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August 23, 2013

Eyewitness Accounts

August 23, 2013

by BP Prospect Staff

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Direct Links to Individual Player Reports

Taijuan Walker James Paxton Anthony Ranaudo
Eric Haase Albert Almora

Taijuan Walker

RHP

Seattle Mariners

DOB: 08/13/1992

Height: 6’4”

Bats: R

MLB ETA: 2014

Weight: 210

Throws: R

Current Team: Triple-A Tacoma

Date(s) Seen: 08/15/2013

Date Filed: 08/22/2013

Have Video? Yes

How Acquired: 1st round supplemental (no. 43); 2010

Filed By: Jason Cole

Mechanics

High 3/4 slot; ideal frame with height, strength, long arms; standout athlete with excellent arm speed; very good extension; can produce steep downhill with height and slot; seemingly low-effort velocity; slight rigidity with arm stab and hook in back, though his arm gets there on time; arm action otherwise clean; delivery more under control in this look and kept direction to plate better than he did in April.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 92-98 mph, sit 94-96. Command: below average present, future average. Movement: good weight to offering with some late arm-side life down in zone. Notes: easiest velocity in the minors; appears to be playing catch in mid-90s; velo up a tick from my look in April with improved command; worked both corners, getting fastball to both sides against LHH and RHH; command flashed above-average in bursts; athleticism should ultimately yield average command, but still shows inconsistency; lost some velocity in sixth but poor conditions were in play; have seen him hold in the past and have no concerns about that.

Grade: Present 70/Future 70

#2 Pitch

Cutter, Velocity: 89-92 mph. Command: fringe-average present, future solid-average. Movement: hard short break with some late tilt. Notes: second pitch; loves to attack hitters with FB/CT combo; bat- and barrel-missing pitch; throws with confidence to both LHH and RHH; shows in on lefties’ hands and backdoor over outside corner; has a tendency to fly open and try to force the break at times, causing it to miss up and away to RHH; nasty and commands well when staying under control.

Grade: Present 60/Future 70

#3 Pitch

Curveball, Velocity: 73-75 mph. Command: below average present, future average. Movement: big depth; soft with two-plane break; flashes occasional late snap. Notes: third pitch; inconsistent with it as feel comes and goes; knows how to pitch with it in and out of zone; velo differential likely to induce the occasional silly off-balance swing but may be more change-of-pace pitch than wipeout offering at end of day; didn’t feature often in this look given rainy conditions.

Grade: Present 50/Future 55

#4 Pitch

Changeup, Velocity: 90-91 mph. Command: fringe-average present, future average. Movement: average; some late fade. Notes: most I’ve seen him throw the change; has definitely improved; hard but thrown with excellent arm speed, just enough velo differential from extreme FB to get hitters on front foot; threw for strikes consistently in this look; should be at least usable with further refinement.

Grade: Present 40/Future 50

Overall

I was lucky enough to watch Walker a few times in spring training, once in mid-April with Double-A Jackson, and again for this mid-August start. He’s an intense competitor on the mound and loves to attack with the hard stuff. Note that it constantly rained after the first two innings of this start, and as conditions deteriorated, Walker was forced to rely more on his grip-and-rip FB/CT combo than the “feel” curve/change. He repeated and located everything relatively well in the early innings, though, with the delivery cleaned up slightly and his changeup showing definite improvement. There’s still some inconsistency and development needed. When he loses feel for his curve or starts flying open on his cutter, it can take him a bit too long to lock back in. I’m more worried about the consistency of his curve; he’s such a good athlete that repeatability in the delivery shouldn’t be an issue at full maturity. Walker still has a no. 2 starter projection for me, and the development is enough to knock my risk factor from high in April to moderate at present.

OFP: 70; no. 2 starter

Risk Factor: Moderate

***

James Paxton

LHP

Seattle Mariners

DOB: 11/06/1988

Height: 6’4”

Bats: L

MLB ETA: 2014

Weight: 220

Throws: L

Current Team: Triple-A Tacoma

Date(s) Seen: 08/12/2013

Date Filed: 08/22/2013

Have Video? Yes

How Acquired: 4th round; 2010

Filed By: Jason Cole

Mechanics

High 3/4 arm slot; high front side with long/deep arm in back; excellent arm speed; didn’t consistently finish, particularly on secondary offerings; maintained direction to plate well but release and finish issues caused misses to all four quadrants, inconsistent sharpness of stuff; can get steep downhill from height and arm slot when he does finish; mechanically better from windup; lost tempo and delivery out of stretch; long limbs, disjointed delivery give me questions about present and future repeatability.

#1 Pitch

Fastball, Velocity: 88-96 mph, sit 92-94. Command: well below average present, future below average. Movement: typically lacking; slight cut on occasion; Notes: extreme variance in velo from inning to inning; looked like three different pitchers w/ his fastball in first three IP; 92-94 in first, 88-92 in second, 93-95 in third; points back to inconsistency in delivery; extreme angle with extension when down in zone, but worked belt and up too often, causing it to flatten and become hittable even at upper reaches of velo; velo could play consistent mid-90s in bursts out of bullpen.

