keyboard_arrow_uptop

Our own Grant Jones was able to attend the recent South Atlantic League All-Star Game, enabling us to combine footage from the event with notes generated over the course of the season by our Sally evaluators Adam McInturff and David Lee. Enjoy! —Craig Goldstein

SAL South:

Jake Cosart, RHP, Boston Red Sox

Cosart’s frame and high-effort mechanics land him in the “thrower with good stuff” bin, and not surprisingly, the 22-year-old has enjoyed more success since transitioning into a bullpen role. He’s still walking a ton of hitters, but he’s striking out hitters nearly 20 percentage points more frequently without having to turn the lineup over. He carries a 6-foot-2, 175-pound listing with a fairly average build, and generates his velocity by throwing his body into the pitch with high torque on his throwing arm. He throws exclusively from the stretch, with a short, closed stride to the plate that causes his back-side to swing around hard after release, pulling him off the mound. His plus raw stuff plays if he’s able to throw it for basic strikes, though his mechanics don’t allow the consistency for true command in the zone. His fastball sat 94-96 in his one-inning outing with explosive late finish, and he threw a hard curveball in the high 70s as his secondary. The breaker flashes sharp two-plane action at best, though its movement was inconsistent given Cosart’s numerous mechanical variables. He has two raw swing-and-miss pitches, though he’ll have to continue to streamline his control to profile as an impactful big league reliever. —Adam McInturff

Patrick Weigel, RHP, Atlanta Braves (

Soon to turn 22, Weigel was the Braves’ seventh-rounder in 2015 out of the University of Houston. He has more tools to work with than many college arms drafted in that range, though he’s historically been a little more raw, too. A South Atlantic League all-star after making marked improvements to his control, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound righty is controlling his frame down the mound much better this year, and the results have been there as a result. He has some moderate funk in his delivery for a bigger pitcher, with drop-and-drive from his back-side and a very deep arm-arc coming out of the glove. He’ll spin off the mound after releasing the ball, and looks like a pitcher who operates with more control than command of his heater. It’s a good heater, though, as he touched 95 in Tuesday’s game, and routinely will reach that range during actual starts as well. His curveball is a big, loopy overhand curveball in the mid 70s, though with his size and arm-strength, I wonder if he could add more of a true slider down the road. Weigel mixed a handful of low-80s changeups in the all-star outing, showing there’s some feel for a full three-pitch mix. One of the pitching prospects who has taken a step forward in the SAL this year, Weigel’s size and arm-strength make him a player that Braves prospect watchers should know. —Adam McInturff

Caleb Smith, LHP, San Franscisco Giants
mith was a nice get for the Giants in the backyard of their South Atlantic League affiliate. He’s being monitored pitch- and innings-wise and is a max-effort reliever, but he flashes the stuff to compete in the upper levels. He routinely sits 92-94 and can hit a tick or two higher, coming from a tough angle as a high-slot left-hander with downhill plane. He lacks present feel for his breaking ball and overall command of his arsenal, but he’s intriguing for his natural strength, arm speed and raw stuff from the left side. —David Lee

P.J. Conlon, LHP, New York Mets

Conlon doesn’t stand out for his size, projection or fastball, but his greatest strength is worth the price of admission. The left-hander’s changeup routinely hits plus with advanced feel, depth and deception. He goes to it often and it eats low-level competition alive, but it also projects as a bat-misser in the upper levels. Conlon’s fastball sits upper 80s and will hit 90-91 with minimal movement and life above the thighs. There’s some sink and plane when spotted to the knees, and he’s able to command it to that spot fairly well. He adds a cutter in the upper 80s with moderate cut and slight depth, and a fringe slider and show-me curveball. Conlon projects for an above-average command profile despite head whack and spine tilt in his delivery. He repeats the quirky motion well with a maxed, durable build that lacks height advantage. It’s not an attractive mix and he lacks a deep arsenal, but it’s enough for major-league potential. —David Lee

