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May 16, 2013

Eyewitness Accounts

May 16, 2013

by BP Prospect Staff

When I stepped away from the second chair and into Kevin Goldstein’s vacated spot on the stage, I decided that the spine of my prospect architecture would be eyewitness scouting evaluations. The goal was not to portray myself or other members of the prospect team as industry-level scouts; being a fabulist wouldn’t benefit the product or the public paying for that product. The goal was to offer evaluations from a more personal point of view, reports that originated at the fields instead of on the phones or the search engines. I put together a team of talent evaluators I felt had the chops to sit in the stands and document the action on the field in an authentic manner. I wanted to hire the type of talent that would one day receive the bait from the private sector, joining up with the industry that I learn from on a daily basis. That team is in place.

Going forward, Baseball Prospectus will publish a weekly series featuring eyewitness evaluations from the staff, complete with scouting grades, detailed notes and (in many cases) video. These reports will attach to the player cards and offer a wealth of information throughout the season; with multiple looks from multiple sources, you will be able to track a prospect’s progression through the developmental process. As the games continue and we populate the minor-league stadiums around the country, the reports will start to pile up, and hopefully the season will conclude with a healthy reservoir of reports for you to pick through, compare, contrast, dissect and disagree with. I can’t think of a better means to study the minor-league process than with a collection of scouting reports from quality eyes, provided over the course of a season, and if everything continues as planned, for the duration of the players’ prospect journeys.

This has been under my cap since last October, and thanks to a brilliant support staff and a collection of talented team members, we are finally ready to light the fuse on this series and take our prospect coverage to the next level. My electronic door is always open for questions or comments, and I hope you enjoy this new approach as much as I have enjoyed the process of putting it together. —Jason Parks

Direct Links to Individual Player Reports

Robert Stephenson Kevin Gausman Kyle Zimmer
Henry Owens Chris Withrow Taijuan Walker

***


Robert Stephenson

RHP

Cincinnati Reds

DOB

02/24/1993

Height

6’2’’

Bats

Right

MLB ETA

2015

Weight

190

Throws

Right

Current Team

Low-A Dayton

Date Seen

03/17/13

Filed by/date

Jason Parks 3/18/13

Acquired

1st round; 27th overall; 2011 draft (Reds)

Have Video?

No

Mechanics

Very athletic in delivery; drops and drives; standard ¾ slot; good balance; excellent stride length and landing consistency; maintains good line and stays in the delivery; arm is remarkably fast; love the action; love the explosion in the delivery; calm and balanced and then well timed ignition; it’s easy and repeatable.

#1 Pitch

Fastball is 7 offering at present; could be elite; worked 94-98 mph; heavy sink; monster offering; very comfortable working down in the zone; creating good angle despite delivery/slot; hitters can’t square it; this is a porno pitch; no doubt elite in bursts; holding velocity through four innings; never a pitch below 94; touched 98 several times on my gun.

Grade: Present 7/Future 8

#2 Pitch

Curveball flashes plus; has high potential; tight at 79-81; late vertical break; 11/5 shape; a little deliberate in the delivery; plays with the grip in the glove; slows pace to throw; more than good enough for level, but isn’t plus pitch yet; shows some feel for it (command); dropped several for strikes; used against both LH/RH; lost a few out of the hand; didn’t stay over.

Grade: Present 5/Future 6

#3 Pitch

Only a few looks at the changeup; was 87-88 mph; more sink than fade; slowed body down in delivery; appeared to cast the pitch/aimed it; stayed over and achieved some sink, but lost deception in delivery/arm speed; big potential because of fastball.

Grade: Present 4/Future 5+

Other

Big competitor; very aggressive with the fastball; willing to work inside and up when necessary; pitches with a purpose; late-inning mentality; could see slider/cutter in the arsenal in the future.

Overall

Highly athletic righty; 80-grade arm speed; drop/drive delivery; has F-you attitude toward hitters and challenges them to swing at the fastball; true money pitch with the heater; 94-98 with ease; heavy sink; knows how to use it; command profile is solid but not spectacular; curveball has plus potential; shows ability to create tight rotation and depth; delivery can slow and get deliberate on secs; limited look at CH; can make it sink; has some feel for pitching; I see a starter and a very good one; electricity in the arm and intensity in the approach. Reds have something here.

