January 2009

Scouting the Top 50: 34-30

Before I get to the next round of reports, I wanted to clue everyone in on some great video content we have on the site. A couple weeks back, we went to the Rookie Career Development Program, a great program run in concert by Major League Baseball and the Players Association to help players who are close to being big-league ready (some have big league time) prepare for life in the big leagues (mostly off the field). We were there, camera in tow, and interviewed one player from each organization (each sends a few down). The results of our work can be found on this page:

Now on to the next set of scouting reports:

34. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds
yonder_alonso.jpgSeen: October (Hawaii Winter League)

Potentially plus hitting approach with easy hands. Aggressive with bat, can use big part of field. Swing can get loopy at times. Squares up well on strikes. Power will come. Profiles as middle-of-the-order run producer in future. Good glove, moves well around bag. Bat will carry him, won’t take long to be ready.

33. Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Mariners
phillippe_aumont.jpgSeen: April (Midwest League)

Fastball: 90-95 mph
Curve: 77-81 mph
Changeup: 86 mph

Terrific mound presence and size, nasty arm angle. More velocity to come in arm. Fastball bores in, runs hard and down. Breaking ball is hard, but inconsistent. Sometimes a curve, sometimes slider in terms of tilt. When he gets on top, it’s a plus pitch. Plus arm, with some tweaks to delivery, his stuff will be ready for next level.

32. Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets

Sorry, no scouting report on F-Mart as of right now, so we’ll move on…

31. Wade Davis, RHP, Rays
wade_davis.jpgSeen: July (Southern League)

Fastball: 89-93 mph
Curve: 74-80 mph
Changeup: 81-83 mph

Big guy with big arm. Power type pitcher. Delivery a little inconsistent. Some deception with quick arm. Throws strikes and gets ahead with fastball that has sink and tail. Not afraid to pitch inside. Big, hard, downer curve, sometimes has good bite. Keeps it down in zone for most part. Future Major League rotation.

30. Carlos Triunfel, SS, Mariners
carlos_triunfel.jpgSeen: July (California League) and October (Arizona Fall League)

Looks like a player, a young Miguel Tejada type. Can be erratic, but comes to play every day. Agressive at plate, will swing at anything. Slightly soft bat. Still young, power will come off as he matures. Decent runner. Plus arm. Good hands to play all over infield, feet need some work. Thick lower half may mean move to third, should have enough pop eventually to fit there.



Scouting the Top 50: 39-36

OK, so “later today” evidently means a few days later in my world. Here’s the next set of scouting reports for this year’s Top 50.

39. Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays
jeremy_hellickson.jpgSeen: April (FSL) and July (SL)

Fastball: 91-96 mph
Curve: 74-77 mph
Slider: 79-81 mph
Changeup: 75-81 mph

Solid, medium frame with big arm. Easy effort on delivery, throws strikes with four pitches. Fastball sinks to arm side on two-seamers, with occasional cutter. Slider sometimes tight with bite in zone; sometimes wide and with big downer curve, can be slurvy at times. Deceptive change with sinking life to arm side. Good competitor, No. 2 starter in future.

38. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves
freddie_freeman.jpgSeen: June (SAL)

Good hitting approach. Takes fat part to ball, makes good contact and goes with pitch. Quiet, simple at plate. Drives balls to gaps, opens and turns to hit with power. Can shorten up and go other way for base hits. Good hands at first, average arm. Decent footwork defensively.

37. Scott Elbert, LHP, Dodgers
scott_elbert.jpgSeen: June (SL)

Fastball: 88-91 mph
Slider: 80-82 mph
Changeup: 82-83 mph

First outing of season (coming off injury). Threw one inning, so hard to get full evaluation. In later outings, velocity increased to 94-95 mph on fastball. Slingshot delivery with wrap in back, but fast and clean through arm slot. Heavy fastball thrown downhill. Long slider with depth. Change has dive to it.

36. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles
jake_arrieta.jpgSeen: July (CAR) and August (Team USA)

Fastball: 90-97 mph
Curveball: 75-78 mph
Slider: 82-87 mph

Stuff and mound presense to be top of rotation type. When locked in, three plus pitches. Needs to improve fastball command. Slider is out pitch, sharp bite. 4-seem FB explodes, can go upstairs with it. Straight change has chance, needs some work. Mechanics on lower half can be off at times.

Note: I had planned to do through No. 35, but just checked my files and realized that I was missing a scouting report on Nick Adenhart. Sorry ’bout that folks. I’ll skip over him for now and will add him back in if/when I can get that info. 

Draft Alert: Showcase at Urban Youth Academy

This is an exciting time, my first official draft-related blog post since the big merger. Draft season is fast approaching. For the third straight season, The Urban Youth Academy Draft Showcase in Compton, Calif., is serving as a kind of kickoff event. Last year’s showcase included 2008 first-rounders like Kyle Skipworth and Aaron Hicks. Other high picks included Tyler Chatwood and Cutter Dykstra. Clearly, this is an event that you don’t want to miss.

