Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scouting Reports on UT of Arlington and Stephen F. Austin

I went and saw Stephen F. Austin play at the University of Texas at Arlington on Sunday February 26th.

UTAs starter was Lance Day, who threw 86-88 MPH (I was sitting around a couple of scouts with radar guns). Day is a senior right hander who went to Midland Community College previously. As a Freshman, he had 11 bad innings, but recovered as a sophomore, and had struck out 6.54 batters per 9 innings in his two years there. His first year at UTA (2011), he had a 3.62 ERA, .279 BAA, and 5.94 K/9IP (with a 2.29 K/BB ratio). At just 6-1, you would like to see more size to generate better velocity. He gave up lots of fouls early, but he got 4 strikeouts (2 looking and 2 swinging). He could throw his breaking ball for strikes (and he loved his breaking ball), but it seemed like he liked the strike zone a little too much considering his stuff. He had lots of short at bats. He could get some swing and misses, and kept the ball away consistently. He had a great two batter sequence in the 4th against two righties by keeping the ball away. He lost control in the 8th, and even though he had decent control most of the game, but when he hung the breaking ball it would be crushed by power hitters. Defensively, he didn't have a great route to the ball but made a good throw, and covered first well. He really reaches back in his delivery, as you can see here:

While he was able to get some hitters to chase off the plate, his low strikeout total was pretty consistent with his career averages, and the ball was really being hit hard. He left a lot of runners on base, and threw a wild pitch with runners on. His fastball did get high, and with his velocity, it seems unlikely he can live up there.

Cameron Gann was the starter for Stephen F. Austin, and the small freshman was throwing 84-86 MPH. He didn't get any of the first 3 hitters to swing and miss, but hothing was hit hard either. His plan was to go low and away to lefties, but it didn't always work. Overall, he kept the ball pretty low, but had a ball crushed for a ground rule double (the hardest hit ball of the game). His wild breaking ball wasn't fooling a lot of people, and it couldn't throw it for strikes consistently. His fastball was high and mostly unimpressive (as the velocity shows, it didn't look like he was throwing hard either). One scout really liked his potential, but he had control problems through out. He wasn't helped by a little zone from the umpire for the most part, but he couldn't make the ball go where he wanted. He did have a good pickoff move, and fielded the ball back to him perfectly (even though it was soft off the bat). Like Day, he was clearly a contact pitcher, and he end up having a high LOB %. Here is some video of Gann:
It was a low scoring game, and as I wasn't really impressed with either starter, I wasn't impressed with the hitting either for the most part.
Preston Beck was one of the more impressive hitters, as the 6-2 190 RF had long at-bats that I really liked. The Junior had a really long at-bat before grounding out, a decent-length at-bat that lead to a fly-out, a walk, and another reasonable long at-bat that ended in an infield fly-ball. Beck had a team leading 31 walks in 2011, and lead the team in hits in 2010 as a freshman. He is a legitimate prospect with that bat of his, and you can watch him here:

Brent Bollinger was another guy I liked, as the junior 3rd baseman made 2 great plays at 3rd, one on a spike then a great throw. He was hitting the ball harder than anyone else, and smacked a ground rule double after one long at-bat. He had a good eye, and wasn't falling for the breaking ball. He did strikeout on a pretty nasty pitch, probably Gann's best pitch of the game, but he creamed another double as well. He also had decent speed, meaning he could do everything you can do on a baseball field pretty well. He originally went to Midland for Junior College, and amazingly had to walk on to UTA. Here is him batting:

Daniel Garcia played catcher for UTA, and he had a nice arm, and a walk and a 1 pitch ground-out before being pinch hit for. The red-shirt sophomore hit just .214 last season. Cody Dyvig was the pinch hitter, and he grounded out, seeing just 2 pitches. Dyvig was actually better in 2010 than 2011, hitting just .243 last year. Greg Mccail caught after the pinch hit, but didn't bat.
The 2nd base/shortstop combo for UTA was pretty weak defensively. Michael Guerra was the 2nd baseman. He starts open stanced but then closes it to normal as the ball approaches. He couldn't lay off the breaking pitch, and hit 3 ground-balls, 1 for a double play. Ryan Walker played short, and he had a bouncy stance at the plate, and could foul off pitches outside the zone. The sophomore is small at 6-0 155 with decent speed (he stole 11 bases in 2011). He was also tempted by the breaking ball, but had a long AB that turned into a grounder. He hit .322 as a freshman, with an OBP of .387 as a freshman. He may be a guy to watch out for next year. Jordan Vaughn played first base, and they had him trying to bunt, which probably tells you what you need to know about his bat. He did get a hit to the left side on a long at-bat for an infield single. He grounded out both to pitcher and catcher, as well as having an infield pop up.
Derek Miller usually plays in the middle infield, but played DH on the game I saw. He is listed at 6-1 175, but seemed small. He seemed to have a decent eye, but had a 1 pitch flyball out, and a pop foul out. They also had the freshman bunting. Phillip Incaviglia is the nephew of former Astro and Ranger Pete, and the senior had a fielders choice ground-ball, a ground-ball, and a nice lineout. He is a passive type hitter, and that cost him when he watched a hanging breaking ball he should have crushed. He is really small, at 5-10 170 (or so he is listed) and was picked off.
Brandon Lawrence played center field and is a little bigger at 6-0 185. He had a big arm and runs pretty well, but wasn't a very smart baserunner. He had a sac bunt, a walk, and a double:

At Blinn Junior College in 2011, Lawrence hit .444, giving you a lot of confidence in his bat to go along with his other tools.

