Reports on prospects who stood out in the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game.
All-Star games make for unique scouting experiences, and the Fall Stars Game was no different. On the one hand, the amount of top prospects on display in one place is unmatched by anything other than the midseason Futures Game. On the other hand, many players got just two at-bats, and no pitcher threw more than two innings, making it difficult to render a complete evaluation. Still, there were matchups that scouts rarely get to see elsewhere, and that, coupled with the electricity in the ballpark on a cool November night, made for an exciting scouting experience.
Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees:
On a field full of toolsy players, Bird isn’t always the most impressive one, but he did do the single most impressive thing of the night, hitting a 3-2 changeup roughly 450 feet to dead center field. It was the culmination of the most impressive at-bat of the 25 or so I’ve seen of Bird this season, as his approach was decidedly more aggressive. Bird’s patience at the plate is his only other plus tool (along with his power), but he is too patient at times, failing to pull the trigger on the most hittable pitch of a plate appearance. Against Nick Howard, however, he swung at the first six pitches, worked a full count, and took advantage. He has plus raw power, but for the first time on Saturday night, he showed me a much better chance of being able to apply it in game action. —Jeff Moore
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Ten reports on prospects in the desert, including Aaron Judge and Tyler Glasnow.
Aaron Judge, professional large man, Yankees:
The only body comparison that does Aaron Judge justice is Jimmy Graham, tight end for the New Orleans Saints; which is very appropriate for a high school basketball player. The hulking 6-foot-7, 270-plut right-field prospect was far and away the best player on the field Thursday, launching two home runs and gunning Dalton Pompey at home plate. Judge’s first round-tripper was a showcase of pure strength—a trademark shot that fell over the left-center field fence, likely an out in thicker air. The second bomb was certainly not cheap. After spitting on a 2-1 curveball eight inches off the outside corner, Judge got a 3-1 fastball, and didn’t miss it. 430 feet later, the Fresno State product’s ball landed one third of the way up the berm, 20 feet to the left of center field. What stuck out most about the Yankee farmhand today however, was his extremely advanced approach at the plate. Typically, 22-year-old hitters with limited pro experience aren’t self-aware. Yet, Judge seems to know his strengths and weaknesses, and plays to his positive qualities. He stands far away from the plate with a slightly closed, relaxed stance, understanding that pitchers may want to bust him inside due to long arms. On the scouting scale, the right fielder’s arm strength is plus-plus, to go along with plus-plus potential power, and the potential for an average hit tool. If it all comes together, he should have no issue playing right field every day and hitting in the middle of a lineup. —Jordan Gorosh
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates:
After writing that Glasnow was the prospect I was most excited to put eyes on in the AFL, I was able to do just that on a Thursday afternoon matchup in Mesa. The 6-foot-7 righty has a lot of body to control on the mound and fought with mechanical consistency in this particular outing. Utilizing a long, full arm action, Glasnow releases the ball from slightly above three-quarters, generating massive extension out front and giving his arm plenty of room to decelerate post-release. He has a slight hip turn at his balance point and has some shoulder tilt as he drops and drives down the mound, generating plus momentum and landing slightly across his body. The Californian struggled to replicate his release point mightily, resulting in well below-average command of the strike zone. His fastball sat comfortably in the 91-93 range, touching 94 with big plane lower in the zone. This is limited when he is working up, however, and Glasnow missed up far too frequently in his three and two-thirds innings of work, leaving the fastball flat and hittable. He struggled to get on top of his 74-77 curveball, leaving it slurvy and below average, though he did flash two plus breaking balls throughout the start where he was able to stay on top of the ball. His changeup was used sparingly in the 84-87 range, flashing average potential. While slight degradation in stuff was troubling in this outing, Glasnow looked spent from a long season. The command may be a more legitimate concern going forward, as I fully expect Glasnow to come back firing on all cylinders next season with the two potential plus-plus pitches that were seen by evaluators all season firmly in tow. An improvement in command is necessary for him to reach the lofty standards that were placed on him by scouts who saw him at his best this season, though there is still plenty of time to further refine his ability to pound the zone with his entire arsenal. —Ethan Purser
Our prospect team has arrived in the desert, with reports on eight prospects, including Hunter Renfroe and Michael De Leon.