Grade: Present 60/Future 70

#2 Pitch

Curveball, Velocity: 77-83 mph. Command: well below average present, future below average. Movement: varied greatly; highly inconsistent shape; big depth with some late two-plane life at lower reaches of velo; less depth with more exaggerated horizontal break when thrown harder. Notes: effective as chase pitch but difficulty with release left him unable to show for strikes; flashes plus; command may cause it to play below pure grade.

Grade: Present 45/Future 55

#3 Pitch

Cutter, Velocity: 87-88 mph. Command: well below average present, future below average. Movement: late cut with depth when he finishes. Notes: quality pitch in a vacuum, but lack of extension and finish left him missing well above zone with majority; with further seasoning, and effective barrel-missing pitch to keep hitters off of a sometimes-flat FB.

Grade: Present 45/Future 50

#4 Pitch

Changeup, Velocity: 84-86 mph. Command: well below average present, future below average. Movement: inconsistent with occasional slight fade. Notes: like other off-speed, didn’t always finish and left up; clear fourth pitch that was used sparingly to RHH.

Grade: Present 40/Future 40

Overall

Paxton flashes a solid arsenal that includes plus-plus velocity out of his 6-foot-4 frame and long left arm. His command and delivery cause the entire package to play down, though, and I think there’s just too much that needs to come together in order to yield a future big-league starting pitcher. He works up in the zone too often with his fastball, causing it to become hittable even in the mid-90s, and he had trouble showing his off-speed for strikes when needed. He’s a big-league caliber arm with some potential, but the lack of progress with his delivery leads me to believe he’s a hard-throwing middle relief lefty.

OFP: 45; middle relief

Risk Factor: Low

***

Anthony Ranaudo

RHP

Red Sox

DOB: 9/09/89

Height: 6’7

Bats: R

MLB ETA: 2014

Weight: 230

Throws: R

Current Team: Triple-A Pawtucket

Date(s) Seen: 8/15/13

Date Filed: 8/21/13

Have Video? No

How Acquired: 1st Round, 2010

Filed By: Chris Mellen

Mechanics

High ¾ arm slot; inconsistent generating downward leverage and staying on top of the ball; moderate leg drive; delivery doesn’t expend much energy; at times stiff on landing; even-paced; repeatable motion; does not hide the ball well.

#1 Pitch

Fastball: Velocity: 89-92, Top 93; Command: fringe-average; Movement: moderate arm-side run in lower tier of strike zone. Pitch is flat from the thighs and up; stays on one plane; lacked life in outing; threw strikes with offering; worked elevated often.

Grade: Present 55/Future 60

#2 Pitch

Curveball: Velocity: 78-82; Command: average; Movement: two-plane, overhand break with depth. Feels pitch in pressure points; knows how to snap offering off; varies the shape depending on the situation; misses bats; loose at times; can throw for a strike; will tip it.

Grade: Present 55/Future 60

#3 Pitch

Changeup: Velocity 82-85; Command: below average; Movement: arm-side fade. Used pitch sparingly; does not show a lot of trust; lacks finish and action; will float in zone; does show flashes; inconsistent arm speed.

Grade: Present 40/Future 45

Other

Has filled into frame; worked in the fat part of the plate and had trouble spotting fastball; did not get rattled or change approach with men on base; threw strikes; will open early with front shoulder; velocity dipped after third inning.

Overall

Ranaudo got results in this outing, but the overall stuff was lackluster, especially his fastball. The pitch was mostly flat and in the upper tier of the strike zone often. Ranaudo did throw a lot of strikes with his fastball and work out of jams. The mental approach was there to keep battling despite what looked like not having his best stuff. I liked the competitiveness and will to not give in. There was a mature demeanor surrounding the pitcher, along with a plan of attack. Ranaudo has an ideal frame for pitching and one that can withstands the rigors of the long season. However, he was inconsistent utilizing that frame to throw downhill and get consistent movement with his heater. There also isn’t a lot of deception, with hitters getting a good look at the ball out of his hand. I see the high-quality hitters of the majors taking advantage of multiple trips through a lineup; they will force Ranaudo to be very fine. The bat-missing ability of his overall stuff is a concern for me.

If the pitcher can consistently stay on top of his fastball and work more frequently in the lower tier of the strike zone, he has a chance to start in the bigs. The lack of a viable changeup may hinder this for the long term, but the feel and execution of the curveball is there to have two plus pitches. Ultimately, Ranaudo ends up in the back of the rotation for a second-division team or slots into the ‘pen on a contender.

