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July 24, 2014

Eyewitness Accounts

July 24, 2014

by Tucker Blair


Nigel Nootbaar

Born: 03/24/1993 (Age: 21)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 180
Mechanics
Accurate size listing; slender frame; might be a little room to fill out more; high 3/4th arm slot; excellent arm speed; terrific extension from long arms; good plane; slight drive that could be more prominent in future; will drag arm across at times; creates some command issues; will fall off and open up sometimes; exerted delivery using mostly energy from upper half; 1.44-1.53 delivery times.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/09/2014
Affiliate Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season, Orioles)
Dates Seen 6/28/2014; 7/9/2014
OFP/Risk 50/Low
Realistic 50; 7th Inning Reliever
MLB ETA 2016
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 55 60 90-94 95 Good plane and excellent arm speed allows FB to explode out of hand; deceptive and creeps up on hitter; minimal horizontal movement; slight arm-side run at lower velo band; command is fringe-average currently; slight refinement could boost to plus offering; dragging of arm and opening up are main result of command issues; needs to find balance in between and this will solve the FB command issues.
CB 55 60 82-85 86 SL type pitch with the velocity; shows tilt but has some depth that makes it look more like a CB; hard secondary offering with wipeout potential; 10-6 to 11-5 angle that moves quickly; will keep up in zone at times which could become hittable at higher levels; slight refinement in command should make this a more consistent offering; shows ability to replicate arm speed and release points relative to FB; better at 83-84 velo band
CH 84 Threw one in two appearances; not enough of a sample to grade.
Overall

Nootbaar is an advanced college arm who should move quickly through the system. He flashes a plus FB and CB that both could use a slight refinement in command before he reaches his ceiling. There is minimal projection left here, but a slight tick of growth into his frame could bring a mild increase in velocity.

Nootbaar does a solid job of keeping his FB low in the zone and picking off hitters with the hard CB offering. He should roll through the lower minors and face his first real challenges at the A+/AA levels. The one concern is the straight FB, which does get a slight improvement due to the deceptiveness and explosion of the offering. If he can refine the command, this is a RP that could help a big-league club in the next year or two.



Jake Johansen

Born: 01/23/1991 (Age: 23)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 6" Weight: 235
Mechanics
Tall; built frame; thick and muscular lower half; great pitching frame; starts out with body open in windup; then inverts when he begins windup; the inverted windup looks to keep him compact throughout delivery; mild stab in back; very mild arm drag; will occasionally rear back more; good drive toward home with clean deceleration; slightly exerted but large frame can handle it; live arm; excellent arm speed; release points will vary; often early due to occasional flying open; will cause him to elevate pitches; delivery times 1.35-1.40.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/18/2014
Affiliate Hagerstown Suns (Low A, Nationals)
Dates Seen 7/18/14
OFP/Risk 60/High
Realistic 55; Late-innings Reliever
MLB ETA 2017
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 55 65 90-94 95 Live arm; FB is explosive offering with life; shows cut in 90-93 velo band; straightens out some at higher velo band; release points affect his command; currently fringe-average and leaves FB up in zone way too often; pitch was hit hard by Delmarva lineup; looseness and location are biggest factors; more impressed by the cut in the lower velo band than the higher velo; could be a plus offering if the command tightens; currently not doing enough to warrant a higher grade.
CH 45 55 82-85 86 Split CH variety; replicates FB arm speed well; pitch has good feel; has some late parachute action; drops at last moment; command is very erratic currently; fringe; leaving the pitch too high in zone and over the plate; confident that he can iron this out; release points were biggest issue; he was able to smooth them out for the middle innings of his outing; not a plus pitch but good enough to be a solid secondary offering in majors; better in the higher velo band; as it more effectively replicates FB in this range.
CB 45 50 76-79 79 Only threw a handful of them; 11-5 offering; shows average depth with tight spin; able to locate well in zone; pounded outside half against RHH; pitch could use mild tweak in command; currently fringe-average; able to replicate arm speed; release points were better than CH; decent secondary offering.
Overall

Johansen has a live arm capable of touching mid-90s with his FB, while flashing two average to solid-average secondary offerings. The overall package is impressive, and leaves the impression that if everything clicks he can be a mid-rotation starter at the highest level. However, the command issues are worrisome and he leaves his pitches elevated far too often.

