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
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bradley was a must-see during BP’s trip to the desert, and while the Fall Stars game doesn’t exactly give evaluators the best look at the teams’ starting pitchers due to the brevity of the appearances, it was nonetheless a positive to get an updated look at the consensus top prospect in the Diamondbacks organization. Standing every bit of 6-foot-4, 235 pounds (and then some), the 22-year-old has a workhorse-type frame and is broad across the shoulders and chest with wide hips, all positive signs for his ability to handle a hefty workload in the future.
As he drives down the mound, Bradley displays a moderate shoulder tilt with a high front side and has a deep ball pickup with a slight wrist curl at the bottom of his arm swing. Upon landing slightly closed, the big righty releases the ball from a higher three-quarters slot and flashes the ability to get over his front side and pound the fastball low in the zone with plenty of downhill plane despite some present inconsistency in this regard. The delivery itself doesn’t ooze with athleticism, and he can lapse into being too deliberate and mechanical, struggling to keep his front shoulder closed and fighting his release point on his secondary pitches all the while. The result is below-average command at present, a grade that will likely never reach the average level due to the aforementioned mechanical concerns mixed with declining athleticism that is projected as the body continues to thicken as he reaches and exceeds his physical peak. These issues could hinder him from being able to repeat his delivery and hit his spots on a regular basis, particularly to the glove side.
The stuff, however, is very good across the board. Bradley’s fastball was anywhere from 92-95 mph, touching 96-97, and is difficult to square when he is working at the knees due to the sharp plane he naturally produces. The 12-to-6 curveball flashed above average in the low-80s but was a little long and wasn’t as sharp in this look, as he struggled to consistently stay on top of the pitch. He also appeared to mix in a handful of firm changeups in the upper 80s with a slight bit of arm-side fade. The equalizer in this outing, however, was Bradley’s short-breaking 87-89 mph slider, a new pitch that could eventually be his best secondary offering due to its ability to elicit swing-and-misses from both sides of the plate, which may be necessary if the changeup remains fringy going forward. The pitch is short in terms of its lateral movement but has bat-missing depth and presented many uncomfortable looks for both righties and lefties alike. With a new pitch in his back pocket, near premium arm strength, and size that can’t be taught, there are plenty of things to like about the Diamondbacks’ 2011 first-round pick. The command of the strike zone, while not terribly egregious, is still worrisome when projecting the Oklahoma native going forward, as there are not many signs pointing toward realistic and marked improvement in this category. The physical tools suggest a front of the rotation arm, but this is likely tempered by the command issues and leaves him as more of a mid-rotation arm who is big on stuff but light on overall feel. —Ethan Purser
Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Angels:
Cowart is an enigma. Built like a prototypical third baseman, Cowart was impressive all week, showing a nice swing in BP and consistent hard contact, both before and during the game. The question then became, “how has this guy batted .220 for two straight seasons?”, and it was one which we asked ourselves repeatedly throughout the week. Cowart should be better than that, though it’s tough to argue with the production, or lack thereof. His approach gets him in trouble, often selecting the wrong pitch in an at-bat on which to pull the trigger. But the raw talent is there, and there’s no reason he isn’t better than a .220 hitter. In a weak farm system with virtually no impact talent, Cowart remains the best option for a future everyday player. I’m not out on him yet. —Jeff Moore
Elias Diaz, C, Pittsburgh Pirates:
A reserve in the Fall Stars game, Diaz came in and did what he did throughout the week in multiple viewings. The Pirates farmhand put together two nice at-bats, collecting a single and a walk, and displayed a strong arm with great baseline defensive skills behind the dish. The 23-year-old Venezuelan native possesses a solid catcher’s frame with a strong lower half and is a quick and agile defender, showing plenty of ability when shifting and blocking balls in the dirt to either side. He receives the ball effortlessly with little extraneous movement and has the requisite strength in his forearms and wrists to frame pitches well at the fringes. The arm is an easy plus tool, popping in the 1.9s with a lightning-quick release both in games and between innings, even registering a 1.96 pop from his knees.
