July 31, 2014
Notes from the Field
July 31, 2014
Florida State League, by Jeff Moore
Aaron Judge, OF
Incredibly large human, both tall and well built; starts with hands high in stance but lowers them as the pitch is delivered; does a good job keeping swing short for his size, but his long arms will always force his swing to be longer than is ideal, creating a hole inside; not elite bat speed, but enough to handle everything but premium velocity; struggled with recognition of sliders and changeups but up-the-middle approach and long path through the strike zone allow him to get bat on ball even when fooled; might have some issues with arm-side pitching but could crush lefties when he gets his arms extended; presently an above-average defender in right field; good natural athlete and moves well for his size; good reactions and tracks the ball well; arm is an asset, above-average strength with plus accuracy; gets rid of the ball quickly and knows where to go with it; potential middle-of-the-order bat but likely a good support piece offensively.
Dante Bichette, Jr., 3B
Solidly built but mostly maxed out physically; not overly tall (listed at 6’1”) but stays tall in swing and maximizes height; great load with moderate leg kick to generate plus bat speed; big swing, bat whip that generates good backspin on the ball; more gap/line drive power than over-the-fence power presently, should rack up a lot of doubles; patient hitter, good recognition of arm-side sliders; hard stuff (fastball, sliders) not a problem; struggles with soft stuff (slow curveballs, changeups), as he has trouble keeping his weight back; will get aggressive in RBI situations; still learning to drive the ball but should have above-average power, though it will manifest itself more in the form of doubles than home runs; could be an everyday bat.
Greg Bird, 1B
Good size (6’3”) but not physically imposing, might not age well; sets up with quiet stance; hands letter high and a slight knee bend, negating height; almost no weight transfer or stride; natural left-handed uppercut; above-average bat speed but not elite; up-the-middle approach; should hit for above-average power; ball carries better up the middle and to the gaps, loses some carry when he pulls the ball due to topspin; extremely patient at the plate, but has a bad plan; takes too many hittable fastballs early in counts; takes hittable pitches then swings at pitcher’s pitches; was exploited by strike throwers who got ahead of player consistently; looked extremely uncomfortable against same-side pitching, definite platoon candidate; below-average defender, bat will have to carry him; patient approach can be an asset but needs to learn when to be aggressive; on-base skills give him a chance to be a regular but likely a platoon first baseman.
Eric Jagielo, 3B
Prototypical third base build, thick lower half limits athleticism and quickness; starts with hands high, open and quiet stance; natural left-handed swing, good bat-to-ball skills but swing can get long; bat speed is only average and he will struggle with premium velocity; power will be above average due to size, leverage in swing and ability to generate backspin to the pull side; has significant issues with pitches on the outer half, very poor plate coverage; will struggle with soft stuff away from pitchers from either side; below-average defender at third base, will catch what he gets to and make most routine plays; below-average lateral range; clean actions on charge play but lacks first step quickness; doesn’t set himself up for a clean hop, gets caught in between; extremely slow runner, already near the bottom of the scale; as a below-average defender and runner, bat will have to carry him; some power production will be evident, but profiles as a below-average regular.
Brady Lail, RHP
Thin frame, not overly tall (listed at 6’2”), player needs to add pounds but doesn’t have the ideal frame for it; long arm action on back end, brings ball down and back up over the top; high arm slot; gets on top of the ball well and generated some downward plane; four-seam fastball sits 91-92 mph, future average pitch at best; works down in the zone with above-average present command; fastball doesn’t miss many bats but generates groundballs; curveball sits 79-80 mph, potential above-average future offering; 12-6 break hard downward break, changes eye level with pitch; changeup is 84-87 mph, can get firm but has above-average arm-side fade; thrown with above-average command; best pitch is 88-90 mph cutter with plus movement and plus command; generates tons of bad contact and even misses some bats; all offerings play up with plus command; four potential average pitches, with curveball a potential above-average offering and cutter a potential plus pitch; lack of velocity limits ceiling but potentially very effective three/four starter.
Kyle Schwarber, C
Thick, broad shoulders with strong upper body, solid build; forceful swinger, starts with hands low and away from his body; starts open and squats into stance; short swing path with a slight uppercut and plus bat speed; swing can get rotational when he gets too pull conscious; wants to pull the ball, rarely goes the other way; ball jumps off his bat on hard contact; wants the ball on outer half even though he’s a pull hitter, gets hands extended and drives the ball; wants the ball elevated, balls down result in weak groundballs; has a good idea of the strike zone and does not expand it frequently; defensively player will be below average as a catcher but could handle the position if called upon; limited lateral movement on balls side to side in the dirt; drops straight to knees on balls in front in dirt instead of replacing feet; receiving skills are adequate, not an elite pitch framer but not sloppy either; adequate arm strength and footwork but is not quick out of his stance, arm is accurate to second base; development of glove behind plate lags behind his bat, will slow down ascent to majors if organization chooses to go that route; could catch 2-3 days a week without being a major liability; potential middle-of-the-order bat wherever he plays.
Video of Schwarber’s pitch receiving: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTsCFnfEAk0
Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Bad body, soft, already overweight at age 21; does not move well, bad athlete; value is completely in his bat; starts with hands high above head, keeps them back in his stance; strong bat-to-ball skills, good feel for the barrel; plus bat speed due to tremendously strong, quick wrists; plus-plus to elite raw power that plays best when he stays up the middle; ball carries well to the gaps and center field; has tendency to cast arms and reach for pitches on outer half, but when he stays up the middle he drives those pitches through the gaps or over the fence; will crush fastballs; poor defender, offers no value with glove or legs; DH only; bat will have to produce but should hit for plus power in games with above-average and potentially plus batting average; won’t age well and prime could be over by 30, but could be an impact bat at DH at his best.