Stephen F Austin's lineup:

Zach Benson was a junior that spent time at San Jacinto Junior College where he was pretty good as a freshman with a .373 batting average, but regressed to .287 as a sophomore (5 homers in those 2 years). He was a hacker falling for breaking balls, and had a short compact swing that robbed power but pulls the ball for medium strength liners. He got a weak grounder on a huge breaking ball, with a fly-ball out, and a ground-ball that snuck through. Hunter Dozier played shortstop, and reminded us of Hunter Pence with his build and look. He doesn't run well at all the scout near me complained, and he has a hole in his swing.

He struck out on a 5 pitch at-bat on a breaking ball, and had a 1 pitch ground-out
and flied out on a pitch down the middle. He did have a nice throwing arm, and the combo of him and the 2nd baseman turned a very good double play.

Fola Lajide is a junior outfielder who doesn't have great speed. I do wish he was bigger, but he hit the ball almost to the wall. He also struck out swing and had a hard ground-out. Max Lamantia played 1st, and it looked like he did a decent job getting to grounders. It did look like he had a hole in his swing, but struggled with breaking pitches. He struck out three times with a ground-ball. The DH Jordon Lenaburg could spoil pitches off well, and had a line drive out. He did whiff on a breaking ball, and had a good luck ground-ball. He was then pinch run for. The pinch runner was Corey Bartkowiak, a freshman outfielder. He is really small, at 5-6 150, and he walked in his at-bat. Bobby Loveless pinch hit, and was jammed and flied out to the infield.Adam Mann also pinch hit, and even though he is listed as a catcher, he played 1st base. He had an ugly check swing on a breaking ball, and the senior eventually had an ugly swinging strikeout. Rene Moreda, the 2nd baseman, had real nice speed, but is pretty small at 5-9 150. He had 2 long drive singles, and a ground-ball up the middle. Michael Ruiz was another small infielder, and was a small ball type play. He fouled off a bunt, but then finished off the sacrifice later in the at-bat. He grounded out on a hit and run, and had a shallow fly-ball out. Ricardo Sanchez is a 6 foot outfielder, at 185 pounds. He had a full count ground-ball, an unsuccessful sac bunt, a ground out back to pitcher, and a short swing line-out.

Jarid Scarafiotti was the most impressive Stephen F. Austin hitter:

He was stocky at 5-11 230 (and was probably bigger than that) and played catcher. He had a bad throw early on, but made a good one later in the game, and it appeared he had a pretty good arm. He blocked the plate well on a play at the plate, but he really wasn't able to move well enough to block pitches. In my opinion, while it would enhance his value greatly if he was, he isn't a real catcher. With the bat, he was fooled on his first pitch and had a ground out on his first at-bat. However, he pulled a single, and had a relatively deep fly-ball, and another 1 pitch fly-out. The Senior has struggled so far this year, but has hit at least .306 in the 3 previous years. He hasn't ever slugged .500, but has an OBP of around .400. He is going to have to either hit for more power, or improve his catching, but if he can do one of those things, he will be a nice prospect for the draft.

Now for the bullpen pitchers:

Cody Priest threw 87 MPHs out a sidearm. 3-5ths type of delivery (reminded me of the way Scott Feldman used to throw when he was a reliever):

It looked like he was trying to put the ball low, but it stayed pretty high. His breaking ball was for strikes, but high strikes. It seemed the ball went everywhere but low, as his major control problems led to 2 HBPs.

Alex Moshier was throwing 92 MPH, and keeps his hands high and hides the ball well:

His delivery has a slow start, as did his outing as Bollinger, the first hitter he faced, creamed the ball off of him on the first pitch. His second pitch was a nice swing and miss, but 2 of his first 3 pitches turned into hits. His breaking ball did have swing and miss stuff, his fastball just isn't as overpowering as he thinks it is.

Michael Morales:

Morales was throwing 87 MPH, and was kinda hefty and turned to hide the ball (Brian Fuentes like, but not quite as drastic):

He got a strikeout swinging, but I am afraid that delivery won't work against lefties.

Adam Westbrook was throwing a measly 83 MPH, and was brought in to face a lefty:

However, the lefty was pinch hit for and Westbrook jammed the right handed pinch hitter. He got another grounder, and had a goofy kind of curve-ball that sits inside on lefties.

Kasey Merck was throwing 90 MPH on his fastball, and 80 MPH on his breaking ball:

He has a violent delivery where he throws his whole body around, and seems to sacrifice control for velocity (and he had no control, throwing one in the dirt, and then one down the middle).

Freshman Chad Nack can hit 95 MPH, but I didn't see him pitch, plus he is a freshman, so there is no reason to focus on him yet.

Big thanks to UTA RHP Sam Hansen, who I sat next to at the game, for giving me some radar speeds and some other information. Good luck and best wishes to him on recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

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