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Throughout March, the BP Prospect Team is invading both Arizona and Florida to get some fresh looks at players as they prepare for their 2015 assignments. Between now and the start of the minor-league season, they’ll be providing updates (and videos) on the prospects you know and love—and quite a few that you may not.

Notes From the Field:

Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, RHP, Texas Rangers

It’s always exciting when you get to lay eyes on a pitching prospect that “gets it.” By that, I mean a guy who slows the game down, executes using a specific plan of attack, and pitches with a purpose. Most prospects that toe the rubber are still throwers, but Chi Chi Gonzalez, the 23rd-overall pick in the 2013 draft, is a present pitcher. A zone pounder by nature, the 6-foot-2 inch right-hander fills up the bottom of the strike zone with a three-way fastball that ranges from 91-94 mph. He can move the pitch around, and shows the ability to command the offering at a plus level—the cornerstone of any hurler’s repertoire. Gonzalez works quickly with clean arm action, lending to a simple mechanical profile that is easy for him to repeat. The delivery is not extremely deceptive, although he hides the ball for a short time behind his right knee. His high-three-quarters arm slot is extremely consistent between all of his pitches, which creates a tunneling effect—making it virtually impossible for the hitter to tell what is coming.



The offerings all look the same out of the hand and for the first few feet, but break their respective ways at varying speeds. However, by the time the batter is able to make up their mind, it’s often too late. Gonzalez can manipulate the speed of his secondary pitches as well. He throws two types of sliders: one with shorter break early in the at-bat, often thrown for a strike to get ahead or break a 1-1 count. He also throws another breaking ball with more movement, typically down and away from right-handers, in order to get them to swing and miss. Most of these are in the 86-88 mph range, but he touched almost every number on the gun between 81 and 88 during the outing. Gonzalez also throws a change-up with good arm speed, although it’s a bit firm in the 81-87 mph range, usually sitting in the upper tier of that velocity band. For good measure, he also tosses a 76-78 mph curveball about 5 percent of the time—just to make it unfair. Overall, this is a young pitcher who has combined above-average stuff with impressive polish and sequencing—a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the making. —Jordan Gorosh

Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Kansas City Royals

While the TCU product is coming off an impressive inaugural campaign, there are notable transformations in his frame and pitching approach. Finnegan looks to have put on weight, with some thickness noticeable in the mid-portion of his body. The extra bulk on the frame isn’t necessarily a red flag, but could potentially push him towards a bullpen role sooner rather than later. Finnegan is showing more exertion in his delivery this spring, with a mild arm drag. He still has the big drive and hides the ball out of his hand due to a slight rotational delivery. The fastball was 91-93 mph and lacked the same big plane and explosiveness from last season, which led to a first-pitch homer to Kyle Kubitza on a grooved fastball down the middle. The slider was sharp and displayed hard bite while entering the zone, flashing plus. Finnegan threw one firm change at 85, which he slowed down his arm and displayed significant arm drag. The Royals are planning to stretch him out this spring, but the early signs from my initial viewing are pointing towards a relief role moving forward. –Tucker Blair

Peter O’Brien, C/1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

In camp, O’Brien remains a catcher, but regardless of the Diamondbacks’ refusal to add at the position, his future behind the plate is dim at best. He has a muscular build that serves as the foundation for his power potential, but it also contributes to the stiff movements that, along side his overall lack of athleticism, hinder him behind the plate. O’Brien was recording pop times in the 2.2-2.4 range during the Diamondbacks’ B game on Sunday, and his receiving skills were noticeably lacking, as he consistently stabbed at offerings. The throws were not only slow, but he’s prone to overthrowing in order to compensate for a lack of arm strength, resulting in either sailing balls into center or two-hopping them to their intended target. However, O’Brien did have his biggest redeeming quality on display, as he homered in the sixth inning off left-handed, minor-league reliever, Kraig Sitton. Even with that display of power, the bat speed remains below average, limiting its utility and capping his hit tool. The overall package is a bad catcher with a 2 arm and 3 glove, who should eventually profile as a fringy bat at first base. –Mauricio Rubio

Kyle Waldrop, OF, Cincinnati Reds

Waldrop is hardly the first player to supplement a Cal League breakout with two months of hot hitting in Double-A. Reassuringly though, he does offer a few reasons for optimism as he enters his age-23 season, and his quick start to the spring suggests that the underlying causes behind his improvement last year remain in his game. He’s quieted his hands at the plate, which should lead to more contact and—crucially—more opportunities to tap into his 60 raw power. He barreled everything in sight last Friday, collecting two hits while missing a homer by two feet and a double down the left field line by a similar margin. He’s starting to look like a guy greater than the sum of his parts; he even gets the most out of his below-average speed by hustling and getting good jumps off of pitchers who fall too deep into rhythm. If he can continue to find the barrel against Double-A and Triple-A arms, he could be in line to emerge as a second-division starter, and possibly a little more, as soon as 2016. –Brendan Gawlowski

Trevor Gott, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

Gott displayed an explosive fastball, sitting 93-95 with heavy movement and arm-side run. While he lacked command during this outing, he was able to keep his fastball low and minimize the hitters’ ability to get any loft on the offering. Gott flashed an average slider with inconsistent spin at 79-81 mph that hung in the zone. He likely profiles as a middle reliever unless the slider spin can tighten some, although there is feel for average future command of the fastball. The heaviness of the fastball is the lifeblood of his staple offering, and he should see extended time in the majors this season, regardless of how that slider develops. –Tucker Blair

Jandel Gustave, RHP, Kansas City Royals

Last year, Gustave worked primarily as a starter and he consistently sacrificed movement for velocity. Tall and long-limbed, he would tease 100, but the fastball found more barrels than should be acceptable in the low minors. On Sunday, Gustave varied the velocity on his fastball and added some useful run in the 92-94 range. While he can still reach back and hit the upper 90s, it causes his four-seamer to flatten out considerably. His 84-85 mph slider has not seen much improvement from 2014, and it carries more of a loose, slurvy movement—its lack of crispness keeps it a below-average offering. His command profiles as below average as well, as he was consistently missing his spots throughout the outing. Gustave is a reliever all the way, but his deficiencies will likely preclude him from pitching in high-leverage situations. –Mauricio Rubio

Quick Hits:

· Kyle Parker, the former first-round selection, displayed his choppy routes in left field and a few misplays on balls hit to the fence. At this point, the presence of power off the bench is his safest bet to seeing time in the majors. –Tucker Blair

· Armed with a delivery that could make Alex Wood pleasing to the eyes, Aaron Northcraft was unimpressive in a starting role on Saturday, but still projects as a middle reliever who can keep the ball on the ground well enough. –Bret Sayre

· Yet another svelte Padres outfielder, Rymer Liriano seems to have hit a snag in his development. The right-handed hitter is far too aggressive, showing no plan at the plate. He swings out of his shoes at any point in the count, and will have to improve his approach to have success at the big-league level. –Jordan Gorosh

· There was once a time when Gordon Beckham could keep his back foot down at the plate. It's a good thing the glove still plays at a high level because that time has passed. –Mauricio Rubio

· It's a new year on the calendar, but more of the same scenario for Bubba Starling. The mechanical inconsistencies at the plate still linger. –Tucker Blair

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hotstatrat
3/17
Yeah. More of this, please.
OuagadougouGM
3/17
They have internet on Mars?
Krystov62
3/18
They do have internet on Mars, but it is way overpriced and bombs all the time. Although customer reviews are surprisingly good. Go figure.
WaiverWireKing
3/18
But what kind of sandwiches do they got there?
gweedoh565
4/09
Hot dogs.

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