Billy McKinney, OF
Ideal size and frame, great build, not overly strong but solid and still with room to grow; traditional quiet left-handed stance; smooth, pure left-handed swing; plus bat speed should lead to average power; 20-25 home runs a possibility; ball carries to gaps and center field, good feel for the strike zone; plus defender in right field, above average in center for now, could outgrow center by 30; gets good jumps, very athletic; tracks the ball well in the air, good awareness of the fence; above-average runner; could be a J.D. Drew-type player in his prime.
Rob Zastryzny, LHP
Tall, thin frame, should be able to add pounds; three-quarters delivery; foot lands slightly to glove side giving him some cross-body deception; fastball sat mostly 86-89 but hit 91 a few times; pitch featured some cutting action that created poor contact; curveball was inconsistent, sat 76-77 mph but with varying levels of break; some were sharp while others were far too firm; good ones were above average, pitch has potential but is currently below average and he appeared not to trust it; changeup varied from 74-82 with most coming in the 74-78 range, appeared to be trying to add and subtract from pitch but was better off subtracting; softer variations had more bite; pitch featured downward movement with some cutting action similar to fastball; pitch was commanded well and had above-average movement; was his best pitch and kept hitters off balance; very high risk prospect due to lack of experience and poor breaking ball but movement on fastball/changeup and above-average command of an off-speed pitch give him a chance to stick as a back-end starter.
Rock Shoulders, OF
Large human being, thick and solidly built; incredibly thick legs, big butt; big stride toward pitcher and wraps bat during load causing him to loop and create a hole on the inner half of the plate; swing can get flat and rotational, plus bat speed with plus raw power but only average game utility; patient approach at plate, looks for fastball to drive; struggles with quality secondary pitches; playing out of place in left field, not an outfielder; struggles with reads off bat; does not run well, looks uncomfortable tracking the ball; below-average arm, left field only in outfield; player has impact power potential and a patient approach but enough pitch recognition issues to potentially keep him from reaching the majors unless adjustments are made.
Arizona League (7/25/14) by Austin Diamond
Grant Holmes – AZL Dodgers (7/8 and 7/22)
The 22nd pick of 2014 draft ($2.5 Million); 6-foot-1/215; stocky, mature upper body; physical; sloped, broad shoulders; long arms; strength in lower half; with the hair and physical, compact frame, Holmes reminds me of a cross between Clint Frazier and Joe Blanton.
Easy, fluid delivery; shows poise, confidence, and rhythm; despite muscular frame, the arm action is loose and quick; three-quarters to high three-quarters slot; uses lower half well to generate velocity; balance and direction are good, for the most part, but inconsistent.
FB: 92-95, sitting 93-94 from the windup; 92-93 from the stretch; showed plus command to the glove-side corner of the plate from windup; less command from stretch, but around the plate; four-seam was straight, with some late life; also threw more of a cutter (at the same velocity, with better command) that the AZL Padre hitters really had no chance to hit; definitely a weapon. SL: 81-83; consistently average with good command; often flashes plus; deceptive; inconsistent sharpness, but late breaking; swing-and-miss pitch to both RHH and LHH; I only saw one in-game changeup at 88 mph; slowed down delivery slightly; straight with some late sink; shows some feel, but did not look comfortable using it yet.
While Holmes lacks the room for physical development to project an uptick in velocity, he appears to have the present tools and mentality to foresee developing into a no. 2-3 starter. The development of the changeup will likely be Holmes’ biggest obstacle to reaching his potential. However, the floor is high, with a FB/SL/ ommand combo that would hypothetically play in a major-league bullpen today. That being said, the delivery and mound presence lead me to believe he will come closer to reaching his ceiling than not.
Carlos Felix – AZL Dodgers (7/8)
FA signing from Mexico in 2013; 6-foot2/240; 11/6/95; physical, large bodied; well-proportioned build; high-maintenance body; in good shape now, looking noticeably slimmer than the previous fall, shortly after signing.
In similar form to recent Dodger signings out of Mexico, Felix looks poised on the mound with an advanced feel to pitch; quick, loose arm; repeats delivery well, but there are flaws; good rhythm and leg drive off the rubber, but cuts himself off some, landing closed, and rotating over a stiff front leg, falling toward 1B; appears to have trouble consistently keeping both feet connected to the mound on release.
Shows very good control of FB-CB combo, filling up the zone with strikes; FB: 88-92, sitting 88-90; good angle when down; heavy with occasional late life; appears to have more velocity in there; CB: 73-77; good feel; flashes depth and sharpness.
An intriguing prospect, Felix looks to be a future major-leaguer on first impression. He has already improved, and with further improvements to his delivery to better utilize the energy that his lower half is capable of generating, it would not be hard to picture a prospect who could become a mid-rotation starter. He presently throws strikes, know how to pitch, and has a durable frame, capable of eating up innings. On the flip side, if Felix eats up too many cookies, he will likely not maintain the coordination to repeat his delivery over longer stretches, pointing more toward a future role in the bullpen. Either way, Felix is a nice prospect to have in the system.
Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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