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  • I saw a better version of Dominic Smith this week than what he showed in the first month or two of the season, but his ceiling hasn’t really changed. He’s just much closer to reaching it. I could be convinced to put a 45 on the OFP and grant that he could be a second-division regular when it’s all said and done. He’s squaring the ball up much more consistently, which is a testament to his pure hitting ability. But his approach is still dramatically opposite-field oriented. He stays inside the ball to such an extent that anything pulled is essentially done by accident. His hardest hit balls are up the middle or to left field, which has allowed him to cover the plate well and hit for average, including high doubles totals because of his strength, but he’s never going to hit for consistent home run power until he begins to attack pitches on the inner half. -Jeff Moore
  • Nick Williams has progressed nicely with patience and discernment at the dish this season. He has gained the ability to be selective and not miss his pitch when he sees it. He looks steady and calm in the box, exuding a quiet confidence that wasn’t always observed early in the season. From his setup in the box to taking pitches, it is very noticeable that he’s comfortable and tracking pitches well. From his approach and selectiveness, to his quick hands, he looks unbeatable at the dish right now. -Colin Young
  • Cody Reed used a fastball heavy arsenal when I saw him earlier this month. There’s plenty to like with Reed: he throws strikes, has some feel for pitching, can spin a curve, and uses his change up to keep hitters off balance. Unfortunately, he isn’t throwing in the mid-90’s like he did in high school — he was 89-91 with the fastball in my viewing — and his command is well behind his control. There are also body concerns: he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds and, well, he doesn’t look a pound shy of that. He could develop into a backend starter, but my bet is that he winds up in the bullpen at some point where he may be able to get some velocity back and where his funky arm action will play up. -Brendan Gawlowski
  • A fourth rounder for the Blue Jays back in 2013, Evan Smith is tall, lanky and destined to be dubbed a crafty lefty. His fastball topped out at 91 and sat a few miles per hour slower, but he has good feel for a 2-7 curve. He replicates his arm speed well on all three of his pitches — he also has a tumbling change — and in my viewing, he moved the ball around the plate while staying out of trouble areas. There’s not much ceiling here, but both his over-the-top arm slot and his secondaries are geared to take care of righties as well as lefties, and he could crack a big league rotation if it all breaks right. -Brendan Gawlowski
  • Toronto’s Lane Thomas has an athletic frame, a line drive stroke, and he can also put a ball over the fence. He’s an average runner with a quick bat and while he’s taken his lumps in his first spin through the circuit, I’m excited to see how the 19-year-old makes adjustments for the second half of the season. He’s played third base and centerfield in the past, but he’s at the keystone now, and if he sticks there, he could have a pretty good bat for the position. –Brendan Gawlowski

Quick Hits: Mitch Nay has gotten some attention as a potential prospect, but he’s a below-average athlete with limited range at third base who doesn’t hit for enough power (JM)…Jose Carlos Urena’s batting practice is chalk full of deep line drives (BG)… Third-rounder Braden Bishop is getting beat on inside fastballs; he’s better than his numbers but pitchers aren’t afraid to challenge him (BG)…Toronto’s Andrew Guillotte can run, has enough range for center field, and showed good feel for the strike zone. He’s small and probably won’t hit but I’ll be following (BG).

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nkhare
7/22
Which Cody Reed?
heterodude
7/22
Based on the weight, I assume from Arizona.
TheArtfulDodger
7/22
Yes that's the Diamondbacks' Cody Reed. Thanks for asking for the clarification!
delatopia
7/22
So if the Cody Reeds took on the Matt Duffys in a tag-team, who would win?
nkhare
7/23
Thanks!
Unglued
7/22
I hope he means the one for AZ. I have higher hopes then a back end starter for KC's Cody Reed.
alor112
7/22
Would you equate Dom Smith with a #2 piece in a trade?
fawcettb
7/22
Nice nuance on Dominic Smith. This is the sort of analysis I come here for. //thanks
hyprvypr
7/22
I'm confused, thinking about a clock, how can a lefty throw a curveball that starts at the right(2) and ends at 7o'clock', or somewhat to the left. That would be the exact opposite of how I'd expect a lefty curve to look?
delatopia
7/22
I believe this particular case is from the batter's perspective. Not sure this is how it's always done, but it seems to be operative here.
TheArtfulDodger
7/22
clocks are from the catcher's perspective
hyprvypr
7/23
Thank you for the explanation, that had me wondering if we had a new pitch coming, like a screw-curveball.
sldeck
7/22
Thanks for being precise with your descriptions of Nick Williams's selectivity and his seeming comfort in tracking pitches. It's helpful to understand the difference between selectivity and just piling up walks.

Even with this refined approach he still doesn't take many BBs (aside from this past May) -- is this still a concern or is this Howie Kendrick version 2.0?
Cykid10
7/23
What's a great sign with Nick is that by mid June he had surpassed his typical yearly walk totals in half the at bats. So, right there is a good measure that his eyes and decisions at the plate are maturing.
billshiers
7/22
Dom Smith is a 20 year old (and a very young 20) in high A with good bat to ball skills, solid plate discipline and above average raw power - why is his ceiling being based an approach which can change as he gets more experienced? It's generally accepted that power comes with age. Some of this is due to physical development, but it's also due to learning to identify those pitches the player can really drive. Smith obviously needs to develop his skill, but given Smith's skills and production, it seems odd to make a determination as to his ceiling assuming that he won't. I'm a Mets fan, and admittedly biased, but the view on Smith seems a bit myopic.