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October 31, 2014

Minor League Update

AFL Recap for Games of October 30th

by BP Prospect Staff

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Aaron Judge, professional large man, Yankees:
The only body comparison that does Aaron Judge justice is Jimmy Graham, tight end for the New Orleans Saints; which is very appropriate for a high school basketball player. The hulking 6-foot-7, 270-plut right-field prospect was far and away the best player on the field Thursday, launching two home runs and gunning Dalton Pompey at home plate. Judge’s first round-tripper was a showcase of pure strength—a trademark shot that fell over the left-center field fence, likely an out in thicker air. The second bomb was certainly not cheap. After spitting on a 2-1 curveball eight inches off the outside corner, Judge got a 3-1 fastball, and didn’t miss it. 430 feet later, the Fresno State product’s ball landed one third of the way up the berm, 20 feet to the left of center field. What stuck out most about the Yankee farmhand today however, was his extremely advanced approach at the plate. Typically, 22-year-old hitters with limited pro experience aren’t self-aware. Yet, Judge seems to know his strengths and weaknesses, and plays to his positive qualities. He stands far away from the plate with a slightly closed, relaxed stance, understanding that pitchers may want to bust him inside due to long arms. On the scouting scale, the right fielder’s arm strength is plus-plus, to go along with plus-plus potential power, and the potential for an average hit tool. If it all comes together, he should have no issue playing right field every day and hitting in the middle of a lineup. —Jordan Gorosh

Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates:
After writing that Glasnow was the prospect I was most excited to put eyes on in the AFL, I was able to do just that on a Thursday afternoon matchup in Mesa. The 6-foot-7 righty has a lot of body to control on the mound and fought with mechanical consistency in this particular outing. Utilizing a long, full arm action, Glasnow releases the ball from slightly above three-quarters, generating massive extension out front and giving his arm plenty of room to decelerate post-release. He has a slight hip turn at his balance point and has some shoulder tilt as he drops and drives down the mound, generating plus momentum and landing slightly across his body. The Californian struggled to replicate his release point mightily, resulting in well below-average command of the strike zone. His fastball sat comfortably in the 91-93 range, touching 94 with big plane lower in the zone. This is limited when he is working up, however, and Glasnow missed up far too frequently in his three and two-thirds innings of work, leaving the fastball flat and hittable. He struggled to get on top of his 74-77 curveball, leaving it slurvy and below average, though he did flash two plus breaking balls throughout the start where he was able to stay on top of the ball. His changeup was used sparingly in the 84-87 range, flashing average potential. While slight degradation in stuff was troubling in this outing, Glasnow looked spent from a long season. The command may be a more legitimate concern going forward, as I fully expect Glasnow to come back firing on all cylinders next season with the two potential plus-plus pitches that were seen by evaluators all season firmly in tow. An improvement in command is necessary for him to reach the lofty standards that were placed on him by scouts who saw him at his best this season, though there is still plenty of time to further refine his ability to pound the zone with his entire arsenal. —Ethan Purser

Jesse Winker, OF, Reds:
The story of Jesse Winker and his hitting facility-owning parents is well known in prospect circles, and receives much of the credit for his success as a prospect. His hitting prowess, however, is due more to natural ability than the refinement that would come from countless hours of access to the family batting cage. Winker has naturally quick hands and wrists, a skill that borders on elite at the prospect level. He generates good power without over swinging, displaying an easy swing with a slight uppercut that produces off-the-bat power and carry. His ability, however, masks a swing that does actually show some flaws. The swing has some length to it, mostly due to a loop at the start, and he commits early to the swing. His takes often look like borderline check swings. He also opens up early and pulls off the ball a bit, leaving him partially susceptible to balls on the outer half. It’s not enough of a flaw to keep him from hitting at the major league level. His natural ability and feel for the barrel will allow him to overcome it. But premium velocity, especially when elevated, can give him trouble and it could be just enough to make him a good hitter but keep him from becoming an elite one. That becomes somewhat of an issue because his defensive profile isn’t great. His arm isn’t a liability, but it’s not elite either, and while it may be able to handle some of the right field responsibility, it plays best in left. That puts a lot of pressure on the bat to carry the load, and the length in his swing may be just enough to keep him from being the kind of impact bat needed to be a high-value player at his position. —Jeff Moore

Daniel Robertson, SS, Athletics:
There’s likely a lot of pressure on Daniel Robertson to stick at short in light of the Addison Russell trade and the lack of middle infield help at the major-league level. Broad-shouldered and thick through the lower half, Robertson looks miscast as a shortstop. He got a few chances in the field on Thursday and he showed good hands and a strong arm as well as some stiff movements and limited range. He looks like he has to think about his movements on defense and it leads to some mechanical looking plays. He has the arm for third and his hands are good enough for the hot corner as well. The bat looks like it’ll play there as well as he showed good patience and had a few good at bats against Tyler Glasnow. He has high hands and holds them away from his body and he waits back in his swing, creating solid leverage. There’s power there and I like his bat-to-ball skills. He might not be a shortstop, but he can be a fine third baseman. —Mauricio Rubio

