Eastern League And International League Live Looks

Colton Welker, 3B (Colorado Rockies)

A strong powerful build reminiscent of the power hitters of yore. Welker sets up open at the plate with his hands by his head. He drops them as he gets deep into his back leg before he engages his lower half with a high leg kick. Easy power to all fields, looks to barrel everything, aggressive approach looks to hit the ball hard and put it in play. His plus bat to ball skills allow him to flourish despite this approach. He tends not to chase off the plate, but shows the plate coverage to get to pitches on the outer edges. Welker still needs to adjust parts of his setup to maximize his power potential, particularly implement a bat path move conducive to driving the ball to his pull-side.

Defensively at third base Welker's footwork and reactions are below average, his arm is fringy plus and allows the rest of his defensive profile to play up. Has all the ingredients of an above-average regular, but as currently constituted could be a league average corner-man.

Tyler Nevin, 1B (Colorado Rockies)

Long lean, and high waisted, Nevin inherited some of his father’s athletic frame, but not his old man's plus athleticism. I tracked Nevin's strong showing in 2018 in both the Cal League and during the Arizona Fall League. This was the first time I got my eyes on him. Quiet, simple mechanics at the plate, strong quick hands, adept at staying short to the ball and capable of turning on anything jammed in on his hands. His lower half is quiet, and he draws some power from his base, as he gets deep into his back leg upon trigger. Relatively linear bat path is geared toward line drive contact, his ability to barrel up fastballs should lead to increased power numbers as he adjusts his swing, or gets a hold of the MLB balls in Triple-A. It's a profile that's completely dependent upon his bat, as he's first base only, with the ability to spell the third baseman in a pinch. Poor runner, his stride even at full speed is reminiscent of a baby foal getting its legs under itself.

Luis Garcia, 2B/SS (Washington Nationals)

Stout, stocky frame, an upper body that will have you dreaming on potential power. Sets up at the plate deep into his back leg, with his front foot slightly inverted. Swing is geared toward line drive contact and going to the opposite field as currently constituted. Best word to describe it is "handsy", doesn't get much out of lower half. Bat to ball skills are plus, masking some of his poor pitch recognition at the plate. Bit on multiple breaking balls off the plate and wasn't able to do much other than strike playable ground balls at infielders. Gets a ton of topspin on his contact even his flyballs didn't show a ton of carry. His hands set by his head pre-load, and don't drop much in his trigger. Consistently swings down on the ball, which leaves some optimism he can alter his setup at the plate to tap into more of the power projection so evident in his body. Run times were above average 4.4 down the line and he was in that range on multiple grounders. The hit tool is there, but with just moderate speed that should fade as Garcia ages, some adjustments will need to be made in order to reach the impact ceiling many have trumpeted over the last several seasons.

Played exclusively at second in my first look, good first step at the keystone, above-average zip on his arm, and showed clean footwork on the pivot when turning two. I felt the same about his play at shortstop in my second set of looks, he has reliable hands, and good feel for the middle infield, even if his foot speed will limit his range at some point. A talented player, facing an aggressive assignment, I feel comfortable putting a 50 on Garcia's future value with some potential to reach a higher ceiling.

Anthony Kay, LHP (New York Mets)

Short stocky lefthander, with broad shoulder build, and thick middle, barrel-chested is the best way to describe him. Mechanics were short and simple with some effort. Worked mostly 90-91 on his fastball with a fair amount of glove-side run. Paired a curveball in the high 70s with his signature changeup which looked like it regained feel. Changeup was his most common out pitch. Tunnels well with his fastball, big drop, almost splitter type movement. Used to effectively to keep hitters off balance all night. Changeup sat mostly 81-83, and was his definitive out pitch. Cold night so fastball velocity might have been down a few ticks.

Will Toffey, 3B (New York Mets)

Filled out major league body, more strong and sturdy than muscular. Hands set high in pre-pitch setup, stance is open very slightly, allowing him to see the ball exceptionally well. Walked multiple times in each of my looks. Very patient hitter, spitting on breaking stuff on the outer parts of the plate, rarely fooled. Swing path is more linear, bat speed is average. Might have something to do with how high his hands are held in his load, leading to a long path for his barrel to travel through the zone. Displayed some raw power in BP, will need to make mechanical changes to tap into his game power. One of the better on-base profiles in the minors, leading to some confidence that he could make it as a major league regular should he add 18-22 homer pop.

Defensively his arm is plus making every throw look easy, constantly displaying zip and accuracy. He moves well at third and fields his position well. Truly the only skill missing from his tool belt is the ability to drive the ball with authority to his pull-side.

Ben Braymer, LHP (Washington Nationals)

Stocky lefty with a three pitch mix heavily dependent on a fastball - curveball mix. He starts his motion slightly open to the batter, essentially throwing from a modified stretch. He starts his motion with a toe tap before squatting into his back leg while initiating his leg kick. He delivers the ball from a high 3/4 quarters arm action, getting lots of glove-side run on his fastball. His fastball sat 90-93 touching 94 twice on the day, his curveball a 1-7 offering was in the 77-78 range, while an oft used changeup flashed 84-85. Showed the ability to miss bats and neutralize lefthanded hitters, leading me to believe his future is in middle relief.

