More names to know before the upcoming amateur draft.
This week we finish up with some trailing NHSI reports (last week’s Ten Pack had notes on ten participants), hit some more high school kids, and provide an introduction to FIU backstop Aramis Garcia and an update on FSU ace Luke Weaver.
Updates on Hunter Harvey, Aaron Sanchez, Mark Appel and others.
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Orioles (Low-A Delmarva)
Given the volatility of young arms, along with the overall nature of the position, it’s easy to be on the conservative side when initially assessing the early stages of their pro careers. After seeing Harvey toward the end of last season, though, it wasn’t a tough call to put a 7 on the future potential. The stuff absolutely screamed “legit.” The heater effortlessly came out of his hand at 92-95 mph, with late life and jump. The feel for the curveball was advanced for a pitcher his age, and though the changeup was inconsistent, the quality arm-side fading action when Harvey did execute lent a big clue that future growth is there. It’s an arsenal of three future plus-to-better pitches.
A final look at players on the backfields, and some early impressions around the Florida State League.
OF Adam Brett Walker (Twins): Tools for days, but still learning how to use them and whether he gets there is a question; long limbs, high butt. Stands tall in the box with a quiet stance. Can get long but not terribly so for a player with long arms. Easy plus bat speed and plus power potential; doesn’t have to sell out to generate power. Generates natural backspin on ball. Over-aggressive at the plate because he can get the barrel on too many pitches, resulting in bad contact. Is willing to use the whole field but expands the zone to hit pitcher's pitches; got one pitch up in the zone and crushed it; no doubter with easy carry. He reminded me of Justin Upton with a terrible approach. –Jeff Moore
Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell or Javier Baez? We polled front office types and our prospect staff.
The rise of the superstar shortstop prospect prompts preferential inquiries, as my email inbox, Twitter feed, and chat queues are continually maxed out with questions about Bogaerts, Baez, Correa, Lindor, and Russell, and if forced to choose, which one would I choose? The five chiseled heads on the modern Mount Rushmore of shortstop prospects (six if you go high on Mondesi) present a daily challenge of preference, a subjective exercise of forced selection tied to the realities of the present and the fantasies of the future, a tug-of-war we play with ropes made of tangible data, scouting memories of on-the-field motions, and the conceptual ideas of value and who will be most likely to achieve it.
A look at prospects in the California and Eastern leagues, including Corey Seager and Julio Urias.
California League RHP Chris Anderson (Dodgers): Tall, athletic build, shoulders a touch on the narrow side, very well proportioned build, big hips, muscular ass. Over-the-top slot, arm comes through fast and loose. On-line delivery but shaky with side to side looseness to it, medium depth cutting action on the fastball, sat 91-93, touched some 94s late in the struggle as he was trying to escape. Simply no command at all in this outing, missing in every direction. Average CB at 79-81 with good depth, 11-to-5 direction, should be able to keep break much more vertical from that slot but frequently fighting front side through delivery; around the zone with it but often in a dangerous way. Flashed a change at 83; looked to have some potential but didn't get a good look at it. Cutter at 85-88 short and sudden; good-looking offering, frequently up in zone with it. Body and stuff are promising and there's a lot to like but it was a very bad first outing; got yanked with bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, three runs already in. –Todd Gold
Raimel Tapia, Carlos Correa, Julio Urias, Clint Frazier, and other prospects we can't wait to scout this summer.
Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies (Low-A Asheville)
Internet evaluators have a tendency to overcomplicate the scouting process, focusing too much of their attention on what players will do in the future rather than simplifying the explanations of what they actually can do in the present. We can dream on athletic bodies and cite physical projection to justify our fantasies about future accomplishment, and I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to attaching my name to body-beautiful types regardless of current skill level. But a good rule of thumb—in the particular context of evaluating position players—is that good hitters hit and bad hitters only project to hit.
Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia can hit. He accomplishes this with a combination of balance and bat speed at the plate, allowing him to consistently drive the baseball, but there is an innate component at play here that goes deeper than any breakdown of his setup or swing. He excels at putting the barrel of his bat on the baseball, recognizing the ball early out of the pitcher’s hand and using his excellent hand-eye coordination to finish the connection. This natural ability to hit has been evident at every stop in his professional career, and is likely to continue as he climbs toward the highest level. We can wax poetic—and I have—about his other physical gifts, like plus run, a plus arm, and the potential to stick up the middle with the glove, but the name of the game is bat-to-ball, and Tapia can hit. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. –Jason Parks
Scouting reports and video of some of the top college players eligible for this June's draft.
Grayson Greiner, C, South Carolina Scouting Video
Greiner entered the season as one of the top collegiate backstops eligible for the 2014 draft and he has solidified that status through his first 22 games played. He’s got a .338/.422/.514 slash line, just 12 strikeouts against 10 walks, and has thrown out 44 percent of would-be basestealers. He moves well behind the plate, able to block and deaden balls in the dirt. He has a quick transfer and release backed by above-average arm strength. He worked as the primary catcher for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer and showed little trouble handling the likes of Carlos Rodon, Tyler Beede, Erick Fedde, Brandon Finnegan, and Luke Weaver.
