We have the good fortune of having BP Prospect Team members all over the country, taking in games and giving you eyewitness reports and notes from the field. Unfortunately, they don’t always get to travel, which is why the California/Carolina League All-Star Game is always a treat for some of our team, as they get a brief look at guys they’d never otherwise see. Wilson Karaman was the beneficiary this year, as California hosted, and he took copious notes on guys he normally doesn’t get to catch. We’re presenting you with those notes and providing the backup of Adam McInturff’s season-to-date looks at many of the same players. This gives you the benefit of seeing what we’re able to take away in one viewing, and the nuances that bear out over a longer set of looks. We’ll start with hitters and tackle pitchers in a second installment. —Craig Goldstein
Greg Allen, CF, Cleveland Indians
First Look: Lean, athletic, strength in his legs is evident, spring in his step; slight crouch, fluid waggle at setup, slight forward drift with upper body creates steep angle at trigger, loose wrists, very quick into the zone, shows hand-eye with barrel delivery, bat doesn’t spend much time on plane, some swing-and-miss; aggressive early in-zone, will expand against soft stuff early, line-drive approach against velo, very comfortable hitting with two strikes, commands the zone, spoils pitches, battles back when behind; 70-grade run times, three digs (two 4.1 flats, 4.15), burst to second gear, explosive cross-over on stolen base attempts, advanced timing of walking lead into stealing third; plus arm strength and accuracy with one-hopper from deep right-center on the bag to third, carry, plus velo held plane.
Season-to-date: One of the prospects that has given Cleveland's system impressive depth in 2016's first half, Allen is putting himself on the prospect map for Lynchburg. He's an outstanding athlete and defender in center field, where his double-plus straight-line speed impacts the game. Per 100 career games played as a professional, Allen averages 44 stolen bases. He has cracked 30 this year, with the entire latter half of the season remaining to play. He offers little in the way of over-the-fence power, as the speedy switch-hitter has a smaller, twitchy build and flat swing path. A Carolina League All-Star, he's shown an enthusing ability to walk for a contact/speed player. He might hit enough to get everyday at-bats, or at least profile as a useful fourth outfielder. His outstanding speed and above-average defensive ability still give him some fallback value on a 40-man roster.
Andrew Stevenson, CF, Washington Nationals
First Look: Athletic, fairly high waist, well built, strength across chest, good physicality; quiet setup, pigeons back knee and balls up a bit to initiate load, complex load with multiple stages, some jerk to it, not fluid, drift in hands; very steep into the zone, inconsistent trigger, struggled with inner-third coverage; looks to extend, loud line drive contact away, barreled plus velo to split opposite gap, hands stayed back to barrel a hanging change; minimal leverage, swing not built to lift; 70-grade run times (4.0 flat, 4.25 turn); played left, more than enough speed, showed some track-and-close, hard-nosed pursuit to the side wall.
Season-to-date: Stevenson has done all he can to silence those who questioned if he'd hit enough, at least through the first half of his first full professional season. Washington's first pick in 2015 (though not a first-rounder), he's got a classic speed/contact/center field tool set. Built with wiry and lean features, he's an easy plus runner who steals bases (25 already this year) and can go get it in center field. He will need to keep proving his no-power, sting-contact offensive approach will play at higher levels. His above-average supplementary tools give him a high floor as a player who can still contribute defensively, late in games, and on the bases. The best-case ceiling is that of a non-elite regular in CF, perhaps in a left-handed-hitting Peter Bourjos mold.
Mauricio Dubon, 2B/SS, Boston Red Sox
First Look: Rail thin, sloped shoulders, slight hunch; quiet, even setup, slight bend; flares bat, quick rhythm, hands drift up, alters stride between moderate leg kick and toe tap; wrist and hand strength, quick stroke, mild bat drag, hips will leak, balanced, steep path, flat plane; has a plan, attacks in-zone, will expand up, all-fields hitter, can throw the bat at it; foot speed looked to be above-average, and it played up with a quick first step and timing on stolen base break; showed excellent timing and foot work across the bag on a 1-6-3, lateral quickness, agile defender; short-arm throwing motion, average velocity, chance to stick at short.
