Scouting Reports from the AFL #Angels #Rays #Twins #Giants #Cubs #STLCards #Giants #Pirates
From 8/14-8/19 I sat on the AZL Dodgers Mota. Diego Cartaya and Alex De Jesus both have everyday player potential. Cartaya has big power projection and should stick at catcher. De Jesus is an emerging shortstop prospect with impressive physique for his age. Hyun-il Choi has backend starter potential; he is a pitchability guy with a bevy of pitches and a fastball that touches 95. Jacob Gilliland has an easy delivery, projectable frame and an outside chance to make it as a back end starter. I also ran into AZL Dodgers Losarda three times in cross coverage. Between the two teams there are several players who project as role 30s and have a shot at middle relief.
From 8/20-8/26 I bore down on the AZL Cleveland Indians Red. Gabriel Rodriguez and Daniel Espino both have star potential. Rodriguez is a shortstop with strong hands and plus power projection. Espino pairs premium velocity with two breaking balls that flash plus. Yordys Valdes is a quick-twitch shortstop with smooth defensive actions and great hands. I also caught the Indians Blue team a few times in cross-coverage and again in the AZL playoffs. Aaron Bracho was arguably the most-polished hitter in the AZL. Jhonkensy Noel is an incredibly strong (recently turned 18-year-old) first base prospect with immense raw power. Jose Tena is a middle-infielder with easy plus bat speed and impressive bat to ball skills.
From 8/7-8/13 I sat on the AZL Rangers. The lineup has arguably the most depth of any AZL team with a number of potential role 40s or better, all of whom were signed internationally. Heriberto Hernandez has big raw power and projects to 60 game power. Keithron Moss is a switch-hitting, bat-first second baseman with excellent barrel control and an advanced approach. Osleivis Basabe is a tool shed with borderline-80 speed, plus bat speed, and a plus arm. Keybert Rodriguez has super-utility potential and sneaky pop. Yenci Pena (3B), Leuri Mejia (CF) and Randy Florentino (C) all project to be plus defenders. There was less of interest on the pitching side, but Nick Lockhart and Kelvin Bautista are intriguing. The former is a tall, projectable righty who flashed feel for three pitches, and the latter is a short lefty with electric arm speed and mid-90s velo.
From 8/1-8/6 I sat on the Giants Orange roster. In late July I caught the Giants Black while viewing other teams; they were not my primary focus. The top talent on the Giants complex came from the international market: Marco Luciano ($2.6MM) and Jairo Pomares ($975,000) were both high-touted 2018 J2 signings. Luciano is arguably a top 30 prospect in baseball with elite bat speed and double-plus game power projection. Pomares is a bat-first corner outfielder with everyday potential. Luis Toribio signed for $300k in 2017 and has hit his way onto Giants top 30 lists. Several recent draftees show promise but have hurdles to clear to become impact players: P.J. Hilson is a speedy centerfielder with plus bat speed and Dilan Rosario is a shortstop with plus raw power.
The Dbacks #16 overall pick this June, center fielder Corbin Carroll has plus plus speed, a selective approach, and a short, smooth swing with gap power potential. Though only 18 years old, he has a high floor to at least be a big league regular, with a chance for more if he develops the power stroke.
From 7/19-7/28 I sat on the Diamondbacks AZL roster. Corbin Carroll, Arizona’s 2019 first-round pick (16th overall) was the headliner. Also notable was Brennan Malone, a 2019 comp round selection (33rd overall). Malone has a workhorse frame, easy mid-90s velo and a chance for three 60-grade pitches. The Dbacks did gymnastics with their draft spending, signing two players in middle rounds to big bonuses: Glenallen Hill in the 4th for $850K (slot value $469K) and Avery Short in the 12th for $922k. Hill is a speedy 2B prospect. Short is a pitchability lefty. Notable international signees include Wilderd Patino, Jose Curpa and Neyfy Castillo. Patino is a physically-advanced 18-year-old OF with 60 speed. Curpa is a versatile infielder with super-utility upside. Castillo flashes plus power potential.
From 7/12-7/17 I sat on the Padres 1 AZL roster. It is an intriguing roster headlined by highly-touted 2019 draftees, including 6th overall pick CJ Abrams and overslot third-rounder Hudson Head. The Padres inked Head for $3 million, which was the equivalent to end of first round dollars. The bonus placed him squarely between slot value of picks 22 and 23 for this year’s draft. Joshua Mears, the Padres second-round pick, was also on the roster. Noteworthy international signees included Miguel Rondon and Brandon Valenzuela. Rondon is an undersized but advanced Venzuelan righty with back-end starter potential. Valenzuela is a defense-first catcher with backup catcher upside.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Under Armour All-American event in Chicago. The two-day event is one of the premier showcase events and most of the premium prep talent in the nation was participating. I’m not nearly as up to date on the prep circuit this early in the 2020 draft prep, but this is a can’t miss event and one I couldn’t pass up.
