Last week, we brought you the batters of the Carolina/California League All-Star Game, with first-look notes from Wilson Karaman, and season-to-date thoughts from Adam McInturff. Today we cover the arms in the game for the Carolina League All-Stars, with season-to-date thoughts when we had them. —Craig Goldstein
Julian Merryweather, RHP, Cleveland Indians
First Look: Long frame, lean muscle, square shoulders, high waist; athletic, efficient movements; moderate rock, high leg kick, strong early momentum, stays tall into drive; clean arm action, shallow and quick to high-three-quarters slot that borders on straight over-the-top; mild drift in drive, gets extension, clean strike, closed, some crossfire, clean finish, has the physicality to repeat it; FB 91-94 (t96), showed plus velocity, fairly straight, gets plane, drives it down, some trouble with timing, yanked a few low and left; CH 76-78, flashed plus, fade and tumble, couple Bugs Bunnies, confidence right-on-right; SL 80-85, only a couple, vertical action, not a great read; showed advanced sequence execution, pitching acumen.
Matthew Grimes, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
First Look: Lean, funky right-hander; narrow frame, not much physical projection remaining despite present lack of bulk; first-base side of the rubber, orients to third-base side, semi-wind, some stiffness in takeaway, deceleration as he gathers to drive; long arm path, deep action to very high three-quarter, some violence; significant cross-fire, mild spine tilt, lots of length to corral; 93 FB, some natural cut, sneaky velo, can get in LHH kitchens; 81 CB, round, get-me-over; CH 82-84, straight, mild tumble, worked off FB plane
Season-to-date: Drafted twice prior, Grimes signed following his senior year at Georgia Tech as Baltimore's 18th round pick in 2014, and has been dominating the Carolina League in 2016—albeit as a 24-year-old without above-average strikeout totals. While the induced swings-and-misses aren't where you'd hope for an older pitcher, Grimes' stuff has taken an overall slight step forward in 2016. He'll touch 94 (91-92) on a four-seamer with late hop, though the lack of strikeouts might be due to the limited lateral movement on his fastball. Even so, he'll fill the zone with a competent four-pitch mix. While all his offerings hover around average, he's been able to effectively change speeds off his fastball with both a curveball and slider, as well as a changeup.
Zach Hedges, RHP, Chicago Cubs
First Look: Strong frame, well-proportioned, durable; aggressive takeaway, some rigidity, reasonably balanced, long arm swing, clean to true three-quarter; gets downhill, firm landing, some effort, crossfire action, all fastballs; FB 92-94, solid run, some sink, late life, inside-out sequence, showed command to both sides.
Max Povse, RHP, Atlanta Braves
First Look: Extreme length to frame, narrow, sturdy strength, limbs for days; steady early rock, semi-wind, hands migrate, gradual gather to deep stab, takes a hot minute to gather and balance, fluid arm action, extreme uphill, high-three-quarters slot, lots of opportunity for timing issues to pop up, yanking balls low to glove side in this outing; FB 90-92, extreme plane, boring pitch with run, works north-south, deception helps it play up; 70 CB, round, some depth, finishes down; 83 CH, flat, tumble with mild fade, neither secondary looked like a swing-and-miss pitch.
Season-to-date: Povse was hit hard to start last year with the Mudcats, and he was eventually sent to Low-A Rome, where he made the majority of his 2015 starts. Back in the Carolina League this year—he will turn 23 this summer—things have gone much better for him. Built extra-tall and lanky at 6-foot-8 and maybe 200 pounds, his unusually-long levers add natural deception and downhill angle to a low-90s fastball. His upper-70s curveball shows average at best, and his changeup is playable. For such a large frame, he's limited walks very well his second run in the Carolina League, though it plays more as control than actual command within the zone.
