10/25/17, 10/26/17 Arizona Fall League Notes

10/26/17 AFL Notes

Gerson Moreno (RHP) Detriot Tigers – Having the ability to touch high 90s with his heater, Moreno is viewed by many to be a future high-leverage reliever. Today the fastball was 95-97 with some natural cut. There have also been reports his fastball touches triple digits. I don’t want to sell the arm short, it’s impressive! In my opinion, the delivery is not a thing of beauty, and there is some effort to it. Moreno looks like he is “shot putting” the ball to home. Conversely, he has been athletic enough to repeat his delivery. A low 80s slider is his top secondary offering, and it is another potential plus pitch. He made Braves top prospect Ronald Acuna look bad with one today. The slider features mostly vertical drop, and Moreno commanded it well. From what I gather, Moreno’s command of the pitch has improved throughout the year. The arsenal rounds out with a mid 80s changeup. This pitch needs some work but should be effective if it can get to fringe average, largely due to the disparity in velocity between the change and fastball. Overall, this is a potential closer that Tigers fans should be excited about.

Michael Chavis (3B) Boston Red Sox – My views of Chavis have been a mixed bag. On 10/23, he played first base and scouts remarked, “I can’t believe this guy is a third baseman.” They did not like his range. Additionally, they commented on his subpar foot speed out of the box. The best home to first time I have for Chavis is 4.39 on a max effort play. It is 40 grade speed. At the plate, the swing and miss I have observed is a bit concerning. It strikes me as oddly incongruent with his .282 average and 21% K rate for the year. There are a couple of possible explanations here: 1) I am getting overly influenced by a small sample size of at bats (I have seen Chavis four times). 2) The swing and miss is the result of facing stiffer competition in the AFL. Honestly, I am unsure what to make of it.

On the positive side, the power is legitimate, and it should play in games. Chavis has a muscular build and is capable of hitting home runs to all fields, which bodes well for his likelihood of maintaining power at higher levels. Against Phillies prospect Elniery Garcia, he went opposite field for a HR, not even appearing to “get all of it”. Defensively, the arm is another a plus tool, worthy of a major league third baseman. Overall, I have tepid feelings about the profile, but I still think there is enough for him to be a second division regular.

Michael Chavis

Spray Chart Courtesy of MLBFarm.com

10/25/17 AFL Notes

Henry Owens (LHP) Boston Red Sox – This fall Henry Owens has revamped his delivery, which now utilizes a sidearm slot. It has not been a good look, today included. Scouts behind me murmured his delivery looks rigid. The fastball sat 87-89 and touched 90, and Owens did not appear to have confidence in the pitch. He worked more off of his changeup. It’s still a pitch that will generate decent swing and miss, but it plays down because hitters have no fear of the fastball. The changeup usage was high. I was not charting the game, but would wager Owens threw as many changeups as fastballs. The changeup and slider blended together for me. There was not a significant/discernible difference between them. It looked like opposing hitters were biding their time, waiting for a juicy fastball to attack. Owens’ discomfort was palpable when runners got on base. He would slow to a glacial pace. At one point, I timed a 78 second period between pitches (with no pickoff attempt). Once a top prospect, Owens looks lost. The operative questions are: Where does this leave him? And where does it leave the Red Sox?

10/16/17, 10/17/17 Arizona Fall League Notes

10/17/17 AFL Notes

Shedon Neuse (3B) Athletics – If the announcer at AFL games is correct, this guy’s name is pronounced “noisy”. Baseball Reference could neither confirm nor deny. Neuse has shown me a lot this fall. He makes frequent loud contact and tends to shoot baseballs opposite field into the right/center gap. He is capable of using all fields though. He has a good feel to hit and awareness of the zone. I think the power will play to average because the approach seems more contact-oriented than power-oriented. I have yet to see him in BP, but I suspect there is more raw in the bat than he has shown in games. Defensively, he lacks some agility and quickness of his peers. However, I think the industry consensus is he has enough to get the job done. I was thinking he has an above average arm. Then, a scout informed me Neuse used to touch mid 90s as a pitcher so it’s probably plus. This is a guy I am in on as a possible every day regular. (10/25 Edit – Today Neuse played shortstop and looked good there! He made a solid play on a tough grounder and showed quick hands getting it to first. The athleticism is better than I originally thought.)