OFP: High-6; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor: High

***

Kyle Zimmer

RHP

Kansas City Royals

DOB

09/13/1991

Height

6’3’’

Bats

Right

MLB ETA

2014

Weight

215 lbs.

Throws

Right

Current Team

High-A Wilmington

Date Seen

ST 2013

Filed by/date

Jason Cole
5/15/13

Acquired

1st round; 5th overall; 2012 (Royals)

Have Video?

Yes

Mechanics

3/4 slot; very clean and easy delivery; all the parts work together well; excellent arm/hand speed; repeats well; good direction to plate; did fly open and yank stuff on occasion when he fatigued, but showed ability to quickly adjust; can produce good downward angle on stuff; delivery is ultra-clean but lacks deception; ball appeared visible to hitters.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 94-97 mph (T99). Command: Average present, future plus. Movement: good late run to the arm side with some sink; able to get fastball to both corners; can induce groundballs and break bats with mixture of location/velocity/life/angle. Notes: extreme velocity in three/four-inning bursts during camp; maintained velo well; worked 94-96 in fourth inning of March 20 outing; feel to pitch with fastball; pounded lower half of zone, working both corners; elevated late in counts to chase K; due to lack of deception, pitch found a few too many barrels given the velo and life; will miss bats and get groundballs with the pitch, but gets hit a little more than he should.

Grade: Present 70/Future 70

#2 Pitch

Curveball, Velocity: 78-82 mph. Command: Average present, future plus. Movement: excellent depth; close to 12-to-6 with some late two-plane action. Notes: tight rotation and late snap with the aforementioned depth; very good feel for command; shows for strikes; can also bury in dirt with two strikes at 81-82 with sharper/more pronounced two-plane life; got loose on him early in counts occasionally, but very consistent given his age and experience level; should be a second knockout pitch.

Grade: Present 60/Future 70

#3 Pitch

Slider, Velocity: 85-87 mph. Command: Average present, future plus. Movement: short break with late tilt; decent depth given the velocity. Notes: second breaking ball; used primarily to right-handed hitters; not a bat misser but should be effective in missing barrels; plays off the fastball well; occasional spinner that became hittable but most were tight and shown for strikes in early-mid count situations.

Grade: Present 45/Future 55

Other

Changeup, Velocity: 86-87. Command: Below average present, future average. Movement: good sink/fade when thrown well; inconsistent. Notes: used to left-handed hitters; present inconsistency in command and movement; cut it at times; promising life on the good ones; hard but life, and just enough velo separation could make it average if he sharpens command; had some trouble throwing for strikes; missed below the zone with it.

Grade: Present 40/Future 50

Overall

I watched three of Zimmer’s appearances during spring training, and each was between three and four innings. It’s important to note the short-ish bursts here, particularly when looking at the fastball velocity. I’m hoping to get a longer regular-season look at some point this season. The 21-year-old righty is a polished arm who should move quickly, featuring two present plus pitches along with a usable second breaking ball and slightly intriguing changeup. There’s a promising feel for locating and mixing his arsenal, as well, although I’d like to see how he attacks and sequences over a longer regular-season start. I don’t foresee an issue with throwing strikes or missing bats at any level, but the lack of deception might make him a little more hittable than he should be. The overall polish leads to a high floor; unless something goes horribly wrong, Zimmer should be a big-league starter in some fashion. It’s a no. 2 ceiling, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the hittable fastball plays it down to a no. 3 guy. Either way, he should be plenty durable, and he’s about as safe as High-A arms go.

OFP: High 6; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor Moderate

***


Kyle Zimmer

RHP

Kansas City Royals

DOB

9/13/91

Height

6’2

Bats

R

MLB ETA

2014

Weight

217 lb.

Throws

R

Current Team

Wilmington

Date Seen

4/12- 4/29/13

Filed by/date

Zach Mortimer 4/30/13

Acquired

Drafted 1st round; 5th overall; Kansas City Royals 2012

Have Video?

Yes

Mechanics

¾ arm slot; ultra smooth; good posture; good momentum; flawlessly repeats delivery; very athletic; minimal deception.

#1 Pitch

Four Seam Fastball: 93-96; able to work 96-97 in bursts; loses life at peak velocity; able to command to all four quadrants; finds a lot of barrels.

Grade: Present 60/Future 60

#2 Pitch

Curveball: 79-83; tight spin; good shape; hard downward break; ability to throw for strikes early in count as well as for a strikeout.

