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:
While Mejia is far from a finished product behind the dish, there is a present look to this player’s defensive game that leads to a high level of confidence he can stick. Much like when watching a shortstop prospect, certain clues typically jump out at an early age as to whether a future at the position is attainable. Now, that’s not to say ones who look rough, choppy, or what-have-you in the early portion of their professional careers cannot make strides or tangible improvement (Boston Red Sox backstop Christian Vazquez is one who comes to mind here) as experience builds, but I really like to zone in on how a young catcher moves, mainly evaluating their level of fluidity and reaction time. Mejia is one of the smoothest I have seen at this stage of the game. The 19-year-old possesses above-average athleticism, which was once again clearly on display when I put the isolated camera on him during this opportunity to scout the prospect. It translates nicely when it comes to firing his feet and reacting with the glove hand. My eyes also couldn’t help but notice more firmness with that glove hand than when seeing Mejia during last season.
In interest of painting the full picture, I did not get to see the Dominican challenged much with balls in the dirt during this look. Improvement with that aspect of his game, mainly centered on squaring up to the ball for better control and using his body to smother offerings that bounce out in front of him, are what I feel are keys to maximizing the full defensive potential. It’ll be something to continue to watch over the course of the next few seasons, especially considering Mejia’s smaller 5-foot-10 frame, where he doesn’t have the luxury of a bigger body, and will need a concerted effort to get better at the task at hand. If the way the prospect carries himself on the field is any indication, playing the game with the utmost confidence in his skills and what I like to term a “non-obnoxious swagger,” it’s only a matter of the development process playing out before this is an above-average defender at full bloom. –Chris Mellen
Toussaint flashed two plus pitches in a 94 mph fastball with life and a hammer breaking ball. The issue was these flashes were few and far between. His fastball sat 90-92 without much command and he was over the plate far too often, resulting in the Rockies hitters making him pay. His fastball was better when he kept it low in the zone, showcasing good arm-side movement. However, when elevated, his fastball became very flat.
When thrown correctly, his curveball is a monster, with huge, knee-buckling break and big-time vertical drop. However, on the day I saw him, the curve lacked consistency. He can get off on the side of the ball causing the pitch to lose depth and flatten out. When he missed with his breaking ball, it was either over the plate, or high and to his arm side. Going over my notes, he didn’t miss with one breaking ball low. A bounced curveball can be a chase pitch, and at the very least won’t be hit over the fence. Missing high with breaking stuff is a bad recipe.
Part of the inconsistency stems from his stuff possibly being tied into his delivery. As an amateur, Toussaint pumped his hands upward as his raised his leg. He then broke his hands around belly button height and his throwing hand didn’t get too far below his belt as he progressed to the plate. In this viewing, he didn’t have the same “pump” and broke his hands below his belt. As he broke his hands, his body was leaning towards third base. His arm got much lower than his amateur days before releasing.
I’m not suggesting pitchers should keep their high-school mechanics, but as a pro Toussaint lost a unique timing mechanism and has to overcome a new roadblock in his progression thanks to that lean towards third base. So it’s possible the inconsistency with his pitches is due to the prospect trying to find his way through a new pattern on the hill.
