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May 6, 2013

Monday Morning Ten Pack

May 6

by BP Prospect Staff


Brandon Workman, RHP, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)
The 24-year-old has come out of the gate in 2013 showing improved fastball command, with the forward progress translating into less hard contact against and the missing of more bats.  Workman has always thrown strikes since turning pro, but the increase in quality strikes has allowed him to efficiently churn through lineups in the Eastern League during the first month of the year.  The latest outing saw him heavily feature his 91-94 mph fastball.  Workman pounded the lower tier of the strike zone, along with generating more than a handful of swings and misses with the offering.  While the right-hander didn’t have his best feel for either the 75-78 mph curveball or 86-89 mph cutter, he used them enough to further enhance the heater. 

I’ve felt that Workman’s ultimate role lies in the bullpen, but there’s also been some improvement with loosening up the delivery and becoming less jerky with the arm action.  The pitcher does still expend some extra energy, and longer frames do take their toll on him.  I still see a seventh- or eighth-inning-reliever role as the best fit long-term, but more of a chance he can stick around as a starter for the near future.  The growth of the fastball command is a good sign that Workman is taking steps toward getting closer to the majors, and should help boost his case for getting a crack at Triple-A as a starter. –Chris Mellen

Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (Low-A Asheville)
A 2012 supplemental first-round pick, Butler is off to a fast start in the Low-A South Atlantic League, posting a 2.06 ERA while yielding 17 hits in 35 innings. He has also walked 17 and struck out 33. Although the 22-year-old righty surrendered five runs in 5 2/3 innings during his May 2nd start, a scout who was at the game tells me he flashed two major-league quality offerings––a 93-98 mph fastball with plus-plus life and a 60-grade slider. That elite fastball life has helped the 6’2”, 180-pound Butler register more than 5.7 groundouts per flyout through six starts. The scout source believes Butler should move quickly, with a chance to finish this season at Double-A Tulsa. –Jason Cole

Alen Hanson, SS, Pirates (High-A Bradenton)
For such a small player, the 5'11" switch-hitting Hanson seems to always find a way to flat out annoy his opponents. I first noticed this trait in 2011 when he was creating havoc atop of the Pirates’ GCL lineup. Often referred to as a gnat-in-your-ear type, he has plus speed and uses it to his advantage. Early in at-bats Hanson loves to show bunt and teams must respect it because he will lay it down without hesitation. The first few times I saw him my first thought was he would show bunt to draw in the infield so he could slap a hit past them. It didn't take long for him to show me that wasn't necessarily the case. The 150 pounder has some pop in that small frame. He has good gap power to all fields, with a league-leading 13 triples last year in the South Atlantic League. Unlike a lot of young switch-hitters, there isn't much of a drop-off in his ability to hit for average from either side of the plate, but most of his power still comes from the right side. The one thing I'd like to see improvement on is his basestealing. He has the speed, but gets bad jumps at times and doesn't read pitchers as well as he could. This is something that can be corrected with coaching and more experience, so it's not a major concern. 

Defensively, Hanson still has some questions, but range in the field is not one of them. He routinely gets to balls that would get by a lot of shortstops and his glove is reliable. The errors (13 this year) can be attributed to his arm. He throws off-balance too often and gets lazy by dropping his arm and throwing across his body, which leads to errant throws. The rush in his mechanics seems to be caused by the lack of arm strength, a requisite skill for the left side of the infield. From what I have seen --and the other scouts I have talked to all seem to agree--second base will be his ultimate home on the diamond. With the energy and passion he brings to the field everyday, along with his bat, there will always be a position and spot in the lineup for a player like Hanson. –Chris King

Bruce Rondon, RHP, Detroit Tigers (Triple-A Toledo)
Ranked third in the Tigers’ Top 10 rankings heading into the year, Rondon received an early call to Detroit as the Tigers bullpen struggled throughout April. In three big league appearances, Rondon lasted just 2 1/3 innings while allowing five hits, two walks and striking out only one batter. Back in the minor leagues, Rondon has returned to his dominating ways, blowing 80-grade heat past Triple-A hitters. In nine minor-league outings this year, Rondon has a 0.00 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. There is no doubt he can dominate minor-league hitters. There is also no doubt that Rondon’s secondary pitches and control need improvement for sustained success. Rondon failed in Detroit, the first time he has failed on the baseball field since he was an 18-year old in the complex leagues. For any player, failure is an important part of the developmental process and for extremely gifted players it can be difficult to find minor-league scenarios where failure is possible. Rondon’s next failure will not come in Triple-A and as a result his development has little hope of continuing until he gets back to Detroit where major-league hitters will force him to take the next step along his developmental arc. These situations are rare, but some players reach a point where big-league innings and big-league failure are the only things that can help them reach their potential. –Mark Anderson

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