Notes on 2014's biggest international bonus baby, a live arm that was traded for Jason Rogers, an intriguing 2016 draftee, and more.
Melvin Adon, RHP, San Francisco Giants (Short Season Salem-Keizer)
When I looked at the pitching matchup for the Everett-SK game on Friday, I wasn’t exactly intrigued. Everett’s Ljay Newsome, a righty thumber who throws strikes but lacks impact stuff, was set to oppose Adon, and while I didn’t know anything about the Dominican right-hander, his profile wasn’t all that exciting. He’s 22-years-old, didn’t sign until he was 19, had walked six in his last outing, and was running an ERA north of six through nine starts. I almost skipped the game. Instead, I got my first look at triple digits in the Northwest League.
We made you wait an extra day, so we put in an extra writeup.
Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State (2016 Draft Class) Lauer and the Kent State Flashes entered the MAC Tournament as the heavy favorites, however a loss to Western Michigan ended their run at post season play. Lauer started for the Flashes on Wednesday, going the distance with a complete-game shutout. He showed advanced pitchability throughout the game, and the stuff to match. While Lauer doesn’t currently have a pure out-pitch, his arsenal is still adequate. His fastball sat 93, hitting 94 a few times with a deceptive look from the left side, with some cutting action on it. His curveball will be an above-average pitch, showing 1-7 break across multiple planes at 76 mph. His slider is much improved since I last saw him in April; it usually sits 85-86 topping at 87 mph. His changeup also looked improved, and he threw it with much more confidence this game, featuring horizontal arm-side fade and a touch of tumble as it fell late at times.
Lauer won't be an ace, or even a number two in all likelihood, but what he is missing in ceiling he makes up for in floor. Even as someone who hates the term “high-floor player,” Lauer looks the part to be a fast-rising mid-to-back-end starter. He is as polished as anyone in the class currently, and if any of his off-speed pitches can improve into the plus range, his ceiling becomes even higher. His endurance has never been questioned, as his last two outings have been a no hitter at Bowling Green, and this shutout. His velocity held through all nine innings on Wednesday, and he maintained his delivery well. His delivery is extremely clean, but has a quirk with his left leg that needs to be timed correctly in order to hit his spots. But out of all of his outings that I have seen, he’s only lost his timing in a few. I would look for Lauer to go anywhere in the 25-40 range, but losing out on his ability to prove himself against post season competition is unfortunate. —Grant Jones
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The offensive bar is set high for these minor leaguers, but their defensive shortcomings won't hurt your fantasy squad.
Given all of the major-league talent and production that plays at first base, you’d think that there’s a veritable cornucopia of names that are lurking just below the surface, waiting to be promoted and produce. Well, you’d be wrong. So very, very wrong. And not the kind of wrong where you don’t want to be right, either.
Instead, what we find is a smattering of players who have a strong enough offensive profile to withstand the weight of expectations placed on a first baseman, while also featuring a lack of defensive ability so distinct that their teams aren’t even attempting to play them out of position with the hope that they could somehow not be a first baseman. Instead, the depth at the major-league level is created when teams ultimately give up on the guys they are playing out of position and transition them down the defensive spectrum, because, at this point, winning games starts to matter.
Jason catches up with the most polished Rangers prospect at Single-A Hickory.
When Rangers prospect Ronald Guzman joined the Single-A Hickory Crawdads late last month, he immediately became the most polished hitter in a lineup that includes five of the organization’s top 10 prospects. A 6-foot-5 first baseman with a mature lefty swing and solid approach, Guzman ranked no. 9 in the Texas system entering this season.
Jason's starting to wind down his time in Arizona, but not before he gives another peek into an unedited scouting notebook for some Texas Rangers prospects.
“Baseball is my stereo, and my father let me crank the noise and my mother told me to turn it down.” –-Oliver Wendell Holmes
I enjoyed writing the first installment of this ad hoc series, so I decided to bring it back this week. If you’ve been reading my spring training diary, one of the things you probably learned is that I’m very casual with my thoughts, especially as they relate to my ongoing attempts to woo the face of my diary into an emotional (and perhaps) physical relationship. I’m still working on that. The other thing you have no doubt extracted is that I’ve been living in Surprise, Arizona for the past 30 days, spending a large chunk of my time at the Texas Rangers team complex, watching the stop-motion developmental process of minor leaguers in real time live action. My scouting views haven’t been limited to just the Rangers, as I’ve seen prospects from the Reds, Indians, Mariners, A’s, Giants, Padres, Royals, Rockies, Dodgers, and White Sox, and I’m clearly lying about watching prospects in the White Sox system because that’s like watching unicorns play Laser Tag, and my notes are thick and luscious with scouting commentary on the aforementioned teams, excluding the White Sox, of course. Alas, my editors wouldn’t enjoy bi-weekly 10,000 word submissions and the bones in my fingers would relocate to more comfortable surroundings, so I’ve had to spread the notes around using different vehicles, this being one of those vehicles.
After cooking in the Arizona sun, the Professor was able to digest the fact that Ronald Guzman is the best hitting prospect he has seen.
Every year around the end of September, I spend eight to 10 days in Arizona toasting my skin until it achieves a bright red hue. I feed at mass-consumption chain restaurants, food with a fat content specifically designed to induce depression and lethargy. I listen to kids scream in a hotel lobby until my reproductive equipment schedules its own vasectomy. I fall asleep while seated in an upright position, like an 80-year-old overweight narcoleptic. And I watch instructional league baseball.
The Fall Instructional League, or FIL, is a developmental league that starts soon after the minor-league season ends, mostly for players with immature skill sets who are in need of specific instruction, refinement, and education. It’s a place where young players set to continue (or begin) their stateside experience can learn the ways of the force, a place where their road to the majors often begins. It’s Professional Baseball 101 for most participants, a starting point.