Who is that guy? He is the guy who turns your head, the guy whose name you do not know, the guy you want to learn everything about, the guy you come to the field for, and the guy you get so much joy from unearthing. For the Giants instructs, Yoris Rodriguez was that guy.
Julian Smith, LHP - Dodgers
Age: 21 (6/6/97)
Lanky, long legs. Extremely easy delivery with loose arm. Not a frame that will support a ton of weight but room for some. FB 93-95 with life, often to glove side. CB 76-79 flashed plus with 1 to 7 shape and depth. CHG 83-86 could get firm. Impressive out of nowhere guy, scouts not even knowing who he was.
It’s quite possible that Ralph Liftshitz (@prospectjesus) inception’d this idea into my mind last night when I was sleeping. But it’s a good idea, so fuck it, let’s roll with it! The collective pace of fall baseball in Arizona would aptly be described as frenetic. Prospects here, prospects there, prospects everywhere. From the start of instructs to date, I’ve seen 13 of the top 40 MLB Draft picks from 2018 (only counted game action). Having seen 2 previously, that makes 15 total. I love lists. You love lists. Your Gradma loves lists, so does her dog. Before this turns into the worst haiku of all time, let’s rank the top 10 draftees I have seen in person.
We all dig the long ball, but what do 100 mph fastballs do for you? I personally get pretty excited, however, when I see a pitcher back up the heater with a 79 sweeping curveball, now we’re cooking!
The Welsh here with a live look at one of the hardest throwers in the Arizona Fall League, Nate Pearson. I’m lucky enough to live out in Arizona, where baseball seems to never take a break.
Kristian Robinson, OF - Diamondbacks VIDEO
Age: 17 (12/11/00)
Strong as hell, can’t believe he’s 17. Prototype body, will only get bigger; elite athlete. Thick thighs. Slightly open base stance with hands near head. Short stride forward. Limited lower body use, relies on upper body strength which is prolific. Hit massive HR to L/CF. Below average OF arm in morning drills. Possible LF future but the bat should carry the profile even if there is a move down the defensive spectrum.
Brice Turang, SS Brewers - 1st Round VIDEO
Smooth at short, solid hands, IF actions, and reactions. Quick first step and nice range to get to ball off Sugilio’s bat. Plus arm. Patient hitter; took 11 pitches:zero swings in first two ABs. Wide base stance, kept weight back and bat path was linear, maybe a slight uppercut in his one swing in his third AB.
The body is phenomenal and Whitley had me reconsidering “what is the ideal frame for a pitcher?” As I jotted my notes, per usual, I found myself writing prototype pitcher frame. Is it though? Conventional wisdom says a prototype body for a pitcher is something like 6’3” 220 lbs. Whitley stands at 6’7”, warranting the LOL shorthand in my notes (lots of legs).
Independent League Baseball – If you haven’t seen an indy ball game, do yourself a favor and get on that. You won’t truly have an appreciation for the professional baseball landscape as a whole until you do. Off the top of my head there are EIGHT LEAGUES OF GUYS just trying to get an opportunity in the minors, and that is mind-boggling.
2B/SS Adam Hall- Solid defender with good first-step quickness, but looks like more of a 2B than a SS. Made nice play to his right with Jeter-esq jump throw to second for a force out. Upright stance and stays upright through swing. Mostly hands and little lower half. Linear bat path. Will take outside pitches to opposite field. VIDEO
Thunk. Thump. Splat. A 2017 Nissan Versa sped southbound down I75 cresting at around 95 mph. Bugs spattered across the car’s windshield forming a Pollock bereft of color. Stewing, I silently cursed my own stupidity. F****** idiot! Having originally planned to see Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, a last minute audible had me headed from Tampa to Fort Myers. Most instructs games start at 1 PM, but this was scheduled for noon, something I had not realized until 9:30 AM. I pulled into the parking lot at 11:54 and hastily checked the backfields before realizing the game was to be played at JetBlue Stadium. Scouts had already assembled behind home. I sat quietly, slightly askew down the first base line, futilely hoping to not attract attention.
I’ve been to the Yankees backfields a lot in 2018. Often times, there are a few fans, few scouts, and lots of players and coaches in the stands. Most of the time, crowds are light and there are plenty of spots to post up and get video and scout. However, I was not prepared for the circus of the Instructional League. Maybe it was news that Albert Abreu would be starting. Maybe it was the 3 weeks of no local baseball. Whatever it was, the crowd was reminiscent of a Minors Spring Training game. The bleachers were packed and there was a buzz in the air.
Steven Jennings, RHP, 19 years old Video
2017 2nd round pick. Thin frame w/ projection. FB 86-88 T90, mostly straight. Changes speed on Curveball(CV), ranging 76-80 mph. Flashed a true hammer with tight spin. Also throws a SL 82-83. Inconsistent shape.
Anthony Garcia impressed. He’s a physical specimen, listed at 6’6” 234 lbs on the Yankees instructs roster. Having just turned 18 on September 5th, Garcia is not done growing and his frame looks capable of supporting more weight. The body is long-limbed which adds length to his swing, but the bat path is fairly direct, and I like his bat speed.