Grade: Present 65/Future 70

#3 Pitch

Changeup: 81-85; maintains arm speed; at lower velocity will show armside fade; does not throw often.

Grade: Present 45/Future 50

#4 Pitch

Slider: 84-88; short horizontal break; will throw early in count; induces weak contact in fastball situations; not a bat missing offering.

Grade: Present 45/Future 50

Overall

Picture perfect mechanics; big frame; ¾ arm slot; low-effort delivery; level-headed mound presence; Fastball 93-96 (T97); straightens out at peak velocity; more life at 93-94; frequently squared up by inferior hitters; Curveball 79-83; good 12-to-6 shape; tight spin; potential 70; slider 86-88; small sharp break; changeup 81-85 flashed armside fade .

Overall, Zimmer has a calm approach to pitching with picture perfect mechanics. The mechanics may be so clean that hitters are able to pick the ball up early. The curveball has a chance to be a monster with tight spin and hard vertical break. The slider has a short hard break, and will induce weak contact more than it will miss bats. The changeup is currently a fringy pitch. When Zimmer trusts his changeup it shows armside fade with good arm speed, and should develop into a major-league quality pitch. Zimmer has a ceiling of a no. 2 with the floor of a no. 3. He is polished to the point that it would not be surprising if he is able to reach the big leagues at some point in 2013.

OFP: 65; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor: Low

***


Kevin Gausman

RHP

Baltimore Orioles

DOB

1/06/91

Height

6’3

Bats

R

MLB ETA

2013

Weight

190 lb.

Throws

R

Current Team

Bowie

Date Seen

4/18/13

Filed by/date

Zach Mortimer 4/18/13

Acquired

Drafted 1st round; 4th overall; Baltimore Orioles 2012

Have Video?

Yes

Mechanics

¾ slot, high leg kick. Stab on backside of arm-stroke. Crossfire, good momentum. Maintains posture. Some effort. Able to repeat delivery.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 96-99 (T100). Command: above-average. Movement: excellent life, late heavy armside run. Notes: attacks hitters with fastball.

Grade: Present 70/Future 80

#2 Pitch

Slider, Velocity: 82-85. Command: developing/ currently fringy. Movement: sharp late bite flashes depth. Notes: first year as primary breaking ball.

Grade: Present 45/Future 60

#3 Pitch

Changeup, Velocity: 84-86. Command: plus, throws to both sides of plate. Movement: good fade with sink. Notes: thrown with command to both side to any batter. Plays well off fastball, and good arm speed with fade creates ample swing and misses.

Grade: Present 65/Future 70

Other

High energy. Starts warm ups by crow hopping behind the rubber. Handled adversity well (two errors and a passed ball, got out without allowing a run). Thin/athletic frame. Long levers. Pitches off fastball. Will throw slider for strike on first pitch. Fields position well.

Overall

Long Levers; ¾ arm slot; stab in back of arm stroke; slightly crossfire; fast arm; repeats delivery; good athlete; high energy player; fastball 96-99(T100); explosive life; bores in on right handed batters with plus plus velocity; slider 82-85; developing command of pitch; when he throws it right sharp late break with depth; throws minimal cement mixers; currently would play as a fringy pitch in the majors with plus potential; changeup 84-86; plus command; spots to both side of plate in any count against both L/R handed batters; maintains arm speed; late fading action with sink as it approaches the zone; future plus plus pitch.

Gausman is a killer on the mound. He is not afraid to throw inside, and creates a massive amount of splintered bats. Fastball sits in plus plus range and can touch more with excellent life. He pitches off of the fastball with a plan on the mound. Gausman was able to show signs of pitchability by starting batters off with sliders second and third time through the lineup. The slider flashes plus, with sharp late break with plenty of depth. He is transitioning back to throwing a slider after he scrapped the Curveball which was his primary breaking ball in college. The changeup is devastator with great life and great command. He is not afraid to back it up in any count either. Kevin Gausman brings the total package, three potential plus pitches with a near elite level fastball. The arsenal combined with the demeanor leads me to believe that Gausman is one of the rare minor leaguers that you can throw the no. 1 ceiling out on.

OFP: 7; no. 1 starter

Risk Factor Moderate

***


Henry Owens

LHP

Boston Red Sox

DOB

7/21/92

Height

6’6

Bats

L

MLB ETA

2015

Weight

205 lb.

