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July 10, 2014

Notes from the Field

July 10, 2014

by Jeff Moore and Austin Diamond

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Florida State League Notes

By Jeff Moore

Breyvic Valera, 2B, Cardinals (Palm Beach, A+): Recently promoted to Double-A; switch-hitter, lots of movement in his right-handed stance, unnecessary bat wiggle, doesn't always get back to hitting position, left-handed stance is much quieter; plus bat speed from the left side, average from the right; potential plus hitter, better from left side; trouble recognizing changeups but can barrel up a fastball; below average power from both sides, will never hit for power. Solid defender at second base with above-average range, but not a premium defender; left-side profile. Plus speed, 4.1 to first base from left side. Not an everyday player but could find a niche as a role player

Jorge Flores, 2B, Blue Jays (Dunedin, A+): Undersized player, listed at 5-foot-5; embraces small-man's game offensively, bunting for hits, putting the ball on the ground and using plus speed (4.1 from right side), good bat to ball skills, little to no power and doesn't look to drive the ball; premium defender at second base, quick first step leading to plus range; strong enough arm to make all the throws at second base, enough to handle shortstop in stints but not enough to make necessary throws from 5/6 hole; short, quick release, especially on double play turn. Won't offer much offensively but could have enough value as a defender and a baserunner to be a bottom-of-the-lineup regular on a strong offensive team.

Niko Goodrum, 3B, Twins (Ft. Myers, A+): Lanky frame that should fill out nicely as he ages, can hold additional strength; switch-hitter with above-average bat speed from both sides, slightly quicker bat from left side; left-handed swing can get long, right-handed swing stays inside the ball better but doesn't generate as much power; mostly doubles power at this point, though he generated backspin from the left side that could lead to average home run production as he fills out; still learning third base after transitioning from the middle of the field, shows good footwork and a feel for getting the good hop; smooth, natural hands should allow him to be at least an average defender at the position; shows a plus arm with good carry, definite left-side profile. Player is still raw and adjusting to a new position but flashed potential on both offense and defense. Potential everyday player.

Gabriel Lino, C, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): Average bat speed but loopy swing, can get tied up inside easily; will expand the strike zone, especially with two pitches; collapses back leg, drop-and-drive swing; sloppy behind the plate, misses catchable pitches too often leading to unnecessary passed balls; loose framing; plus arm strength but poor mechanics lead to erratic throws. Lots of work to do to be an effective catcher and will never hit for high average. Backup catcher profile.

Colin Klevin, RHP, Phillies (Clearwater, A+): Below-average arm speed, but good height and long frame leads to good velocity; crossfire delivery, lands arm side and throws across his body; repeats his delivery well for a tall pitcher; sat 91-93 as a starter and hit 94 a few times, relatively straight fastball but showed some ability to cut the ball; slider was 83-86 with downward break; changeup was ineffective; two-pitch pitcher with some deception which could allow for a middle-relief role. Should be tough on right-handed hitters.

Gulf Coast League Notes

By Jeff Moore

Malik Collymore, 2B, Cardinals (GCL Cardinals, R): Plus athlete, raw player;19-year-old out of Canada, still learning the game and gaining experience, which shows at times; thick upper body, well built for a young player; shows plus bat speed at the plate with a short swing path from the right side; high back elbow causes him to dip at times, but he still barrels the ball up consistently; can get rotational, but wants to use the whole field; at his best when he stays on the all up the middle and shoots the gaps; presently shows only gap power but build and bat speed should lead to at least average power as he gains experience, if not slightly above average; shows above-average range at second base, still learning how to play the position; doesn't position himself well to get the good hop, shows questionable game awareness, both of which could be solved with more experience; hands looks to be soft but still learning the mechanics of handling groundballs. Future still very much to be determined but athleticism and ability to find the barrel are extremely intriguing.

Frederis Parra, RHP, Cardinals (GCL Cardinals, R): Far too advanced for the GCL, but in first stateside assignment. Tall frame, looked taller than the listed 6-foot-3; quick, loose, with plus-plus arm action; falls off on his finish, but remains under control during delivery; fastball worked 90-94 with good downward plane, velocity comes easily from delivery and maintained it through six innings; slider was 77-78 and showed plus downward movement; generated many swings and misses when down in zone; changeup was 83-84 and has above-average present command, pitch has some fade, but mostly was effective due to deception from long, quick arm action. Player showed three present average pitches, which is unfair in the GCL. All three have above-average to plus potential. Currently better than some of the Cardinals’ High-A starters.

