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July 17, 2017

Monday Morning Ten Pack

July 17, 2017

by BP Prospect Staff


Richard Urena, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
As I watched the Eastern League All-Star game, I couldn’t help but think that Urena has more talent than most of the players actually selected for the event. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at the game due to his inconsistent performance in the field (nine errors) and at the plate (slashing .246/.291/.372 through 370 plate appearances). He has been of the more frustrating players to evaluate this year. Three Eyewitness Reports have been published on him since July 22, 2016, and the hit tool grades range from 45 to 60. The reason for this high variance is likely his overly aggressive approach. He rarely walks and is prone to chasing bad pitches, which leads to excessive weak contact. Nonetheless, he will have stretches like the first two games of this past Portland series (5-10 combined) when he consistently drives the ball and looks like a plus hitter. The 21-year-old switch-hitter does have a loose, contact-oriented swing and above-average bat speed. He is capable of squaring up any pitch and uses the whole field. All things considered, I feel most comfortable giving his hit tool a 50. His power grades as below-average although it’s better from the left side and he should continue to bulk up. In addition, he is a good athlete and possesses the arm strength and range to develop into an above-average shortstop. The errors typically result from a lack of focus. These mistakes will hopefully dissipate as he continues to mature. Troy Tulowitzki is not getting any younger, so Urena should eventually have an opportunity to become the Jays’ starting shortstop. But he has a long way to go. —Erich Rothmann

 

Saul Torres, C, New York Yankees (short-season Pulaski)
Projecting teenage catchers is a fool’s errand (just check the failure rate of prep draftees), but I am cautiously optimistic about Torres, who signed for $300,000 in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic. Torres spent his signing summer in the DSL, and the Yankees aggressively promoted him to the Appalachian League this season despite just turning 18 in February. If you are scout of stat lines, you probably won’t like Torres who has struggled with contact in 2017 and looked periodically overmatched at the plate in my recent viewing. If he was in the more age-appropriate GCL, I expect his numbers would be much improved. Torres impressed (scouts and the author) with his defensive actions, size, arm, and power. He has an athletic comfort behind home plate, demonstrating soft hands and the ability to block breakers in the dirt, moving easily. His build and actions are mature for his youth, and he had pop times of 1.92 and 1.94 seconds. He puts on a good BP with plus raw power, currently leveraging up for fastballs up in games that he looks to pull. His hit tool is the major question, and he has struggled mightily with contact so far in 2017. Recognizing pro-quality secondaries and staying in the zone is a key first step for Torres, but there is a lot to work with here, especially defensively as he projects to be an above-average catcher. Whether he’s a defensive-minded backup with some pop every fifth day or an everyday option will depend on the many, many rungs of development remaining, and I won’t guarantee the hit tool ever gets there. But it is not everyday you see an 18-year-old who is every bit a catcher already. He’s years away, but Torres is one to watch. —John Eshleman
 

 

Shane Bieber, RHP, Cleveland Indians (High-A Lynchburg)
"Advanced college arm with plus control" has become a popular draft profile over the past few seasons. Cleveland's fourth-rounder in 2016, Bieber falls into that category quite comfortably. The knock on Bieber coming out of UC Santa Barbara was that the velocity might not play up enough to succeed in pro ball, but he is now sitting comfortably at 91-93 mph with his fastball and is capable of touching 95. The pitch itself is mostly straight and flat, so if he's not locating it impeccably it can be left in the zone for hitters to pounce on. Thankfully for Bieber, that hasn't been too much of a problem. He has displayed plus control and hasn't allowed a walk in 14 of his 18 starts this season between Low-A and High-A. Bieber delivers from a three-quarters slot with a long stride, and is a speedy worker, but when he ran into trouble he slowed the game to a snail's pace and seemed to get inside his own head. The changeup and curveball are average offerings, with the changeup at 84-85 mph with flashes of above-average tumble on it. The slider shows average tilt, but neither off-speed offering looks like a true out pitch. The Indians have put a focus on finding arms with plus control (think Adam Plutko), and Bieber is another in that mold. His uptick in velocity since his drafting is enough of a reason to keep an eye on him. He could easily be a fast-riser through the system if he displays this type of control, and profiles well as a back-end starter. —Victor Filoromo

 

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<< Previous Article
The Prospectus Hit Lis... (07/17)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pac... (07/10)
Next Column >>
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Short Relief: Feats of... (07/17)

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