- I firmly believe in Austin Meadows’ hit tool, but in my first look at him since early in the season, he struggled mightily facing a left-handed pitcher. He looked uncomfortable picking up breaking balls out of his hand (admittedly, the pitcher was flashing a plus offering) and it caused him to fly open early and reach to cover the outer part of the plate. His barrel skills still allow him to make contact, but there’s even less propensity to drive the ball in these situations than with his normal contact-oriented approach. An inability to handle same-handed pitching is something a young player has to overcome, and it should be a point of emphasis for Meadows moving forward. -Jeff Moore
- Jacob Scavuzzo (Dodgers – video) has a long, athletic frame and showed off plus power in BP. Befitting the body, the swing is long and exploitable in-game, however. He utilizes an exaggerated and early leg kick, ostensibly in an attempt to keep his weight back and allow for in-swing adjustments. But it’s jerky and it ends up costing him synchronization between his hips and shoulders. His timing to the front side was inconsistent and he struggled to shut the swing down once he engaged the hips. Good breaking balls are going to pose a consistent challenge to him with his current swing. – Wilson Karaman
- One guy who isn’t getting talked about enough is Harold Ramirez. The Pirates outfielder, who is playing right field due more to status (as compared to Meadows) than lack of ability, is well-built and already strong for his age. His swing is geared towards using the whole field, but he looks to drive the ball with every hack. His aggressiveness, however, doesn’t hinder his ability to barrel up the baseball. He’s a guy who has been overlooked on the national landscape, but won’t be for long. -Jeff Moore
- Drafted in the fourth round this summer (132nd overall), second baseman Willie Calhoun (Dodgers) has taken exceptionally well to pro ball with ten homers and more walks than strikeouts across three levels since signing. He sports some thickness around the middle of his compact frame, with a low center of gravity and solid base. The swing is leveraged and oriented pretty exclusively to pull-side contact at present, with an early leak of the hips and an open front shoulder. He showed off impressive bat-to-ball ability, crushing three pitches to right field in my look this week, with two leaving the yard. The raw is plus or better, with the utility to the pull side not far behind thanks to above-average bat speed and surprising strength from a man of his size. His work at the keystone was much less impressive than the effort in the batter’s box, though. He mistimed his pivot on a double-play grounder, getting himself taken out and short-hopping a wide return throw as a result. Later he let a routine ground ball through the wickets when he was late settling into fielding position thanks to sloppy footwork. There’s a lot of work to be done on the defensive end, but there’s certainly an intriguing offensive baseline here. – Wilson Karaman
- It’s always a bummer when you get a chance to catch an intriguing pitching prospect only to see him have one of “those” nights, but such was the case with my look at Dodgers righty Chase De Jong (video) on Monday. De Jong’s an interesting case for collective bargaining agreement aficionados, as the Dodgers basically bought the former second-rounder from Toronto for a couple international bonus slots last month. Beyond that, he’s had a fine year through the Midwest and California Leagues to date. The body is prototypical for handling a starter’s load, but the motion is not. He’s a short-strider who plants his strike foot firm and early. He leans heavily on his back and shoulder to get his arm to a high three-quarters slot with shallow arm action and a good bit of crossfire. It’s not particularly pretty, but it generates a ton of deception and creates a strong arm angle for him to spin an upper-70s curveball that flashes plus movement. The fastball was unremarkable at 90-91 in this look, relatively flat with limited plane, and his changeup at 82-84 showed only moderate fade.
The big issue on this night was command, and he simply didn’t have it with any of his pitches. His heater is a Mike Fiers-ian offering that he needs to be able to work up in the zone with precision in order to succeed, and he was never able to establish it in this start. The curveball rolled in the zone more often than not, and he found himself consistently behind in counts from the jump. I saw enough to confirm that the stats he’s put up this year have something to them, but he’s not going to have much margin for error with the command in any given start as he climbs the ladder. – Wilson Karaman
- Astros’ seventh-rounder Michael Freeman (video) offers very interesting LOOGY projection, with surprising potential for more in a middle relief role. Standing every bit his listed 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, Freeman’s delivery is long and rhythmic, as he generates excellent drive and extension to the plate. The ball jumps on hitters on account of reduced distance at release point, and he showed outstanding balance and consistent posture in getting his massive frame downhill to the target. The arm action to a low three-quarters slot is clean and easy, but just the sheer volume of movement involved in getting him through his checkpoints to release makes it difficult to project average command down the line. He faces a further challenge on account of the outstanding movement he generates from the arm angle. His fastball scraped 89 with plus-or-better sink and run to the armside, and he showed an ability to manipulate the shape of his deuce within a wide 76-82 mph band. He swept the pitch at the lower end against same-handed hitters, while opting for a tighter, sharper break at the higher end against righties. The difference-maker for him could be a changeup that showed some feel and exaggerated arm-side fade on his fastball plane at 82-83, allowing him to hang with right-handed hitters. Harnessing his body and movement consistently enough to get world class hitters out may take some time, but it’s a really nice reliever package if it comes together. – Wilson Karaman
- It’s always frustrating to see a player with all the tools to make a real impact, only to see it derailed by the complete lack of a hit tool. That’s the case with C.J. McElroy, who is a legitimate plus defender in center field and a plus-plus runner, but whose swing simply doesn’t work from either side of the plate. Speed and an up-the-middle glove have gotten players to the big leagues before, but it’s not fair to expect anything from him offensively. -Jeff Moore
- After a fairly unremarkable offensive career in college, Kyle Garlick (video) was drafted by the Dodgers in the 28th round this summer and has proceeded to destroy four leagues-worth of professional pitching since signing. I’m not entirely sure where the pop has come from thus far, however. He doesn’t utilize his lower half at all, relying on above-average strength in his shoulders and wrists to whip the bat head through the zone with a compact stroke but little leverage or extension. He’s a strong kid – his listed 6-foot-1, 210 pounds looks about right – so there’s some natural power built into his frame. And the top half does show some promise: the hands work well, and the barrel control is consistent. But there’s a tremendous amount of rigidity in his lower half, and the load is almost non-existent to where he’s starting his swing from a stand-still. I have a really hard time seeing how the swing is going to work against advanced stuff. – Wilson Karaman
Derek Fisher (Astros) ran a 3.91 to beat out a routine double-play ball. That’s the fourth sub-4.0 dig I have on him since his promotion to Lancaster (WK)…Wyatt Mathisen looks the part of an everyday third baseman and has the draft pedigree (second round, 2012) to back it up, but he’s just never produced the power he’s going to need at third base, and it’s becoming concerning (JM)…James Ramsay continues to do very strong work on the grass since sliding over from right to take over as the team’s everyday center fielder after Brett Phillips left town. On Monday he ran an outstanding route to cut off a ball in the gap, planted quickly and firmly, and fired a one-hop strike from left-center to nail a streaking Alex Verdugo on what looked like a sure double off the bat. Ramsay’s solid-average speed and defense profile is a strong one, and his contact skills are enough to project a quality big league roster piece down the line (WK)…I’ve been tough on Carson Kelly this year, and with good reason, but he’s showing signs of life down the stretch with more energy and bat speed and could end the season on a high note offensively (JM).
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