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June 30, 2014

Monday Morning Ten Pack

June 30, 2014

by BP Prospect Staff

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Frederis Parra, RHP, GCL Cardinals
Tall, lean 19-year-old right-hander who looked to be taller than the 6-foot-3 he was listed at. Great pitcher's body that should hold more weight. Player has a quick arm and extremely loose arm action that generates easy velocity. Fastball sat between 90-94 over six innings of work and he maintained his velocity. The pitch has little movement but he generates a good downward plane. Pitcher used his fastball exclusively for first three innings and was still effective. Featured a slider at 77-78 mph with hard downward break. Pitch was inconsistent at present but further along than most GCL sliders and showed the potential to be a plus pitch. Changeup was currently ahead of the slider and was a present average pitch on the day I saw him. Player was consistent with the pitch and threw it for strikes. Features only some arm-side fade, but his quick arm speed created additional deception. Will be a plus pitch when he learns to generate more movement on the pitch.

This is Parra's first stateside experience, which is the only reason he's still in a complex league. His pure stuff is good enough for a full-season league right now and he will likely be promoted to a short-season league after a few starts. Parra is currently better than some of the guys in the Cardinals’ Palm Beach (High-A) rotation. He is still extremely far away and is a high-risk prospect, but he has a high ceiling. Potential 2/3 starter. –Jeff Moore

Eddie Rosario, 2B/OF, Twins (Double-A New Britain)
Rosario possesses an extremely fluid swing, with quick wrists that enable him to rifle the head of the bat through the zone with ease. It’s one of those pretty strokes that’s enjoyable to watch. In my latest look at the Twins prospect, the easy and loose swing stood out. Rosario was right there with the mechanical side. I didn’t see any issue there. What did stick out was his approach. The 22-year-old failed to cover the outer third with his eyes, which caused him to open a tad early and lose some plate coverage with his swing. The head of the bat yanked at times, and led to rolling over or lazily carving the ball off. I saw the potential for a 5+ hitter with some pop in the stick, but the approach in the box left some concerns as to whether that will come to full fruition. The ability to drive the ball hard the other way was lacking, and I feel he’ll have to show the willingness to do so in order to keep pitchers from exploiting him on the outer third. Follow-ups on Rosario will be focused on whether this is becoming a trend. –Chris Mellen

J.D. Davis, 3B, Astros, (Short-season Tri-City)
When watching Davis recently, his quick, powerful hands stood out. He can certainly whip the bat through the zone. I also liked the way he was able to pull those hands in. As a right-handed hitter with some length to his arms, this is as an important trait when it comes to projecting his hitting ability against high-caliber arms. It should enable him to get good wood on stuff on the inner third, and not have a hole in that spot due to over-extending. The defensive ability here is also a key toward his prospects as a future regular. In my first look at the 21-year-old, the athleticism showed as about average at the hot corner. There was a bit of a rigid and stiff nature to his movements, though he flashed quick reactions in charging the ball. The arm more than stacks up for third as I saw a 6+ weapon at his disposal. It would be a waste for it to move across the diamond, but for now I see him getting every chance to continue to sharpen his defensive skills to see if it can work in higher levels. –Chris Mellen

Thairo Estrada, SS, Yankees (SS-A Staten Island)
The young Venezuelan is not a flashy prospect by any means, but he is excellent with a few tools that will likely propel him through the minors. Estrada is a terrific fielder, with great instincts and good footing. He is fluid in the field, displaying plus range and soft hands capable of making tough plays and short hops. The arm might only be fringe-average at this time, but Estrada is able to make up for the lack of arm strength with excellent instincts and good timing. The bat is more barrel-to-ball skills, with minimal power and a slight hitch that could affect timing down the road. Estrada is 18, but he plays like someone older. These instincts are notable on the basepaths, and boost his solid-average speed. Some players just have a natural feel for the game, and Estrada is certainly one of them. I do not envision impact here, but Estrada could end up a solid second-division type or a utility player down the road. –Tucker Blair

Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Rays (SS-A Hudson Valley)
First base prospects need to hit, and hit often. It's the nature of the game. In his first stint in professional baseball, Gillaspie has an OPS under .700 in his first 50 plate appearances. He is a switch-hitter, so we need to look at both sides of the plate to really gain an understanding of what the issue is. As a left-handed hitter, Gillaspie has a slight loft with plus raw power. The bat takes some time through the zone relative to the right side, but he is able to provide more impact. However, there is more swing-and-miss on the left side. In his at-bats against Dylan Bundy, he struggled to catch up with Bundy's fastball on the outside corner at 93 mph. As a right-handed hitter, the swing is more linear with a quicker bat through the zone. This is the side where he will make more contact and provide a more consistent bat. However, I do not see it being an impact side. He keeps the hands quiet and the load is very soft, but the swing is more of a gap-to-gap singles swing. My initial take on Gillaspie as a whole was that he is not an impact player. As a first round selection, the younger Gillaspie brother was a bit disappointing in this initial look. –Tucker Blair

Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Low-A Asheville)
It is very rare to see a player who possesses elite physical tools and great instincts for the game. Tapia is that type of player. At the plate he features great balance and timing within his swing. His bat speed is solid, especially when in a hitter’s count. When he’s sitting on a pitch he ramps up his swing but never loses balance. When behind he showcases good bat control which is a feature hardly seen in the low minors. He doesn’t just prey on bad Low-A pitching. He has the ability to hit a pitcher’s best offering. The hit tool grades out to 7 and the power at least a 5. He runs very well, typically getting to first around 4 seconds flat. His instincts on the basepaths lead to easy steals and a knack for taking an extra base. He is currently playing LF but on almost any other team (shares an outfield with David Dahl) he would be a CF. His arm is average but has the potential to get stronger as his frame fills out. I’ve found something new to love about Tapia each time I’ve seen him. There is very little doubt in my mind the young man will be a special player for the Rockies. — Ryan Parker

Tapia1 from Ryan Parker on Vimeo.