Day one of the event is the showcase. All the participants are ran through the defense drills, and afterwards take batting practice. From my count every MLB team was represented and some teams sent their scouting directors (can confirm Cardinals, White Sox and Padres). I went into this event relatively blind. I had heard of Blaze Jordan and Dylan Crews but for everything else I rely on colleagues Kyler Peterson and Tom Mussa to fill in the gaps. Here are my individual notes on each player. I’ll begin with the bats and list them in how they were lined up, starting with the National squad.
Pete Crow-Armstrong- The six-foot-one lefty has a projectable frame and was registering plus run times. He only reached base once, but stole second and third (would’ve been out at second but fielder couldn’t hang on). At contact he’s in more of a crouch than when he starts with his hands up high, and he utilizes a “double toe tap” with his front foot as a timing mechanism. I’m interested in seeing him more, and is one of the better players in this game.
Zac Veen- Veen was one of the more impressive players that I saw, and from talking and listening to people around me, he’s made a rapid ascension up the draft boards. The left-handed hitter has a lean, projectable frame, and he’s already hitting for power. Stance has no wasted movement, and he’s direct to the ball. Runs well enough to play center but he’s listed at six-foot-four so he could move to a corner as he fills out. He’s a first-round talent.
Jack Bulger- Bulger was my favorite of the catchers I saw and I was more impressed with his defensive skills and accurate throwing arm when compared to other catchers. He’s a physical kid, very well built. His offensive game is built around strength and power. He registered the highest exit velocity of all the bats here while hitting in the cage according to some of the tech at the field.
Austin Hendrick- Hendrick stole the show with his double-plus raw pop. He was the winner of the home run derby before the game and took advantage of the wind blowing out to right, his pull-side. Hendrick hit one over the video board in right at Wrigley. His arm was also the best amongst the outfielders. From some of the video I saw it looks like he reworked his swing and I like the new changes. He’s more direct to the ball, but there’s still a lot of noise with the hands. He uses almost a double-load, and that combined with the length in his swing will lead to strikeout issues.
Kevin Sim- Sim stood out for his unique swing, which involves pulling the hands down as he loads before attacking. The ball jumps off of his bat. There are some defensive questions here though, but he’s strong with a quick bat. He also made that athletic slide to score a run in the first.
Jace Bohrofen- Bohrofen had the most well struck ball of the game when he ripped a double in the right center field gap. I’m looking forward to seeing more here.
Blake Shapen- Shapen was known as “the football guy” by a lot of scouts, and that’s due to his commitment to Arizona State University to play quarterback as well as shortstop. He’s very athletic and has good range and a strong arm and made a spinning play behind the second base bag. The swing is simple and powerful, and he utilizes a big leg kick for his timing mechanism. I hope someone takes him high enough in the draft to get him on the diamond full time.
Coby Mayo- Mayo is a monster, at six-foot-five, 215 pounds. From baseball powerhouse Stoneman Douglas, he had the strongest arm from third base and had the chance to display it in game. I’m not sure he has the lateral quickness to stick at the hot corner, but the power could play at first.
Werner Blakely- Blakely was one of the better defenders during the showcase. The left-handed hitter gets out on front foot at times, but I liked what I saw from him.
Alek Boychuk- Boychuk is a well built catcher. Hope to see more of the right-handed hitter in the future.
Mario Zabala- Zabala may have been the most tooled out kid at the event, but the swing is long and he struggled to make contact.
Steven Ondina- This was my absolute favorite kid from the showcase. The Puerto Rican native is next in the long line of plus defenders from the island, and he absolutely put on a show from the shortstop position during the showcase. The hands and feet are elite for his age, as is the body control. He always found himself behind the baseball despite covering a lot of ground. The arm is above average at least, may even be plus and he’s very strong despite being five-foot-eight and a listed 165 (probably a bit lighter than that). Even during the homer run derby event he was driving balls to the wall. He had a few stolen bases during the showcase event, and the plus instincts allow the speed to play up.
Kyle Karros- The son of a big leaguer, Karros has a six-foot-five frame with plenty of room to add good weight. It’s a power over hit tool for me in my brief exposure. Looks to be limited to first as well.
Now for the bats on the American squad.
Robert Moore- Son of Royals GM Dayton Moore, Moore is a stocky but well built middle infielder. He’s a switch-hitter with a high baseball IQ that played up the middle. Line drive gap-to-gap profile at present.
Ed Howard- The local kid for this event, Howard is a product of Mount Carmel. If it wasn’t for Steven Ondina, Howard would’ve been the defensive shortstop I’d be raving to you about. He’s a physical specimen that does everything well.
Drew Romo- A switch-hitting catcher, Romo has a nice balanced swing, but he hits for more power from the right side. He has a nice frame with a good amount of projection remaining.
Blaze Jordan- This kid scolds the ball with every swing. During the home run derby he hit one that nearly went on to the roof of a building that was about 50 feet beyond the left field fence. The power is very real. He would’ve won the home run derby but the wind really picked up and started blowing in from left field. He generates plenty of natural loft and has significant power upside. He’s likely a first baseman down the line, but it doesn’t matter. The bat will play. He recently just re-classified and is now a 2020 draft prospect. Look for him in the top half of the first round based on his bat alone.