With a strong portion of our prospect team in the desert, Baseball Prospectus has you covered for the Fall League action. Our plan was to approach these reports in a similar fashion to our Ten Pack articles, but with fewer players to work with, we anticipated what was to be called a Six Pack. In so many ways, however, a six pack just wasn’t going to be enough to get the job done this weekend, so we overachieved.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (Saguaros, AFL)
In terms of raw power, Renfroe checks in just below the truly elite guys (Gallo, Bryant, Sano), and the show he puts on in batting practice impresses even veteran scouts. The bat speed is at the plus level and the raw power is plus-plus. The game application, however, leaves you wanting more. Few can time up a fastball like Renfroe, but there is a ton of forward movement in his swing and the weight transfer is significant. His entire swing is timed to hit fastballs, and he does that as well as any prospect in the minors, but without an adjustment, he leaves the door open for exposure to better breaking pitches. At this point, he could hit anywhere from .230 to .280 at the major-league level (which was confirmed by a scout in attendance on Wednesday), and the slot in which he falls depends largely on his ability to handle better offspeed offerings. The power will play regardless, though its application will also depend on his hit tool. It’s a big-league profile either way, but the level of impact greatly depends on his ability to separate the stride from the swing and handle offspeed pitches. —Jeff Moore
Charting Brian Roberts' rise and fall with a trip through the BP archives.
You might never cheer for a team with a second baseman better than Brian Roberts was in 2005. His career ends on a sadder note, a half-decade ruined by injuries. In honor of his career, we're reprinting all 14 comments written about him for the BP Annual, from the first in 2001 ("after having surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow") through last winter's ("myriad injuries have limited..."). Enjoy.
Montas dealt with a knee injury that limited him to only 81 innings during the season, so his assignment in the Arizona Fall League is mostly about getting him some more work to finish out the year. The big right-hander’s main draw is a monster fastball that works 96-99 mph, with the ability to touch triple digits, and an 88-90 mph slider that has consistently been tightening over the last couple of seasons. While Montas has been working as a starter for the White Sox, I see the overall package playing out of the bullpen over the long-haul due to a max effort delivery and an arsenal that points more towards two viable pitches. His changeup does lag considerably behind the other two offerings. This is an arm that, if everything breaks right, can line up as a closer at the highest level. I’m intrigued to see Montas square off against the high caliber competition of this type of setting. The fastball and slider are likely to draw some rave reviews from evaluators in attendance, with the overall buzz on the arm having a good chance to swell heading into the offseason. –Chris Mellen
Jhoan Urena, 3B, Mets (Short-season Brooklyn)
Having spent the last three seasons in the lowest levels of the organization, the 20-year-old is not only ready for his first full-season assignment, but also seemingly poised for a breakout onto the national scene. Urena sneaks up on you, mostly of his bad body. Peel the onion, though, and you find flashes of loose hands and impressive bat-to-ball ability. Urena also demonstrates an advanced approach for his age that bodes well for when he makes the jump to the South Atlantic League next season. It remains to be seen whether Urena can stick at third, he has progressed there. Urena’s a player to keep an eye heading into 2015, and one who can start making noise as a rising hitter within the lower levels of the system. –Chris Mellen
The prospect team tackles the year's disappointments, including Aaron Sanchez, Mark Appel, and Luke Jackson.
Alberto Tirado, RHP, Blue Jays (Short-season Vancouver)
Tirado entered 2014 the no. 3 prospect in Toronto's system and no. 76 on our Top 101, fueled by strong reports on his stuff. It was noted, though that his command needed work and the delivery was inconsistent. Fast forward to the end of this season and those highlighted areas are exactly what came to the surface. We need to remember Tirado is only 19 and developmental paths are often jagged when isolating short-term sections. I’m labeling Tirado's 2014 a “disappointment” more because his present weaknesses were too much for the strengths to overcome than due to a long-term decline in forecast. Still, some of the initial shine has diminished and warts were exposed. We now have concrete areas of focus when evaluating Tirado next season. –Chris Mellen
Austin Hedges, C, Padres (Double A San Antonio)
Hedges was the top-ranked catcher in the minors entering 2014, and he maintained that title when the midseason Top 50 rolled out in July. While the Junipero Serra (San Juan Capistrano, CA) prep product continues to outstrip his contemporaries on the defensive side of the ball, Hedges ran into a buzzsaw on the offensive side in the form of Texas League pitching.
Ten prospects who surprised the scouting staff in 2014.
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