Pierce Johnson (Kane County Low-A Cubs)
Pierce Johnson doesn’t have dominant stuff but his pitch mix and ability to command them makes him an interesting arm in the Cubs system. I saw him in Beloit this past Friday. Johnson uses a full windup with a high leg kick and delivers from a ¾ slot. I charted him in the 90-92 range for most of the game on a fastball that was fairly straight. He throws a slurvy breaking ball that has 10-4 break but it operates at 82-84. Johnson also showed a cutter at 88 which appears to be a new pitch. It flashed plus movement and was difficult to differentiate from the fastball as it had late movement. Johnson settled in nicely after a shaky first inning, in which he walked Melvin Mercedes and floated a fastball to Jaycob Brugman, who hit a no-doubter out to deep center. Johnson was a bit off on his command early but as the game wore on he was hitting his spots and working down in the zone. That’s going to be key for him, as the stuff isn’t special and the velocity is just average. But he showed plus command on his fastball, slurve and cutter and flashed a changeup in there that I’d like to see him utilize more often. There’s not much projection left; he pretty much is what he is. That can be a solid 4 starter with four average to solid-average pitches and good command, though. –Mauricio Rubio

Chris Anderson, RHP, Dodgers (High-A Rancho Cucamonga)
The Dodgers’ 2013 first round selection is a legit 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds with a well proportioned frame. Big, broad shoulders and thick legs give him plus overall strength on the mound, and allow him to hold his velocity throughout the game. The delivery is sound and athletic, with a slight hesitation before using the most of his tall frame to stride toward the plate. His fastball worked 91-93 early, with arm-side life and minimal effort. As the game progressed, he started pumping up the effort a little more and touched 95 three times, along with at least five readings of 94. The command was just okay early, with the fastball living up in the zone a little too much for my taste. However, I was impressed with the way Anderson attacked batters; he challenged them with fastballs early and often and the second and third time around he would work backward, dropping in a first-pitch slider or curveball to keep them off balance. His slider and curveball flashed plus, but command was again an issue; they were often left up and some lost their bite. His best pitch of the night was his changeup, which featured good sink when down in the zone and kept batters off balance. I came in expecting a polished college starter and was a little disappointed with his command on this night, but he battled and pitched one of his best games of the season. Anderson still has a lot to work on, like fastball command and consistency with his off-speed pitches, but time is on his side with solid depth in the major leagues. I wouldn’t count out Anderson becoming an innings-eating back-end starter in due time. –Chris Rodriguez

Adam Law, LF, Dodgers (High-A California League)
Jason tabbed Law as a prospect on the rise in his preseason write-up of the Dodger system despite the player’s advanced age and lack of pedigree, and after several viewings I can see where the instinct came from. There’s little to no leverage or drive to his swing at all, and he almost swings down on the ball at times, leaving little chance that he’ll ever develop any power. But the stroke is extremely fluid and quite pretty to watch. He’s short to the ball, delivering the barrel into the zone with an excellently synchronized launch that doesn’t really have any wasted motion to speak of. He shows good pitch recognition, including a notable strength at identifying spin, and the quickness of his stroke allows him to let the ball travel deep before committing. Still, there’s an awful lot of rough edges remaining with his game, and as a 24-year-old in High-A the clock is ticking. Most notably, while he’s very fast—I clocked him multiple times in the 4.1 to 4.15 range to first as a right-handed hitter—he’s not a good basestealer, thanks to an inconsistent first step and a high effort launch when he takes off. And after moving off third base to left field this spring he exhibits an expected rawness to his reactions and route running in the outfield. The closing speed is high end, and it should play up all the more as he gets better acquainted with the position, but he’s very definitely a work in progress out there. All told I’m not sure what to make of the profile going forward. The hit tool is legit, and the raw material is there for a useful piece of major-league depth. But he’s still a long while away from that conversation. – Wilson Karaman

Kurt Spomer, RHP, Angels (High-A California League)
An undrafted 24 year-old out of Creighton University, Spomer certainly doesn’t possess the pedigree of a major-league-caliber arm, and yet he made an impression as an interesting situational relief prospect despite a recent demotion back to High-A from Double-A. He’s a true sidewinder, with a low delivery complete with exaggerated cross-body release. While the motion was deceptive, that wasn’t the primary driver of success. Instead it was the velocity and movement that stuck out, as he sat 85-86 and touched 88 on a humpback two-seamer. When thrown correctly the pitch featured a burst of arm-side snap that showed strong plus potential as a groundball-inducing weapon. The weight transfer coming forward to his front side was a bit inconsistent pitch to pitch, and the delivery inconsistencies led to him leaving a couple heaters up in the zone that flattened out, including one at the high end of his velocity range that was served easily into the opposite field corner by a left-handed hitter. Beyond gaining greater consistency with that pitch, breaking ball development will determine whether he ends up with a big-league future or not. His deuce came flowing in around the mid-70s with a long, running arch that, while effective on this night at Inland Empire, isn’t going to cut it consistently against more polished hitters. Still, the fastball foundation is effective enough against same-handed hitting that it should buy him ample opportunities to work his way toward a big-league bullpen. – Wilson Karaman

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