Sally League Notes

By Jeff Moore

Low-A Hagerstown (Nationals)
Drew Ward, 3B: Good physical build, prototypical third base size and body; setup at plate starts with bat flat on his shoulder but straightens out before the pitch is delivered; uses a toe tap as a timing mechanism; swing can get rotational at times which gives him trouble going the other way, even in batting practice; bat speed is slightly above-average; size, strength and natural left-handed uppercut generate good power, but balls have too much top-spin when hit to pull side, which limits the carry on the ball and will limit his power; struggled mightily with changeup recognition, swinging through six of them in a two-game stint; aggressive approach led to poor at-bats and easy outs; at third base, he showed stiff hands and limited range; was beat multiple times to his right; has a plus arm and can make all the throws from anywhere in the infield.

Jake Johansen, RHP: Ideal pitcher’s frame, tall with solid build and the room for even more strength; starts with hands high and body turned away from the plate; short arm action on the back end, short extension for a taller pitcher; fastball sits 92-93 and can hit 95; fastball command is inconsistent, as is the movement—some are straight while others have cutting action; when he misses, it’s pulled hard down and to the glove side, leading to wild pitches; secondary pitch is a slider which sits 77-79; command of slider is below average as well, but it features plus 11-5 movement; when he misses he misses down, staying out of trouble but leading to more wild pitches; changeup is well below average, thrown at 85-87 mph with little command; does not have a good feel for the pitch and is way too firm; profiles as a two-pitch pitcher with below-average command; fastball/slider combination has late-inning potential but will need to improve command to pitch in high-leverage situations.

Spencer Kieboom, C: Advanced approach for Low-A ball, but old for the level; starts with a slightly open stance and good rhythm at the plate; swing path is flat and has average bat speed; does a nice job of using the whole field and understands how to drive the opposite field (RCF) gap; some pitch recognition issues with changeups and is extremely aggressive at the plate, which could get him into trouble; front foot bails out slightly which can give him issues on fastballs on the outer half; defensively sound behind the plate with a strong arm; threw a runner out from his knees; has some work pitch recognition and plate discipline but it’s an interesting combination of bat-to-ball skills and arm strength for a catcher.

Rafael Bautista, CF: Thin, wiry build that will never pack extreme strength; still needs to add significant weight to keep from getting abused at higher levels; plus athlete with some natural baseball skills; keeps hands low and tight to his body in setup at plate leading to a flat, linear swing that can get rotational at times; short swing for a player with long arms; plus bat speed and plus bat-to-ball skills allows him to get away with below-average pitch recognition; aggressive approach leads to low walk rate and lots of bad contact, but plus speed leads to infield hits; extremely strong, quick wrists and good bat control give him a chance to hit, despite flaws in approach; little power due to small ball approach, but does generate some backspin which could give him just enough power to keep pitchers honest; defensively, he has a good first step in center field and tracks the ball well, though his rawness still shows on balls over his head when the fence is involved.

Low-A Lakewood (Phillies)
Carlos Tocci, OF: Most obvious thing about Tocci is lack of physical development; could struggle to add weight; no power in offensive game, partially due to strength but also due to approach; embraces leadoff role in swing despite frame that could lead to more power but not in approach; aggressive at the plate; starts with high hands, features above-average bat speed but not elite; up-the-middle approach, looking for line drives to the gaps; tracks the ball well in the outfield and has good speed, but might outgrow center field if he fills out and develops any power; could be a tweener profile—won’t develop enough power for a corner but filling out could cost him ability to stay in center.

Dylan Cozens, OF: Ideal combination of size and strength for a hitter; usable swing, natural uppercut; plus bat speed; above-average power; plus power to center and left field, average power to right field (his pull side) because of extreme top spin, ball carries better when he gets extended and uses whole field; struggles mightily with recognition of breaking pitches, even from opposite-handed pitchers—will limit capability of hit tool; power and size makes for an intriguing profile, but will need to make significant strides in pitch recognition and plate discipline in order to make it work in games; high-risk player.

Larry Greene, Jr., OF: Fantastically built, not tall but strong and well developed; plus bat speed, good natural power but long swing and terrible approach; no pitch recognition, no adjustment to pitch; will expand zone frequently, will roll over pitches on outer half of strike zone; ultra-aggressive hitter; can hit only one pitch in one location—can do damage on inner half if he gets his hands extended, but otherwise will get self out; talented but extreme long shot to make it work in games; extremely high-risk prospect with limited ceiling.

Carolina League Notes

By Jeff Moore

High-A Wilmington (Royals)
Jack Lopez, 2B: Would be a shortstop if not for presence of Raul Mondesi; shows shortstop range and arm strength at second base; plus arm, extreme range to both sides; creativity on non-routine plays; smooth hands and good actions; will be a plus defender.

Luis Santos, RHP: Inconsistent three-quarters arm slot but a live, loose arm with velocity potential; fastball sat 91-93 throughout start; fastball cut consistently, though the amount of movement varied; some had only slight cutting action while others moved like a 91 mph slider; player is still learning how to control movement but pitch has plus potential; featured 75-77 curveball that was very inconsistent but showed potential to be a usable second pitch; Changeup was well below average and was thrown way too firm at 86-87 mph with no feel or command; profiles as a two-pitch middle reliever, but will need to improve breaking ball; cutting fastball was a very interesting pitch, however, and gives him a weapon with which to attack hitters if he can come up with a secondary offering.

