Bigger for SS, slight projection remaining, in shape, above-average athlete, quality conditioning. Open stance, flashes plus bat speed, more frequently above-average. Hands are fairly stiff through the zone, lacks the ability to control hands for all fields in game, rolls over pitches with some regularity, loses pitches out of hand, lacks feel for zone at this time. Didn’t keep weight back on CB. Fastball hitter, pulls head some, swings-and-misses at a high rate, below-average barrel control at present. The athleticism is there for him to improve contact skills with more experience, but one-dimensional pull-side hitter at present. Projects improvement to fringe-average hit utility at maturity.
Plus raw, potential for a bit more. Employs a moderate uppercut, still got to ball pretty quickly with leverage, potential for spray power. Power stroke plays mostly pull-side. He turns on pitches on the inner half, extends his hands for consistent power. Contact problems tick power tool down to above-average game at maturity. Timed 4.25.
Above-average arm strength, doesn’t use full effort on routine throw, clean arm action, under control vs. fast runner. May lack range to play SS in MLB, fine right now. Flashed glove skills to both sides, flashed soft hands, lacks quickness for SS, not overly fluid, but smooth enough to play short at current level. Slight body projection could force him to become a capable third baseman. Potential MLB regular, likely second-division starter.
Mike Papi, RF, Cleveland Indians (Double-A Akron)
Trim body, not overly muscular, fringy athlete. Smooth swing, loose hands, minimum effort, pulls out at times. Bat wrap leads to strikeouts, not really quick to ball, below-average barrel control. Will get under hittable pitches. Is most comfortable turning on pitches, but has the loose hands to spray. Rolled over on outside pitches. Projects to have fringe-average hit utility. Has above-average raw, mild-to-moderate leverage, capable of producing homerun-launch angle. Power plays more to gaps right now, drives ball mostly pull-side, can get hands inside pitches. Projects to have average game power. Timed 4.28 (2). Above-average arm strength, easy carry from deep RF to cut-off man, throws with velo to bases often. Looked comfortable on routine fly ball, pretty fleet-of-foot for RF, capable of running balls to both sides. Range works best in RF. Likely second-division starter.
Build is lean and athletic, has potential for added mass and strength as body develops. Balanced stance with a moderate load, has added a moderate leg kick as season has progressed. Above-average bat speed with mild leverage, some noise to the swing. Stays balanced, shows bat-to-ball skills but will expand down-and-away on breaking pitches. Power is mostly gap-to-gap doubles currently, could play up as body develops. Elite raw speed, multiple sub-4.0 clocks on home-to-first. Potential plus defender, athletic, gets good jumps, still developing reads and routes, should improve with experience. Average but accurate arm for left field, would be fringe-average for center. Speed and defense give him a floor of a reserve outfielder, but with continued development of the hit tool there is a profile of an everyday left fielder.
Switch-hitting 2016 second-rounder out of Vanderbilt; college performer. Slightly lean, but strong, well-proportioned frame. Narrow hips. Square to slightly closed stance, high hands, flat bat loads vertically, steps into swing. Similar set-up from both sides of the plate. Very nice lag to bat path. Doesn't lock out front leg. Legs are quiet but actually produces a pretty big load with hands. Slight twist to shoulders. Little more neutral/compact load with two strikes. Did a good job fighting off BBs when behind. Fairly patient early. Very good zone recognition. Didn't chase down, even when behind. Used whole field. Tracked BB well. Rolled over up-and-in FB a bit. Could get beat inside with four-seam FB. Good bat control in a hit-and-run situation. Polished in OF, very good routes and jumps. Range looked more like average to solid-average instead of plus in the corner. Clocked 4.45 to 1B righty, 4.22 to 4.34 lefty. Plus baserunning. Easy steal on a great jump, scored from 2B on an infield single.
Ryan Howard, SS, San Francisco Giants (High-A San Jose)
Listed at 6’2”, 190 lbs, looked a bit thicker, a bit big for SS. Baseball rat feel about him. Looked fringe-average at SS, some good plays some bad plays. Showed good body control but not explosive. Did throw away a double-play ball by making himself more off-balance for the throw than necessary. Fairly quick release on throw. Arm looked fringy on the run, but good w/ feet set. First step a little slow, 4.25 and 4.28 to first base. Pretty good zone feel at plate, particularly good eye on FBs away. Got beat on velo in, looked like he casts his bat a bit. Can drop the barrel if the pitch is down-and-in. Didn't cover outer half well. Cheated a bit in hitter's counts. Open, upright stance with an average leg kick square. Doesn't get great extension out front, but nice front-side leverage. A little rotational, but has really nice turn with his shoulders through to his finish.
Gio Brusa, LF, San Francisco Giants (High-A San Jose)
Strong, muscular guy. Looked like a low-ball hitter, chased down. Repeated chase on CB in dirt. Lot of swing-and-miss, chased righty CH and CB. Slow bat. Throws hands at ball a bit. Open stance with high hands away from body. Hands come down and back a bit during load. Slight uppercut to swing with a high finish. No leg kick with two strikes. Some length to swing. Bat comes very vertically at load before getting a little wrap. From the right side, his move was a little more square, smaller with less uppercut. Loud swing in BP with some nice natural whip and leverage.
Signed out of Curacao as a 19-year old for a paltry sum, the squatty 22 year-old OF has drawn attention this summer after scuffling his way to High-A. Hitting 23 bombs with a 143 WRC+ in a shallow farm system will attract curiosity. Rifaela is 5'10” and certainly not his listed 180 pounds (more like ~210). He stands out for his power, which was on display in Carolina. He uses a high-leverage, lofted cut designed to elevate, so much so I didn't see a single ground ball in three games. I have some concern with how he'll fare against higher-quality spin as he advances, especially from lefties, but the bat is fast, the contact is oud and his pop is to all fields; he hit a rocket to the left-center gap. His arm is average and, despite the husky frame, he is an average athlete. The body poses risk, but I'm in on Rifaela's chances to make the majors as a power-hitting bench/platoon bat, with the upside of a second-division regular in LF. Please enjoy one swing from Saturday and another from Sunday, courtesy of Mr. Rifaela.
— John T Eshleman (@John_Eshleman) August 19, 2017
On a prospect-laden team that abounds with upside and first-rounders, you wouldn't expect Hummel to attract much attention. The switch-hitting catcher signed for just $100k out of Portland University after getting popped in the 18th round in 2016. But it was difficult not to notice him spraying line drives all over the field from both sides of the plate. If you like plate discipline, he's walking over 16 percent of the time, about as often as he whiffs. He's on the smaller, more agile side for a catcher (think Tony Wolters) and popped two-seconds flat. He's worth watching as a potential back-up in a system with no clear long-term solutions at catcher.
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