- Every now and again you come across a player that challenges some of the more fundamental assumptions you have in player evaluation, and University of Virginia shortstop Daniel Pinero is one of those players. After standing next to him on the Cape the other night I can report with confidence that he has an easy three inches on me, and I’m 6’4”. He’s one of the more odd physical specimens I’ve seen competently handle the six spot. There are vestiges of a gangly teenager, but he’s filled out with lean muscle and moves with surprising grace in spite of the length in his limbs. His feet were quick and showed good mobility towards the ball. The arm strength was not more than average, but he showed no other immediate warning signs about his ability to stay on shortstop. At the plate, his swing is long and linear, but he was impressive in his command of the zone and showed signs of quality tracking ability.
- University of North Carolina outfielder Adam Pate can fly, and there’s a lot in his profile to like. I got him at 4.15 to first from the right side with an off-balance finish, and that 65-grade time was supported by a couple rangy plays in right field, where he showed a well above-average initial burst and a smooth glide as he closed in on the ball. His arm strength didn’t present as plus, but he maximized what he had into an above-average tool with outstanding body control and efficiency in his throwing motion. At the plate, his swing is quiet with a high back elbow and handsy whip of the bat through the zone. It’s a mechanical setup that limits his ability to drive the ball with any leverage but helps him put a quick, linear stroke on it and spray it around the yard. He worked a couple counts with an advanced command of the zone, showing a nice preliminary toolset for a leadoff hitter capable of getting on base and adding value with base running and defensive versatility in the outfield.
- Mercer’s Kyle Lewis popped up to lead the Southern Conference in home runs this past spring en route to winning Player of the Year honors. There’s no question about the thunder in Lewis’ bat. He’s a big, strong kid with a high waist and built-in strength that showed off the ability to drive the baseball to the opposite field with carry, even when he didn’t quite square a pitch. There’s an awful lot of movement in his load and launch, with the head migrating a full eight inches to a foot forward thanks to a pronounced leg kick and long stride. It’s a right field profile, though he showed some rough chops charging a ball with a deliberate transfer into throwing position. I got a clock of 4.59 on him on a three-quarter dig up the line after a grounder to second.
- Wake Forest’s Will Craig had a huge sophomore season, getting on base at a near-.500 clip in the ACC and popping 13 homers in less than 200 at-bats. He struggled this summer on the Cape, but showed an outstanding command of the zone and ability to track pitches in the plate appearances I saw. The highlight of my trip to the Cape was this 12-pitch walk he drew off league strikeout leader Eric Lauer to spark a rally. The swing shows nice balance, and his hands and shoulders work together to produce consistent barrel delivery to the point of contact. He’s been working at third in college, but the body isn’t one that looks the part. He’s an interesting bat-only guy, though.
- I only got a brief four-inning look at Cape Cod League MVP and Outstanding Pro Prospect Nick Senzel (Tennessee), but he made it count. He fell down in the count 1-2 in his first at-bat, fouled off a decent slider away, then tattooed a hanger for a 390 foot dinger to left-center. He comes from a slightly closed stance with a quiet set up and manageable load. The front side got down quickly and he got the hips started while the hands stayed back. The trigger was quick and he fired through the zone with a leveraged stroke. His second plate appearance suggested a potential hole up and in; between the stance and a swing path geared to extend he was beaten by a good tailing fastball to the hands for a pop-up. It was a quiet stint in the field for him, but while he’s on the bigger side for a second baseman his actions in between innings and physicality suggested the building blocks of a quality keystone defender.
- I’ve seen Cavan Biggio (Notre Dame) play on the Cape two straight summers now, and he’s shown very similarly both times. The stance features a good amount of pre-pitch histrionics, but on delivery he’s locked and loaded and the actual swing execution is consistent with average or better bat speed, mild leverage, and above-average barrel control. It’s a line drive bat, and he can hit line drives. He’s not fast, though he does show some feel on the bases. I got him at 4.32 from the left side this year after a 4.28 last summer. The defensive profile is also still unclear, as he doesn’t present as a natural second baseman. The footwork is choppy and uneven and the hands are deliberate. He’s going to need to hit at every turn while either making significant strides at second or learning left field.
Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Trenton Brooks (Nevada) showed an opposite-field approach with quick hands and a linear swing along with above-average speed from the left side. He can hit…I don’t have a ton to add to the stuff and projection for Eric Lauer (Kent State) that Al Skorupa covered here, but he showed a strong ability to manage his playoff start against Chatham last weekend. He saved his premium sequencing and an extra couple ticks of velocity for the highest leverage spots and managed to limit damage effectively despite some unlucky results on poorly struck balls in play…Canadian Toby Handley (Stony Brook) is a cold weather player from a cold weather school, and there’s some rawness to his reads in center. But he showed athleticism, impressive command of the zone, and an outstanding break on an uncontested stolen base…Willie Abreu (Miami) has a strong frame with some projection, and he showed a nice ability to adjust within an at-bat. He came apart against an early sequence inner-third fastball, then two pitches later he kept the hands in and ripped a liner to center on a similar pitch. Athletic kid, moves well, DH only in my looks but showed a well-rounded offensive skill set…Zach Schellenger (Seton Hall) has numbers in college and on the Cape that suggest solid control, but he was dangerously lacking it in my look. He hit one batter in the head and drilled two more with runaway fastballs. His deuce flashed average potential with some bite, but his delivery lacked cadence and he missed his arm slot in all directions.
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