Mitch Keller (RHP) Pittsburgh Pirates – If we are doing AFL superlatives, I think best fastball command goes to Mitch Keller. Today he was surgical. The fastball ranged from 92-97. There was a three-pitch sequence to Thairo Estrada that stood out as an impressive display of command. Keller started with an 85 mph changeup at the bottom-middle of the zone for a swinging strike. Then, he went to the 97 mph heat at the top of the zone. He finished Estrada with a 92 mph fastball that was down and away. I found this to be impressive because Keller appeared to be deliberately changing the eye level of hitters to keep them off balance. The curve was also quite good. It ranged from 78-82, generating some swing and miss and weak ground balls. Keller could use it to both sides of the plate. He left one up to David Thompson, who was not able to take advantage, but for the most part Keller did a good job keeping the pitch down. Overall, it was a dominant outing that displayed what Keller is capable of. This is a polished pitcher who should get a shot in the Pirates rotation at some point next season.
I did not take any video today, but I recorded Keller in his 10/24 start.
Albert Abreu (RHP) New York Yankees – It would not be a stretch to argue that Albert Abreu has better pure stuff than Mitch Keller. The fastball sat 93-95, without much effort in the delivery. The curveball is already considered plus, and Abreu could get swinging strikes with it seemingly at will. It would drop off the table, and hitters swung over it. His changeup had more drop than fade. This pitch was effective largely due to Abreu’s arm speed, which remained constant for fastballs and changeups (1:07 on video). As a result, the timing of opposing batters was thrown off. A scout sitting behind me noted Abreu had more confidence in his offspeed pitches than his fastball. The fastball command was inconsistent. Whether or not Abreu figures this out will go a long way in determining his efficacy at the major league level.
10/24/17 AFL Notes
Kevin Kramer (SS) Pittsburgh Pirates – It has been a popular baseball refrain in recent years that defensive range is becoming less important due to advent of the shift and defensive positioning. Kevin Kramer is the type of player who could benefit from this trend. I see a guy with an average or fringe average arm but quick transfers, smooth defensive actions, and solid hands. Various reports I have read view him as a guy who is likely to move to second base due to his lack of range. I am more optimistic on his odds of sticking at short. I think he has a chance to be a second division regular. The bat is better than most of his middle infield peers. He can protect the zone until the pitcher makes a mistake and then take advantage. The power is nothing to sneeze at either. I think it’s fringe average, which isn’t bad if he can stick at short.
10/23/17 AFL Notes
Luis Guillorme (2B) Mets – There has been a book on Guillorme in recent years. Great defense. Good bat to ball skills. Limited game power. And phenomenal hands. In my viewings this fall, I have seen nothing to dispel these evaluations. He made an excellent diving grab/throw in this game. He reminds me of Dustin Pedroia in some regards because his range is a tick below average, but anything within his range is essentially an automatic out. He will make eye-opening plays on the periphery of his range. Guillorme is a 40 runner. I have timed him around 4.4 from the left side. His universally lauded hands allow him to make frequent contact and limit his swing and miss. Despite the contact, his swing plane has remained flat, resulting in a lot of groundballs. With only two home runs in 2041 minor league plate appearances, it is hard to project him as any more than a bench guy and defensive replacement. The lack of power is not playable, especially in today’s homerun happy hitting environment. If he can make a change that results in better power output, he could be an everyday player. It just looks unlikely at this point because evaluators have been making similar comments regarding his swing plane for years.