OFP grade: 5; no. 4 starter or seventh-inning reliever

Risk: Moderate

***


Eric Haase

C

Cleveland Indians

DOB 12/18/1992

Height: 5’10”

Bats: R

MLB ETA: 2017

Weight: 180

Throws: R

Current Team: Low A Lake County

Date(s) Seen: July 10, 2013; July 12, 2013

Date Filed: 8/22/2013

Have Video? Yes

How Acquired: 2011 draft, 7th round (218th Overall)

Filed By: Nick J. Faleris

Physical/Health

Medium-broad frame, medium build; physique will tighten; some present strength; moves well behind plate and on bases; lacks traditional size for backstop, but solid athlete who may be sturdy enough to stick.

Hit Tool

Has an idea as to strike zone; tendency to get front of center in swing, limiting ability to adjust to off-speed; slight leak; swing geared to pull; high load to inconsistent launch points; can give away at-bats behind in count; legit swing-and-miss in game – needs smoother weight transfer, uniform launch, and more swing/pitch plane overlap; bat speed should allow for more bat-to-ball than presently showing; barrel doesn’t spend long in zone; contact issues magnified against same-side arms.

Grade: Present 25/Future 35

Power

Will show pull-side power; line-drive and over-the-fence power present – both project; offensive value tied to power realization; current average raw plays down due to underdeveloped hit tool; fair chance for average playable pop if contact ability refines.

Grade: Present 40/Future 50

Glove

Will flash firm hands receiving, particularly to right side; will trace secondaries at times; shows flexibility and solid lower-half agility; reasonably comfortable in the dirt; lots of development ahead, but solid foundation.

Grade: Present 40/Future 50

Arm

Catch-and-throw game projects to average; 2.02 in-game pop; quick transfer and release, but footwork lags – can impact accuracy.

Grade: Present 45/Future 50

Baserunning/Speed

Moves well for catcher; 4.31 home-to-first; likely to lose a step as body matures; .

Grade: Present 45/Future 40

Other

High energy in viewings; showed comfort taking control in field. Distance from majors and underdeveloped game make for high-risk profile.

Overall

Hit tool too underdeveloped to project as everyday player, given average defensive profile. Could fit in as backup catcher who will flash some power without giving away too much defensively. Needs to continue to get reps and work to tighten up hit tool. Needs to give away fewer at-bats. To be determined whether body will hold up over long season behind the plate. Third base and left field could be potential fits if required to shift from behind home, but offensive profile projects light for both spots.

Grade: 40; up/down; backup catcher

Risk Factor: High

***



Albert Almora

OF

Chicago Cubs

DOB 4/16/1994

Height: 6’2”

Bats: R

MLB ETA: 2015

Weight: 180

Throws: R

Current Team: Low-A Kane County

Date(s) Seen: June 29 – July 1, 2013

Date Filed: 8/22/2013

Have Video? Yes

How Acquired: 2012 First-Year Player Draft, First Round (6th Overall)

Filed By: Nick J. Faleris

Physical/Health

Medium-broad frame; adding strength in lower half; projectable; solid athleticism; fluid actions; broken hamate earlier in year; minor injuries throughout summer have led to periodic missed time.

Hit Tool

Advanced feel for barrel—finds the ball consistently; lots of loud contact; approach ahead of competition; aggressive in-game at-bats, but has the hand-eye and pitch ID to hit in all counts; good extension through contact; good balance; natural hitter.

Grade: Present 40/Future 60

Power

Already showing easy pull-side power—no issues driving the ball out in batting practice; in-game pop still more to gaps, but over-the-fence to come; playable power will come naturally, but can be helped along if he develops ability to “gear up” in certain counts; potential 20-25 HR bat that will rack up doubles as well.

Grade: Present 40/Future 55/60

Glove

Near-prescient reads off the bat; physical tools should not allow him to get to the balls he reaches; could play a solid MLB center field right now; ultimate ceiling limited due to foot speed and thickening physique, but should have no issue maintaining quality production up the middle; reads, routes, and ability to finish—total package.

Grade: Present 50/Future 55

Arm

Solid-average arm with good accuracy; sets up throws with ease; clean footwork, transfer, and release; arm plays in center.

Grade: Present 50/Future 50

Baserunning/Speed

Average runner; slower out of box than past viewings (4.39-4.44); straight-line speed plays in center, but not impact; good lines on bases help speed play up; solid jumps/reads off bat on both sides.

Grade: Present 50/Future 50

Other

Plus makeup; comfortable in skin; will put in work; game comes easy to him, and all the tools play up because of feel and effort.

Overall

An advanced talent showing as one of the best in the Midwest League despite playing all of 2013 as a 19-year-old. Projects well as a no. 2 hitter on a first-division team with above-average production in center field and solid value on the basepaths. Some slight concerns relating to health, so a fully healthy 2014 would be nice to see. Chance to jump two levels next year, lining up for a 2015 debut along with a number of other potential impact bats in the system. Type of player any team would dream of having in its system—true first-division profile with good makeup.

Grade: 60; first-division center fielder

Risk Factor: Moderate

Related Content:  Seattle Mariners,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

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