The flashes of filth are enough to dream on for now, but Touki needs to find consistency to begin to approach his lofty ceiling. –Ryan Parker
First impressions are often important, and the sturdy Holmes did not disappoint in my viewing of his two-inning stint on the backfields. Holmes is not tall, but is built for durability and the delivery is relatively minor with exertion. He has a clean arm action from a three-fourths slot, displaying solid arm speed. Holmes generates a ton of explosion on his fastball due to a big drive, pumping his fastball 93-95 mph. Holmes left one fastball up in the zone that was hit for a home run by Cody Bellinger, but otherwise displayed average command of his fastball. The curveball was 81-85 mph and displayed tight spin that many of the lower-level players were susceptible to. Holmes generated four swing and misses on the pitch in two innings. There are some release point issues which lead to inconsistency, as he was releasing some curves out in front. His changeup was firm at 88-89 mph, but there is feel for the pitch and potential to at least be an average offering. The overall picture for Holmes is enticing based on my initial impression, and he likely won’t spend too long in the lower minors. – Tucker Blair
Sergio Alcantara, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
The small stature of Alcantara makes some overlook him, but the shortstop shows athleticism and feel at the plate and in the field. He displays smooth and quick hands, with a fast transfer from glove to throwing hand. There were multiple plays where he helped execute a double play on an above-average runner because of his fast transfers and plus arm. Alcantara’s feet move well and he displayed efficient range to both sides. While he did have a mental error on a routine play, there is no denying the glove is an asset and something which could carry him through the minors. At the plate, Alcantara displays plus bat speed to go along with a contact-oriented swing. The swing is linear and helps him spray the ball around the field, but there is no power projection. He displayed a patient—almost passive—approach, walking twice in my viewings. While this is not a player profile oozing in stardom, a plus glove and arm at shortstop is a player worth monitoring. –Tucker Blair
The Rangers have a plethora of talented outfielders in their system, but the 21-year-old Van Hoosier has flown under the radar for the first two seasons of his professional career. Van Hoosier is not the tallest, strongest, or fastest player in the system, but he provides an overall skillset that could potentially provide value as a role-4 type. He has a short and compact swing with good barrel control, showing a linear swing path through the zone. The above-average bat speed and average raw power offer ingredients for an intriguing option in a deep system. Van Hoosier also displayed a good approach in the two days watching him play against the A’s and an intrasquad game. He likely moves full time away from second base, where he played some the past two seasons, but the mix of speed, approach, and power could prove to be a solid depth option for the Rangers. –Tucker Blair
The power hasn’t manifested itself yet for Michalczewski, but he does possess the strong, high-waisted frame that often forecasts future power production. I only saw the left side of Michaczewski’s swing, but it was a fluid one with good bat speed, some loft, and a short path to the ball. In the field, he can get a little stiff with his footwork and can lose accuracy from deep in the hole. The hands looked fine on plays right in front of him but the backhand is still a work in progress. It should not be much of a surprise that Michaczewski’s overall future will be heavily predicated on how the power comes along. Without it getting to the plus level, he’s a prospect with a broad base of skills, but no major-league carrying tool. On the other hand, if it does come around, he can be a switch-hitting third baseman with power and an average defensive profile. Considering the frame and the swing, the latter looks like a strong possibility. –Mauricio Rubio
Ronald Guzman, 1B, Texas Rangers
Ronald Guzman is coming off a nightmare season in which he slashed .218/.283/.330 at low-A Hickory. Physically, he’s grown quite a few inches since being signed and is probably close to 6-foot-6 at this point. He’s still not used to his body yet and it shows up everywhere in his game. Guzman is a strong individual and the body has the potential to add good weight. He’s also very long-limbed, and while he generates good bat speed from the left side, the swing gets long and causes him to get tied up as he can’t get his hands inside on the hard stuff. Guzman’s athleticism is improving but it’s still below average. His feet are heavy and slow and his movements are still awkward, especially in the field. Guzman is probably finished growing from a physical sense, but he’s a player with a lot of growing to do in the baseball sense. The challenge for him is to find a comfort zone within his own body and develop more fluidity in his game. The potential is still there for a 45-hit, 55-power first baseman. –Mauricio Rubio
- Cody Bellinger took Grant Holmes opposite field for a home run, displaying above-average bat speed and a smooth swing, but I was more impressed with the level of excitement and joy he displayed out on the field. –Tucker Blair
- Nick Williams’ batspeed is insane and the physical tools are solid. However, those two things alone won’t carry him to the highest level. His hands stall in his swing and his whole body torques up to create that batspeed, but it’s just not an ideal way to launch the bat. He swings and misses so much and there is almost no approach. It’s fun to watch when he connects, but I don’t see Williams having a first-division profile. –Ryan Parker
- It’s no surprise that the Rangers landed Ti'Quan Forbes in the second round of the draft, as they’ve long loved athletes and Forbes fits the bill. A three-sport athlete in high school, he’s already begun to add weight to a frame that measured 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds when he was drafted. While he’s not a burner, Forbes can be a plus runner underway, though he showed some #slack in limited viewings. He’s a project of a player, with a lot of swing-and-miss at present, without the pop to justify it. He was one of the youngest players in the draft, though, and landed with a team accustomed to dealing with players of his ilk. —Craig Goldstein
- Coming off a disastrous season as a 21-year-old in Double-A, Jorge Bonifacio showed well in a brief sample. He finished the day 2-3, showing a clean swing that allowed him to put one of his hits right back through the box. It wasn’t all roses of course, as he consistently struggled to react to breaking pitches, as his front knee locked up on more than one occasion. If he can iron out that issue, 2015 could re-establish Bonifacio as a future second division right fielder. –Craig Goldstein
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