11/06/17 AFL Notes
Sean Murphy (C) Oakland Athletics – Murphy has a well-rounded game with defensive skills that are likely to play at the highest level, not only giving him a high floor but also a good chance to be an everyday player. The arm is elite. Scout chatter is he threw out a runner by 10 feet with a 1.78 pop earlier in this fall. I have seen him around 1.85, but regardless it is a legitimate weapon and 70 grade tool. Today, I saw Murphy make a smooth back-handed stop and throw out Thairo Estrada from his knees. Murphy’s blocking ability is also quite good, earning plus grades. I can attest to his propensity for making quality blocks on pitches in the dirt. It is a regular occurrence. The jury is still out on the bat, but I am encouraged by what I have seen. Murphy swings really hard and has respectable contact skills. During the 11/02 game, he went oppo on a 98 mph offering from Jordan Hicks, and scouts in my vicinity asserted, “This kid does not get cheated.” Balls on the ground are normally pulled, and fly balls are hit to all fields. I think it is a potential 50 bat at maturity, which would make Murphy a first-division regular. Having said that, 2018 will be a big litmus test as he will have another crack at AA Midland. The struggle was real in AA last season, with a slash line of .209/.288/.309 in 217 PAs. Based on his AFL performance thus far, I am optimistic Murphy can figure out AA pitching and will find himself on the precipice of the majors next year.
11/02/17 AFL Notes
Jordan Hicks (RHP) St. Louis Cardinals – In 2015 the Cardinals used their third round pick on a high school pitcher from Houston, Texas who sat 92-93 and touched 96 with his fastball. That pitcher was Jordan Hicks. Now he’s a 21-year-old that sits 96-98 and can touch triple digits. I think we can throw that into the developmental success bucket! Today the velo did not disappoint, as my gun displayed one hundo. The velocity was sexy, but the pitch missed fewer bats than I expected (between today and my previous viewing). I think the underlying causes were pitch location and lack of movement (i.e. it’s a straight fastball). The secondary offering was a slider in the 83-87 range, which Hicks “played with” to vary velocity. It made sharp two-plane break and missed a fair amount of bats. I think it’s a potential plus pitch. Hitters looked to be geared up for the heat and swung over it. Also, I’m no expert but Hicks’ mechanics appear sub-optimal. Watching him in .25x speed, you can see the front leg and body move toward home well before the arm starts moving forward. I think the result is a disproportionately heavy burden on his arm (relative to many deliveries). Deliveries look more natural when the torso, legs, and arm all move toward home concurrently. The delivery combined with the stuff look like a golden ticket to the bullpen, which is not necessarily a negative. The Cardinals may have found themselves a future closer.
(11/9 Edit – The more I think about it, I wonder how much Hicks’ velocity gain is simply due to throwing shorter stints. I’ve read he was throwing roughly as hard as his HS velo in 2016 when he started games. He began relieving toward the end of 2017. Perhaps this is cause of the spike.)
10/20/17 AFL Notes
Nolan Blackwood (RHP) Athletics – There is a lot to like about Blackwood. The 6’5” righty uses his frame to his advantage to achieve deception. He caught my eye in a previous outing when he made Francisco Mejia look ugly in a three-pitch strikeout. The fastball sits low 90s and is thrown from a sidearm angle. Hitters appear to struggle picking up the ball out of his hand, which helps everything play up. His change is in the low 80s, and both of the aforementioned pitches have quality sink. Today Blackwood also busted out a 75-77 mph curveball. It is a pitch he reserves for right-handed hitters. It was not used in his previous outing when he faced three lefties. I was muttering aloud trying to figure out who Blackwood reminds me of delivery-wise. A scout offered up Dan Otero as a comp.
10/19/17 AFL Notes
Yonathan Daza (OF) Rockies – I have seen Daza a few times this fall and have come away impressed each time. Daza is a plus runner posting home to first times around 4.2 from the right. He hits baseballs with authority, and I would love to see his Statcast exit velocity data. Looking at his Fangraphs page, I found he only hit three home runs in 569 plate appearances last year. His physique looks capable of more. Before the AFL ends I am shooting to catch a couple of his BP sessions and get a side look of his swing to gauge swing plane. Even if the home runs do not come, I think Daza is a high floor guy who should be at least a fourth outfielder. It is not hard to envision him launching gappers all over Coors Field.
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 does not have the look of a typical third baseman; he is short and stocky. However, I think the industry consensus is he can get the job done there. 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
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.
10/14/17 AFL Notes
Kirby Bellow (LHP) Diamondbacks – Bellow is a lefty who stands on the far right side of the rubber (hitter’s perspective) and pounds the opposite side of the plate with fastballs and curveballs. He was extremely predictable but effective nonetheless. Bellow’s fastball was mostly 90-91 but one touched 95. His curveball was high 70s and is probably his best pitch. It was generating a lot of swing and miss. When batters were able to make contact, it resulted in weak ground balls. He sparingly used a changeup around 83 as a weapon against right-handed hitters. His arm angle looks really tough on lefties. Curiosity got me, and I looked up his platoon splits. Last season in a 39 2/3 inning sample at AA-Jackson, RHH were held to a .654 ops and LHH were utterly dominated. They only had two hits in 61 plate appearances, resulting in a minuscule .098 ops. Bellow should excel as a LOOGY with the upside of a more conventional middle reliever.
