BP lead prospect writer Jeffrey Paternostro and BP minor-league editor Craig Goldstein attended the Futures Game on Sunday. Below is a breakdown of what they saw, punctuated with the most interesting play of each inning.
Craig: So, before the game you, ever the pessimist, said something along the lines of “watch Mitch Keller throw like four changeups in this one inning” after seeing him more than once and seeing … maybe that many?
Jeffrey: It wasn’t even a good changeup, but it got the strikeout because of course it did. Keller looked fine otherwise, but it’s very difficult to get a read on guys in one-inning looks generally, and Keller is specifically a guy whose stuff isn’t gonna wow next to some of the velocity freaks in this game.
[Ed. note: Keller hit 98 mph]
[Author’s note: /yawn]
Jeffrey: Speaking of freaks …
Craig: This is going to turn into a contest about who can drool more. You over Seuly Matias or me over Jo Adell, but back to Seuly … his batting practice was one of my favorites and he showed why in game.
Jeffrey: The compromise candidate here is Leody Taveras. But his BP, uh, did not show up in the game so much. There’s gonna be a lot of home runs in this recap because there wasn’t much other stuff, but Matias’ may have been the most impressive. He isn’t a huge guy, but basically just punched at 96 from Sheffield and deposited it 350 oppo over the fence. The raw power is going to end up 80, and despite the huge strikeout rates in A-ball, he’s far from a grip-it-and-rip-it guy. Although he is certainly aggressive at the plate.
Craig: The raw power is already massive, and one of the most surprising things for me seeing Matias for the first time was that he wasn’t particularly yoked up at present. He’s not 6-foot-3 like his bio info says, but there’s room to pack on some good weight.
Jeffrey: “It just sounds different” was a cliche even back when I was starting out. Seuly’s BP is like listening to The Ornette Coleman Double Quartet while on DMT.
Jeffrey: As I said, we are limited in our non-dinger options for a lot of these innings. But turning 102 mph almost dead central was always making this roundup.
Craig: As fun as 101-103 mph is from Hunter Greene—and it is fun—it was arrow straight and he telegraphed the breaking ball by slowing down his arm action like he was throwing in water. Velocity is velocity, but it helps to know what’s coming.
Jeffrey: Basabe is prominent in this recap already and we didn’t even mention his flub in center field followed by a laser beam to second base to get Nathaniel Lowe in the bottom half of the first inning. So you saw pretty much the whole Basabe experience in three innings. Craig also omitted the part where he said during BP that Basabe should just work on line drives gap-to-gap because that is his game.
Craig: In my defense, the homer was a line drive.
Craig: All Jeff talked about pregame was that Hayes should have made the midseason Top 50 and also how he doesn’t hit for power but the power is there. We got a peek in BP, but the in-game homer was probably the best swing we saw from him all day.
Jeffrey: Hayes has a lot going for him even without average game power (yet). He’s a plus third baseman. He has a good approach at the plate and couples it with plus bat speed and excellent control of the barrel. He’ll foul stuff off. He’s a doubles machine, smashing anything you throw him over the head of the third baseman. He’s put up very good numbers in the Eastern League as a 21-year-old. He has major-league bloodlines.
But if he can do that 20 times a year he’s an All-Star. And with these baseballs, well, it sure looked like he could.
Ryan Mountcastle strikes out swinging.
Jeffrey: Craig, I gather this was a slightly different look at Mountcastle than you got last week in Bowie.
Craig: This is the opposite of you predicting the Keller changeups. For a guy whose natural hitting ability we talked up, he sure was swinging out of his ass routinely in this one. And not coming close to catching 96-97 mph from Yoan Lopez while doing it.
Jeffrey: And this is one of limitations of what essentially is a one-game showcase. I got a look at a dozen or so guys who, due to the vagaries of geography, I just wouldn’t otherwise. Sometimes you are just confirming some stuff (i.e. Jo Adell is a f***ing specimen), sometimes a guy surprises you (Luis Urias gets way better carry than you’d think), and sometimes you don’t get anything out of it (this was Yoan Lopez’s only batter). Mountcastle didn’t move the needle much, although I already forgot we had him at no. 26 on the midseason Top 50 and that’s like 15 spots too high.
Craig: Yeah, we’re both in agreement on that, but even with the over-swinging and over-ranking from Mountcastle, he aired a few out in BP. As long as his swing looks more like what I saw in Bowie and less like the Futures Game, the bat is still a very good asset.
Jeffrey: There’s always one dude who has a bit of a national coming out party at Futures: Brent Honeywell last year, Eloy Jimenez in 2016. It was Trammell this year. He didn’t even come into the game until the fifth inning.
Craig: No, but the party started in BP. He had two shots to the second deck, which is a level of power I was not anticipating.
Jeffrey: The pretentious and jaded scout thing to say here is that the home run wasn’t even the most impressive part of the at-bat. Alonso fouled off a bunch of tough sliders from Adonis Medina before sending a fastball on to the left field concourse by way of the International Space Station.
