right after he returned, while I saw him after he had a few more games under his belt. It really can make a big difference, and goes to show why two scouts can see two different things at two different times and neither is wrong. As for Quinn, I’m not convinced that he’ll hit, especially from the right side, where his swing is rotational and can get long. He has a better chance as a left-handed hitter, but he makes no attempt to drive the ball and won’t ever be an impact bat. I believe he can stay at shortstop based on my look, and that along with top-of-the-chart speed makes for a usable major leaguer. The question will be how the bat comes around and if it’s enough to warrant everyday playing time. –Jeff Moore

Daury Torrez RHP Cubs (Low-A Kane County)
Command vs. control is a nuanced discussion that really changes one’s perspective on what a pitcher is doing in a given outing. Early in the development process it’s easy to confuse what a pitcher is working on and it colors perceptions on players. Torrez is an interesting case in that he has a plus fastball and a breaking ball that can be better if he started pitching through it more. He works with a low three-quarters delivery that lends itself to more of a sweeping two-plane breaker and it flashed across the two outings I saw him. I want to concentrate on the fastball, however.

Torrez has good life on a heater that works in the 90-93 range, touching 94 every so often. It should be a plus pitch but it plays down because Torrez has a habit of missing the mitt and drifting the ball over the heart of the plate where the wiggle loses a lot of effectiveness. Initially I wrote the pitch off but after observing another start and talking to a scout I wonder if early on in his development phase he’s simply working on control; if he’s working on getting the ball over the plate and hoping the refinement, i.e. command, comes later. There’s promise with the fastball as the late life is good. He has some things to work on but I came away impressed with the raw stuff. –Mauricio Rubio

Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP, Boston Red Sox (Low-A Greenville)
A second-round selection in both 2012 and 2013, Stankiewicz signed with the Red Sox last year out of a junior college and had an impressive professional debut in limited innings in the New York-Penn League. The Texan has performed decently in 11 starts in the Sally League thus far in 2014, posting a 4.18 ERA while showcasing a strike-throwing approach with a walk rate that is below league average. In his most recent outing, Stankiewicz displayed solid command of an 89-92 MPH fastball that touched 93 MPH through the first four innings. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound righty utilizes a drop-and-drive delivery and has some wrist wrap at the bottom of his arm swing, which causes issues generating downward plane on his fastball when he fails to get on top of the baseball. This can be heavily exploited when he misses up in the zone, an issue that plagued him after his first four frames of work in this look.

The slider is Stankiewicz' secondary weapon of choice and flashes above-average potential, sitting 79-84 MPH with good tilt and tight break, throwing it for both strikes and whiffs out of the zone. The low-80s changeup flashes potential but was used sparingly in this look at the behest of a well-located, yet loopy, get-me-over curveball in the low-70s that will not be a weapon at the major-league level. Stankiewicz flashes the ability to command his fastball in a manner that would allow him to succeed as a solid back-of-the-rotation arm, but the aforementioned delivery concerns and the resulting lack of fastball command when the issues are exacerbated give me pause about his future role. I like him as a fringy no. 5 starter or swingman at the major-league level. –Ethan Purser

Dazmon Cameron, OF, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, GA)
With the 2014 draft barely in the rearview mirror, amateur scouting departments from all 30 teams will immediately turn their attention to the 2015 crop of talent, a group headlined by prep center fielder Dazmon (Daz) Cameron. Son of 17-year big leaguer Mike Cameron, Daz offers a dizzying array of tools that will be on full display as tournament and showcase season progresses throughout the summer. With a broad-shouldered and tapered frame not unlike his father’s, Cameron adds strength and muscle development in his torso with each additional viewing.

Starting from a slightly open, crouched stance with his weight positioned firmly on his back leg, the Florida State commit shows polish beyond his years, displaying a mechanically appeasing swing with incredibly strong and quick hands, plus or better bat speed, and a barrel that stays on plane for an extended period of time, leading to two line drives that measured 102 MPH (from a wood bat) in my most recent viewing. His bat speed peaks through the hitting zone due to a running start generated by a small, repeatable hand pump. He could create more consistent leverage in his lower half, and combined with a fairly flat bat path, his game power might be one of his weaker present tools, but it is easy to project given a frame that will add even more strength and bat speed.

In the field, Cameron takes long, graceful strides in center field and displays a quick, short arm action with plenty of arm strength. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete reaches his top gear quickly both in the field and on the basepaths, making it to second base in 7.58 seconds on a hustle double. This is the total package, and one can be sure that plenty of important eyes will see him in the coming year. –Ethan Purser

Charlie Tilson, OF, Cardinals (High-A Palm Beach)
Tilson has an above-average hit tool and plus speed, which make for an interesting up-the-middle profile, but his lack of power will keep him from being an impact bat. He consistently posts home-to-first times between 4.0 and 4.1 from the left side and his approach at the plate mirrors his speed-based game, as he makes little effort to drive the ball. He uses his speed well in the outfield and will remain in center field, but he's not an aggressive base stealer and doesn't always look to run. Without a little more power (at least doubles power) or some improvement in his average plate discipline, he profiles as a fourth outfielder, but as long as he keeps hitting .300 he'll have a spot on a major league roster. –Jeff Moore

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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