This year’s showcase, as always run by the Major League Scouting Bureau, is set for Sunday, Feb. 8. Rosters are still tentative, but it’s already shaping up to have some of the top high school talent in the 2009 draft class on hand.  Using early rankings from our friends at Baseball America and Perfect Game, here’s the best of the 50 or so players tentatively planning to attend the showcase, which in the past has had 150 or so scouts on hand (I’m including the players who’s average ranking between the two is under 100):

Tyler Matzek, RHP: No. 1 among BA’s High School Top 100; No. 3 among PG’s High School Top 500. Average rank: 2
Matt Davidson, 3B: No. 16 on BA; No. 7 on PG. Average rank: 11.5
Jacob Marisnick, OF:
No. 21 on BA; No. 17 on PG. Average rank: 19
Jiovanni Mier, SS:
No. 13 on BA; No. 32 on PG. Average rank: 22.5
Chad Thompson, RHP:
No. 23 on BA; No. 26 on PG. Average rank: 24.5
Tyler Skaggs, LHP:
No. 8 on BA; No. 43 on PG. Average rank: 25.5
Matt Hobgood, RHP:
No. 22 on BA; No. 40 on PG. Average rank: 31
David Nick, 2B: No. 46 on BA; No. 21 on PG. Average rank: 33.5
Brooks Pounders, RHP/1B:
No. 66 on BA; No. 18 on PG. Average rank: 42
Cameron Garfield, C: No. 63 on BA; No. 73 on PG. Average  rank: 69
Jonathan Singleton, 1B: No. 78 on BA; No. 61 on PG. Average rank: 69.5

Others of note:  RHP Justin Bellez was No. 71 on BA and No. 156 on PG for an average rank of 113.5. … C/3B Nolan Arenado was No. 90 on BA and No. 148 on PG for an average rank of 119. … 3B/C Jonathan Meyer didn’t crack BA’s Top 100, but was No. 67 on the PG list. …  OF Jeffrey Gelalich wasn’t on the BA Top 100, but was No. 89 on the PG list. … 13 other players tentatively attending are on PG’s list in the 100-500 range.

I’ll be back with a new set of Top 50 scouting reports later today…

Scouting the Top 50: 44-40

Here at the Rookie Career Development Program and it’s pretty cool that
I’m in a room with some of the very players on this Top 50 as they
prepare for life as big-leaguers. Anyway, more on that another time.
Here are some scouts’ thoughts on No. 44 down to No. 40…

44. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Brewers
jeremy_jeffress.jpgSeen: Early May, Late June (FSL), October (AFL)

Fastball: 91-99 mph
Curve: 71-82 mph
Changeup: 81-88 mph
(Combined from all three reports)

in first start back, later in FSL season and again in Fall League. Also
flashed slider, 78-83 mph)… Special arm with easy delivery. Can dial
it up when needed for strikeouts. Occasional dive sink-run, sometimes
overthrows. Curve a plus pitch, with range. Throws at two velocities,
78 mph for strikes, 80-82 as K pitch. Some feel for change, but hasn’t
used it much. Frontline starter potential if he can throw three pitches
for strikes consitently.

43. Lou Marson, C, Phillies
lou_marson.jpgSeen: May (AA) and August (Olympics)

receiver with sold frame. Moves, blocks well, energetic behind plate.
Quick release when feet set. Soft, sure hands. Consistent hard contact,
balanced hitting approach. Line drive stroke with occasional power.
Strong leadership, field general type. Tools to be every-day catcher in
big leagues.

42. Brett Wallace, 3B, Cardinals
brett_wallace.jpgSeen: June (Midwest League) and October (AFL)

middle of the order bat. Advanced approach, with disciplined power
swing. Pig power potential, bat will carry to big leagues fast.
Below-average range at third, future might be at first base. Good
hands, makes routine plays. Must watch size and weight.

41. Adam Miller, RHP, Indians
adam_miller.jpgSeen: October (Dominican Republic)

Fastball: 86-95 mph
Slider: 81-84 mph
Changeup: 84-85 mph

slender frame. Loose arm action, easy effort on delivery. Throws across
body some. Works quickly, three pitches for strikes. Sink and
occasional cutting action on fastball. Big, sweeping slider with bite,
always down in zone. Changes fastball speed effectively.

40. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees
jesus_montero.jpgSeen: May (South Atlantic League)

physical build. Power to all fields, needs to improve in making
consistent contact. Quick release behind plate, average arm. Catches
well in zone, but doesn’t shift well on pitches. Very young with
definite tools, especially offensively

Scouting the Top 50: 49-45

Thought I’d throw a few up at a time from here on out…

49. Matt Dominguez, 3B, Marlins
Matt_Dominguez.jpgSeen: Late May

Seen over five-game stretch not long after he returned to action following recovery from mono. … At plate, had big wrap and too-long stroke with concerns about balance. Did make hard contact with good future power. Defensively, arm close to plus makes all routine plays. Legs were a bit slow, but could be because of long layoff. Overall defensive package above-average.