Season-to-date: Dubon was a late-round selection by Boston out of a Sacramento-area high school in 2013. He played shortstop to Yoan Moncada’s second base for Salem in the first half, and it was announced on Wednesday he would be joining Moncada (and former Salem teammate Andrew Benintendi) at Double-A Portland. He spent the latter portion of 2015 at Salem, and hit better in the Carolina League when he repeated High-A to begin his age-21 season this year. He’s thin boned and extremely wiry, lacking the strength or bat speed to fit a traditional offensive-minded shortstop’s profile. Dubon has speed on both sides of the ball, though, and is a slick defender at shortstop. His speed and defensive tools will keep him on the radar, and Boston might have a late-round Player Development success story on their hands if Dubon’s bat holds up as he nears the big-league level.
Bobby Bradley, 1B, Cleveland Indians
First Look: Big, burly frame, thick chest, wide body, round middle, plus present strength; low hands off back hip with a quiet load, elite wrist strength, powerful hips, stiff shoulders, generates plus bat speed from near standstill, rotational, plane to lift it, double-plus power to the pull side; inconsistent trigger and barrel, expanded frequently against benders and off-speed; lumbering defender, lacks lateral quickness or agility, showed solid hands with a smooth pick on a hard hopper right at him.
Season-to-date: Bradley's hit tool has been tested more this year as a 20-year-old in the Carolina League than ever before in his professional career. He's posted an interesting slash line for a young power bat, with lower averages and tons of strikeouts, but also the most power production of any prospect in the league. While there's certainly time and room for Bradley to make some adjustments offensively, I haven't seen the skills to ever suggest a high-average hitter. He's got a longer swing with real holes against left-handed pitching, particularly breaking stuff. Luckily for Bradley, he has raw power that gets grades anywhere from 60 to 70, and has always demonstrated the ability to keep up his on-base percentages through walks at the plate. The left-handed power and patience give the ceiling of an everyday first baseman, but that projection holds little margin for error for a player who lacks positional versatility, while also striking out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances before reaching Double-A.
Aderlin Rodriguez, (DH), Baltimore Orioles
First Look: Round shoulders, thick middle, top-shelf natural strength, filled out, higher-maintenance frame; wide stance, square, front knee pigeons, some noise in the load, stiff at trigger, length into the zone, good timing, hands rigid but stay back, showed some ability to make in-zone adjustment in driving a slider in a fastball count, can turn on velocity, hard line drive contact with some lift and carry; obvious power, question the utility.
Season-to-date: Rodriguez is nearly 25, making him much older than many regulars in the Carolina League. He’s a minor-league journeyman of sorts, as Baltimore is his third organization as a professional. Listed as a third baseman—where he’s spent time in his career—he’s played mostly first base for Frederick, in deference to Jomar Reyes (who has a similar frame and skill set, but is much younger and the better prospect). Rodriguez profiles best at first base at the big-league level, and while he might flash the raw power expected of a land-locked regular, there’s no real evidence he has the hit tool to bring it out in games. He’s a .234/.277/.409 career hitter in over 400 Double-A plate appearances, and in my looks at him this year, the eye test has matched the stat line. The size and power are evident in his physical 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, but just as visible are easily exploitable holes in Rodriguez’s swing and approach. He’s put together a nice first half for the Keys, but it isn’t a given he’ll reach the big leagues. His right-handed power gives him one carrying tool that might place him on the back part of a 40-man roster at best.
Drew Ward, 3B, Washington Nationals
First Look: Open stance, high back elbow, hitch, flares bat head, mild wrap, length into the zone, some stiffness, significant leverage; swing type to produce rollover contact against off-speed pitches, chased a couple of those, showed ability to drop the head and drive it, struggled to time right-handed slinger; 4.65 on a check, not fast; 55 arm strength from the line, not the most fluid defender at third.
Season-to-date: Ward has the physical frame and left-handed raw power for a corner profile, and is a Carolina League All-Star after the first half of 2016 saw him finally produce power the way scouts thought he could. Despite this, Ward has long-standing questions about how well his game will translate to the highest levels. He's worked hard to stay on the left side of the infield—where he does have enough arm to play—but he probably can’t hack it at the hot corner. Almost certainly a first baseman, his struggles against left-handed pitching (27 percent K-rate; .224 average) cloud his chances of being anything but a platoon player at best. He doesn't pass the eye test against off-speed pitches, either, especially against southpaws. He's put up good numbers and has some big league attributes—the question is just how much it all comes together.
