First look at Chavez Young of the Blue Jays. Super tooled up. Strong, athletic frame with some projection. Switch-hitter with plus bat speed. He flashed gap power. Ball jumps off his bat. Swing is quick and compact. Looked comfortable working deep into counts. He is a guy that could blow up this season. Plus runner that is aggressive on the basepaths. Fun to watch. Should stick in CF. He was too good for the Midwest League. Next up is the beast that is the Florida State League.
First look at Oneil Cruz of the Pirates. XL frame, long limbed, lanky. Loose wrists. Cruz is a SS for now and looks good out there but likely grows into a LF. Plus bat speed. Swing geared for plus power to all fields. In 2 ABs against the shift, made effort to hit to left field. At times his swings looked lazy with no lower half. Hands are strong though and he showed good barrel control, flicking a bloop to LF for a 2 strike single and barreling a hard liner to LF. Swing does get long and will expand the zone, especially on off-speed in the dirt. Looking forward to seeing him in Bradenton this season.
#BeBold and pull a Tarantino
Sticking with the Phillies, I cannot wait to see what Driveline’s Director of Hitting and new Phillies’ Minor League Hitting Coordinator, Jason Ochart does with some of these Phillies hitters. The biggest benefactor of Ochart will be Mickey Moniak. While the numbers in hitter-friendly Reading will be inflated, Moniak has a chance to make a big leap. His frame is filling out and he finished 2018 on a tear.
Daniel Brito has a good feel for the barrel with gap power. Love the projection and athleticism. The numbers don’t jump off the page yet but he has four 50+ tools. Power grades as a 40. He looks a lot stronger since last fall. Love this swing. Looks like he has cleaned up a little bit of the movement with his hands. Quieter with a more efficient load. I don’t think Brito barrels this pitch last season. With his hit tool, the improvements to quiet the swing could unlock 50+ game power as soon as this season.
Alec Bohm should start the season in High A Clearwater, where I think he will struggle. His swing is linear with an extremely poor load. Check out the video below. Bohm’s bat flattens before he swings. His momentum is moving forward while his hands are moving back. Bat looks slow and drags through the zone. High A pitchers will expose him if he doesn’t tighten this up. Overall, it’s just a really unathletic swing. However, one of the exciting things about being so close to Clearwater will be seeing how Ochart works with Bohm to make the necessary adjustments. Player development is so much fun!
Speaking of getting on plane
I’ve seen Ryan Noda twice now, both in Spring Training. Both games he has gone yard, flashing plus game power. He gets a lot of dynasty run because of his high BB rates and OBP but don’t read too much into those numbers. His patience is more passivity and less about elite eye. This is a guy that needs to swing the bat. As a LF/1B corner guy, the bat HAS to carry him. Check out this moonshot blast below. Watch how Noda gets his swing onto plane with this pitch. There is some serious thunder here. Let’s see more attack mode and less “watch all the pitches” mode.
MLB Draft names to watch
Got eyes on the Canadian Jr. National team this past week. Cesar Valero is the big name on this team. Strong, plus bat speed. Physical projection. Valero is an athletic SS committed to Oregon St.
I am also a big fan of CF Dasan Brown. Like Valero, there is a lot of physical projection with Brown. He has a short swing, strong wrists. Really engages his lower half. Flashed an above-average arm in CF. Plus runner. Texas A&M commit.
Big lefty Keegan Pulford-Thorpe held his own against a Phillies lineup that consisted of Carlos De La Cruz, Logan Simmons, and D.J. Stewart. Struggled with command but showed a good 3-pitch mix. His FB was 88 and his off-speed generates swing-and-miss. KPT is a UCF commit.
You put this in the Fantasy section. Talk about Fantasy now
I run a 24 team dynasty league that is entering year 5. One of the many unique features of this league is that we offer unlimited minor league spots and allow one minor league pickup per week during the season and a 10 round FYPD in the fall. As you can imagine, the minor league player pool is pretty barren since there is really no risk in rostering flyers. However, sometimes it’s important to be first on guys. (EDITORS NOTE: I snuck in a claim on SS Luis Tejeda from Pittsburgh in this league—that’s my guy, I’m planting a flag there.) Numerous players that post dominant stats in the Dominican Summer League are rostered in this league. So IF you are in a league this deep and are looking for some deep deep dives, then hopefully I can help.
Carlos Betancourt, RHP - Phillies
Signed for $460k out of Venezuela. He’s listed at 6’1 and 160 pounds. Clearly, this kid has grown. Entering his age 17 season, Betancourt has a pretty good arm. He’s still raw as hell and the age of a high school junior. He struggled to command his FB and get ahead in the count. I should get some more looks in extended Spring Training.
Luis Pacheco, RHP - Phillies
Another Venezuelan righty. Pacheco is older than Betancourt. He’ll turn 20 in April. I couldn’t find any details of his signing bonus in 2017. He flashed good feel for his curve ball and I love the body projection. His numbers in the DSL were ok despite walking 33 hitters in 63 IP.