I was not impressed by his pitchability, often wondering what his plan was on the mound. It seems like he was mostly working on the FB/CH combo, but both pitches are currently erratic and easy to barrel when left up in the zone.

The risk is high for Johansen as a starter, because he will need to tighten up all three pitches to provide a consistent package. If moved to the bullpen, I would fully expect the FB to gain a tick in velocity. I could realistically see him sitting in the 93-96+ range. However, the cut at the lower velo band was the most intriguing aspect of his arsenal. He is a tick too old for his current league, which means the clock is likely ticking fast on his chance to stick as a starter.







Hunter Harvey

Born: 12/09/1994 (Age: 19)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 175
Mechanics
Skinny frame; room for growth; projectable body; smooth delivery; slight crossfire; stays tall with good drive; natural 3/4th arm slot; excellent arm speed; fluid motion and keeps hips rotating in unison with upper body; good plane; shows ability to stay compact and push towards home; delivery times 1.34-1.41; quick delivery and works fast on the mound.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/18/2014
Affiliate Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A, Orioles)
Dates Seen 7/18/14
OFP/Risk 70/High
Realistic 60; No. 3 Starter
MLB ETA 2016
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 60 65 92-94 95 Easy velocity; consistently sat 92-94 the entire 5.0 inning outing; arm-side run at higher velo band; cut displayed at times in lower velo band; aggressive attacking inside with FB to both LHH and RHH; pitch has late explosion and mild deception due to good plane and ability to change eye level of hitter; command is currently average; great feel for his FB and likely reaches plus command; FB is currently a plus offering; could see tick of improvement from growth into frame and the remaining improvement in command left; true weapon that can be thrown in multiple fashions relative to the situation and hitter.
CB 65 70 76-78 79 Hammer; 11-5 offering; tight spin; deep depth that moves quickly; ability to replicate FB arm speed; command of CB is solid-average with chance to become plus; cast a few; shows ability to drop pitch on outside portion of the zone for a strike; able to hit spots for a strike; also shows ability to snap pitch below the zone for swinging strikes; registered seven swinging strikes; five of those swinging strikes were for strikeouts; will double up on pitch; shows extreme confidence to throw in any count; can become too reliant on CB and will throw too often; pitch is a plus-plus future offering that could rack up K's at any level if he can keep his release points consistent.
CH 45 55 81-84 86 Clearly the biggest developmental concern at this time; CH shows feel; able to replicate FB arm speed; mild fade with some arm-side run; does not consistently throw it effectively; comes in too firm at times; release points often too early and leaves pitch elevated; command currently fringe; pitch should get to an average offering; chance to become solid-average if he can find a consistent release point and lessen the firmness; best pitch of the night was a swinging strikeout on a fading CH low and inside to a RHH; this was also the last pitch of his outing.
Overall

Harvey has extreme confidence on the mound. He shows an innate ability to pitch, displaying extreme pitchability and cognizance of the situation surrounding him. His aggressiveness is tremendous, and he will attack hitters inside and then finish them off with the hammer CB. The FB/CB combo is one of the better duo's in the minors, but the CH still has a long ways to go before he becomes consistent enough to start at the highest level.

A ton of projection is left here, with his growth into his skinny frame likely meaning he adds on a tick in velocity down the road. This could help benefit his FB and CH, making them become better future weapons. Harvey is dominant in the Low-A level, but the CH will likely need to become more consistent before he is able to handle the next two levels. He does rely on the CB too much, which is not surprising considering its plus-plus potential and the confidence he has throwing it.

If everything clicks with Harvey, this is a front-line starter who could be one of the better pitchers in the game. He is far from that at this current time, with a high amount of growth left. He looks young on the mound, even if he does pitch like a player older than his age. I did like how Harvey was able to consistently show the same stuff the entire outing, holding his velocity and the depth on his CB.