Jonah Heim, C, Baltimore Orioles
First Look: Solid frame, well put-together, long legs, solid present strength with mild additional projection; mild load, some drift, fairly fluid, showed inside-out ability and solid barrel to take a 93 back up the middle; evident command of the zone, couple good takes; moves well behind the dish, solid physicality, controls his body well.
Season-to-date: Heim's age (21), build (tapered 6-foot-3), and switch-hitting all stand out at catcher. He draws positive reviews for his defense and makeup. Named to the league's All-Star team, his swing lacks strength and the offense is still developing. There's still room to get stronger in his body, moreso than many players in his age range. His defense at a premium position gives him the chance at a backup profile. He's Baltimore's second-best catching prospect, behind Chance Sisco at Double-A Bowie.
Humberto Arteaga, 2B, Kansas City Royals
First Look: Wiry frame, lacks upper body strength; stats open, leg lift closes up, hands drift at load, steep, not in the zone very long, inner-third vulnerability; hyper-aggressive approach, expands up against velo, down against off-speed; 65-grade run time, has a second gear; fluid fielder, absurd hops to snag an overhead line drive.
Season-to-date: Arteaga is nearing 23 years old, and lacks the strength or hitting tools to be the type of prospect that Royals fans should hope cracks their club’s everyday lineup. He’s got outstanding defensive actions, though, and in my looks at him this year he has shown a solid glove at shortstop for the Blue Rocks—possessing a knack for finishing the flashy play.
Hunter Jones, RF, Chicago White Sox
First Look: Filled out frame, no remaining projection; wide crouch, quiet, minimal load, lacks start-up rhythm, quick toe tap, mechanical, stiff swing, loses hips; plus run time, gets out quick, some churn; lost one in the lights, sloppy recovery.
Yu-Cheng Chang, SS, Cleveland Indians
First Look: Big body, upper-body strength; slightly open, high hands, moderate, fluid load, flows into the zone, quick stroke with some lift in the plane, showed solid track, stayed back on a decent curve and stuck a line drive on the end of it.
Season-to-date: Now nearly 21, Chang has grown into more strength and looks larger than his 6-foot-1, 175-pound listing. His increases in size have helped his offensive game, where he's been a consistent hitter with contact and extra-base power for Lynchburg, one of the winningest teams in MiLB's first half. I really like the consistency of Chang's short, easy swing, and while it is definitely more line-drive oriented than it is geared for power, he can drive the gaps and consistently uses the whole field. He's likely a step too slow to play everyday as a big league shortstop,but he has a 55-grade arm across the infield and profiles fine defensively at third base. The best-case ceiling is a regular third baseman with 50-grade hit and power outputs. If short of that, I still see Chang able to provide infield versatility with at least enough bat to keep him on a big league bench.
Daniel Salters, C, Cleveland Indians
First Look: Good frame, strong kid with moderate athleticism; rides low and wide, orients toward first-base side, lateral agility to his right, mobility to the ground; poor receiving to glove side, high elbow and stab; plus arm strength, very slow gather, long arm action; 2.01, 2.10 pops, good spring, moderate tail, accurate on the bag.
Ian Happ, 2B, Chicago Cubs
First (okay, second) Look: Has filled out since I saw him on the Cape, additional upper-body muscle, compact frame, strong; similar setups on both sides, early rhythm, loose hands, some mild drag into the zone can show up, attacks the baseball; 4.57 on a double-play dig, benefit of the doubt in a friendly; jabby footwork, poor timing on a liner over his head.
Season-to-Date: Happ has shown more swing-and-miss than expected, but overall has demonstrated the quality blend of hitting ability and patience (with some power and speed, too) from both sides of the plate that were his calling cards in the 2015 Draft, where he was a top-10 pick. He has a loose, handsy swing hitting both left- and right-handed, with the ability to backspin the ball from a finish that gives his swing natural leverage. He doesn’t have the tallest frame, but Happ carries a muscular build that does have some power in it, perhaps in the 12-15 homer range over a full big-league season. Defensively, his bat will be a lot more valuable if he can remain a second baseman; he doesn't profile as a true center fielder, and his type of offensive output becomes more vanilla in left field. The best-case ceiling is an offense-minded regular at second base who can do a little bit of everything, with the chance for an above-average hit tool with around 50-grade power. The floor could be a Skip Schumaker type of switch-hitting utility player.
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