Dylan Crews- Crews has been sold as one of the best hitters of the class for a while now, and I see why. He’s a strong and athletic kid, but he struggled during the game and looked like he was caught in between. He will seemingly always has some contact issues, but it just depends on the rest of his game how much you can tolerate, and it looks good so far.
Robert Hassell III- The lefty has a smooth swing and the range to stick in center. Besides Hendrick he had the next strongest arm and was the favorite of a certain AL East teams representative at the game.
Slade Wilks- Wilks is a power threat, and looks the part. Filled out six-foot-two frame, he’s a presence from the left side of the box. Corner outfield profile, and runs decently well for his size. Strong kid.
Tanner Witt- Witt made a nice play on the infield during the game, and he moves pretty well despite his six-foot-six frame at his young age. Big time raw power, but it’s just a matter of getting to it consistently. Hopefully he doesn’t completely outgrow third, because he’s an athlete.
Robby Ashford- Ashford is the TOP athlete here, and was incredibly an Under Armour All-American in football as well. Above-average power and speed, the ceiling for Ashford is immense. Just need to keep him off the football field.
Yohandy Morales- Tall, lean build but has some power he was showing off during BP and the derby. The swing is long and he starts his hands high, and most of his natural power was to right center. The right-handed hitter has good hands and showed off a strong arm. (Eddy’s Editor Note: Shout out to my high school alma mater G. Holmes Braddock Senior High)
Daniel Susac- Susac’s older brother is a former top prospect behind the plate, so it’s only fitting that his younger brother is also a legitimate catching prospect. Susac is a switch-hitter that brings himself down to a crouch before the pitch, and uncoils with nearly unmatched raw power. He put on a show during the derby but ultimately came up short as the runner up.
Cayden Wallace- Wallace didn’t have a standout tool in my view, but also didn’t have a glaring weakness. He will be an interesting infielder to follow. He can go so many different directions.
Nolan McLean- McLean was the only two way player to perform both in the field and on the mound in this event. He’s also a highly thought of high school quarterback, so he obviously is a plus athlete.
Levi Kelly- Kelly has been one of the best arms in the Midwest League in 2019. The righty is listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, but may be a little shorter than that. It’s a good frame, larger already but also one that has more physical projection. The windup is basic, but it starts off at a slower tempo before becoming violent as he moves towards home. There’s more effort here than I would prefer, and it even comes with a head whack, but he’s able to repeat it well so far. He’s throwing strikes and missing bats due to his fastball/slider combination. The fastball sits 91-93 but can touch 95, and it plays up due to sequencing and his plus slider. The slider is his put away pitch. It’s not as tight as some others but has two-plane depth and keeps hitters off balance due to his willingness to thow it in any count. He also mixed in a below-average curveball. This overall profile screams reliever, but this is Kelly’s first full season as a starting pitcher so I don’t want to throw that tag on him just yet. He needs to work on going deeper in games but that’s something that will come with time.
Shane Baz- Short, sturdy frame with an easy, upright delivery, Baz showed off the stuff in my viewing. He predomintely sat 94-96 with the fastball but hit 98 and had a few 97’s mixed in. He threw 94 pitches in this start and got ten whiffs on just the fastball alone. The command is below average right now, but power pitchers like this often struggle with consistency, and they can be absolutely dominant when on. He struggled with his release point all night, especially on the changeup. He worked the fastball up in the zone for most of his whiffs, and I don’t expect that to change as he climbs through the Rays system. I’m confident in putting a plus grade on Baz’s slider despite only seeing him once. Its a tight, late breaking pitch that will induce groundballs as well as whiffs. His changeup flashed plus as well but is wildly inconsistent. He battled with this pitch for most of the night, but showed enough fade and depth with it to earn the lofty grades. Baz has the potential for three plus offerings, and like most 20-year-olds, needs to work on his command and sequencing. If everything goes right Baz has the makings of a future number two starter. Also his name is pronounced BAHZ.
Geraldo Perdomo- Tall, slender frame with loose actions in the box and in the field. He’s a slick fielder with smooth hands and quick feet. The hands and feet are good enough to be an above-average big league shortstop. Perdomo is a threat on the basepaths, and he routinely draws multiple pick-off attempts while on first or second base. He’s aggressive and gets good jumps, but I have seen him get picked off a time or two. He’s a switch-hitter with elite feel for the strikezone and always works deep counts, making him an ideal fit for the top of the big league lineup. Despite his long limbs he’s got a short, quick stroke. There’s some power projection here, and I think he can develop plus power in the future, but it’s a 30-grade tool right now. Perdomo is an exciting young player, and is a future on-base machine. His eye is too advanced for the Midwest League and I have seen him rung up on pitches off the plate due to this. In addition to his elite eye I think he can hit 15-20 homers as he matures.
Chris Betts- Left-handed hitter with a thick frame, the 2019 Midwest League Home Run Derby champion has plus raw power to the pull-side. He had two hard hit balls in my look with exit velos over 100 MPH, and is worth a look. Betts has missed some development due to Tommy John, and before the injury the arm was regarded as plus. Betts has plus raw power and will take a walk, and I’m confident that the Rays will find a way to utilize Betts.