Matt Cooper, RHP, Chicago White Sox
First Look: Slight build, narrow frame, maxed out, notable flexibility, some athleticism; tall and tight, semi-wind, robotic rock and kick, drop and drive, stays closed, deep arm action, long swing to over-the-top slot, deceptive, tough pick-up, high release helps offset lack of height; FB 91-92, moderate plane, fairly straight, not much margin for error when he leaves it up; CB 76-78, some depth, solid shape; CH 84, firm line, good tumble; pitches appear complimentary, work well off same line.
Justus Sheffield, LHP, Cleveland Indians
First Look: Short, compact frame, well filled-out, strength in shoulders and legs, moderate athleticism despite some lack of fluidity; quiet into rock, high leg kick, generates outsized early momentum, can struggle to corral through drive, will leave arm behind; clean arm action, premium arm speed, three-quarter slot; drop and drive, long stride, firm strike, violence through finish, moderate effort, some sling; FB 93-95, some run, late life, showed below-average command; CT 90-93, hard cutting action, life, works it to glove side against righties and lefties.
Season-to-date: Sheffield is short, though very athletic and durably built. He generates power stuff from a very fast arm and strong lower-half, but there's moderate effort to his delivery's finish as well. His fastball has reached the mid-90s this season, and throws both a cutter and slider that have missed bats—showing an enthusing ability to change grips between the two pitches. He's had some very good starts and is a Carolina League All-Star just after his 20th birthday. He's got impressive stuff and a chance to start, with the velocity to keep the 'pen in play if need be.
Jake Stinnett, RHP, Chicago Cubs
First Look: Tall, very athletic, prototypical build, lean muscle, efficient movements; narrow setup, oriented well over towards third base, semi-wind, closed front side; collapses early on back leg, inconsistent timing and arm swing, some deceleration, didn’t repeat arm path, mild spine tilt, above-average arm speed to three-quarter slot; high-effort, firm drive, really powers over his front side, lacks repeatability; FB 92-96, natural cut, movement plays up at lower end of band; SL 84-85, tight vertical action, hard bite, showed plus darting action; brief look but relief profile.
Ryan Brinley, RHP, Washington Nationals
First Look: On the shorter side, width through mid-section, sturdy base, broad shoulders, lacks a ton of athleticism; low-maintenance, repeatable delivery, steady, under control, disruptive hesitation at takeaway; shallow arm swing, average arm speed, high three-quarter slot; FB 92-94, commanded around the zone, mild deception, lacks life; SL 82, moderate tilt on good ones, inconsistent snap; CH 80-83 shows it, poor arm speed replication.
Evan Phillips, RHP, Atlanta Braves
First Look: Impressive frame, strong legs, moderate athleticism; exclusively stretch, closed off, deep arm swing, some uphill to high-three-quarters, steep plane, some crossfire; generates velocity with effort, head whack, clean deceleration and finish; FB 96-98, arm-side run, has some weight; poor command, too many wandered around in the zone, hitters tracked and timed it; SL 87-89, some tilt, solid-average horizontal sweep, couple backed up; high-leverage stuff, not sure the command profile gets him into late innings.
Trevor Clifton, RHP, Chicago Cubs
First Look: Long limbs, some present strength, additional projection remaining; stretch only, short leg kick, deep arm action, above-average arm speed, three-quarter slot; early drop, hard drive, loses plane, low release point, slinger; moderate effort, doesn’t get over front side, cuts off finish; all fastballs, FB 92-94, hard run down in the zone, flat up, below-average command, left several sitting out and up.
Season-to-date: Clifton isn't the most imposing in terms of his size (6-foot-1) or velocity, but he really can pitch and has above-average movement to his fastball, with the chance for good command. He fills the zone with a heavy 88-91 sinker, and gets lots of depth on his mid-70s curveball. He might not finish with an out pitch; if the overall mix of stuff finishes short for the rotation, his fastball could impact the game more in shorter stints. The Cubs have had success developing movement and command right-handed starters, though, and Clifton had a strong first half en-route to being named to the league's all-star team at 21 years old.
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