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October 4, 2013

Advance Scouting Series

Yoenis Cespedes

by Jason Parks


Advance Scouting Report

Filed by: Jason Parks

Player Name: Yoenis Cespedes

Context: Eight games; September 16th-25th

PA

AB

H

1st P

K

BB

TB

Hard

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

TOTALS

33

33

8

14

8

0

17

7

.242

.242

.515

.758

Sample vs. Season:

Batting average on par with season; OBP down; no walks; slugging was higher than season average; three home runs in eight-game sample; maintained one strikeout per game average

SCOUTING BREAKDOWN

Physical/Health:

Unhealthy; continues to struggle with right shoulder injury; limited in the field/designated hitter during sample; bat speed and power didn’t seem affected by injury; perhaps trigger and top hand were affected by shoulder discomfort.

Hit Tool

Grade 5 at best; plays as a 4; hands are high in setup and load; hands drop in trigger and bat control is lost; starts slightly open with front foot; closes foot when he opens hips; big rotation; bat speed is impressive; whips the bat; hands are extremely fast; path into the zone makes him a good low-ball hitter; elevated plane; will come under balls; straight reaction hitter; see ball/hit ball; doesn’t bring much of a plan to the plate; can cover letters and above, but shows a late trigger at times and results in a lot of foul balls; struggles to cover outer third; struggles with movement; can square velocity; elite strength allows poor contact to travel; pitch recognition and aggressiveness limit the utility of the tool; gives away too many at-bats with impatience and reactionary hacking; every swing is max effort; doesn’t shorten up or work with the offerings/location; swing is the same 2-0 as it is 0-2; helps pitchers out; will allow them to work back into counts.

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

Capitalizes on more mistakes vs. lefties; looks for fastballs out over the plate or low in the zone; two home runs against LHP; susceptible to sequence; lefties can get ahead early in the count if they can spot fastball; seven fastballs called for strikes in sample; three punchouts against off-speed

Poor recognition/recovery against arm-side stuff; would trigger late; lots and swing and miss in the zone; 12 swinging strikes on fastballs; three punchouts on heat; didn’t chase off-speed much in sample; three swinging strikes on off-speed; looking at off-speed strikes twice; inconsistent contact vs. RHP; rolled over the ball a lot.

Notable At-bats

Date

Description

9/18/2013

LHP (Vargas); bottom of fifth; runner on first; nobody out; homered off pitcher earlier in game; outside setups by the catcher; 87 (FB) outside for ball; 87 (FB) outside for a ball; 87 (FB) outside and up (big hack for a foul); 80 (CH) foul (badly fooled); 80 (CH) swinging K (badly fooled). Worked a 2-0 advantage and took three straight hacks to lose AB

9/20/2013

LHP (Albers); bottom of the third; nobody on/two out; homered off pitcher earlier in the game; 80 (CH) foul; 86 (FB) up in the zone and fouled; 78 (CB) in the dirt for a ball; 87 (FB) over the outer third and up; K swinging; was a pitch to work with; another AB given away.

9/25/2013

RHP (Weaver); runner on first/nobody out; all outside setups by catcher; 89 (FB) called strike on outside corner; 88 (FB) same pitch but just missed outside corner; 82 (SL) same spot as fastball; just missed; 81 (SL) same location; bad contact but strength allowed for fly ball to CF; clear plan of attack by Weaver; Cespedes seemed fooled by location; puzzling.

Power

Extremely strong human being; doesn’t require sweet-spot contact to drive the ball out of the park; raw is 80; game power is 6; approach and hit tool limit full power utility; swing is geared for long ball; higher hands in load but path to ball allows for loft; creates backspin; can look to extend early and lose inside; swings for glory in any count and any situation; dangerous mistake hitter but doesn’t impact every mistake.

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

Despite power swing, doesn’t swing and miss as much vs. southpaws (34 FBs/3 swings and miss; 22 off-speed/4 swings and miss); appears to see the ball better; can recover from bad guesses and stay in the count; more prone to look early in counts against lefties; fastball more effective deeper in that sequence; will do a lot of damage against lefties if you can win with command.

One bomb off arm-side pitching; big swing-and-miss; timing is easy to disrupt; struggles against fastballs; 38 FBs/12 swing and miss (32 percent); much better contact against off-speed; 35 off-speed/4 swing/miss (~11 percent); trigger/recognition makes him exploitable if pitcher can locate; work off the plate and he will get impatient and give away the count.