Diaz has a simple, repeatable swing with good bat speed and barrel whip through the zone, showcasing plenty of strength and hand-eye coordination to sting line drives to the gaps despite a slight tendency to bail out with his front side. The overall raw power is fringy, but he’ll really let the hips fly and get into a couple in batting practice, particularly to his pull side. The over-the-fence power projection isn’t enormous and will likely manifest itself in the form of doubles, but he has enough usable juice to keep pitchers honest in conjunction with his strong bat-to-ball ability. He also shows recognition skills and has an overall idea at the plate, working counts and prolonging at-bats. Though he is not a high-profile name, Diaz’s overall skillset screams high-floor major leaguer, especially when considering his legitimate skills behind the dish. After spending six years in Pittsburgh’s system, Diaz is Rule 5 eligible this offseason and is likely being evaluated in the AFL by Pirates personnel for the impending roster decision. If he is not protected, this is a name that could draw serious interest come December. —Ethan Purser
C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs
Slight of frame and long of limb, Edwards showcased a good fastball in the 93-94 mph range and a 10-4 wipeout curveball with sharp bite in his one-inning stint. Edwards has a rock back delivery and a high leg kick and swings through with a lightning quick arm and three-quarters release. Edwards lost a serious amount of time this year due to shoulder inflammation which did little to assuage the concerns about his body being able to withstand a starter’s workload. His one inning outing on Saturday perhaps teased at a future role for the righty as he impressed with a two pitch arsenal that looked absolutely dirty in a short burst. Edwards not realizing his slim starter potential wouldn’t be the end of the world, either. He has the raw stuff to close and coming out in short stints like this makes the stuff play up. He’ll have to answer the questions about whether he can handle pitching four days a week, but I think a reliever’s schedule would be kinder to him than starting was. —Mauricio Rubio
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Astros
Ruiz has broad shoulders and good thickness in the lower half, two indicators of good raw power (which he has) but it has yet to show up in game. Ruiz batting practice sessions indicated plus pull power and more line drive gap power when he tries going the other way. He keeps his hands high pre load then draws them back to create good separation before pulling them through the zone nice and easy with strong wrists. He has major-league bat speed, but there is swing and miss in his game. He looked like he was guessing during the Fall Stars Game and had an ugly at-bat against Robby Scott in which he was unwilling to cover the outer half and set himself up to get fooled by a breaking ball for a strikeout looking. Still, I have confidence in the bat because of the raw tools. He’s not smooth in the field and the actions can get a bit rough, but with coaching, I think he can turn into a real option at third. He has the arm for the position. —Mauricio Rubio
Eddie Rosario, LF, Minnesota Twins
Rosario’s season was a bit of a roller coaster: He was ranked 60th in our Top 101 last season, then got a 50-game suspension for a banned substance, and finally, struggled at the plate in his return to Double-A as a 22-year-old. The AFL was going to be about returning to form for him, but from a weekend sample I’m skeptical. Rosario has good hand/eye coordination and can put together a solid batting practice even with a lot of pre-swing movement, but once he moved to game action his approach didn’t do him any favors. He stands open with his head almost completely square to the pitcher, presumably so he can get both eyes on the pitcher and the ball. Regardless, Rosario seemed very anxious to hit, and chased many pitches below his knees and was out in front on a vast majority of pitches. That can result in roll-over grounders and weak contact. His move from second base to the outfield doesn’t help his profile, as his power isn’t major league average and puts much more pressure on his hit tool to mature. Overall, it looks like Rosario has the raw talent to reach the bigs, but most likely as a utility/backup player. He has some big adjustments to make.
Brandon Nimmo, RF, New York Mets
The no. 13 pick in the 2011 draft (just ahead of Jose Fernandez), Nimmo didn’t take his hot hitting with him from A+ St. Lucie to Double-A Binghamton; his OPS dropped a full .170 points in 279 plate appearances. Looking to quell some of those negative thoughts at the AFL, Nimmo’s All-Star game BP was solid. He lined balls into both gaps with strength, but didn’t really show off any of his raw power. During game action, he battles during at-bats and works himself into good hitter’s counts regularly. His approach was my favorite thing about his profile, which isn’t a knock on the rest of his toolshed. The glove looked good out in left field, with a solid route and jump on a ball hit hard to his right. I’m not sure how the body matures, but he might outgrow center field and just stick to either corner; his arm is good enough for right field if need be. Nimmo is a guy who does a lot of things well, without anything that really jumps out at you. Those are the guys who typically play in the majors and for a long time, and I feel like he will find a starter’s roll down the line. Double-A in 2015 will be a huge test. —Chris Rodriguez
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