Craig: Medina was throwing mid-90s pretty easily, but still was heavily reliant on the slider in his appearance. It was good to see Alonso spoil those tough ones off before getting something he could handle. It’s boring to say, but he also has the most impressive BP in my view, but basically because he’s built to put on a show. We also got the full Peter Alonso (or is it Alonso Peter?) Experience when he flubbed a basic grounder later in the game.
Jeffrey: Medina may have been traded to the Orioles by the time you read this—and we all know what that means—but I thought he actually had one of the more impressive pitching performances in the game, ugly line in the box score aside. Showed four pitches, easy velocity, potential plus slider.
Craig: We may be talking about the wrong Futures Game participant as a Future Oriole.
Jeffrey: It is kind of amazing that neither of Yusniel Diaz’s home runs made it in. He had a very good day and on balance between BP and the game should have been a standout guy, but it was a tough day to stand out.
Craig: I mentioned the full Peter Alonso Experience earlier, and well, that means well-below-average defense.
Jeffrey: Peter Alonso is the most future Oriole of anyone in this game. But if it’s 60/70 on the offensive side, he could literally have a glove made of stone and the bat would still play. I’m not that far onboard yet, but the improvements year-over-year have been stark. Well, on the offensive side at least.
Craig: Since we’re talking potential future Orioles we should address Diaz, who homered twice in this game. Really nice BP, wasn’t selling out for power, and really showcased the carry he puts on the ball from a stroke without much length.
The ninth inning was boring so let’s do another eighth-inning play.
Craig: The highlight of the game? Much of the stadium thought Trammell had his second homer of the game here. Hell, Trammell thought he had his second. He jogged out of the box and flashed a “2” to the dugout before …
Jeffrey: I also thought it was out, to be fair. Nice to see him turn on the jets, though, to get a better feel for his speed. With the ball flying we got far more tater tot trackers than home-to-first digs.
Notes from the field
Jeffrey: Craig, can you talk a little bit about Jo Adell?
Craig: Well, I can either wax poetic or slobberm but finding a middle ground is tough. The physique is … abnormal. He was 4.2 seconds to first base on a grounder where he wasn’t full speed and pulled up at the end. He lopes down to first, just eating ground with his long strides. What was it you said about the BP? Not the M40, but the golf club line?
Jeffrey: It’s a designed cut shot almost. It peels off and finds some extra escape velocity. It’s not as loud as Matias, but the ball goes just as far. It’s not normal. And Adell knows it, too. All five tools are there. It’s one of the best frames in baseball. Somehow he exceeded the expectations I had for a prospect I ranked third overall in baseball two days before.
I guess we should talk about the pitchers.
Craig: I was excited to see Jesus Luzardo, and we got two innings, but nothing particularly popped. That wasn’t a surprise. He’s not a velo monster, but rather a several-pitches guy with polish, but I was still surprised he got hit around a bit.
Jeffrey: Talking to Jarrett Seidler, who was watching on TV, he thought Luzardo came off as one of the more impressive pitchers. The other two who popped for him were Dylan Cease and Kyle Wright, whom I know you had, uh, varying feelings about.
Craig: If you take the individual parts of Wright’s game, it stacks up with some of the better pitching prospects in baseball. He’s mid-90s with movement, with a bevy of secondaries. I don’t love the delivery, but it’s fine, and it all comes from a pretty ideal pitcher’s frame. But the concept sounds a lot better than the final product looks, to me. He feels like one of those guys who spends 10 years as a starter even though I think he should be a reliever the entire time.
Cease … man. Consistently 98 (granted it was two batters), flashed a plus curve, a slider, it was really good considering that it was, y’know, two batters. He’s really athletic and it all made sense, but the body did feel a bit reliever-ish. Am I turning into one of those guys who calls everyone a reliever?
Aside from Medina, who did you like from the World staff?
Jeffrey: I was very underwhelmed when the initial World pitching staff came out (Medina was a late add). Touki Toussaint‘s curve looked good, but everything felt reliever-ish. Jorge Guzman didn’t really show the triple-digit velocity he has in the past and everything felt reliever-ish. The U.S. side was a bit underwhelming as well. I only got to see C.D. Pelham for two batters, and he’s literally a reliever. I’d gotten better reports on Matt Manning this year, but man it looked like 2017 Matt Manning to me, and that is a dude you would expect to pop more in a one-inning stint.
Craig: Agreed. He’s got a lot of athleticism for a lanky guy, but it’s just okay, and the fastball is straighter than Andy Dufresne before he went to jail. No surprise that he was tagged by Diaz for one of his homers when he left a fastball up. I did like Dakota Hudson a bit. Upper-90s velocity, bat-missing slider, nice cutter. It’s a starter’s repertoire and he’s 6-foot-5 and yet … reliever? What have you done to me, man?
Jeffrey: They’re all good relievers, Brent.