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After ten days of standing in the sun, eating food that comes in bovine feed bags, chewing sunflower seeds like they contained the secrets of love and happiness, and falling asleep in a motel room whose game experience was visible to the senses, I’m finally back in New York, sitting in a small apartment thinking about the activity taking place at the Fall Instructional League. I miss the baseball. I miss the rush of walking up to a sparsely attended field, finding my spot on a deserted island of bleachers, removing a towel from my bag to cover my neck and head, placing a beach hat over said towel to provide further protection from the sun, placing a stopwatch in my left hand, and going to work for three hours. My gaze rarely would leave the action on the field, except to chat with a friend or to enjoy a taste of water from a cooler that provided the coldest water on the planet. A few more days in the sun and I would have attempted a romantic maneuver on that cooler.

The FIL (fall instructional league; you get it) was a little strange this year, as I didn’t get a chance to see many of the teams I consider to be standards during my backfield adventures in the Spring; teams like the Padres, Mariners, Indians, and Reds. Not every team located in Arizona plays a full fall schedule, and with only ten days to score prospect dope, I had to take advantage of the talent playing games in my vicinity. I saw a ton of Rangers and Royals action, which is to be expected for multiple reasons: 1) I stay in Surprise, AZ, home base of the Rangers and Royals, and the complex is familiar and minutes from my hotel; 2) the talent on the Rangers and Royals FIL rosters might be able to beat the Astros major league team; and 3) Jorge Alfaro doesn’t workout in Glendale.

I wasn’t just limited to the Rangers and Royals, as I also saw the White Sox, an advanced split squad of Brewers and Mariners prospects, the Dodgers, a traveling Korean team, and a traveling Mexican Pacific League team. I was also able to watch Francisco Lindor, but that was from a telephoto lens and he wasn’t exactly at the fields. The talent level was high, with five-tool dreams like Bubba Starling and Lewis Brinson patrolling center field, power bats like Courtney Hawkins, Jorge Bonifacio, and Nomar Mazara taking massive rips, infield talent like Corey Seager, Adalberto Mondesi, and Luis Marte, and under-the-radar arms like Miguel Almonte and C.J. Edwards looking like players ready to take huge steps forward in 2013. I took nearly thirty pages of notes, and after two full FIL articles, I’m left with only snapshots and debris that I want to release before it is forgotten. Here are a few miscellaneous notes you might enjoy before I pull down the shade on the Arizona FIL for another year.