48. Angel Villalona, 1B, Giants
angel_villalona.jpgSeen: Late May

Seen over five-game stretch. … Extremely strong, can hit ball out without difficulty. Easy, pull stroke through zone. Kills mistakes. Plus, plus raw power. Little hitch in swing with hole on inside. Some trouble with offspeed stuff away, but showed improvement. Good arm at 1B, soft hands. Must watch weight.

47. Kyle Blanks, 1B, Padres
kyle_blanks.jpgSeen: Late June (AA) and October (AFL)

Scouted a total of eight games between Texas League and AFL. … NFL tight end type body. Plus, raw power. Can hit it a long way when he gets a hold of one. Can sit on fastball and pound mistakes. Plus velocity, good breaking stuff tough for him, with holes in big uppercut swing. More athletic than you’d think based on size, better than expected at first base, though rough around edges. Power potential makes him a big leaguer. Will stay if he shows ability to adjust.

46. Derek Holland, LHP, Rangers
derek_holland.jpgSeen: Late May (Midwest League)

Fastball: 89-94 mph
Curve: 76-77 mph
Slider: 78-80 mph
Changeup: 81-84 mph

High leg kick delivery with high 3/4 arm angle. Medium frame. Quick arm with four pitch mix. Length in arm action sometimes limits control and ability to consistently locate all pitches. Good competitor on mound. Could be No. 2 starter, solid No. 3 from left side.

45. James McDonald, RHP, Dodgers
james_mcdonald.jpgSeen: June (Double-A)

Fastball: 87-90 mph
Curve: 71-76 mph
Changeup: 73-78 mph

Upright, overhand delievery. Throws fastball with good plane, but it’s straight. Deep tilt on curve. Plus change, with plus plus deception. Secondary stuff outstanding, concern about average velocity of fastball, though showed more in relief role. Middle of rotation type if he remains a starter.

Scouting the Top 50: Kicking things off

I figured today was a terrific day to get back on the blogging saddle big-time. You see, 38 years ago today, a future Minor League reporter was born in Livingston, NJ. From humble beginnings… but I digress.

I’m sure my colleague LIsa Winston (gotmilb?) and I will have reports of some sort during and after the Rookie Career Development Program this coming weekend. For now, though, I wanted to kick off a series I’ll have over the next few weeks here on B3. As most of you probably know, we launched our latest Top 50 prospects list not that long ago. Well, thanks to some folks I know in the scouting industry, I’ve been able to cull together detailed scouting reports on all 50 of the prospects in the rankings. This is content you’re not going to see anywhere else, folks, so gather round, pull up a chair and enjoy.

50. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Cubs
samardzija.jpgSeen: Late June

Fastball: 89-96 mph
Slider: 82-84 mph
Splitter: 82-85 mph

Arm works well with good slot for sinker-ball type pitcher. Good arm action from 3/4 slot. Shows big arm at times, hitting 96 mph with heavy fastball. Sink is inconsistent, but when on, it’s filthy. Slider is inconsistent, sometimes flat. Splitter has chance to be plus pitch, doesn’t always repeat mechanics. Arm and makeup could be suited for relief role.

B3 and Geeking announce merger

PITTSBURGH — In a move sure to shock the baseball world, two extremely influential blogs — at least according to their author — have announced they will merge into one super-blog.

From this point forward, B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful will be THE place to come for coverage of the Minor Leagues AND the draft. Geeking on the Draft will cease operations immediately, making it easier for fans to have one-stop shopping for the future stars of the game.

“It took some intense negotiations, and it got ugly at times, but we got a deal done,” a relieved B3 operator Jonathan Mayo said. “We hope this merger makes B3 the biggest MLBlog out there and at the very least lets people have to come to only one place for the best inside info on the Minor Leagues and the draft.”

There were few immediate changes to announce, other than a change in B3’s subhead to include its new dual focus. As the season approaches — the draft season, in many ways, kicks off in earnest in early February with a high school showcase at the Urban Youth Academy — B3 will post frequently on both subjects. While having separate blogs for each subject seemed ideal in the past, the recent economic downturn made the merger a necessity. While Geeking owner Jonathan Mayo was reluctant to give up creative control of the draft blog, he didn’t see any other choice.

“I really don’t like that Mayo character, but what can you do?” said Mayo, who will still be a consultant on B3. “I’ll just have to hold my nose and do what I can to ensure he doesn’t mess up the draft coverage on the new blog. I’m trying to see the silver lining. By combining forces, we should be able to move up the MLBlogs Top 100 list.”

In 2008, B3 finished No. 24 on the MLB Pro Blogs Top 100, while Geeking came in at No. 26.

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