Roman Quinn, CF, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading)
Quinn is a switch-hitting center fielder with 80 speed. It’s an easy burner 80 run, too; speed without effort. It plays both on the basepaths and in the field, but on both sides he’s excelling on raw speed and not polish. In the outfield he gets good jumps but his reads and jumps are below average. I still see an above-average defender because he can run down his mistakes. Quinn also has a plus arm, throwing very well for a center fielder. He has a compact, athletic build with a short upper body and short arms.
Quinn has a quiet approach at the plate, typically seeing a lot of pitches and fouling balls off. He has a strong idea of the strike zone and doesn’t expand his zone early in the count. It's a line-drive swing plane and plus bat speed. It’s a contact-oriented, front-foot swing and I see this profile playing well out of the leadoff spot—though it could also be dangerous at the bottom of the order where he could run often. This is a swing with a short and simple gather, load and stride. Quinn showed me good feel for the bat head and used the whole field, hitting balls where they were pitched and taking what the pitcher gave him. He handled velocity fine, but I do imagine these swing traits would leave him fairly vulnerable to plus spin and soft. That’s mitigated some by strong pitch-identification skills. It’s a more fluid and natural swing from the right side, but there’s a bit more leverage and pop from the left. The power grades out as well below average, which isn’t a surprise given Quinn’s size, swing plane and hitting mechanics. He’s certainly capable of punishing mistakes and should be good for 6-10 homers a year with a good amount of balls into the gaps. Bat speed and the ability to consistently barrel up balls will lead to extra-base hits. Further, Quinn’s wheels will turn outs into hits, singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He was a pleasant surprise. He’s got more bat than your typical 80 runner type. With small stature, well below-average pop and a speed-heavy profile there is some risk here. I see a role 55/above-average player as a switch-hitting, leadoff/sparkplug center fielder.
Ben Lively, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading)
Lively is a 3/4 right-handed pitcher with an upbeat delivery. There’s some effort in his mechanics along with a backstab and head jerk. He hides the ball well and has some natural deception in his delivery. Lively showed me four near-average pitches with future 50 control and 40 command. His FB (88-92, t92) has arm-side run and shows sink down, but flattens out and becomes awfully hittable when he works up with it. It’s a pretty big issue since Lively would regularly miss up. He was able to spot his heater low at the lower end of the velo, but when he reached back to pump it up and/or elevate the ball rode up arm side and he missed his spots. I liked the SL (80-83) the most of his secondaries. Even still, it’s not a plus pitch for me and was fairly inconsistent. SL showed 10-4 break and slurvy. He could throw the slide piece for strikes regularly, but it’s not a go-to pitch and he needs to mix well to succeed. The other breaking ball is a 11-5 CB (70-73) that has some downer action but is too soft and lacks bite. The CB isn’t fooling hitters and it isn’t an effective chase, but it’s a decent enough offering as a different look from the SL. It also gives him the ability to mix more against LHHs. The CH (81-84) flashed good sink and fade and he had some feel for the pitch. I see Lively as role 40; below-average major leaguer/no. 5 starter or middle reliever who fills the zone with a four-pitch mix of near-average pitches. On the downside, he’s got only average velo and below-average FB command to go with no plus secondary offering. Those pieces often translate to a quality big-league arm, but it’s very difficult to be an above-average MLB pitcher without something more.
John Anderson, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
A solidly built lefty with good arm strength out of a 3/4, easy, deceptive delivery, Anderson was an interesting guy out of the pen in my limited look last season. The FB has plus velo at 92-94, t95 to go with average movement (sink and tail). The command just isn’t there though, and consequently the FB plays more as fringe-average. Anderson has two below-average secondaries to go with the FB. The split change (85-87) is the more promising of the two. Its utility is limited by inconsistent command. His SL (78-82) is a 1-7 roller that has a very early break. The pitch has loose spin and it doesn’t fool hitters. Anderson doesn’t stay on top of the pitch and it often slurves out even more. As a southpaw with a strong arm there is some potential here to eventually fit in a big-league pen, but right now the stuff doesn’t project well enough to make this stuff-over-command profile work. I’d certainly give Anderson a few more chances to figure things out. I wonder if a true cutter might work.
Matt Boyd, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
Boyd profiled for me as very similar to a lefty version of Lively. At his best, Boyd is filling the zone with a four-pitch mix of near-average pitches. On the downside, the FB isn’t big enough, the command is below average and there’s no out pitch. Boyd has a 50 FB (88-92,m t92) with sinking action. His command really eluded him in the first couple innings last start, but he picked it up and limited the damage in the meantime. In limiting the damage he showed me he has some feel for pitching and setting up hitters. Boyd seemed to have a lot of trouble repeating his hand break and I think that might have hurt him early. Same as Lively, I thought the SL (77-80) had the most potential, but I still rated it as an future average pitch. It’s a 1-7 slurve that he throws for strikes and as a chase, but the shape and command were inconsistent. Again, same as Lively, we’ve got a 69-71 good high school type, big, slow loopy CB. It flashed some downer action and I wouldn’t trashcan the pitch, but it’s best as a mix-up and used to give a different look against opposite handed hitters. The CH (76-83) was also a little too inconsistent for me to really get behind it despite some above-average flashes. Often too firm, the pitch was thrown with good arm speed and he put it in the perfect spot a couple times. Boyd looks like another role 40/no. 5 starter/middle reliever to me. I could see him helping the Blue Jays pen in 2015.