Eyes on Julio Urias, Nick Williams, Christian Arroyo and others.
RHP Cody Buckel: Half-windup; over-the-top slot; showed a lot of effort generating his velocity; fastball worked 89-91; lacked movement; very flat and visible up in the zone; plane when he worked down; found plenty of barrels; dropped several slow lollipop curveballs to steal a few strikes; loose and easy to track; not a legit pitch against better bats; fringy slider in the 82-84 range; lacked sharp break; body language was poor (slumped shoulders and sulked); didn’t record an out in his first inning of work; required several mound visits and encouragements; airmailed a few balls to the backstop; didn’t get a “yips” vibe despite some wildness; pitched with trepidation; find optimism in the fact that he was able to throw some strikes but the stuff and the body language on the mound left a lot to be desired. Didn’t look like a future major-league pitcher. –Jason Parks
OF Nomar Mazara: Lanky; a solid 6’4” at least; very lean and muscular; seemed very comfortable in the box; knew his strengths; laid off some spin down in the zone; got himself into good hitting counts; has big-time bat speed; hitchy timing mechanism; the way his hands load is reminiscent of Chris Davis; timing needs to be perfect, but when it works it’s explosive; pulled a middle-in fastball for a 420-plus-foot bomb; raw power is near elite; game power is starting to actualize; loved the way he hit—he looked for a pitch in a certain spot and demolished it when it came; in his third and last at-bat, he hit one over Terrance Gore’s head in CF for an inside-the-park homer, another fastball over the heart of the plate that he didn’t miss; showed off solid-average speed around the bases as well.
Eyes on Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Ronald Guzman, and others.
OF Albert Almora: Mixed production at the plate; squared a 95 fastball up in the zone for an opposite-field RBI single late in the game; fast hands and aggressive; loved the way he attacked the ball; earlier in the game, was sawed off by a fastball inside and hit an infield squib; clocked a 4.4 time to 1B. I like the setup and swing, with an open stance and very good balance through his load and stroke. Swing is more linear without a lot of lift at present, but he can make hard contact with the ball, especially against quality fastballs; in the field, looks the part of a plus center fielder; glides naturally to the ball; effortless ability to make quality reads.
Example: On a high sky, sun field, tracked a high fly ball that was tailing toward the right field side. It would be common to see young center fielders make a poor opening read and struggle to adjust to the ball because of the sky and tail on the ball. My eyes focused on Almora upon contact, and he glided to the spot on his initial read and made a catch at his left hip, which looked as effortless (and cool) as his route to the ball. For most outfielders, the appropriate response to the flair of this particular catch on a backfield would be, “Nice catch Hayes, don’t ever do it again.” But for Almora, its just natural baseball. –Jason Parks
Eyes on Rymer Liriano, Trevor Story, Tim Anderson, Myles Jaye and other intriguing prospects.
RHP Aaron Blair: Good frame, well built and athletic, with a high waist and broad shoulders; reminds me physically of John Lackey. Good delivery, repeatable, uses legs well, getting good extension and finishing on balance through the zone.
Eyes on Jorge Alfaro, Joey Gallo, Blake Swihart, and other prospects of repute.
I spent nine hours at the fields yesterday; morning workouts and then backfield games on the Rangers side (Extended, Low-A, High-A). Dropping notes on several prospects, some more detailed than others depending on the duration and significance of the look. –Jason Parks
C Jorge Alfaro: Noticeably stronger; way more athletic than people realize; easy plus runner when underway; arm is 80-grade; popped a 1.73 (on my watch) on a caught stealing early in the game; footwork was quick and coordinated; ball was waiting on the runner; controls the running game; intimidator behind the plate; not afraid to attempt back-pick at second or first; highly confident in throwing ability; best I’ve seen him as a receiver; was letting the ball get to him; wasn’t stabbing or drifting; previously, more balanced at the plate; swing is still torque-heavy but not as all-or-nothing or uncontrollable; bat speed is still well above average; right-center is still power core; can still beat him with spin but he is keeping his hands back better and not selling out for extension on everything thrown near the plate.
Reports on Julio Urias, Aaron Sanchez, Gregory Polanco, Hunter Dozier and other prospects it would be irresponsible to ignore.
(3/19) LHP Julio Urias (Dodgers) Okay size; probably closer to 6’1’’ than listed height (5’11’’); strong build; definitely more body than listed weight (160 lbs.); could end up being high maintenance but not a problem at present; in delivery, lifts leg high before brief (straight) extension; soft landing; stays very balanced; everything looks very easy and repeatable; stays over the ball from ¾ slot; creates angle; fastball ranged from 91-95 in three-inning pop; mostly worked 93; command was solid-average to plus; line to the plate veered a little into the LH box; tendency to miss arm-side/up; showed excellent feel for altering movement; was cutting the ball and making it run; fastball is easy plus at present; could play even better with sharper command.