Notable At-bats

Date

Description

09/16/2013

LHP (Wilson); two outs; runner on first; Sequence: CB located for a called strike; 91 (mph) fastball poorly located up and out over the plate, resulting in a deep fly to CF. Cespedes was late to trigger and hit the ball off the end of the barrel. His strength allowed him to muscle the ball to the deepest part of the park, but it was a mistake pitch that he had a chance to work with. The ability to spot the CB early added some muscle to the FB, but the location was in a dangerous spot to a good fastball hitter. Despite the deep fly, Cespedes failed to capitalize on the mistake.

09/16/2103

LHP (Wilson); one on/one out; blowout game; same game as previous example; 90 (FB) outside and high for a ball; 92 (FB) outside corner for a called strike; 91 (FB) inside/foul; 92 (FB) elevated up in the zone and ripped for a hard-contact single to the 2B side. Cespedes made hard contact and had a positive result, but once again Wilson lived dangerously up in the zone with a fastball and Cespedes was late to trigger; he did show he could get to a pitch above the hands, but the sequence suggests working him outside and up is preferable to other options.

09/18/2013

RHP (Gutierrez); runner on first; one out; 83 (SL) away for ball; 95 (FB) inside and low (good location) for swinging strike; 93 (FB) good pitch that bore in chest high; foul; 86 (SL) placed in the danger zone (hanging lower in the zone); deep fly ball for F8; the sequence was working, but the pitch wasn’t executed. A hanging slider lower in the zone to Cespedes should have resulted in damage; the timing was just a bit off and despite the good extension, the pitcher survived (once again) a mistake.

Speed/Baserunning

6 run; very good athlete; shows awareness on base (small sample); notable example of speed: on weak contact grounder to right side of infield (second base), Cespedes legged out a single with a sub 4.2 time to first. Given the type of swing on the changeup and the late burst out of the box, the speed he achieved down the line was impressive. It’s sneaky. His size and approach suggest he isn’t a threat, but when he wants to turn it on, he’s a legit plus runner.

Conclusions and Means of Attack

Cespedes is a see ball/hit ball reaction hitter, so you can beat him in a number of ways. Because he has low-in-the-zone eyes, you can challenge him up in the zone, both inside and out. He’s a hitter you don’t want to make a mistake to, but he’s also a hitter that doesn’t capitalize on every mistake pitch he sees; lefties can get ahead of him with location, spotting soft stuff or fastballs on the outer third of the plate. He won’t swing through many fastballs from southpaws, but you can beat him with changeups and good vertical curveballs, as he brings a fastball approach most of the time. If you have to throw FBs to him, work away and rely on the soft stuff to keep him off balance. In sequence, you can elevate the fastball against him and change the eye level, but it’s a risk. Right-handers should pound him with fastballs, working east/west; avoid the bottom half of the zone; ideal sequence starts with fastballs away followed by fastballs inside and boring; pound the fastball and then show him spin starting on the outer third and falling out of the zone. Once Cespedes is in swing mode, he’s not going to keep the bat on his shoulders and he will expand and chase. He’s an impatient hitter, so if a pitcher takes his time on the mound, focuses on the runner on base (if applicable), Cespedes will get antsy and look to swing when he gets to re-engage with the game. Keeping him in swing mode is the best approach a pitcher can take, as sequence makes him vulnerable and exploitable. Pitchers with a plan can beat him; pitchers with the ability to locate early can beat him; he can hit velocity, so location and movement are key to the fastball. LHP: off-speed away, off-speed away, fastball in, off-speed away. RHP: FB away, FB away, FB in, spinning away. He will beat himself. He will give away at-bats.

Matchup Stats at a Glance

First Pitch Swing

14/33; 42 percent

Bunt Threat (Sac, Push, Drag)

Not really; speed is plus but unlikely to bunt

Defensive Positioning

Straight up; would play deep on corners.

Outfield

Straight away; deep; can shade a bit to right/center because of opposite-field power and tendency to be late to the ball

Splits

vs. LHP

.313/.313/.688

vs. RHP

.154/.154/.385

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Oakland Athletics,  Scouting,  Advance Series

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