I was sitting on an Appalachian League game last week. The teams and players involved don't really matter for the purposes of this story. There were runners on first and second, two out. The batter lined a ball into short left field. Even with the head start, this was clearly a station-to-station to situation. The manager, coaching third, immediately pointed to the base. The throw came in about shoulder high to the catcher who came out from behind the plate to take it. And Fin, right?
Well no, because the trail runner on second just kept running and found himself a full halfway to third with both dugouts now yelling instructions. The catcher took a few steps towards him and then unleashed a throw to second as the runner scrambled back. The throw went over the second baseman's head. This is an accurate description of what happened, but it is not a depiction of what happened. What actually happened is the throw went a good 15 feet on the fly over the second baseman's head. All the runners moved up a base.
I've written before that scenes like these are not entirely unusual in the lower levels of organized baseball. It is just barely organized at times. So what I am looking for are scenes that look out of place in these leagues, but not-so-out-of-place in the majors.
Arquimedes Gamboa looks the part. He got $900,000 out of the 2014 J2 class, and the Penn League is a very aggressive assignment for him, though not out of line with how the Phillies generally treat their young, toolsy prospects. And Gamboa doesn't look out of place among the throngs of more physically mature college players, especially in the field. He is smooth around the bag and has the physical tools to make plays deep in the 5.5 hole. He has plus arm strength and his throws are accurate. His one flub in the field was on a routine 6-4-3 ball that he didn't quite wait long enough on and got five-holed. This isn't uncommon in less experienced, but physically gifted players, they occasionally struggle with the extra time on the play.
At the plate there's a bit more rawness. He's a switch hitter and made some loud, line drive contact from the left side. I do have some concerns about the ultimate hit tool projection and the approach in general, but again, he is an 18-year-old facing mostly older college arms.
And I keep returning to the play deep in the hole, made on the backhand, a strong throw to first. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal in the majors, which is why it was a big deal to see it in Williamsport. Or the shot he hit into the right field corner for a triple right after his error in the field. Big-league plays on the small stage matter. I can wax poetic about the tools and the polish on a larger scale, but it's those two plays that will stick with me on Gamboa. It is about what is possible. —Jeffrey Paternostro
Hayes is quickly turning into a nice stealth pick by the Pirates at 32nd-overall in 2015. He has good feel for the barrel and shows the ability to make consistently hard contact. It’s a fairly aggressive approach, but he tracks the ball well, and that further feeds his high contact skills. He has the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average defense and a plus arm at third base. The main question is how much power he’ll tap into. He has at least above-average raw power and could grow into more, but his swing and approach are line-drive oriented based on a level plane that sometimes gets choppy. He’ll still run into his share of extra-base hits and a few home runs, but adjustments are needed to utilize his power more often. The profile adds up to an everyday player with contact and glove skills, and his value could really take off if he puts a few more over the fence as he gets older. —David Lee
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information
on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.