(11/26 Edit – I learned that Bellow’s breaker is actually a slider not a curve as I wrote above.)
10/13/17 AFL Notes
Dean Deetz (RHP) Astros – I really liked Deetz’s three-pitch mix. It’s definitely worthy of a major league pen. His fastball sat 95-96 and touched 98, although it has been somewhat hittable in my viewings. His 83-85 slider had hefty two plane break, but his command of the pitch waivered. His change was 86-87, and he could spot it to both sides of the plate. Overall, the stuff was impressive, but the command was worrisome. I think Deetz a guy who could thrive in a middle relief role. I also think he’s a guy who could cause your favorite team’s fanbase a lot of stress in a high-leverage role, resulting in a myriad of prematurely balding heads.
10/12/17 AFL Notes
DJ Snelten (LHP) Angels – Watching Snelten, I became fixated on his somewhat robotic delivery, which resembles a less extreme version of Alex Wood. He lifts his right leg to create deception as he shifts his center of mass forward toward the plate. Once everything is moving, his arm whips around from behind. His fastball is in the low 90s, and his second offering is a high 70s curveball. I think he profiles as an org guy.
10/11/17 AFL Notes
Scott Squier (RHP) Miami Marlins – The Marlins drafted Squier in 2014’s 16th round out of the University of Hawaii (Manoa). In a tweet I described Squier as a “kitchen sink guy”, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite cliches. There seem to be a lot of guys like this. They don’t have overpowering stuff, but they can keep hitters off balance by attacking with an array of pitches at different velocity bands and movements. The fast ball is fringey. It sits 90-92 and sometimes can get to 93. His slider is in the low 80s and may be his best pitch. The curve was 72-75 and was maybe a 45. On separate days I wrote in my notes “85 change (moves arm side)” and 88 “(2seam? moves arm side)”. It’s unclear to me whether or not these are different pitches. Either way, this feels like a swingman profile that will probably bounce back and forth from AAA to the majors and serve as organizational depth.
Miguel Del Pozo (LHP) Miami Marlins – Del Pozo primarily threw fastballs in this game. It was in the low 90s with a cutting action that ran in on RHHs that should result in some weak contact. Del Pozo also showed a curve in the high 70s that looked roughly average.
10/05/17 – Giants at Angels – Backfields next to Tempe Diablo Stadium
Trent Deveaux (OF) Los Angeles Angels – Deveaux smashed a triple to left and reached third in 11.70 seconds. It was a thing of beauty. He also made some circuitous routes defensively. One fly ball sticks out in my mind because he “got turned around” and made a last second adjustment to come down with it. I like his aggressiveness on the base paths, but it can border on reckless. He slid head first into home despite a teammate motioning for him to come home standing.
I found this article which gives some context to home to third times
10/04/17 Giants at Rockies – Field R1 directly south of Salt River Field
Jacob Gonzalez (3B) San Francisco Giants – The son of former Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez is still learning to recognize pro-caliber breaking stuff. Scouts opined he has looked somewhat raw at the plate, and he displayed occasionally stiff movements defensively.
Diego Rincones (OF) San Francisco Giants – Rincones has an uncanny ability to hit. There was very little swing and miss in my looks. And there is good bat control in this one (spoken like a true Jedi). I am hoping to see him another couple of times before the end of fall.
10/2/17 Diamondbacks at Athletics – Mesa, AZ – Fitch Field (1/2 Mile South of Hohokam Stadium)
Marcos Brito (2B) Oakland Athletics – The 17 year old has quick hands. At the plate, he will spit on breaking pitches out of the zone and wait for “his pitch”. He has an advanced approach for his age. There is room for growth on his slender frame, which could lead to more power down the line.
Miguel Mercedes (1B) Oakland Athletics – It’s no shit plus raw, but how much of it is playable in games? He appears to hunt fastballs.
Norge Ruiz (RHP) Oakland Athletics – He’s a 23-year-old Cuban signee. The stuff is not overpowering. As a result, a high percentage of pitches were offspeed, moving in various directions.
Rafael Kelly (RHP) Oakland Athletics – Hitters had a difficult time laying off his mid 70s curve. It induced a swing and miss from Chris Owings (who was on rehab assignment) and two other batters. The fastball was 90-91. I would like to see more of him.
Wilkin Ramos (RHP) Oakland Athletics – Ramos will not turn 17 until 10/31. He’s listed as 6’5” 165, and I overheard a scout body-comp him to CJ Edwards. He already sits 91-92 with a change in the mid 80s and a curve in the mid 70s. The frame is pretty lithe so I think projecting a large weight increase is a mistake, but there is still room for some more weight right now.
Matt Brill (RHP) Arizona Diamondbacks – It’s a relief profile but a high-leverage one. The fastball sits 95 touches 97. His change is in the mid 80s. I overheard a coach in attendance comparing his delivery to Jason Motte.
Andy Yerzy (C) Arizona Diamondbacks – He hit the ball hard in my looks and was especially deadly against fastballs. The strike zone awareness looked good, as he was able to lay off of breaking balls below the zone. He’s an “Off the Bus Guy” as Up and In used to say, meaning his physicality stands out.