Bubba Starling, OF: Swing is long and noisy with far too much movement; poor pitch recognition; swing through hittable high-80s fastballs that he needs to hit; plus center fielder with good reactions; tracks the ball well and glides smoothly from gap to gap; will be a plus center fielder; was surprised at his build: ideal frame that can handle much weight, but given athletic reputation and football background, was surprised at his build, which needs to add strength; plus runner with long strides; speed and defense can be an asset, but will not hit.

Arizona League Notes

By Austin Diamond

Alex Jackson, OF, Seattle Mariners

Sixth overall pick of 2014 draft ($4.2 Million); 6-foot-2/215; physical, well-proportioned build; high waist; reminds me of a slimmer Carlos Quentin.

Calm demeanor at the plate; upright stance; medium base; under control, repeatable swing/mechanics; flashes plus bat speed; hands are generally direct to the ball with an up-the-middle approach; good hip rotation and leverage when arms get extension; balanced on takes; advanced judge of the zone; main concern is that as he loads his hands, he cocks them so that the top of the bat is facing toward the pitcher, lengthening the bat path. In the two games I saw, Jackson swung and missed at a handful of low-90s fastballs in the upper half of the zone, and was generally getting beat by velocity, aside from one hard-hit ball.

I came away very impressed by Jackson’s play in RF; advanced instincts and actions; plus arm; quick release; good accuracy; below-average speed, but moves well underway; solid reads off the bat; made a really nice catch against the wall in foul territory, running hard to the spot, but showing awareness and body control as he approached the wall; made a nice fielding play on grounder down the RF line, smoothly cutting it off on the move to his left, spinning, and throwing to the cutoff man in one motion; showed good footwork on charging grounders; displayed willingness to do the little things like moving toward 1B on pickoff attempts and backing up fly balls to straight-away CF.

With present tools and plus baseball instincts, Jackson definitely looks like a player who can potentially provide all-star offense and above-verage defense in RF, but I look forward to seeing how, or if, he adjusts to hitting better velocity on a consistent basis.

Isan Diaz, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

Selected in the supplemental second round in 2014. Born in Puerto Rico, but went to high school in Massachusetts; listed at 5-foot-10/185; well proportioned frame; some present strength in shoulders and lower half, but lacks physical projection; Jose Vidro body comparisons seem apt.

Lefty hitter w/ natural feel for the barrel; uses whole field; short and direct to the ball; slight open set-up; leg kick or step to close, with rhythm to short hand load; shows good timing; balanced and sturdy base on contact; good takes, tracking pitch across the plate; line drive hitter; hits with some leverage and hip-rotation, but below-average power potential, based on approach and frame.

In the field, Diaz shows soft, quick hands and excellent body control. Good feet and feel to play hops; impressive on balls in the air, making an over the shoulder catch running back into short left field; well below-average arm strength; arm action is almost more like short-arm flick, lacking velo on the release; good range moving to his left but below average going to his right; instincts and feel, but the poor arm and below-average speed likely leave no chance to stay at SS as he moves up the ladder.

Diaz lacks upside with below-average speed/arm strength/power, but with advanced natural baseball skills and actions for his age, the probability to reach his potential is higher than most early high school picks, in my opinion. He lacks defensive versatility, but his feet, body control, and hands all play well at 2B, where his arm would be much less of a concern. He is a below-average runner, without much early burst, but has an extra gear underway. Diaz’s ability to hit for average and get on base will have to carry him to the majors, because his bench value is limited as a 2B only player without a carrying physical tool.

Marcus Wilson, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Toolsy OF drafted one pick after Diaz; 6-foot-3/175; Long, wiry, and lean frame; reminds me physically of Doug Glanville; 17; a body type that looks more likely to stay slim.

Raw at the plate; noticeable bat speed, with some whip to the finish; straight-on stance; medium base; step and hand load are under control, but the mechanics are rarely repeated from one swing to the next; direction is often open; tries to pull everything; loses his back foot often before contact; shows some early count patience, but lacks an approach.

Tools play better in the field; I did not see him really tested in CF, but Wilson is a 65 runner down the line; moves fluidly; smooth actions fielding balls on the ground; above-average arm with an easy, quick release that hits the target.

Wilson is on the opposite end of the prospect spectrum as Diaz, with a much higher ceiling, but much lower floor. The bat is a long ways away, so a lot will depend on his aptitude in processing information from coaches and applying it. With the bat speed, I can see potential for a fringe-average hit tool and average power, but even if the hit tool does not develop enough to be an everyday player, Wilson has the profile of a fourth or fifth outfielder providing plus defense, speed, and occasional pop.

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