  • RHP Carlos Frias (Dodgers): Three-quarter slot; tall and lanky; Beckett-like delivery, with rocking/hesitation before pickup; long legs; slings the ball; four-seam fastball was 92-94, touching 95; some late arm-side slide; changeup was a below-average pitch on the day; firm at 85-86 mph, with a little sink; slider missed some bats at 82-84; some tilt, but not a sharp pitch; dropped a few cutter-like offerings at 88 mph, with quality late slice; 1.15-1.2 to home on delivery with runners on; showed ability to miss barrels with slider, but caught barrels with fastball despite plus velocity; fits a reliever profile.
  • SS Jesmuel Valentin (Dodgers): Good actions at shortstop; very clean and fluid; showed good body control and coordination; range was above-average; arm was above-average; release was quick; accurate; possesses skills to stay at position; bat wasn’t great; stiff swing mechanics; didn’t see pro bat speed; was behind on fastballs and over off-speed offerings; look like he was trying to hit for power by dropping back shoulder and loading it up; didn’t see major league-quality stick (small sample); has defensive chops, good run, iffy bat; only 18, so plenty of time to enjoy the developmental ride.
  • LHP Daniel Coulombe (Dodgers): Short lefty reliever; high three-quarter slot; fastball was 89-91 with effort; best curveball I saw in Arizona; 77-80 with tons of depth; easy 6 pitch; changeup had some fade at 83; arm was very quick; decent control; impressive command of curveball, both in and out of zone; pitch overmatched the level of hitter he was facing.
  • RF Nomar Mazara (Rangers): Swing has improved 100% since I last saw him in camp; long, lean body; 6-foot-4; needs to add more strength and weight to frame, but already shows impressive raw power; controls bat better than originally thought; not a big contact hitter, but can stay on quality velocity and stay back on off-speed pitches; timing mechanism is much quieter and repeatable; routes better in the outfield; arm is okay; don’t see enough athleticism for left field; right field profile; raw power is a 7; not sure where it will play on the scouting scale; big makeup; big steps forward in a very short time; easy top ten talent in the Rangers system.
  • OF Jairo Beras: (Rangers): Swing is still unrefined, and basically untouched from amateur period; long body; easy 6-foot-5, possibly 6-foot-6; incredibly long arms, legs; narrow hips; odd physical profile; almost Richie Sexson-esque; raw power is an 8 on the 2/8; game power is a question mark; pulled off of most balls; struggled against anything out of the zone and/or soft; behind Guzman/Mazara at the plate; fits classic right field profile, with enough athleticism for the position, 6+ arm, middle-of-the-order power potential; top ten prospect in Rangers system on ceiling alone; long way from show; long shot to make it.
  • At any given time during the Fall Instructional League, the Rangers could field a starting nine whose amateur bonuses total up to over $18 million dollars. Let that swirl around your head for a while. The outfield alone is over $11M.
  • 3B Joey Gallo (Rangers): Monster power, easy 8; biggest raw I’ve seen at the level; no idea where it ends up playing; same swing on every pitch, every situation; doesn’t shorten up or use all-fields approach; looks to crush the ball; big leverage in swing; big load; watches a lot of pitches, but struggles to put good wood to breaking balls; struggles in the field; athletic, but actions are stiff; arm is crazy strong, but accuracy and touch are an issue; body could move him off position; very tall; will add more mass; fits right field profile with athleticism, arm, power potential; swing needs work, but the 8 raw isn’t something you can teach.
  • Adalberto Mondesi (Royals): Stud. Should be a top 5 talent in Royals system, and is on his way up the minor league hierarchy. Only 17 years old; can stick, especially from right side of the plate; linear swing path; the softer contact should grow into more line drives and gap power as he adds strength; controls the bat very well; tracks balls well; doesn’t profile as a power threat; good defensive chops at shortstop; smooth, athletic actions; strong arm; big feel for position; easy plus range; needs fundamental refinement, but profiles at the position; plays with swagger; total package is a true shortstop with contact ability and speed; 6 role player; long way to go, but prospect status is on the climb in a big way.
  • SS Francisco Lindor (Indians): Touch if you will my stomach. Feel how it trembles inside. You’ve got the butterflies all tied up. Don't make me chase you. Even doves have pride.
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wescx22
10/03
How far could Joey Gallo hit one of his own fastballs?
deeswan
10/03
Francisco Lindor, I would die 4 u.
drscott46
10/03
Jason, you said before you planned reports on some unidentified Reds players. Did a) I miss them, b) you not see them, or c) all the Reds players in instructional league prove uninspiring?
jparks77
10/03
I didn't get enough to write about. Apologies. I wanted to offer up eye-witness accounts (for this particular series) instead of industry opinion, and I just didn't get a good look at the Reds. I plan on following up with some of the teams I missed and delivering a FIL recap, but it won't be from my own accounts.
timber
10/03
The Royals raised a lot of eyebrows with the size of the bonus they gave to Mondesi; apparently they have been vindicated. Why do you consider Beras a long shot?
jparks77
10/03
I consider most teenagers with unrefined games to be long shots, despite the electricity of a particular tool.
bg2388
10/03
Great article! Full of #WANT. I just wish you had a chance to see the Cubs while you were out there. Thanks for the great article. I am going to go listen to some Chavez now!
nerck93
10/03
Are those Ranger players overvalued for the bonuses they received?
jparks77
10/03
It's possible, but based on what I've seen, the talent is pretty legit. Big bonuses, but big talent. Not a guarantee to develop, though. They all have a long way to go.
Behemoth
10/04
When you say that Beras is behind Guzman/Mazara at the plate, is that more than just that the other two have a year of pro development under their belts and he doesn't? Also, is it fair to say that Guzman and Mazara are currently at a broadly similar level?
jparks77
10/04
Beras hasn't been "fixed" yet, so to speak. The Rangers are just letting him play. Both Guzman and Mazara are already in the developmental machine, making adjustments, etc. Beras is behind the curve, but his ceiling is probably the highest of the three players because of the insane power potential. I'd put Guzman and Mazara at the same level. Different hitters with different futures, but similar in terms of developmental status.
MaineSkin
10/05
I don't see how Beras cost so much which included a full investigation from MLB when his only tools right now is raw power, not game, and an arm. Can you explain>
jparks77
10/05
I can. Good questions. First of all, in a free market, the player is only worth as much as one team is willing to pay. The reason they were willing to pay $4.5M is because baseball doesn't have many middle-of-the-order power monsters, especially in the minors. Beras shows plus-plus to elite power potential as a teenager, and that puts him in rare company in baseball. It remains to be seen how the power plays, but with the LA free market window closing, and the number of power bats fading away from the game (that's a subject for a another day), the Rangers jumped on the Beras opportunity.
Bkmcmahon
10/04
I don't think I ever knew the words to the Prince song.
myshkin
10/04
Intriguing. Your Mazara comment is the first time I've heard that LF requires more athleticism in RF, at least in general; clearly there are some parks where LF is more spacious than RF. Could you elaborate on how one might not have the athleticism for LF but be fine in RF?
jparks77
10/04
RBiA is one of those parks where left field is very spacious and difficult to play. It requires more range from the fielder. In right field, at this specific park, with the CF routinely shaded more towards his side, the gap created in left-center puts more pressure on the left fielder to cover the ground. It depends on the park, but generally, I look for a left-fielder to have near centerfield athleticism, whereas in right field, I think you can get away with a little less range.