Throws

L

Current Team

Salem

Date Seen

4/29/13

Filed by/date

Zach Mortimer 4/30/13

Acquired

Drafted 1st round; 36th overall; Boston Red Sox 2011

Have Video?

No

Mechanics

High ¾ slot; high leg kick; throws slightly across body; works on first base side; athletic delivery; free and easy; repeats delivery well; long levers; good momentum to the plate; good posture.

#1 Pitch

Four Seam Fastball: 91-93 (T94); armside run; developing command; struggled to throw inside to right-handed batters; additional strength in lower half may add velocity; deceptive delivery allows it to play up.

Grade: Present 55/Future 65.

#2 Pitch

Changeup: 77-79; good arm speed; plus fade as it enters the zone; still leaves elevated; most effective thrown to arm side; fell in love with it.

Grade: Present 50/Future 65.

#3 Pitch

Curveball: 73-75; big break with depth; flashes hard bite; inconsistent command; does not consistently finish out front.

Grade: Present 45/Future 55

Other

Improving command; viewed as a projectable arm when drafted; extreme length; frame has plenty of room to add mass.

Overall

High ¾ arm slot; long levers; smooth delivery; slightly across his body; athletic delivery; first base side of rubber; fastball 91-93(T94); arm side life; curveball 73-75; big break with depth; flashes good bite; working to consistently command; changeup 77-79; good arm speed; more consistent to arm side.

Owens has a very smooth delivery and ball comes out of his hands free and easy. The fastball touched 94 with good armside run; still working to develop command to the glove side. Curveball was a big breaking 73-75 pitch that he did not consistently finish; flashes the ability to be a solid-average offering. Owens’ relied on the changeup, throwing it 77-79 with good fade and arm speed; showed easy plus potential. Owens was drafted as a projectable left-hander. At maturation he will have two 6+ pitches along with another solid-average offering. Owens will develop in the minor leagues for the next two seasons, and be ready to make his major-league debut in 2015 after showing he is able to consistently command all pitches.

OFP: 65; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor: High

***

Chris Withrow

RHP

Los Angeles Dodgers

DOB

04/01/1989

Height

6’4’’

Bats

Right

MLB ETA

2013

Weight

215 lbs.

Throws

Right

Current Team

Triple-A Albuquerque

Date Seen

04/25/13

Filed by/date

Jason Cole 4/25/13

Acquired

1st round; 20th overall; 2007 draft (Dodgers)

Have Video?

Yes

Mechanics

¾ arm slot; worked solely from stretch; compact, simple delivery with standard leg lift and drive toward the plate; few moving parts; slight fall toward first-base side at times but repeated well overall in this look; can see how he may cut himself off and/or guide the ball at times; slight head jerk but not overly violent; no serious concerns about mechanics.

#1 Pitch

Four-seam fastball, velocity: 94-96, all but one fastball at 95-96. Command: average. Movement: average; slight armside life to fastball. Notes: Showed consistent plus-plus velocity in one-inning look as closer; easy velo; hides the ball well; fastball jumps on hitters out of simple delivery with some deception; bat-missing pitch; located fastball well to both sides of the plate; I’m aware of past and even present command troubles, but flashed repeatable mechanics and located with consistency in this highly abbreviated look.

Grade: Present 70/ Future 70

#2 Pitch

Slider, velocity: 87-88. Command: average. Movement: short break with some late tilt/depth. Notes: saw two sliders; brought both over the inner half to righties; put both where he intended; more of a cut-slider type; not long break but late depth/tilt can make it effective; not a knockout, but could be an effective barrel-missing offering.

Grade: Present 60/ Future 60

#3 Pitch

N/A; he did not show a third pitch in this look.

Other

Was able to get fastball to both sides of the plate and located well; didn’t overthrow, despite big velocity; calm demeanor on mound, though this was the ninth inning of a five-run game.

Overall

This was a very short, limited look, but it did provide insight into Withrow’s delivery and stuff, which appeared solid. He threw just 13 pitches, including nine for strikes. Withrow was under control with his mechanics and stuff. As mentioned, I’m aware of the past command/control issues, and at the time of this report, he has issued five walks in his first 8 1/3 innings. But Withrow pounded the zone and placed the ball to both corners in this outing.

