Connor Seabold, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Seabold is a slender right-hander with a relatively narrow frame that has some projection to it, though there isn’t quite as much there as you’d expect out of a 6-foot-2 kid that’s barely scraping 175. The delivery features elasticity and notable coordination, with fluidity through a high, sweeping leg kick. There’s notable spine tilt into a deep arm swing, and he’ll get late on occasion. But the arm gets compact and is lightning quick to release. He repeats pretty well to drive above-average command projection. He lived off the fastball in this start, as he has in previous starts I’ve seen of his, sitting 91-93 all night with an occasional cutter in the 87-88 range. The pitch gets quality sink and finishes with some late life, and he was able to move it around and above the zone consistently all night. The command was especially strong to the arm side in this start, though his feel to work the whole of the zone was on display. He worked in the occasional upper-70s breaking ball, which can show a fairly round shape. He mostly deployed it as a chaser, and he struggled to start it consistently enough in the zone when he did. He dropped one would-be changeup at 83, as well, though it was a lost pitch. The fastball and feel are the draws here, as his heat is the type that can miss barrels consistently without premium velocity. I’ve yet to see the makings of a strikeout pitch from him, but he projects well as a durable ground-baller who generates weak contact.
Colton Hock, RHP, Stanford
It took a longshot ninth-inning comeback in the third game of the series to get Hock on the bump at all this past weekend, but he ended up working three perfect innings once the belated call finally came. He’s a big boy and pretty well maxed out physically, though it is athletic size, and his large frame moves around with generally fluid actions. The draw here is the arm strength: he has a lot of it, and he deploys it out of a high three-quarter slot that borders on straight over-the-top, generating quality plane in so doing. It takes a good amount of effort for him to get downhill, however, and—combined with some spine tilt and generally inconsistent posture—he gets unbalanced to the detriment of his command and pitch-to-pitch repetition. The fastball sat low-90s, working within the 91-93 band, though it has some pop and sizzle to it. He struggled with the command initially, elevating to his arm side and yielding a couple well-struck balls for his trouble, before dialing it down to the lower quadrants more effectively as the outing wore on. It’s a potential plus pitch on its raw merits, though the present version played down on account of the command. He paired the gas with a nasty, hard curveball at 78-81. The pitch features hard bite and quality depth, snapping with late movement to finish below the zone when he was right with his timing. A couple efforts got sweepy when his mechanics failed him, but the pitch showed bat-missing ability that could yield another plus pitch with refinement. The body is a starter’s body, and the top-two of his arsenal shows the raw material of a starter’s arsenal.
Quinn Brodey, RF, Stanford
Brodey showed an interesting mix of tools on opening weekend, with the exclamation point of a two-out, two-strike, game-tying two-run double on Sunday. The frame is solid and athletic, with the ability to add a bit more muscle without compromising too much of his present physicality. It’s a sum-of-its-parts toolbox, with no real glaring deficiencies in the game, save for a raw feel for some of his reads and initial angles in the outfield. He showed average speed out of the box, with perhaps a tick more underway when closing on the grass. The arm played above-average on multiple throws, with enough carry to play in right and solid accuracy on the move. In the box he starts open from a quite setup, with a short leg lift and quick stride. He gets his weight caught on his back foot some, leading to an uphill swing with leverage and loft, but a limited window of time on plane through the zone. Despite this, his loose hands and above-average bat speed limit the swing-and-miss. Based off of these looks, he’s a hitter who likes to extend and use the whole field. He showed an impressive ability to adjust in-swing to off-speed stuff, and he covered the outer-third well, highlighted by the aforementioned double off the opposite-field wall. Between the frame, approach, and swing mechanics, average hit and power tools look like realistic outcomes.
Timmy Richards, SS, Cal State Fullerton
Richards has continued to get bigger since last season, adding additional muscle to his shoulders, chest, and backside. While the added strength may end up an asset in developing his power in the box, it has sapped range that was already teetering on borderline for shortstop. He’s still an average runner, but he struggled with his angles to the ball at short in this series, surrounding several and taking himself too deep on one hard grounder in particular to his right. His hands are sound and his transfer quick, but the arm strength is also light for short, and he ultimately profiles better as a (potentially quite solid) second baseman. He keeps his hands tight with a quiet setup, following with a minimal load amid a leg kick that gets him flowing but often ends with him closed into his stride. He can get armsy and bottom-hand-heavy, but he’s pretty quick and direct to the ball, and his backspin line drives will carry. He generally works counts well, and showed some notable maturity on Sunday when, after getting himself out twice with over-eager plate appearances when men were in scoring position early, he reset himself and worked tough walks in each of his ensuing trips to the dish. Another season showing some pop at the dish this spring would put him on pace to be a nice little senior-sign target for somebody in June.