Lucas Giolito

Born: 07/14/1994 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 6" Weight: 255
Mechanics
Excellent frame; huge build with muscled top half; sturdy bottom half; proportionate throughout frame; high 3/4th arm slot; still shows mild arm stab; great arm speed; long extension due to long arms; terrific plane; shows excellent drive and ability to stay tall; delivery is slow and deliberate in windup; velocity and stuff holds in stretch; delivery times 1.37-1.43 range; toes right side of rubber with finish pointed toward RHH box; slightly higher leg kick than last view; shows ability to stay balanced even with mild exertion in delivery; drifted less this outing; showed ability to stay more compact.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/19/2014
Affiliate Hagerstown Suns (Low A, Nationals)
Dates Seen 7/19/2014
OFP/Risk 80/High
Realistic 65; No. 2 Starter
MLB ETA 2016
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 65 75 91-96 97 Sat mostly 92-95; FB is explosive and looks faster than listed velocity; shows extreme arm-side run at 92-95 velo band; mild boring action; excellent plane plays up the velocity and movement from FB; changes the eye level of the hitter; RHH have hard time picking pitch up out of his hand due to plane and movement; command is average; flashed better command in first four innings; flew open a few times in fifth and sixth innings; this caused a few FB to sail up in zone but hitters could not make sufficient contact; overall, a near elite potential offering that could be a terrific offering at the highest level; did not see the consistent elite pitch that was displayed in first time seeing, but still a plus-plus offering for most of the outing; command could still improve and extra velocity could come with more stamina gained; trailed off in sixth inning.
CB 70 80 78-82 82 Elite offering; very tight spin; extreme depth; 11-5 with terrific movement and looks faster than the actual listed velocity; shows two-plane break; hitters had a difficult time recognizing the pitch out of hand; near perfection in terms of replicating arm speed and action relative to FB; shows ability to pound outside half of plate to both sides; extreme confidence in this pitch and will throw at any time; clearly his go-to pitch and will challenge hitters with it in consecutive pitches; command was better than last viewing; currently solid-average; does not need to throw this for a strike to have effectiveness; casted only one out of a dozen thrown; release point showed better this outing.
CH 45 55 81-83 84 Flashed solid-average; arm speed is replicated from FB; release points were an issue; was releasing too early and leaving up in zone; command is currently fringe; pitch has mild feel; becomes too firm at times and looks like a slower FB without much fade; clearly a work-in-progress but has the ability to become at least an average offering and help counter the FB/CB combo; works best in the 81-82 velo band.
Overall

In what was my second viewing of Giolito this season, he flashed generally the same arsenal and displayed another outing of the near elite FB/CB combo. The fastball did not quite reach the ceiling that was displayed in my first look, but it was still an excellent pitch capable of dominating at higher levels. The CB is a true elite offering, with only slight release point issues as the main concern. The CB is one of the best pitches in the minors and he shows extreme confidence in the offering.

His CH was thrown more in this outing, and it was clear he was working on this pitch throughout the entire outing. In certain cases, he went to the CH instead of the CB to finish off a batter. For progression as a pitcher, this was important for me to see. It is clear that the CB is going to play at the higher levels, but Giolito was able to flash the CH and show that this pitch can be effective when it is consistent. The CH needs more refinement, but the ability is there and slight improvements were noted from my last viewing.

Giolito is a competitor on the mound, and you can generally see the emotions on the rubber. He wants to be perfect out there, but he does not let it faze him when somethings does not go his way. I like his pitchability and competitiveness, and I think once the training wheels completely come off, he will fly through the minors. He still has not built up his stamina, but remember this is a pitcher coming off TJS and it is the latter half of the season now.

Overall, this is a potential front-line starter with a chance to be one of the better pitchers in the game. The risk is there, but the package is one of the best I have seen.











Josh Hart

Born: 10/02/1994 (Age: 19)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 6' 1" Weight: 180
Primary Position: CF
Secondary Position:
Physical/Health
Wiry frame; small build; little legs; small overall frame; mild room for growth left; could fill out lower half some.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/20/2014
Dates Seen 7/18/14 - 7/20/14
Affiliate Delmarva Shorebirds (Low A, Orioles)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2018 High 50 45; Fourth Outfielder Yes
Makeup

Have seen nothing negative in Hart the entire season. Professional out there.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 55 Excellent barrel-to-ball skills; minimal noise in hands once set; barrel is quick through zone from fast-twitch muscles in hands and wrists; has a slight lift in swing; can occasionally lift balls too much; lack of power makes this a hindrance; good extension; able to reach outside pitches and drive them on a line; shows able to barrel and spray ball all over diamond; batting practice consists of line drive after line drive; load is moderate; usually able to keep balance; sometimes will drift forward and become too weighted on front leg; hands will mildly drift at times but this was much less than initial look in April; moderate ability to recognize spin; froze on CB from Lucas Giolito in first AB but was able to adjust and recognize in second AB.
Power 20 Nothing; too bullish on the power in my initial report from April; just no impact and pop in the bat; can spray the ball gap-to-gap; but ball does not scream off the bat even when he barrels a pitch; I do think very mild power can develop down the road; just do not see it currently.
Baserunning/Speed 60 4.01 home to first; short legs but can reach max speed quickly; great agility; excellent on bases; shows instincts; speed is big asset in all phases of the game; will be a steal threat.
Glove 70 Excellent in CF; natural instincts; terrific reads on balls in the gap; works well at pivoting on ball hit directly over his head; great route-running; first step is excellent and a true example of how well his instincts are; plus speed and agility help him run down tough plays; not afraid to be aggressive on balls in the gap but understands when to put on the brakes; overall, shows excellent athleticism and instincts and could be a terrific defensive outfielder at the major league level.
Arm 40 Arm is not a weapon; small body without a ton of muscle; does not have enough to throw on a line from medium distance in OF; accurate throws.
Overall

Hart is a raw prospect with a long way to go before everything clicks. The defense and speed will carry him for now, but the bat has a bit to go before reaching its ceiling.

The consistent, short stroke from Hart works often, although the production remains hollow at this time. Hart makes a ton of contact, but he is still learning the in's and out's of the game. I can see the development from early April simply from his approach at the plate. He is progressing even though there has been little evidence. Hart is going to see production once he gets more acclimated with professional ball. Some of his best AB this series was against Giolito, where he showed progression and refinement from his first AB to the last.

Hart has high risk because the tools are raw currently. He will move slow and is the type of player who will need to make a stop at every level, likely for an entire year. The defense can get him to the majors alone, but the bat could end up being average. This is a speedy, leadoff type who could provide a little sparkplug atop a lineup.







Drew Ward

Born: 11/25/1994 (Age: 19)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 210
Primary Position: 3B
Secondary Position: 1B
Physical/Health
Big kid; every bit of his listed size; broader shoulders and chiseled frame; looks like a sturdy football player; frame likely maxed; maybe a slight tick in strength/muscle left.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/20/2014
Dates Seen 6/14/14, 7/18/14 - 7/20/14
Affiliate Hagerstown Suns (Low A, Nationals)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2017 Moderate 40 40; Bench Player No
Makeup

Interesting player; looks to have fun; goofing off in warmups and pre-game workouts; turns on the professional look during the game; annoyingly complains about every call; not bad makeup, but has some quirks that certain individuals may grow tired of.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 30 Average bat speed; long swing; long extension and capable of reaching outside portion of plate without stretching and becoming unbalanced; does not keep that balance; slight hitch and his load is not proportionate with his swing; will often be out on front foot; swing can become extremely elongated and slow; currently has slider bat speed; struggles to recognize good spin; can be routinely beaten with sharp stuff below the zone or in the dirt; approach is not terrific; will need to iron out balance and elongated swing before ever piecing together enough ability to consistently hit major-league pitching.
Power 50 Plus raw power; plays down due to contact concerns; hands explode near contact; slight arc in swing; pull oriented swing that allows for him to hit ball hard down the line; enough power to hit balls out that he does not barrel.
Baserunning/Speed 30 4.39 home to first; not fast; lumbering at times; feet are not quick; not an impact tool.
Glove 45 Choppy footwork; sluggish in the field; feet get tied up and has trouble going left; many balls fell through the hole; range is below average; better going towards the line; needs to set feet better for throws; any growth could move him off 3B; teams may decide to move him anyways because the overall body of work defensively will not reach average; more reaction than athleticism at 3B.
Arm 60 Plus arm; makes hard and accurate throws from 3B; displayed ability to make throws from the line to first; impact arm that could work at 3B or even LF if moved there.
Overall

Ward has raw power and a big frame, but the hit tool and defense will drag him down at higher levels. He is getting away with the hit tool currently due to the competition level. Any secondary pitch that is a solid-average offering has overwhelmed Ward, who simply cannot recognize good spin. The swing has holes, but I do think it can be ironed out eventually. The swing can be shortened and balanced, but it does not solve to neurological issues of recognizing spin.

Ward is likely going to face issues at the next two levels, but he could piece it together and provide a few average seasons in the majors. This is not an impact prospect, but the tools are there just enough to provide some value. I do not think the OFP and realistic role are far apart, as the player does not have a large amount of growth left. However, he does have age on his side.






















Tucker Blair is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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