Manny Melendez, SS (Colorado Rockies)

Spark plug is the first word that comes to mind when discussing Melendez. He does a little bit of everything well, and shows good instincts on the bases, at the plate, and in the field. Hit leadoff in all four games I caught him, and showed the ability to get on base in variety of ways, whether via the hit, bunt, or extra base drive. Surprising bat speed, showed the ability to turn on fastballs on the inner half and drive them to his pull-side. Overall not much power, I'd likely list his ceiling at a 40. He's a 70 runner clocked at 4.1-4.2 range, he shows good instincts on the bases even stealing home in one of my looks. Uses his speed to his advantage in the box, rarely walking and instead looking to put the ball in play. More than likely a fourth or fifth outfielder ceiling, with the ability to pinch run, play as a defensive replacement, or lay down a bunt when needed.

Vince Fernandez, OF (Colorado Rockies)

Powerful lefty hitter, that takes big uppercut swings at any pitch he feels he can drive. His approach is patient, leading to a high walk rate, but he often swings and misses on pitches in the zone due in large part to his bat path. You can get him to bite on spin off the plate, and RHP Wil Crowe ate him up in two consecutive matchups in one look. Bat speed is just average, but he makes up for it with raw strength, and leverage. Has trouble getting around on harder fastballs, especially elevated. When Fernandez does get his pitch, usually a grooved fastball, he can hit the ball a mile. His three true outcome approach will lead to good minor league numbers, but I worry his strikeouts will get out of control versus major league caliber arms.

Wil Crowe, RHP (Washington Nationals)

Stout, bull-like build, listed at 6’2 and that seems accurate. Works off of an above-average fastball that sits 94-95 touching 96. The lack of movement on the pitch gives some cause for concern at the MLB level, but he does spot it to all parts of the zone, and is effective low in the zone driving ground balls. His best secondary is a toss up between his hard 86-88 mph changeup that falls off a table and his curveball that ranged from 79-83 mph. His curveball was tight and mostly was used to drive groundballs. It only drew a single swinging strike in 14 offerings. He used it early in counts against lefties and both early and late versus righthanders. He used his slider only a handful of times as I could tell and I don’t have much feel for the pitch. He used his changeup less frequently but it was effective in its usage, getting four swinging strikes and landing in the zone eight out of ten times. Mechanically he’s pretty clean, fast arm, not the most athletic delivery, but simple and he repeats more often than not. Some inconsistency in his plant foot, but it didn’t seem to hinder his ability to throw strikes.

Mike Shawaryn, RHP (Boston Red Sox)

This was my fourth time watching Shawaryn live scattered over the last year across a couple of levels. What he lacks in velocity (he was 89-91 on the heater), he makes up for with break and run. Both his slider and two-seam fastball show extreme glove-side run, tunneling well together to keep hitters off balance. He works the slider backdoor to lefthanders effectively, and back foots righthanders alike. It’s a true plus pitch, with two plane movement, sweep, and bite. His command of the pitch is plus, manipulating it with consistency, and rarely hanging a backdoor slider over the plate to lefties. His primary secondaries are the aforementioned slider and a changeup that he continues to show improved feel for. Last season, Shawaryn was challenging hitters with a four-seam up high, but I don’t believe I saw one in his most recent start, I had also seen a cutter in the high 80s, but he didn't seem to be working that heavily. His low arm slot is almost sidearm and plays up all of his offerings. Tends to work in the zone despite his excellent movement. Ceiling of a number four starter, with the floor of a multi-inning reliever/shuttle starter. Should be up in Boston this summer.

Devin Smeltzer, LHP (Minnesota Twins)

Tall lanky lefty with some of the wildest mechanics you’ll ever see. He’s reminiscent of a spider, as he has a big leg kick, with long arm action and a glove arm that stays fully extended almost until he finishes his motion toward the plate. This arm action and motion allows him to hide the ball well, his low three quarters, almost sidearm, Smeltzer plays up the movement on all his pitches including his fastball. He mixes four pitches, a deceptive but low velocity fast in the 87-90 mph range, a plus curveball in the upper-70s, a changeup 83-84 with nice drop that plays off his fastball, and a slider in the low-80s with sweepy break and glove-side run. He landed all of his pitches for strikes, threw all of them at any point in the count and drove loads of soft contact in the form of weak grounders and pop-ups to the catcher. Efficient contact minded lefty with control and deception.

Rhett Wiseman, OF (Washington Nationals)

Lean, athletic build, high waist, muscular lower half. Good bat speed, decent hands, very unusual lower half. Hip trigger is poor, so Wiseman makes up for his in ability to open his hips, with a toe tap that widens his base and opens up his gate, and on his biggest cuts will bring him to one knee. This is by design as a quick way to get his shoulder, hip, and hands in line. There's deep bend in his back leg, and he hits from a crouch. This is more pronounced than his time at Vanderbilt, and early in his professional career. Some tweaks in his stance prior to 2018 have led to more pull-side line drives this year, and Wiseman did hit multiple scorchers in the final of three looks. He tries to turn on every ball in on his hands, and at times will get over-aggressive swing through some hittable pitches. It's an unusual setup but it's working, and has put Wiseman back onto the prospect radar.

Drew Ward, 3B (Washington Nationals)

Large-framed, broad-shouldered slugger, slow bat, but leveraged to the max. Is able to get to raw power in games due to excellent strength, strong hands and wrists. Has trouble with spin and well placed fastballs high in the zone. Will make pitchers pay on mistakes. Good on-base skills, gets deep into counts, but can be passive at times, sometimes getting into pitcher's counts without the ability to foul off pitches on the black. A three true outcome player, with the ability to play an average third base. Likely a fringe major league player with too many strikeouts to ever hit enough to stick full-time. He's a worthy take in batting practice and will send some balls to the deepest parts of whatever ballpark he's in.