Graphic From MLBFarm.com

Sheldon Neuse_HeatMap

10/16/17 AFL Notes

Nicky Lopez (SS) Royals – The Royals made a shrewd selection when they took Lopez in the 5th round of the 2016 draft. He has the look of a second division regular. There are a lot of average or better tools in his proverbial box. Offensively, he can control the zone and foul off pitches until he gets one that he likes. In today’s game he was able to take a Sheffield slider oppo for a double. The bat control is real. Ex post facto, I wasn’t surprised to look at his fangraphs page and discover he only struck out in 9% of his plate appearances this season. One fair criticism is his swing plane will not generate much power. On the bases, I have seen him in the 4.15-4.20 range from the left side, which grades above average. He looks to be a capable defender at short as well.

10/19/17 Instructs Notes

Giants at Royals – Surprise, AZ – Surprise Stadium Backfields

Heliot Ramos (CF) San Francisco Giants – Ramos is among the best players in fall instructs. It’s a sexy bat. We are talking potential 60 hit and 60 power. He has good bat speed and a very compact swing. Overall, Ramos makes the game look easy. I know that sounds reductive, but it’s true! Physically, Ramos has a thick build and a big ass. A scout comped him to Juan Uribe. Currently listed at 6’2” 185, I think he’s closer to 200 and it’s not hard to envision another 20-30 lbs on him. Right now he’s an above average runner, posting home to first times around 4.25 from the right side. I would expect him to settle in to be an average runner at maturity. It’s possible slowing down would necessitate a move to an outfield corner, but I think the bat is good enough to profile there too. It’s an impressive profile, and it’s not hard to see why the Giants made him the 19th pick in last year’s Rule 4.

Joe Marciano (LHP) San Francisco Giants – The heir apparent to former Giants QB Jared Lorenzen’s nickname, Marciano is a hefty lefty. He’s listed as 6’5” 250 lbs which might be a little light. A lot of guys his size struggle with body control, but it’s not an issue for Marciano. He pitches with a gracefulness that I find oddly endearing. Marciano’s repertoire is headlined by a plus high 70s curveball with big two-plane break. I have seen him get swinging strikes in and out of the zone with it. His fastball hovers around 90. His third offering is a mid 80s change. Marciano has an outside shot to be an innings-eating backend starter, which would be an amazing outcome for a 36th round pick. In my humble estimation, it was a great job by the Giants amateur staff finding this guy.

Diego Rincones (OF) San Francisco Giants – He continued doing Diego Rincones things today. The approach is ultra aggressive. I think he saw five total pitches in four at bats. In spite of the approach, he makes a ton of contact. He reminds me of Vlad Sr because he is a good bad ball hitter and likes seemingly every pitch that he sees (*disclaimer not a comp*). Today he had another three hits. This is a wait and see guy for me because I am worried about how his approach will play at higher levels. Right now it’s working so you can’t bash it too much.

MJ Melendez (C) Kansas City Royals – The words defensive wizard will be used to describe Royals catcher MJ Melendez. He oozes athletic ability in a way few other catchers do. He displayed impressive quickness and a plus arm. I loved his blocking ability and a throw he made from his knees with a 1.90 pop. He likes to test runners and is able to get out of the crouch quickly to fire throws over to first. At the plate he took a 98 mph pitch from Melvin Adon to the opposite field for a double. If the bat can be a 40 or 45 this guy is a major league regular.

