- Orioles first-rounder Ryan Mountcastle can do a few things, but not as many as I’d expect from a player selected 36th overall. The frame and physical projection are easy to dream on, but are also enough to expect him to move off of shortstop, where his below-average footspeed already suggests a short shelf-life, and any additional weight will surely necessitate sliding over. At the plate, there is some natural feel for the barrel, especially within the strike zone, which gives him a chance to hit where others might fail, but his swing needs work. It’s long, and gets longer when he over-swings, and his bat speed is just average. His long stride further accentuates the problem. There may be some physical projection in the body, but there’s not a ton to dream on in the overall profile. –Jeff Moore
- Aramis Garcia's tremendous hot streak that began in July earned him a recent promotion to Class-A Advanced San Jose. It also showed his ability to adjust as a player with good feel for hitting. Garcia started the season slowly by pressing, and whiffing through spin, but he settled in and stuck to a basic approach of looking fastball and not missing lately. Garcia shows the ability for an above-average hit tool based on a smooth and balanced swing. There are zero wasted movements in the motion and he makes up for just average bat speed with a quick and simple path through the zone. He has above-average raw power that settles at average in-game potential, and it's all currently to the pull side. He's maxed physically and won't get a big uptick in power down the road, although that present strength is solid from a strong, thick frame. He can get beat inside on plus velocity but covers the plate fairly well. Garcia shows enough defensively to stick behind the plate as an average defender with an above-average arm. He's quiet in his actions and lets the game come to him. Additional work is needed on shifting side to side on balls in the dirt, as well as the catch-and-throw game that can get rushed and lead to bobbles. His throws have easy carry from an ideal arm path and are accurate when not rushed, but he can leave it to the first base side when the body gets ahead of the arm on throws to second. He has a strong work ethic and aptitude on his side to improve defensively. Garcia shows enough for everyday potential at catcher. —David Lee
Chris Stratton sat in the low-90’s with a sinking fastball and touched 93 in my viewing. His slider, a two-plane weapon that induced several whiffs from Tacoma’s righties, flashed plus and it should be an effective offering against big league hitters. The right-hander’s changeup and curveball lagged behind his other pitches, however: the change doesn’t have much movement and while he only threw a few of them, he struggled to locate his looping curve.
Stratton sailed through the order twice but ran into problems in the fifth inning and sixth innings. When he got ahead of hitters, he kept turning to his slider for the punch out, even as Tacoma adjusted and stopped chasing. He didn’t have the confidence to throw his change or his curve in crucial situations, and the Rainiers were able to wait him out, work a few walks, and ultimately chase him from the game.
If he can improve his change or curve to the point where he can use it in crucial spots, he has the other ingredients to start: his fastball and slider are legit, and his even tempo and smooth arm action suggest he has the mechanical profile to throw strikes. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Giants put him in the bullpen and let him air out his best pitches. If he gets any additional gas from a switch to the pen, he’ll be nasty in short stints. —Brendan Gawlowski
- There are a lot of holes in Robert Molina’s game, some of which may never be fixed, but as a catching prospect, we’ll allow for them because of the hurdles in the developmental process. What he does have is raw talent, and the 18-year-old Venezuelan, who is of no relation to the famous catching family, does project to be able to stick behind the plate despite some inconsistencies with the glove at present. At the plate, he has a big, aggressive swing and little plan at the plate, but his raw bat speed is undeniable and the ball jumps when he barrels it up. He’s an extremely high-risk prospect, but also one with much reward if he puts it all together. –Jeff Moore
- In my viewings, Patrick Kivlehan has rarely squared up anything but mistakes. I’ve seen him get beat on the inside corner and on the outer half, by high fastballs and breaking pitches in the dirt. Part of the problem is that he likes to swing early in counts: smart pitchers pick at the corners and he’s susceptible to swinging himself into a pitcher’s count early in the at-bat. Triple-A arms were always going to be a test for a player with fewer repetitions than everyone else—Kivlehan took three years off from baseball to focus on football in college—and it’s apparent that he’ll need another year of seasoning before the Mariners can count on him in big league games. —Brendan Gawlowski
- In the ultimate case of projection, 17-year-old Dutch right-hander Matz Schutte was extremely interesting. If he was a high school junior instead of pitching in the GCL, he’d be garnering some interest but likely headed to college to see if he could add to his 86-88 mph fastball. But because he was signed out of a country where he got limited experience, it feels like there’s a better chance to add velocity than with his American counterparts. He throws a ton of strikes and projects to have good fastball command, and the pitch has natural two-seam movement, giving him a chance to be effective with it if he can settle in the low-90s as he develops. A big, slow, sweeping breaking ball gives him a second potential offering that could be effective. Schutte is a player that requires some imagination, but with an ideal pitcher’s frame, good body control and a relatively clean canvas with which to work, there’s some dreaming to be done. –Jeff Moore
Daniel Franco has elite-level speed, the fastest in the Orioles system according to his teammates, but little idea how to put it to use in games, consistently running into trouble on the bases and using it to make up for poor jumps and reads in the outfield (JM)…Gerrion Grim is 21 and struggling in his second go-round in the GCL, but he has plus bat speed, a plus arm and a solid build, which gives him a chance as a right-fielder in a weak Orioles system (JM)…Another Dutch teenager in over his head in the GCL, Ruar Verkerk shows an ideal skill set for third base if the Twins are patent with him (JM).
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