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Justin Nicolino

Born: 11/22/1991 (Age: 23)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 190
Simple, repeatable delivery; high three-quarters arm slot; tight leg lift, brings leg close to chest; strides slightly towards first; back remains upright during stride, giving him downhill plane on his offerings; average arm speed; consistent arm speed on all offerings; head remains still and focused on the target throughout motion; finishes square and in a good position to field; slight body, room to add weight.
Evaluator Brendan Gawlowski
Report Date 06/22/2015
Affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA, Marlins)
Dates Seen 6-2-2015
OFP/Risk 50/Low
Realistic 45; swingman/No. 5 starter
MLB ETA 2015
Video Yes
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 45 50 89 91 Velocity peaked at 91, but he comfortably sat 89-90 over 64 pitch outing; sinking two-seamer with arm side life; showed ability to move the pitch around the strike zone, though more likely to hit general region than specific location; room to improve command; employs the offering to generate ground balls and weak contact.
Changeup 45 55 85 86 Similar sinking and tailing action as the two-seamer; late drop; spiked a few in the dirt; replicates arm speed, helping the slight velocity difference play up; generally kept pitch on the outer half to righties; has potential to be a consistent bat-misser if he can spot it better.
Curve 45 50 77 79 1-7 curve; inconsistent break and depth, slurvy at times, tight with sharp drop at its best; can throw for a strike; likes to use pitch to steal a strike. Not an out pitch against lefties at present.
Cutter 30 45 87 89 Likes to attack righties with cutters on the inner half, prone to leaving pitch in dangerous parts of the strike zone. Good arm speed, average life. Gap in current and future grade reflects consistent inability to stay out of danger spots with the pitch in my viewing.

I clearly saw Nicolino on one of his worst days. He had no feel for the corners, consistently missed in dangerous zones, and was punished repeatedly by mediocre hitters. He allowed three homers and a number of hard hit balls, and was fighting his composure by the end of the outing. There were mitigating circumstances — travel day, wet weather, poor mound quality — but he had bad command from the first inning.

Still, there were positives to glean. He's capable of throwing four pitches for strikes, three of which flashed at least average. He also has the right blend of simple mechanics and athleticism to project improvement in his ability to pitch to specific spots in the strike zone. Looking into the future, he fits best as an innings-eating No. 5 or a swingman who can throw multiple innings out of the bullpen. His arsenal isn't designed to attack lefties specifically — the change is his best offering and it keeps lefties honest — and he'll be at his most valuable over longer stretches, instead of as a LOOGY or short reliever.

Damion Carroll

Born: 01/31/1994 (Age: 21)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3" Weight: 198
Lanky build; high waist; plus arm speed; 3/4 arm slot; long arm action in the back with a deep drop; head whack; spine tilt; drop and drive; inverted foot strike; crossfire; moderate effort in delivery.
Evaluator Mauricio Rubio Jr.
Report Date 06/10/2015
Affiliate Bowling Green Hot Rods (Low A, Rays)
Dates Seen
OFP/Risk 40/Extreme
Realistic 30 – Organizational Arm
MLB ETA 2017
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 70 80 95-97 Command – 30/40
Movement – 40/40

Big fastball; moderate downward plane; mild movement, didn't gain movement lower in the velocity band; misses east and west due to inconsistent release point.

Curveball 40 45 75-77 Command – 20/30
Movement – 55/60

Replicates FB arm speed; flashes tight movement but is inconsistent at present; poor command on the offering, has no idea where it's going.


Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 6th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft from King George HS (King George, VA). Carroll's calling card, a fastball that can flirt with 100, is his best pitch and he backs it up with a curveball that flashes promise but he has a low likelihood of having much MLB utility as his command is quite poor. He threw one changeup, he won't need it in a relief role.

Lazaro Leyva

Born: 08/08/1994 (Age: 20)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 190
Build: Tall and athletic build; maxed frame.

Mechanics: 3/4 arm slot; premium arm speed; stab; slight spine tilt; mild head whack; moderate effort; moderate drive; clean landing; repeats delivery.

Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 07/06/2015
Affiliate Aberdeen IronBirds (Short Season, Orioles)
Dates Seen 7/1/15
OFP/Risk 55/Moderate
Realistic 55; Closer
MLB ETA 2016
Video No
Pitch Type Present Grade Future Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
FB 70 80 95-98 99 Velocity: 80/80
Movement: 60/60
Command: 40/50

T99 1x; downhill plane; extreme life; moderate arm-side run; pitches down in zone; command is below-average but has feel for pitching and repetition will help improve command a tick.

CB 50 60 77-79 79 Movement: 60/60
Command: 40/50

Replicates arm speed; 11-5 offering; moderate depth; tight spin; strike-to-ball offering; bat-misser; release points inconsistent; refinement in release points will improve command.


Signed out of Cuba in 2014 for $725,000. Leyva has a potential closer's arsenal consisting of a potential elite fastball and a potential plus curveball, both which will quickly rocket him through the minors. He's currently pitching multiple innings, but this is a one-inning reliever. There is moderate risk due to his level, but he shows feel for pitching and the command will be the only aspect of his game that will need refinement.

Note: He threw one firm CH at 84 mph.

Angel Moreno

Born: 07/31/1996 (Age: 18)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 180
Primary Position: CF
Secondary Position:
Skinny frame; projectable body; could put on 10-15 lbs of muscle.
Evaluator Tucker Blair
Report Date 06/22/2015
Dates Seen 6/19/15 – 6/20/15
Affiliate Hudson Valley Renegades (Short Season, Rays)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2019 High 50 40; 4th OF/Below-Average Regular Yes

Nothing out of ordinary.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 50 Average bat speed; loose wrists; moderate barrel control; minimal load; does not use bottom half; swing is balanced and quiet; ability to recognize spin is present; currently chases too many pitches out of the zone; showing ability to foul off bad pitches, needs to lay off more of these.
Power 30 Below-average raw power; swing is linear and not conducive for in-game power; gap-to-gap hitter.
Baserunning/Speed 50 4.33 home to first; shows more speed in OF; agile; lacks a high-end second gear.
Glove 55 Efficient routes and reads; first step is accurate and instinctive; lacks high-end agility and speed.
Arm 50 Average arm strength; lacks carry from middle depth in CF; accurate throws.

Signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 for $188,000. Moreno's value will be predicated on the progression of his hit tool, but he displays a solid approach along with moderate barrel control. The defense is merely solid, but he will be able to stick in CF. The risk is high due to his age and lack of experience against stronger competition.

Nick Gordon

Born: 10/24/1995 (Age: 19)
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 160
Primary Position: SS
Secondary Position:
High-waist; skinny frame; room to add lean muscle.
Evaluator Brandon Decker
Report Date 06/22/2015
Dates Seen 5/26/15-5/28/15
Affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels (, Twins)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2018 High 60 55: above-average regular No

Tough competitor; gives it his all on the base paths, as well as defensively; high IQ.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 60 Short, compact, linear swing. Quick hands; plus feel for the barrel; ability to barrel up and hit foul line to foul line; aggressive approach.
Power 40 Linear swing, but able to turn inside fastballs with power. Potential for power to grow with age and body maturity; line-drive swing will limit power; gap power.
Baserunning/Speed 55 4.16 to first; solid quickness defensively; ability to go first to third on base paths well. High baseball IQ; smart and aggressive base runner.
Glove 60 Fields ball out front; smooth, quick transfer; soft hands; good quickness defensively; High IQ stood out. Should stay at SS.
Arm 60 Strong accurate arm; ability to make the throw from the hole; arm stood out considering his frame. Definitely good enough for the left side of the infield.

Gordon is raw, but the tools are there for a very special player. He shows plus feel for the barrel and ability to hit to all fields. The linear, line-drive swing shows potential for a plus hit tool. The power will likely be minimal, more of gap-to-gap power, but has more power than you would think from his frame. Above-average speed. Quick out of the box and on defense. Smart base runner. High baseball IQ stood out. Strong arm and good fundamentals defensively that profile as plus from the SS position.