Matthew West, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)
West impressed me in 1 2/3. He allowed two hits, got two groundball outs and struck out two swinging. He’s a tough pickup with a big front shoulder tilt and he did a good job locating his 92-95 mph FB low in the zone. The separator for me was a tight, 75-77 slider that flashed two-plane action and had hitters flailing. I’m a little reluctant to project too much off one look, but the potential is here for a good power reliever with two above-average pitches.
Nefi Ogando, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Double-A Reading)
Ogando is a right-handed power relief arm. He uses a high effort, upbeat delivery from a 3/4 slot. FB was 93-94, t95 with arm-side run. Both secondaries had flashes but didn’t impress. He threw a shallow slider with cutting action at 84-87, and a firm 85-89 changeup. Ogando had some trouble finding a consistent release point for his slider and he paired that with below-average fastball command. Despite the warts, the fastball is big enough that Ogando could help a big-league pen in a limited role. With a few adjustments I could see him as a middle relief piece.
Taylor Rogers, LHP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
Some arms are immediately impressive and you know before warm-up pitches are done that the player is a talent. Others only reveal their appeal over a longer view as you warm up to them. Rogers was the latter type of pitching prospect. He’s a lefty with a clunky delivery and average velocity. The arm action is on the stiff side, he doesn’t hide the ball well and his front side is dead/open. What Rogers does well is hit all his spots with a sinking fastball (88-91, t92). His curveball (75-79; 1-7 slurvy break) is a second offering that plays up as average because he has good feel for the pitch. Rogers gets around the side of the curve at times and it had inconsistent shape and spin. I actually wonder if he might be better off throwing a cutter with his arm slot—and I wonder if that might work well in the bullpen where he might get a tick more velo. The changeup (82-83) showed flashes of being an average pitch, too. The change improved as the game went on, but he was clearly focused at all times on pitching off his fastball. While the change improved over the course of the game everything else slipped backward. In the fourth inning he appeared to hit a bit of a wall and the command and velo started to fall off from there. I was told that’s typically been the case, too. It’s funny: Rogers is the type of arm the Twins were known for a few years ago. I like the idea of Rogers as a middle reliever with plus command and a cutter. He could find some success as a spot starter/back end type, but this isn’t the kind of profile a team will plan around being in their rotation.
Logan Darnell, LHP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
I had seen a good bit of Darnell with Rochester and in Double-A New Britain’s rotation over the last few years. He’s another guy who has the makings of a solid four-pitch arsenal, but neither the FB (which typically sat high 80s) nor command & control was really good enough to recommend him as a guy you’d want to give a substantial big-league role. He’s making a better case for himself now out of the bullpen. Darnell was 92-94 with his sinker on a pretty cold April night. All of his pitches were crisper. It’s probably still somewhere between an up/down guy and middle relief role, but I’d much rather give MLB innings to this Logan Darnell than the Darnell of previous vintages.
Eddie Rosario, OF, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester)
Rosario has a well balanced skill set with no standout tool. My concern here remains the same – when he loads his hands he wraps up behind him creating a long lead and a tough swing path. It’s hard for him to catch up to velo inside because of this. He also ends up having to start his swing early which leaves him more vulnerable to quality secondaries. He continues to get by and/or suceed in the minors because his hands and wrists are quick and strong enough to overcome his starting point, but I think the problem will be magnified against big league pitchers. Rosario has some below average power (and more to the gaps than over the fence) and average speed so there’s nothing else tools wise here that can really carry him as a regular if the hit tool turns out to be below average. The current version of Rosario does still fit well on a big league bench as a guy who can fill in at all three outfield spots and second base.
Others of Note
Ryan O’Sullivan (RHP, Philadelphia Philles, Double-A Reading) was another potential middle relief type, working 90-94 with a tailing FB. Sullivan’s 11-5 slurvy SL was another quality offering at 81-82. He also mixed in a change (86-88). Stuff over command reliever with effort in his delivery. Ryan Pressly (RHP, Minnesota Twins, Triple-A Rochester) is a better version of that same guy and might be the one I’m most comfortable projecting a true middle-relief option. He was 93-94 and I’ve seen more velo in the past. The command is what’s holding him back, but he mixes four pitches well. I’ve never been a huge fan admittedly, but I just have no faith Aaron Hicks (OF, Minnesota Twins, Triple-A Rochester) will ever figure it out. He watches far too many hittable fastballs go over the plate… and then chases bad pitches in obvious chase counts. He’s still got very loud raw tools, but the approach is still a likely fatal flaw in his game. Hicks could still make sense as a bench/fourth outfielder type for some team, but I’d rather have somebody in whose bat I actually have some faith. Josmil Pinto (C, Minnesota Twins, Triple-A Rochester) has improved a little bit defensively with his framing, receiving and blocking, but the overall product is still not good enough. And Pinto has to be good enough because he will not fit anywhere else on the diamond. He has arm strength, but his throwing and footwork are still a big problem and result in poor pop times. I’ve believed in Pinto’s bat since my first look at him. He can swing it. If he can’t get his defense to where it needs to be (solidly below average) it’s going to be a major problem because teams won’t be able to find anywhere to use him. Sometimes bat-first catchers are projected as backup catchers, but it’s actually pretty rare for a team to use the backup catcher spot that way.
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