Dylan Davis, OF, San Francisco Giants
There’s no denying Davis’ power. He can carry it over the fence to all fields and has plus raw with above-average bat speed and good loft. How often he taps into it is a question of hit ability. His power can play down by a lack of consistent contact to the barrel. His approach remains raw and is exposed by sequencing between inside velo and off-speed away. He can also struggle mightily with reads and routes, and he shows below-average range in the outfield. Davis is as strong as a bull and will occasionally hit a moonshot to remind everyone of his power. It’s enough to remember the name, but he’ll need to prove his ability to hit better pitching. —David Lee

Josh Ockimey, 1B, Boston Red Sox

This isn’t your typical power-hitting corner guy who mashes a low level but stalls later on. Ockimey has the swing and approach to succeed well beyond the South Atlantic League. He keeps his hands in and gets the bat to the zone on an efficient path, and the bat stays in the zone well. He’s able to tap into his plus raw power with a lofted plane and excellent post-contact extension. Not only that, Ockimey shows an advanced approach and an eye to lay off off-speed away. He needs to show he can withstand his first full season, but he’s so far proving to be a great pick for the Red Sox and could develop into one of the better first-base prospects in the game. —David Lee

Matt Winn, C, San Francisco Giants
Winn isn’t on prospect radars and has already served as system depth in different capacities. He got off to a hot start in the first half and earned an All-Star selection because of it. He flashes above-average power and hit one of the longest home runs in Columbia’s new ballpark so far, but it’s usually relegated to batting practice. Winn’s glove can get shaky behind the plate at times, but he has an above-average arm and is one of the better catch-and-throw guys in the league. —David Lee

Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Soroka–one of Atlanta's two first-round picks last year–has made tons of progress in the year since he was drafted. He's pitched excellently for Rome, all as an 18-year-old who was immediately assigned to a full-season affiliate to start the year. The only other pitcher his age who is qualified for the league ERA title right now is Anderson Espinoza, and the two of them are arguably the league's best pitching prospects. Soroka is a broad, durable 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, with the lower half of an innings-eater. He's still growing into his body and occasionally falls off-line out of his delivery, but generally he pitches with very free, easy mechanics for a young man with his build. There's room to project on his stuff, but he already has two good pitches: a heavy low-to-mid-90s sinker, and a breaking ball that he's already able to consistently get sharp, two-plane action on. The angle and sink on his fastball have a chance to get plenty of ground balls, and Sally hitters have put over 50 percent of balls in play against Soroka on the ground. What separates him from other young pitching prospects with good frames and two-pitch mixes (to me, anyway) is how advanced his strike-throwing ability is. He's walked just five percent, with the type of delivery and flashes of fastball command that lead me to believe his control can hold up at higher levels of the minors. Soroka's combination of size, stuff, and control were on display in Tuesday's game, and his performance so far this season has vaulted him near the top of Atlanta's already impressive group of pitching prospects. While he's very young and still a few years away from the big leagues, this is the type of pitching prospect scouts get excited about–the ingredients are here for a durable, sinkerballing big-league starter. —Adam McInturff

SAL North:

Victor Robles, CF, Washington Nationals

Robles has consistently performed—mostly against older competition—since debuting in the GCL in 2014. He was 29th on our Top 101 entering the season, and could soon rank higher than that after looking like one of the SAL’s best prospects as a 19-year-old. He has the frame and athleticism to profile in center field, with more natural hitting ability and offensive tools than many center-diamond athletes his age. His well-rounded tool set was on display in the all-star game, squaring up a single, then stealing second, and later scoring a run to give the North Division an early lead. Robles’ right-handed swing is quick and very loose, with good balance in his base and the leveraged finish for some power. His flatter swing-plane nets him more doubles than over-the-fence power, but he can turn on his pitch and still could be a double-digit homerun threat. He’s aggressive in counts and doesn’t walk much—which might put some pressure on his pure bat-to-ball ability to reach base—but he’s got advanced feel for the barrel, and the look of a hitter who will make enough contact for his approach to work. Robles receives rave reviews for his makeup and energy, and is among the best teenage position prospects in the minors. The ceiling is that of a solid-regular center fielder with a capable bat, and his most ardent supporters think he might be even better than that. —Adam McInturff