In the end, Withrow may have below average to fringy command of his arsenal, but the stuff clearly plays up out of the bullpen. Even with fringy command, the 7 fastball/6 slider combo could make him a power middle relief/seventh-inning piece. He has a setup ceiling, and the decent delivery leads me to believe that there’s still an opportunity for improvement as he continues to mature. His stuff out of the ‘pen appears to be a finished product; he’ll now need to work on refining the command aspect. Withrow should reach the major leagues this season and could become a factor out of the Dodgers’ bullpen.

OFP: 5

Risk Factor: Moderate


***

Taijuan Walker

RHP

Seattle Mariners

DOB

08/13/92

Height

6’4”

Bats

R

MLB ETA

2014

Weight

210

Throws

R

Current Team

Jackson

Date Seen

04/15/2013

Date Filed

Jason Cole
5/15/13

Acquired

Drafted 1st round; 43rd overall; Mariners 2010

Have Video?

Yes

Mechanics

High 3/4 slot; overall good delivery, but does have some rigidity to arm action in back at times; gets excellent extension with long arms, enabling big velocity to play up a tick; uses arm slot and 6’4” frame well to create steep downhill plane when working down with fastball; very strong; ball can explode out of hand from seemingly low-effort delivery.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 91-97 mph, sit 92-94. Command: Below average present, future average. Movement: good late wiggle down in zone; mixture of life and angle makes the fastball difficult to lift. Notes: plus-plus offering that could be a monster if the command improves; total package makes the fastball tough to square even without pinpoint command; held velocity through six innings; had 95-96, T97 when he needed to reach back; up to 97 in sixth inning; at least a rudimentary feel to pitch with fastball; attacked both corners; able to locate outer half to righties, but struggled to find the inner half.

Grade: Present 70/Future 70

#2 Pitch

Cutter, Velocity: 87-93 mph. Command: Average present, future solid-average. Movement: consistent short break with hard, late downward tilt. Notes: most often thrown 89-91, but can reach 93 while maintaining cutting action; loves the cutter; used it often to both left- and right-handed hitters; showed better command of cutter than fastball; bat-breaking and bat-missing pitch with nasty late bite; present plus that could play at plus-plus level if command improves.

Grade: Present 60/Future 70

#3 Pitch

Curveball, Velocity: 72-77 mph. Command: Below average, future solid-average. Movement: huge depth; action at lower end of velocity range is close to 12-to-6; more two-plane life when he amps up at 75-77. Notes: has a feel to add and subtract with curveball; will drop it in for a strike at 72-74 but can tighten spin and bury in dirt to chase K’s at higher velo range; can cast on occasion, but for the most part, even the low-70s curveballs have late snap; feel for curve came and went during outing; knockout pitch early in game, but had trouble finding it again after he lost it; can play at present plus for stretches but is inconsistent; should get to plus with further seasoning.

Grade: Present 50/Future 60

#4 Pitch

Changeup, Velocity: 87-90. Command: Below average present, future fringe. Movement: slight wiggle at times, but generally little movement. Notes: little-used in this start; saw it more often during camp; well below-average present offering; firm in both velocity and lack of movement; struggles to throw for strikes; general lack of feel makes it difficult to project much higher than below average; total profile may make him a splitter candidate down the line.

Grade: Present 30/Future 40

Overall

There’s a lot to really like with Walker, but there’s also a good bit of development remaining––particularly with his fastball command and the consistency of his offspeed. His fastball/cutter combination can eat up Double-A bats right now, and the curveball helps when it plays at plus. While I saw him multiple times during spring training, this particular look was from an April 15 start vs. Mississippi. He pitched with intensity and showed a competitive demeanor on the mound, amping up and locking down with runners on base. While the command was lacking (4 BB in 6 IP), he battled and limited damage well. The 20-year-old righty projects for three plus pitches, and two of them could be plus-plus. All the pure tools of a front-line starter are there, but I need to see a little more feel for command to put a true ace potential on him. He’s young and is an excellent athlete, so there’s reason to believe he’ll at least progress to average command. I see his ceiling as a no. 2 starter with dominant stuff, but the command question marks make him a high risk to reach that ceiling. If the command/offspeed consistency don’t progress far enough, he’ll be an erratic-but-powerful mid-rotation guy or a potentially dominant late-inning reliever.

OFP: high-6; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor: High

47 comments have been left for this article.

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