August 11, 2014
Monday Morning Ten Pack
August 11, 2014
Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (Double-A Frisco)
The Rangers recently decided to skip Mazara past High-A, which not only speaks to the 19-year-old’s talent, but also to a strong belief in his makeup. The outfielder oozes ease, especially with his swing. Maraza has the loose hands, lift in his stroke, raw power, and innate bat-to-ball ability to grow into a middle-of-the-order thumper down the line. Beyond the tools and progress Mazara has made with them this season, the promotion presents major clues regarding his makeup. It’s a stamp of approval that Mazara is mentally ready to handle an accelerated assignment to finish out the year, one that will see him face older and more experienced competition. It’s a placement that may lead to initial struggles, but he can handle them and apply what he learns as he continues moving up the chain. —Chris Mellen
Jan Hernandez, 3B, Phillies (Short-season Williamsport)
What caught my eye was the bat speed. The right-handed hitter flashes extremely quick wrists. He has a whip-like stroke and the head of the bat gets through the zone in a hurry. The pull-side contact is loud and hard. There is also some lift that produces carry. The swing is presently geared more toward power than contact, and my early feeling is that the hit tool will consequently be only average. Hernandez will also need to make adjustments to get to that level. The 19-year-old is very aggressive, with barely a plan in place. He hacks at pretty much everything. This is understandable for a player of his experience, but still something that will need refinement. In addition, the approach is oriented toward pulling the ball; this shows in the way Hernandez lunges at offerings middle-to-away and how his head pulls way off the ball at times. The present package is raw and crude, but my vision for the long term sees the potential for a sixth or seventh place hitter with some power. —Chris Mellen
Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays (High-A Charlotte)
Much like in the rest of the world, status matters when it comes to prospects, so, fair or not, players drafted in the 14th round have to do something special to stand out. Striking out over 14 batters per nine innings qualifies as "special," and it got Schultz a promotion to the Florida State League. He is undersized and unimpressive right up to the point when he starts throwing fastballs in the 93 to 95 mph range with ease. He's better served, however, throwing the two-seam version around 91 to 92; that pitch has plus arm-side run and better command. He needs to improve his four-seam command, but the two-seam fastball has the potential to be a plus pitch.
Schultz also throws a pair of breaking balls. The slider comes in around 82 to 84 mph and should probably be scrapped, both because of his lack of command and because of the quality of his other breaking pitch. Unlike the slider, which he consistently bounces in the dirt and which has only minimal movement, his curveball is much more consistent and shows plus potential. It's a power pitch, sitting 77 to 81 mph with a hard 12-6 break. It's a swing-and-miss pitch that complements his fastball well. He also features a changeup that sits 83 to 84 mph and is presently below average but shows some movement and feel; it could be an average pitch itself.
Schultz has the Kris Medlen starter kit and could reach that level, but command will be the separator. Shorter pitchers have less margin for error, especially up in the zone, and Schultz must improve in that area. Still, the fastball-curveball combination is enough to miss a lot of bats, regardless of his size. —Jeff Moore
Corey Littrell, LHP, Cardinals (High-A Palm Beach)
As though they needed more pitching depth, the Cardinals added Littrell to their system at the trade deadline. His ceiling isn't as high as some of their high-velocity power arms, but Littrell is yet another eventual big leaguer. With a fastball that sits from 88 to 91 mph, he'll never be better than a mid-rotation starter, but average present command that has room to improve and some cutting action that allows him to combat right-handers allows it to play up to be an eventual major league–average pitch. Littrell's changeup plays well off his fastball, with present average command and diving action that looks similar to the movement on the fastball. It can get firm and he misses with it vertically, but it has the potential to be an above-average pitch. What separates Littrell is his curveball, an average pitch with the potential for more. It's a big breaker that comes in around 74 to 75 mph, but it's tight and sharp and has the potential to miss bats on both sides of the plate.