Max Schrock, 2B, Washington Nationals

The first two hitters of the SAL All-Star game were both from Hagerstown. Schrock hit behind Victor Robles, as he’s done for much of this season for the Suns. He dropped out of the first 10 rounds of the draft in 2015 after three years at South Carolina, but he’s showed the polish that could be expected from an SEC standout playing against Low-A players his first full pro season. Schrock’s tools play louder than his 5-foot-8 frame would suggest, and he’s always controlled the zone well with some pop in his bat. His thicker lower-half and first-step fit best at second base, though his 14 steals this year—while a little surprising—are an positive indicator of his ability to get the most out of his speed. There’s surprising pop coming off his bat when he squares up his pitch, and he drove a double in his first at bat of Tuesday’s game. Schrock totaled two hits and two RBIs total in the all-star game, and could be moving up from Hagerstown by season’s end after slashing .327/.379/.459 with 18 doubles in the first half. He’ll go as far as his hit tool takes him, and if not an offensively-minded second baseman, Schrock has the skillset to potentially fit a bench infield profile. ​—Adam McInturff

Mitch Keller, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Keller started the game for the North squad in the midst of a breakout 2016 after just having turned 20. He looked every bit the guy who ranks among the SAL’s best pitching prospects, throwing nine of 11 pitches for strikes and striking out two. He’s durably-built with a broad-shouldered 6-foot-3 frame with a clean look to his delivery, and repeats it well with a starter’s look. Keller has pounded the strike zone this year, as he’s walked just seven (versus 76 strikeouts) across 67 innings for the Power. His fastball has worked consistently at 92-95 all season—as it did in his one-inning outing—and features heavy, sinking tail. A slightly off-line arm-arc in the back hindered his ability to land his curveball for strikes early in the year, but he landed his curveball around the zone consistently in this look, getting both his strikeouts on breaking pitches. The curve has the ingredients of a 55 or 60-grade pitch, and showed consistent two-plane tilt with good power in the 78-80 range. His changeup shows promising late action, though he doesn't throw it much—he didn't throw one in his 11-pitch outing—and it's currently lacks separation off his fastball, sitting in the upper 80s. His mechanics are clean enough that he can make foreseeable adjustments to his changeup; the sum of Keller's stuff, control, and frame could be a middle-rotation starter. With Taillon and Glassnow soon to reach Pittsburgh for good, Keller might be putting his stamp on the title of Pittsburgh's best pitching prospect, and I see him as a darkhorse candidate for the 2017 BP 101. ​—Adam McInturff

Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh's first-rounder in 2015 from a Texas high school, Hayes likely ranks among the SAL's top-10 prospects after a respectable offensive showing as a 19-year-old playing quality defense at the hot corner. His frame looks leaner and more agile than his amateur days, though he still has the width to add strength to his upper-half and project for more power. He struck out and didn't get a hit in the game, while showing the same range at third base—especially to his glove-side—he has all year for West Virginia. Deserving of his all-star bid for his 2016 performance as well as his prospect stock, Hayes requires some projection and is still a few years away—but has many of the raw ingredients of a regular left-side corner infielder. —Adam McInturff

Jose Pujols, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
The tall, rangy corner outfielder's 13 homers lead the Sally as a 20-year-old, though he's been an all-or-nothing type of hitter all season for Lakewood. He almost never walks, and despite his power, he's struck out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances. His statline illustrates "the rap" on Pujols well: His big right-handed frame and raw power are of quality, though there's risk to the profile given the degree he's struggled against even Low-A pitching. —Adam McInturff

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
aMcInturff
6/30
Victor Robles and Max Schrock (Hagerstown) were promoted to High-A Potomac in the Carolina League for the second half of the season.