Last week the Connecticut Tigers hosted the New York-Penn League All-Star Game with a host of talented young players moving out of the complex leagues and making their professional debuts. Twelve position players garnered most of my attention throughout the evening. While it is always risky placing too much weight on a one-game sample, the following are my notes on the position players who stood out last week.
Oscar Hernandez, C, Tampa Bay Rays (Hudson Valley)
Very good body; good height for a catcher; strong, lean upper body; thicker lower half; has strength to catch and projects for durability; hands work well at the plate; extremely quick to the ball; handled velo and secondary pitches well in this contest; plus bat speed; defense will play; lightning fast hands behind the plate; showed good footwork and quick transfer; plus arm; popped 1.88, 1.94, 2.02; throws consistently on target; throws down to the bag; solid all-around potential; high risk; potential everyday backstop.
Eric Jagielo, 3B, New York Yankees (Staten Island)
Didn’t see the hype in brief viewing; appeared smaller than listed (6-2, 195); looks to have strength but doesn’t overwhelm physically; limited sample; showed plus bat speed on most swings; seemed over-aggressive and chased multiple breaking balls; ball jumped on solid contact; average may be limited but power could be real; limited defensive range; average hands; solid-average arm; should make it work at third base.
Nelson Rodriguez, 1B, Cleveland Indians (Mahoning Valley)
Beast of a man; extra-large body; exceptional natural strength; huge upper body strength; thick lower half; body will need to be watched; one of the youngest players in the game; limited to first base defensively; easy plus bat speed; likes to extend arms but doesn’t sacrifice bat speed; contact is consistently loud; likes to pull the ball and needs to trust strength to opposite field; well below-average run; extremely high risk.
B.J. Boyd, OF, Oakland Athletics (Vermont)
Small guy; very strong; physically reminds me of Marcus Stroman; barrel chest; likes to swing the bat; doesn’t get cheated; shows very good bat speed; occasionally explosive through the zone; above-average run in this viewing; plays hard and gets after it; rough defender; below-average arm; limited to left field; bat must materialize.
Ben Verlander, OF, Detroit Tigers (Connecticut)
Athletic; long, lean guy with natural strength; potential room for growth; very raw; new to hitting full time; pretty swing; will get a little long at times but flashed above-average bat speed; uses whole field well; ball jumps off his bat; lacks lift in swing; can see gap power in future; fringy run; strong arm; right-field profile; very raw and longshot prospect.
Yeicok Calderon, OF, New York Yankees (Staten Island)
Looks much bigger than listed height/weight (6-2, 185); bruiser build; has fun on the field; lots of pre-pitch movement with his hands; gets prepped with a very high load; often late to the zone on just mediocre velocity; tons of raw; lacks contact ability; adventurous reads/routes in the outfield; good arm strength; unlikely to stay in the field.
Boog Powell, OF, Oakland Athletics (Vermont)
Small, slight frame; classic speedster build; lean muscle; fast-twitch athlete; slappy approach; swings down at the ball; makes easy contact; can fly; showed plus to plus-plus home-to-first times; leadoff profile but will be tested at higher levels; can go get it in the outfield; limited arm strength displayed.
Jin-De Jhang, C, Pittsburgh Pirates (Jamestown)
Thick, stocky build; can block pitches well; moves surprisingly well from side to side; quick hands and feet behind the dish; has solid fundamentals; didn’t show arm strength; popped 2.03, 2.03, 2.12, 2.16; throws had good accuracy; fringy defender overall; flat out hitter; uses the whole field naturally; compact stance; quick hands; bat explodes to and through the zone; ball jumps off his bat; line-drive hitter; potential to hit for average and decent pop; chance to be a solid prospect.
Gabriel Lino, C, Philadelphia Phillies (Williamsport)
Arguably the most physically impressive player I saw; broad shoulders; athletic; very strong; absolutely ripped; bat speed to spare; has a significant leg kick, leading to some timing issues; surprised with ability to stay on soft stuff; struggled with spin; easy plus raw; toolsy guy; has defensive chops; 7 arm; absolute lasers to second base; inconsistent mechanics on throws; good bounce; moves well (athletically) behind the plate; controls infield defenders well; several sub-2.0 pops; legit prospect; lots of development remaining.
Zach Green, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Williamsport)
Big-league body; long, lean; big and athletic; showed plus bat speed but got a little long at times; swing mechanics are inconsistent from pitch to pitch; naturally strong with at least plus raw; power doesn’t translate because barrel control is lacking; doesn’t square consistently; will always have swing-and-miss; fringe run; may slow with physical maturity; flashed athleticism in the field; decent glove; above-average arm; should stay at third base; extreme-risk prospect.
Avery Romero, 2B, Miami Marlins (Batavia)
Stocky build; surprising athlete; decent lateral quickness; need to see more at keystone; showed good arm strength for position; natural hitting ability; very polished approach; recognizes pitches quickly out of the hand and makes decisions just as quickly; showed ability to avoid chase; contact is easy on a variety of pitches; uses the whole field; lots of hard line drives; gap power; bat-first second baseman is ceiling.
Harold Ramirez, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Jamestown)
Short, odd-shaped body; looks wide and stocky but really isn’t; pretty good athlete with some explosive strength; some quick-twitch ability; takes a big rip in the box; doesn’t get cheated; swings out of his shoes at times; pulls off balls; doesn’t control barrel well; lots of modest contact; don’t see hit projection at higher levels; burner raw speed; needs improved instincts on the bases and in the field; scored from first on a single with aggressive, challenging style of baserunning; interesting player; needs a lot of work.
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