Trevor Story, 2B, Rockies:
I’ll just get this out of the way first: Trevor Story has a tremendous baseball body. He’s got a lean, athletic build and a really good lower half. Good power and leverage comes with the body as he generates good bat speed. Story has a lot of pre swing habits that are a bit distracting, but he attacks at the plate with a quick bat and creates good leverage. Story got down 0-2 quickly in his first at bat against Jayson Aquino on Thursday before picking out a fastball over the plate and driving it hard to the opposite field for a loud double. On the first pitch his next at bat against the same pitcher he attacked a fastball in a similar location and hit a wall banger to the opposite field for another double. Story has a lot of swing and miss in his game, as is evidenced by his minor-league numbers. He’s an aggressive hitter with a quick bat and the ability to cover the plate. I think quality breaking stuff and offspeed stuff will still get him, however, and his actions in the field aren’t the best. He’s not very fluid afield and his range is questionable. Story has an interesting skill set, but it’s ultimately a major-league one in my mind. —Mauricio Rubio

Roman Quinn, CF, Phillies:
It’s been just about a year since Quinn tore his Achilles, a crippling injury to a pure speed player. While the speed isn’t 100 percent back to the pre-injury level, he’s still is an 80 runner on the scouting scale, a very quick twitch athlete who routinely clocks sub 4.0 times to first base. Quinn stole a base in 3.0 seconds today, giving the battery virtually no opportunity to throw him out. A very good base-stealer, his instincts on the bases are poor, and he's otherwise a below average base runner. The rest of the game aside from the speed, however, leaves much to be desired. His hand-eye coordination is mediocre at best, with a questionable approach at the plate to match. With top of the line speed and limited power, intuitively, it’d make sense to hit the ball on a line or put it on the ground and use your legs as a weapon. Yet, Quinn attempted to hit the ball in the air too frequently, negating his best qualities. He’s a quality fielder in the middle of the diamond, and will impact the game with his legs. But with the limited hit tool, it’s difficult to envision him as an every day player. —Jordan Gorosh

Andrew Aplin, OF, Astros:
Pick your cliché, be it a grinder, a battler, or a dirtball, and it applies to Aplin, the only difference being that they aren’t being overused in this situation and actually describe the way Aplin approaches his at-bats. Not exceptionally gifted as a player, Aplin nevertheless provided the toughest at-bats of any player we’ve seen in two days in the desert. Every at-bat goes deep, with patience at the plate and multiple foul balls to boot. He has above-average bat speed and an aggressive swing (note, that’s a comment on his swing when he decides to employ it, not his approach), that generates just enough power, mostly gap power, to keep the bat form getting knocked out of his hands. He makes up for an average hit tool with plus patience at the plate, but despite constantly being in deep counts, he walks more than he strikes out. It’s not a sexy profile, but it’s one that every team would love to have in some capacity. His ultimate role will be somewhere between a third and fourth outfielder, depending on roster makeup, and despite seeing time in center field, he’s really not a good defender anywhere in the outfield. The bat will have to carry him, but it should be enough to get him a somewhat lengthy career on multiple major-league rosters, and he’ll find a way to contribute. —Jeff Moore

Nefi Ogando, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Ogando is a solid 6-foot-2, 185 pounds with thick legs and thighs that drive towardsthe plate well. He came in to close the game and started firing bullets, with pitches that clocked 97 to 98 mph. The velocity is elite, and it even featured some jump to the arm-side with a little plane as well. His command could use some refinement, but the control wasn’t that bad as he stayed within the zone and moved the pitch a little when necessary. His slider flashed plus and featured some two-plane movement with more vertical drop than horizontal movement. Ogando is going to turn 26 years old next June, but now looks to be ready for a shot at the Phillies bullpen in the near future, with a ceiling as high as an eighth-inning arm. I think he has a chance to crack the team out of spring training. —Chris Rodriguez

Steven Okert, LHP, San Francisco Giants (Scottsdale Scorpions): After being inundated with right-handed relievers who throw 95-plus over our first few games in Arizona, Scottsdale’s Steven Okert impressed in his one inning of work as a lefty working 92-94 with impressive feel for two secondary pitches. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound California native is a bit funky, showcasing a long, hooky arm action and throwing from a low three-quarters arm slot. The ball comes out clean, however, and the fastball features plenty of arm-side life and seems to jump on hitters. The low-80s slider flashed plus in this look, generating swings and misses with late two-plane break. He also mixed in an average changeup, featuring some late arm-side tumble at 85-86. Perhaps the most refreshing part of his appearance was the way in which he attacked and commanded the zone, going right at hitters and hitting his spots on both corners. With two pitches that profile as swing-and-miss offerings and feel for a changeup, Okert has a legitimate shot at becoming a solid setup man in the near future and could accumulate some saves down the line. At the very least, the combination of funkiness and stuff should allow the 23-year-old to get outs versus same-side hitters. —Ethan Purser

Tony Renda, 2B, Washington Nationals
Don’t let his size fool you: Renda can play. At a listed 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, he did everything to stick out on the baseball field with above-average contact ability, good speed, and visible determination. In his first at-bat and on the first pitch he laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single and was clocked easily below 4.0 seconds. Later, he ripped a line drive to center field that held up just enough to be caught and followed that up with a solid single over the second baseman’s head. He’s fluid at second base as well and has enough arm to make the play up the middle with ease. While not a huge name and with few above-average tools, Renda has plenty of baseball acumen and feel for the game to make up for it. I think he’s a major leaguer if he continues to square up the baseball in Double-A as a 24-year-old. —Chris Rodriguez

Related Content:  Prospects,  Arizona Fall League

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