Spring Training Notes 2/28-3/1

3/1/18 – White Sox at Reds – Goodyear Stadium

Three fifths of what might be the White Sox future rotation threw in this game. Reynaldo Lopez, the most established of the group, was the starter. Last season Washington used him as both a starter and reliever, which begs the question, what will his long-term role look like? This was my first look at Lopez, and he only went two innings, but I think his stuff is too good to not make it work as a starter. He was dirty. The fastball, which ranged from 95-97 with run was paired with a plus curve. None of this is new, but seeing it in person from behind home was elucidating. Command has been his bugaboo. The White Sox should give him every opportunity to fail as a starter before moving him to the pen. I think he settles in as a third or fourth starter who looks great at times and is bafflingly bad at others.

Next up was Dane Dunning, who has the look of a high floor, low ceiling back-end starter. He sported three-pitch mix, which included a fastball, slider, and changeup. The fastball wasn’t overpowering but sat 90-92 and touched 93 with some wiggle armside. Dunning commanded the pitch well, primarily in the lower third of the zone. A ground ball rate over 50% last year seems to substantiate this observation. The changeup flashed above average, and I think the slider is already there. One above average cambio to Billy Hamilton stuck out in my mind. His arsenal should allow him to attack hitters to both sides of the plate. It’s worth noting that Dunning had more success versus righties than lefties last year (.589 vs .727 ops). From what I saw in this game, it’s possible his changeup has taken a step forward, a trend worth monitoring. In theory, that would allow for better success versus lefties.

Release pointThe final pitcher in the trio was Alec Hansen, a long-limbed 6’7″ right-hander. A high 3/4 slot appears to limit Hansen’s extension but also create significant downhill plane. Hansen hides the ball well behind his frame and accelerates with an athletic burst immediately after foot strike, making it difficult for hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand. It’s an athletic delivery but there is also some effort to it. His fastball sat low 90s and touched 94. Its velocity peaked in an at bat against Joey Votto. Hansen struck out Votto swinging with an elevated fastball. It was a well-sequenced and well-commanded series of pitches: slider in (b), change away (k-l), slider in (k-l), fastball up (k-sw). Obviously, striking out Joey Votto is no small feat. I was encouraged by Hansen’s control of his changeup, a pitch that has historically lagged behind his other offerings. It was evident not only in the Votto AB but throughout the outing.

2/28/18 – Rockies vs Diamondbacks (shared facility) – Salt River Field

Back in December the Diamondbacks signed Japanese closer Yoshihisa Hirano to a low-risk two-year deal for $6 million. His signing coupled with the deal for former Rays closer Brad Boxberger caused many to speculate how this affects their bullpen and whether it signaled a possible move for Archie Bradley into the starting rotation. Hirano’s first look stateside was last Wednesday.  The results were not great; He finished with a final line of 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, and the L. His splitter was his best pitch, registering in the low 80s and dropping off the table with mostly vertical movement. He struck out Tom Murphy swinging with it. His fastball and slider were around average and he displayed command of them within the zone. He repeats his delivery, which should allow for plus command. Upon first glance, I saw a guy who did not look like a closer but a serviceable bullpen piece. Don’t expect Archie Bradley to be moving out of the pen anytime soon. At least not on account of the Diamondback’s offseason moves.

 

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.