Kris Bubic, LHP, Stanford (’18)
Bubic is a big-bodied southpaw, with thickness in the middle and broad shoulders. He lacks for a ton of physical projection, and the body will require some maintenance. There’s some stiffness in his movement, but he shows excellent balance and rhythm in repeating a delivery that includes a hitch of his lead leg after the hand-break. His arm action is deep and uphill and, coupled with a long stride, there’s a lot of length in the delivery that suggests caution in projecting his command development. He kept the delivery together consistently through the first four innings in this one, developing a brisk cadence as he went. Once fatigue began to set in the command wobbled and he was less consistent once finally pushed into the stretch. He lived off his changeup in this start, and with good reason, generating a dozen and a half swinging strikes with the pitch. He showed mature feel for the pitch, adding and subtracting in the 76-81 band while maintaining a proper sales pitch with his arm speed, and he frequently pitched backwards off of it. There’s above-average separation from his fastball at 89-91 (t93), and the pitch tumbles with some mild fade. Its effectiveness helped the heat play up, though there’s some baseline to that pitch as well. The ball runs pretty well, and he got it by a couple hitters up in the zone while working effectively in and out for much of the night. He didn’t show as much feel for spinning the ball, with just a handful of slurvy deuces mixed in that set early trajectories and lacked much bite.
Colton Eastman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton (’18)
With a gnarly weekend weather report in hand, the CSUF coaching staff decided to deploy sophomore starter Eastman as a reliever on Opening Night, and the lanky right-hander worked the final two innings in Game One before taking the ball for a five-inning start in Game Three. He’s added a little bit of strength since I wrote about him last year, though the velocity worked around the same velocity band in his start after flashing an extra 2-3 miles an hour in relief. His athleticism and physicality on the bump stands out, and he utilizes it well in his delivery. He generates momentum early and really coils up tight off his leg kick, loading a ton of amount of energy in his glute. He can get inefficient channeling it downhill, with some drift to his foot strike, but the ball generally comes out clear from his high three-quarter slot. The fastball worked 88-90 (t91) in his start, 92-93 in relief. It’s a fairly straight pitch, though some life gives it a bit more wiggle room than the velocity suggests, and he showed the ability to elevate and get over some barrels with it while pounding the zone consistently in both outings. The hook showed as his best offering, a sweeping curve that he toggled between 76-81 in both appearances. The pitch has outstanding depth and finish, generating a number of chases and helping him rack up five punchouts among his six outs on Thursday, while coaxing grounders and weak contact on Sunday. He worked in a change as he got further along in his start, and it showed some bottom to it at 79-81. While he only threw a few in this start, the pitch tunneled well off his fastball and he commanded it down, generating a couple ugly swings and misses in fastball counts. There’s a bit of effort in getting to his velocity, and the stamina wasn’t there yet. But overall I like the fluidity of the delivery, and there’s enough present stuff to see the potential for some helium heading into 2018.
Quick Hits: Cardinal first baseman Matt Winaker is a thick, strong kid with broad shoulders and a muscular lower half. He starts with a low hand position extended out and even with his belt, before a long, fairly stiff load brings his hands back towards the hitting zone on a flat trajectory. He struggled to catch velocity and control the barrel efficiently all weekend, really coming undone at times and producing copious amounts of off-barrel contact and many a rollover. He’s a patient hitter who works counts, but the swing mechanics don’t do much to take advantage of his natural strength, and there’s just a lot of undue length to the ball right now. He posted average run times and showed some decent mobility around the bag at first, so there are some skills outside of the box to work with…Across the diamond, third baseman Mikey Diekroeger had an inconsistent weekend. His is a slashing swing off a quiet setup, with little in the way of rhythm or loft. He’s got a late hitch in his load that adds length and can leave him late against velocity, though he showed adept skill at dragging the barrel and sticking a line drive on the end of off-speed offerings. He struggled with his game speed in the field, booting a routine grounder at one point with a jabbing effort, and failing to set himself to force a wide throw on another effort…A JuCo transfer, Fullerton second baseman Dillon Persinger opened a couple eyes on Cape Cod last summer when he held his own with a wood bat against more difficult competition than he’d ever faced, and his barrel skills grew on me over the course of the weekend. His early-count aggression was exploited at times, particularly early in the series, but a quick stroke helped him spoil some tough pitches and stick some line drives on the end of tough pitches. He’s an above-average runner with quick feet on the dirt, and the hands showed well with solid fielding fundamentals…Center fielder Scott Hurst showed a patient approach at the dish, sifting through some tough pitches in multiple at-bats before lacing mistakes with some surprising carry to the opposite field. He posted solid-average run times and broke well on the ball in center, but the best tool he flashed both in the field and on the mound was arm strength that rates at least plus. Serving as the teams try-it-out closer, he sat 94-95 out of the gate before slinking back to 92-93 after 15 pitches. It is, however, fairly straight velocity, and he didn’t show anything with a wrinkle…Right-handed Cardinal reliever Keith Weisenberg has an extra-large frame, and uses his natural strength to generate above-average arm speed to a three-quarter slot. It’s a minimalist motion, with a perfunctory leg lift and quick drive downhill. He’s balanced and consistently on-line, though excess length in the arm swing leaves him late a good bit and he’ll lose balls arm-side. The fastball has the makings of an above-average or better pitch, working 90-92 with hard arm-side run, though he paired it with a slider at 82-84 with which he showed little comfort, as he left several flat and failed to snap it off consistently.