2023 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards: Voting Open Now!

Hudson Potts, 3B, San Diego Padres (Complex Level AZL)
Selected 24th-overall in June out of a Texas high school, the artist formerly known as Hudson Sanchez has already earned his first professional promotion after a solid debut, especially for a kid won’t be 18 until October. A tall third baseman with very soft hands and fluid motions on the field, Potts swings right-handed, gets the barrel to the ball quickly, and shows the ability (and willingness) to use the whole field. He has good balance at the plate and a swing tailored to hit line drives, but he has the frame to develop power as he progresses. I expect his defensive ability to carry him early on, and there’s a reasonable chance the power eventually comes around to league average. —Matt Pullman

Winston Lavendier, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire)
Lavendier's "windup," if you can call it that, basically consists of him lifting his leg into a tucked coil, tensing every muscle in his body, and hurtling every part of it towards the plate as hard and fast as he can. It is among the highest of high-energy delivery you'll see, and it creates some good (moderate deception and quality extension) along with some bad (I just can't see a reliable command profile coming out of that delivery). He controlled the stuff pretty well, though, generating quality plane and driving the ball into the zone. He was all fastball in this look, piling up three outs on just nine pitches with some electricity and finish at 91-94. He apparently has a relatively deep complimentary arsenal, as well, showing a slider and what appeared to be a splitter in warmups, with both moving at a similar vertical trajectory. —Wilson Karaman

Taylor Ward, C, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire)

My first look at Ward unfortunately didn't involve him catching, which was a bummer, but he showed some baseline skill with the stick that, given the defensive reputation, counts as encouraging. He's quick to the ball on the outer third, with quality extension and mild plane that allowed him to drive elevated velocity on a line to the opposite field. That's the strength of his game currently, as the swing is not really geared at all to turn on pitches middle-in with authority. There's some nascent power to the pull-side in there, but it currently looks to manifest more in the form of hooking balls he gets in front of. There's ample strength in his lower half, and the hips work well, to where I can see the possibility for fringe-average game power down the line. His approach at the plate stood out as patient and advanced, particularly against same-handed pitching, and he seemed to pick up spin well enough. He chased some velocity out of the zone on multiple occasions, but otherwise stayed true to the strike zone with discipline. —Wilson Karaman

Nellie Rodriguez, 1B, Cleveland Indians (Double-A Akron)
Rodriguez is a thick, wide kid, with broad shoulders, a barrel chest, and lumberjack present strength. The raw power is evident, though it's a strength swing and he doesn't create a ton of torque or bat speed with his lower half. The hands are fairly rigid at trigger, and he opens up pretty consistently looking to do damage to the pull side, leaving him vulnerable both to elevated velocity and soft stuff on the outer third. One thing about Rodriguez: he don't get cheated. He took ferocious hacks at every pitch to which he offered. It's a first-base-all-the-way profile, and he struggled in this look with some in-between footwork and slow game speed at the cold corner. He made a couple nice snags on hard-hit grounders and showed some ability to dig balls during infield, though, and there looked to be enough passable skill to man the position effectively enough long-term. —Wilson Karaman

Kevonte Mitchell, OF, Chicago Cubs (short-season Eugene)
Tall, athletic frame, quick-twitch athlete, projectable build. Toe tap, weight drifts on his swing, small load, short stride, incorporates hips into his swing, linear bat path with a loft at finish in batting practice, swing elongates with leverage in games. Swings and misses often, head yank, struggles to barrel velocity and mistake offspeed pitches. Only appeared in one game that I saw, but came away discouraged about his ability to develop as a hitter. Ran a 4.07 on a bunt. —Brendan Gawlowski

Keith Couch, RHP, Boston Red Sox (Double-A Portland)

Couch has a mature, filled-out frame, with sound balance and tall posture through his leg kick. The hand break occurs deep off his back hip, initiating a deep, long arm path while the front shoulder stays tucked closed. The motion is uphill and long to a high three-quarters slot, and he'll lose his timing frequently in getting there, compromising his fine command as he does. The fastball worked 87-89 with plane and some sink, though the command was below-average and his ball wandered frequently up in the zone and off to his arm side. He showed an ability to effectively run the ball in on right-handed hitters, attacking the hands frequently to induce off-barrel contact. But the pitch lacked explosion and giddyup enough to play as well against left-handers. A curveball was his preferred secondary, and he showed a nice ability to play with its shape and speed, toggling it between a long sweeper as low as 73 and a harder snapper at 79. The pitch has quality horizontal movement and plays well off his fastball plane, though again right-handers were more apt to expand against it than their fairer-handed counterparts. He worked in a low-80s change as well, though it was a straight pitch with minimal feel or bat-missing ability. He's 26 and has the feel for a straight org arm at this point after a couple stall-outs at Triple-A, but there were at least a few flashes of potentially useful right-on-right depth, and it's not impossible he throws a few pitches in the big leagues before he hangs 'em up. —Wilson Karaman

D.J. Wilson, OF, Chicago Cubs (short-season Eugene)
Short, exceptionally athletic. Short, flat stroke, small hitch where he raises hands, hands start high, toe tap, wide base, swings hard. Quick bat, more pop than frame would suggest, strong wrists, 40 raw power, plays down in games. Swings and misses often, missing fastballs in the zone at present; may need second year in short season environment. Plus-plus speed, he gets good jumps in center field and on the bases and reaches his second gear quickly; route-running needs work, arm is slightly below average, quick release, throws don’t carry. Likely an organizational player in the long run, but he has enough physical tools to exceed that projection. —Brendan Gawlowski

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It is worth noting that Kyle Tucker, taken with the Astros 1st pick last year, has already advanced to High A ball at age 18. He is a very sound baseball player with a pure stroke and lots of other tools. At this point, he is not hitting for much power, but that should come as he fills out and learns how to turn on the ball better. A little time in the Cal League this year and next may also help.
The Astros' High-A affiliate is moving to the Carolina League next year :( We've actually got a shiny new scouting report up on Tucker courtesy of James Fisher, and then I'll have more after getting my first few looks over the next couple weeks.
Shame no video on Lavendier. You got me curious.
Ask and ye shall receive...kinda, anyway. All I have's a couple warmup tosses, which were probably at about 70% effort. You can get a sense of the framework, though - aggressive leg kick, followed by ALL OF IT hurtling towards the plate: