The prospect team debates the no. 1 young pitcher in the Blue Jays system.
Nearly two years ago, the hot topic in Toronto was who their top pitching prospect was, Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez. Yesterday, one of those two pitchers dominated the Orioles for seven innings to clinch Toronto's first division title in over two decades. This article originally ran on December 9, 2013.
The subjective nature of prospect prognostication is equal parts fascination and frustration, as the prejudices and partialities of the evaluation process can limit what we see and how we go about compartmentalizing that information. I’m a registered bullpen box offender; a recidivist when it comes to placing radically short arms, radically tall arms, slim and slender arms, and most arms of Dominican provenance into a future bullpen role before the developmental process has played out. I recognize that this particular bias is often incongruent to the nature of the process itself, and it paints me as a hypocrite when I preach against binary logic and then participate in such black and white developmental tropes. I’m working on it.
Matt Chapman, Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Victor Reyes and more surprised us (in a good way) in 2015
A.J. Reed, 1B, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
My first few looks at A.J. Reed gave me a modest impression. He showed raw power for days in BP and worked counts in games, but the bat speed wasn't anything special, there was some length in the swing, and he showed indecision at the dish. But his is an approach that takes some time to understand and appreciate, as is the surprising bat-to-ball skill for a man of his size and power. There's some swing-and-miss in his game, but after you watch him enough you realize his strikeouts are more often a by-product of working deep into counts than flailing away. He thinks along with pitchers, frequently gets himself into advantageous hitting situations, and works the whole field with authority when he does. At the same time, he's not passive and will jump a first-pitch fastball with the best of 'em. It's not often you see a guy with 70 raw power figure out how to bring the vast majority of it with him into games at such a young age. Perhaps most tellingly, he improved his ability to shoot pitches on the outer third to the opposite field and up the middle during his time in Lancaster. That qualifies as remarkable progress for any player's hit tool given the environment's extreme prejudice towards lifting the ball to right field. The numbers were nice this year, but more importantly the developmental progress was real. —Wilson Karaman
Notes on Anderson Espinoza, Andrew Benintendi, Confesor Lara, and more.
On the mound Nicholas Frey (Cardinals) has average arm speed and pitches out of a traditional three-quarters arm slot. His mechanics were ugly when I saw him, he has a deep stab, there is effort to the delivery, and he fights moderate spine tilt which can cause him to fall off hard to the first base side. Frey has a fastball that comes in at 93-94 and shows moderate run but it's a surprisingly hittable offering as batters get a long look at it all the way through the zone. Frey flashes an 11-5 curve but it lacks consistency and deception; he does a poor job of replicating the fastball arm speed. Frey's stuff should produce better results but his fringy command profile and the ease with which batters pick up his stuff have hindered him severely. – Mauricio Rubio
The Cardinals' fourth-round pick out of Illinois State, Paul DeJong has handled himself well during his pro debut. He showed average arm strength, coordinated actions, and average hands in my viewing. At the plate DeJong keeps his hands low and in towards the body, and has a moderate load pre-pitch. I saw his swing get long some on hard stuff in but DeJong shows some feel for the barrel and he has above-average bat speed. – Mauricio Rubio
The Dodgers’ second-rounder last summer, Verdugo worked his way up to High-A this year at the tender age of 19 despite a slow start. He sports a fairly athletic frame and there’s physical projection remaining, with room to fill out his chest and arms. He carries himself with a quiet swagger, appearing almost passive at times when he’s not in the heat of the moment. His switch flips quickly, however, and he shows as a high-intensity player when engaged. He wasn’t shy about expressing frustration after what he deemed to be a sub-par round in the cage, and after a pop out in-game he spent the better part of the next half inning pantomiming his swing in between pitches in the outfield.
Notes on Bobby Bradley, Yeyson Yrizarri, and several 2015 early-round selections.
Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, New York Mets (Double-A Binghamton)
After spending time in Double-A to finish off last season, this year represented a chance for Ynoa to show that he could adjust to facing more advanced bats on a consistent basis over the long haul at the level and prove that things were trending in the right direction when it came to sticking as a starter. While the overall arsenal doesn’t have a pitch that screams, it’s a collection of offerings that the 22-year-old mixes and matches and throws for strikes.