Cody Bellinger

Born: 07/13/1995 (Age: 19)
Bats: Left Throws: Left
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 180
Primary Position: 1B
Secondary Position: CF
Long and lean, significant physical projection remaining; slightly sloped shoulders, long neck and limbs; frame can handle another 10-15 pounds comfortably without compromising athleticism, more if he settles at first.
Evaluator Wilson Karaman
Report Date 07/03/2015
Dates Seen 9 games May – July 2015
Affiliate Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High A, Dodgers)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2018 High 50 40/versatile bench bat No

Slow heartbeat player, maintains loose demeanor regardless of situation; will take poor at-bats into the field with him; engaged pre-game and with teammates.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 45 Upright starting point; noise in his top half, drifts in towards the zone; moderate load with deep, low hand position; hips fire quickly, above-average bat speed, leverage has increased markedly this season; hole at top of the zone, cuts off inner-third, significant swing-and-miss; highly aggressive against fastballs in and out of zone; raw approach, willing to expand zone; below-average tracking against same-side pitching.
Power 50 60 raw; leveraged swing; pull-side power; hit tool limits in-game utility.
Baserunning/Speed 55 Digs out of the box, averaged 4.12; fluid stride, low-effort runner; quick breaks off first, aggressive baserunner, looks to take the extra base; picks up coach consistently on first-to-third opportunities; above-average closing speed in center but presently limited by raw routes.
Glove 60 Athletic around the bag, plus agility and first-step quickness, reads hops and gets low; presents a firm target, length and hands to corral bad balls.

40 in center; speed to develop average range, lacks instincts and experience at the position; raw tracking and finishing routes; can fake it while prime athleticism holds; athleticism and arm allow for above-average corner outfield projection.

Potential for playable versatility with plus defense at primary position.

Arm 60 Plus velocity with accuracy, controls body and gets behind his throws in center; footwork is sound on the dirt, works angles, gets himself into proper throwing position to second

Bellinger's combination of youth, physical projection, and unique position split between first base and center creates significant volatility in his profile. His current physicality allows projection for a part-time centerfielder at the highest level, but he's extremely raw at present. A first base future offers plus defense balanced out by a fringe-average offensive profile.

I have concerns with his offensive development. Bellinger has fallen victim to the California League as the season has worn on, gradually developing considerably more leverage and pull-side tendency as he's looked to jack every fastball he's seen. He frequently forfeits his balance and collapses on his back side, compromising his barrel control and creating an inconsistent path through the zone.

There's ample raw material here to develop into a useful Major League roster piece, even a regular. The remaining physical projection and raw offensive approach make for a high degree of variability.

Thank you for reading

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Saw Bellinger yesterday and agree with your assessment...intersting tools but much refinement needed. He also looks his age (19) in a major way; looks like the kid tearing your ticket at the movie theater.

There has always been a lot of discussion regarding handling of young pitchers in the Cal League, but a player like Bellinger makes me wonder: can the highly-charged offensive nature of the league perhaps work against his development as an advanced hitter ? A lot of times guys will continue to rake in the Cal even though they still may have bad habits that can be exploited at upper levels; and while I'm sure coaches try to tell them that, most guys hitting .300 w/ 20+ dingers probably feel like they have it all figured out already. Any thoughts about moving a young prospect like Bellinger up to AA because of this kind of concern, even if it seems obvious he could use more A ball at bats ?
I've had conversations with other scouts about this, and I absolutely think there's something to it, particularly for guys like Bellinger who are significantly young for the level and experience some offensive success early in the year. It's a conundrum though. Yeah, it might be good for a guy to get roasted by advanced arms to reinforce weaknesses. That's case by case for each player though, and on balance I'm not sure you're going to reap much reward for over-aggressively pushing guys to AA when they're nowhere near ready. I think in most cases you're probably best served going along with a guy's natural developmental timeline and working within the context you've got to work within.
These BP articles may not illicit a large comment thread but I must say they are one of the more important and wonderful segments BP has added.

Part of the reason I don't comment much on them is that every question seems answered, every weakness and strength, explored.