A bit on the shorter side; incredibly athletic and well built; plenty of strength in lower half; can expect him to add a bit more bulk as he ages; FWU; brings hands high pre-pitch a la Clayton Kershaw; big leg kick; deceptive – hides ball well and mixes up leg kick/tempo; high-three-quarters arm slot; very quick arm; falls off to first base.
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low A, Padres)
50; No. 4 starter
Potential for even more velocity as body matures; command is a bit spotty; does a good job keeping the pitch down and on the edges, and when he misses it’s generally underneath the zone; will elevate when ahead in count; touched 98 early, but maintained 94-96 throughout the rest of the start; makes hitters sitting off-speed look foolish; good life on pitch – especially on the hands of RHH
Pitch has depth; 11-5 break; already a solid pitch; will miss plenty of bats; does a good job repeating the pitch and keeping it down in the zone; consistent release point
Can be a bit firm with it at present, but still made hitters look silly; was not hit well at all; vertical drop; if it can be thrown a bit more consistently it has plus potential; will generate a lot of swing-and-miss; mixed in a couple to start at-bats
Hard and tight, not a ton of life; like the rest of the arsenal – it moves enough to dodge bats; should only be used against RHH and off the plate; nice change of pace pitch; along with the curve, the slider should get a boost as his command improves
Pitches with poise and confidence. Very advanced feel for his age, and should move relatively quickly through the system. Has some funk in his delivery, but is plenty athletic to make it work. Has yet to work deep into a game at the full-season level, but maintained his velocity well in this look. He is very quick to the plate with runners on (1.25-1.35). The change is my favorite secondary and is borderline plus-plus. The entire arsenal is solid and really impressive for an 18-year-old in his first year at the full-season level. You don’t have to squint to envision four solid-to-plus pitches. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Patino in the majors to kick off the 2020 season (similar to how the Marlins handled Jose Fernandez), but his promotion will likely coincide with the Padres window of contention.
Hearn has a medium-high leg kick before a short step towards home plate. Hearn drives and rotates off the back foot while his flexibility allows him to create tension in the core before the front leg extends and the upper body’s momentum and tension release towards home plate. The result is smooth plus arm speed from a three-quarters delivery.
Hearn throws a four-seamer with some natural cut that sits around 94 and topped out at 97. Also mixes in a 91-93 two-seamer with consistent average arm-side action. Hearn’s command of the pitch varies between average and above-average from inning to inning.
Flashed above-average with sharp two plane break with above average depth; especially effective low in zone. Pitch occasionally came out of the hand slower (78-80) and loopy with less effectiveness, but could have been intentional to add a different velocity. Showed confidence in pitch by using it early in counts later in game.
Quality deception and arm speed. Consistently average with average tumble and some fade. When left up, pitch flattened out significantly, but is a swing and miss offering to RHH when left low and away.
Taylor Hearn‘s plus velocity and potent three pitch mix from the left side profiles as a future number four starter on an MLB team. Hearn utilizes two different fastballs; a 92-95 four-seamer with natural cut and a 91-93 2-seamer with average arm-side action. Hearn’s primary secondary is an 83-84 breaking ball with above-average two plane break although it occasionally comes out of the hand slow and loopy. Hearn mixes in a changeup that regularly flashes average with quality deception and arm speed in addition to average tumble and slight fade. Hearn’s athleticism and fluid pitching mechanics allow him to pitch with average command that should continue to improve with better feel of the secondaries.
If Hearn is unable to improve the command or feel for the secondaries his stuff might only play as a no. 5 starter or up and down pitcher. In that case he’d likely do better in a relief role where he can let loose with the mid-high 90s velocity.
With improved consistency Hearn should solidify a position as a no. 4 starter and could provide no. 3 starter value if he is able to fully iron out the kinks with the slider and changeup while consistently working with above-average command.
Rivera punishes himself for mistakes and sometimes becomes visibly frustrated after poor takes at the plate. His performance suffered in 2017 due to anxiety. While he has gotten it under control to an extent, he may not be able to handle major setbacks well. He’s channeling that nervous energy for now and is hard worker.
20 at present; susceptible to sliders and pitches below the zone; struggles with front-foot hitting and often attacks pitches too early; vulnerabilities become worse with two strikes; his future hinges on whether he can overcome his aggression.
Every ball in play is impressive; even flyouts and popups are towering; muscle over bat speed power; 25-30 HR hitter if he can get consistent at-bats and the hit tool comes together.
40-grade times for now; projects to get slower as he gets older but not as much as most; makes more than his fair share of miscues on the bases and sometimes loses track of coaches/where the ball is; not a complete liability on the bases but he’s almost there.
This grade assumes the transition to first is permanent, he’s a circus in the outfield; has plenty of wingspan to scoop throws in the dirt or snag errant pickoff throws; reaction times improving with reps; he’ll make all the plays he has to but won’t impress.
Unlike the glove, his arm works better in the outfield than at first. He has plenty of strength but is relatively new to regular play in the infield and is uncomfortable finding an angle at which to execute throws to second.
I’ve rarely heard higher praise for a player than Lance Parrish‘s comment on Rivera: “He’s superman strong.” That encapsulates where his value lies quite nicely. Outside of his power, Rivera offers very little. He isn’t a liability on defense as long as Detroit keeps him at first base, but everything boils down to what he can do in the batters’ box That’s why the hit tool scares me so much. He could stall out as low as High-A if he doesn’t fix his timing and load issues. He could just as easily stall out when faced with good pitching thanks to his extraordinarily aggressive approach, particularly against pitches below the zone, which he has a very hard time letting go.