Khalil Lee (OF) Kansas City Royals – The first thing I noticed about Lee is he swings the bat extremely hard. At 5’10 170 (basically my build!) he does not have the look of a power hitter, but make no mistake, he can mash baseballs. There is a lot of loft in his swing due to an uppercut that should result in a high FB% and high ISOs. He hit a deep home run to right center in today’s game. In my looks there was a decent amount of swing and miss on breaking pitches. I don’t have a great feel for Lee’s arm, but have read that he was a two-way player in high school so it can’t be half bad.

10/14/17, 10/17/17 Instructs Notes

10/17/17 – Royals at Giants – Scottsdale, AZ – Giants Complex at the Intersection of Hayden and Camelback

Glenn Sparkman (RHP) Kansas City Royals – Sparkman was my favorite arm of the day. His arsenal featured a sinking fastball that ranged from 92-95 and moved either glove side or armside. The cambio was his top offspeed option. To my eye, it looked like he could manipulate it to either drop 12 to 6 or to have fade and drop. The change was in the 83-85 velo band. His curve was high 70s and was a serviceable third option.

10/14/17 – Dodgers vs White Sox (shared complex) – Glendale, AZ – Camelback Ranch Backfields

Justin Bruihl (LHP) Los Angeles Dodgers – “Crafty lefty” is a hackneyed term, but they were the first words that came to my mind as I watched Bruihl. His stuff was not overpowering. The fastball sat 90-91, touching 93. The slider was 74-77. And the change was 80-84. I was impressed by Bruihl’s willingness to throw seemingly any pitch in any count and pitch backwards. I also like his smooth low three quarters delivery, which he repeated well. Despite the positives, this is still a command guy who will need to hit his spots and sequence to succeed. The good news is right now he appears capable of doing that effectively.

 

10/09/18 Instructs Notes

White Sox at Reds – Goodyear, AZ – Reds Training Facility south of Goodyear Park

Tanner Rainey (RHP) Cincinnati Reds – The fastball sat 96-97 and touched 99. Sometimes it would run armside in an effectively wild manner. It played in the zone or could be used as a chase pitch up. The slider was 89-90 with mostly vertical movement. Rainey could throw it at the bottom of the zone or out of the zone. It’s a closer profile.

Andy Sugilio – (OF) Cincinnati Reds – Sugilio is a speedy guy, posting home to first times in the 4.00 to 4.15 range. The swing seems to generate a lot of ground balls, which is a bit concerning. I would like to see him elevate more. Defensively, he needs to work on reads off the bat. His speed can cover up for this.

Jeter Downs (SS) Cincinnati Reds  – I really like his all around game. He is a quality hitter for a shortstop. Downs strikes me as a smart player with good baseball instincts. He was able to take an extra base on a ball he hit to left center. The outfielder threw it to the cut off man rather than to second directly. Downs sized up the throw and aggressively took the extra bag.

Ted Andrews (RHP) Chicago White Sox – His delivery looked “arm-heavy” and didn’t utilize his lower half much. In that regard, it actually reminded me of Alex Reyes. Stuff-wise it was a different story! His fastball was 89-91 and was fairly straight with some plane. Andrews also mixed in mid 80s change and mid 70s curve.

Andre Wheeler (LHP) Chicago White Sox – He was my favorite of three sidearmed lefties the White Sox used consequtively in this game. (The other two were Ryan Riga and Kevin George). Wheeler was interesting in that he threw mostly changeups in the mid 80s. The movement on this pitch was unusual. They would start by moving inside toward the plate then cut back outside (toward right side of plate from hitter perpsective). Wheeler also had a high 80s fastball and a mid 70s curve. He got some good swing and miss in this outing.

Evan Skoug (C) Chicago White Sox – Defense was an issue for Skoug today. He allowed a few passed balls and displayed poor lateral movement. He also allowed stolen bases with pop times in the 2.20 to 2.25 range. Scouts are wondering whether he will be able to stick at catcher.