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Notes from the Field – September 1, 2015

  • Angel Villalona (Giants – video) just turned 25 a couple weeks ago, and time is quickly running out on the former phenom developing any hope of a productive major-league career. His body is just straight-up bad: he’s wide around the middle with excessive bad weight and it compromises his mobility to where he should really only be considered a DH prospect at this point. That’s unfortunate, as at last count his parent organization plays in a league without one of those. There are still vestiges of the 80-grade power to which he once laid claim, but his bat speed isn’t quite there these days. In an effort to generate torque he dips the front shoulder in, adding excess length to an inconsistent load, and the arms and wrists aren’t quick enough to offset it and deliver the barrel with precision. He still generates a powerful swing with significant leverage, but the bat-to-ball skills to translate his power consistently just aren’t there, and he struggled to identify spin all night. – Wilson Karaman
  • Jacob Brentz (Mariners), a 20-year-old southpaw, sat 89-91 (T94) in his start Tuesday, with an above-average changeup and a curveball that flashed average. Brentz has a little rock and fire in his delivery, and that helps him get good plane on his fastball. He’s a downhill thrower, and he induced grounder after grounder on two-seamers low in the zone. Brentz’s low-80s changeup features moderate fade, and he maintains his fastball arm speed on the pitch. Salem-Keizer’s hitters couldn’t pick it up out of his hand, whiffing several times, including twice by lefties (first-rounder Chris Shaw among them). The curve is his third best pitch: it has 12-6 action with plenty of tumble on his best ones, but at 69-72, it’s a looping offering and sometimes loses its shape. Still, with clean arm action and a repeatable delivery, Brentz has a good command profile and if he can improve his curve, he could have three usable offerings down the line. There’s back of the rotation potential here, which would be a good haul for two months of Mark Lowe. –Brendan Gawlowski

  • Rafael De Paula (Padres) finally moved to the bullpen last month, and while there’s a notable level of comfort in the role he still shows a bunch of the traits in his delivery and command profile that led to the switch. He’s got a big frame that he’s always struggled to harness, and the motion in this look involved even more effort with a head whack exclamation point. He’s extremely quick through his rock and leg kick, which presents all kinds of timing issues, and the stride length is inconsistent.

    He gets downhill though, and the fastball can play even in spite of below-average command. His velocity was actually on par with an earlier season look when he was in the rotation, as he sat 93-4 in this outing, touching 95. An arm slot that may be a notch below true three-quarters gives him natural arm-side run, and when his mechanics work he’ll get plane on the pitch and give it some boring action. It was a Jekyll and Hyde pitch in this appearance, as a couple leaky efforts got squared up in between in-zone swings and misses. His hard curveball at 81-84 also showed a plus ceiling, with tight spin and good depth with finish below the zone. True to form, however, he left a couple flat cement mixers dangling at the top of the zone, and that kind of inconsistency isn’t going to cut it. He was also slow to the plate, logging times between 1.4 and 1.5 on account of the heavy lift to his leg kick. – Wilson Karaman

  • A sixth-round pick out of Clemson, Steven Duggar (Giants) is a plus-plus runner with a cannon for an arm. He covers plenty of ground in center field and if he can hit at all, he’ll be a big leaguer. At 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, he has a solid frame, but his swing isn’t conducive to damaging the baseball: he drags the bat through the zone and doesn’t use his lower half. The result is plenty of ground balls and limited hard contact. –Brendan Gawlowski

  • Roberto Baldoquin (Angels) shows some interesting skills to go along with an aggressive and raw approach at the dish. He demonstrated impressive lateral quickness and body control in the field, with quickness in his actions and hands to suggest a future at short remains in play. The arm strength is a little light for short, but a quick release helps the short velocity play up. At the dish his load is mild with high hands that stay back as he uncorks a moderate stride and leg kick. The hands stay back a long time, and there’s some funk in his weight transfer where he lands his front foot inverted on the toe before dropping his heel as he starts his hands forward. The combination creates a natural bat path to the opposite field, and while there’s some pop in his bat I’m not sure how much utility there will end up being once he starts getting busted inside with consistent fastballs. He was exceptionally aggressive in my look last week, seeing all of four pitches in his three plate appearances, further adding to the questions about his offensive projection. – Wilson Karaman
  • A ninth-rounder last summer out of TCU, Jordan Kipper (Angels) throws a fastball with some sink at 88-89 (t90) and shows an ability to spin a slider in the low-80s. He has a relatively clean, repeatable delivery, and a prototypical frame on which to hang innings. He was inconsistent in his drive in the start I caught last week, however, failing to get consistently downhill and drive the ball to the lower portions of the zone. While the control was there, the in-zone command was decidedly not. He left far too many heaters elevated and paid the price accordingly. He also showed as extremely raw in holding runners on, getting his pocket picked by runners on second base multiple times. He doesn’t have enough movement or velocity to get away with the kind of mistakes he made in this start, and the command will need to take a considerable step forward if he’s going to make a run at reaching his No. 5 starter ceiling. – Wilson Karaman
  • You can still see the athleticism in Donavan Tate (Padres – video) that had everybody drooling once upon a time, but his swing and approach at the plate are just not very good. His stride is passive and inconsistent, and far too often he loses his lower half entirely when his hips fire too quickly and get well out of synch with his shoulders. There’s a lot of inefficient movement involved, and he doesn’t appear to track particularly well either, leading to significant timing issues and poor barrel control. He showed nice range in center on a couple plays, including an outstanding break in to snag a dying quail at his shoetop. The offensive stagnation at this stage probably precludes him ever developing into anything more than an up-and-down player who can help out occasionally on the grass. – Wilson Karaman
  • The Giants signed Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell to a seven-figure deal last summer, and while he displayed impressive athleticism and physicality there’s a lot of work to be done in refining his game. The swing relies a lot on his arms and he really jumps to his front foot. While there’s some leverage and natural loft in his swing he showed little in the way of discipline or control of the zone in this look, and I’m not sure either the hit or game power projects as better than below-average. He’s very fast, clocking a 4.44 on about a four-step check-up and running with impressive fluidity. He also showed some arm strength in leftfield, suggesting he could handle a jump over to the opposite corner. – Wilson Karaman

Quick Hits

Erick Mejia (Mariners) is an above average runner with an impressive glove. He charges the ball well, has quick hands and great instincts; his diving stab on a one hop rocket up the middle would have been the holy shit play of the year if he hadn’t bobbled the ball on the transfer…(BG) The Giants are trying to turn Miguel Gomez into a third basemen, but I don’t see it. His first step is slow; on one line drive near him at third, he literally didn’t react until the ball had passed him. It was hit hard, but not that hard…(BG) Ti'Quan Forbes deserves credit for holding his own as one of the youngest regulars in the Northwest League but he’ll need to tone down his sellout swing to make consistent contact (BG).

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