Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Reports on Alex Wood, Xander Bogaerts, and Donavan Tate

Alex Wood was drafted by the Braves 85th overall out of the University of Georgia in the 2012 draft. I watched his professional debut with the Rome Braves. The 6'4 220 lefty has a very loud delivery, and it makes you wonder whether he is destined to relief because of it. He threw 2 innings and his first at-bat was long but finished him with a solid slider that dropped off the table. Most of his pitches were high, especially the fastball, but his breaking ball was also inconsistent. He got another swinging strikeout on a big looping breaker. A fastball up and in to a lefty was hit hard up the middle, and looked kind of flat. He got a big whiff on what looked like a plus change-up. He struck out the side in the first, all on breaking balls. After a first pitch ground out in the 2nd, he got a foul on a pitch in the dirt and got a whiff on a high outside fastball to a lefty for a strikeout. A grounder on a high fastball got through the middle but he was out on a caught stealing.

Xander Bogaerts:
Bogaerts was signed by the Red Sox in 2009 as an international free agent. The shortstop is interesting as he has a way below average range factor this year despite having better than average ones the last two years and his fielding percentage has always been below average. Of course, these metrics aren't all that good, and don't tell us the whole story. So I wanted to see how he looked out in the field. The first play I saw him, a routine grounder was hit towards him and he shifted the wrong way as he was too worried about holding the runner. It was a pretty silly mental mistake. The next time a ball was hit in his area, he showed off some range to his right got on the ground to stop the pretty hard grounder and made a great throw to get the runner pretty easily. He definitely has a plus arm, with good looking range. He is one of those guys that could be like an Elvis Andrus or Starlin Castro, who have all the tools to play great defense, make a lot of errors, but still have positive rated defense because of all the plays he makes. He could also turn into Ian Desmond, who scouts insist is a good shortstop but defensive metrics give negative ratings because he makes too many mistakes. At this point, it is hard to say, but Bogaerts certainly has the tools to be a good defensive shortstop. 
I only saw one of his at-bats. He took a breaking ball low but then hit a weak grounder on a pitch in the strikezone for an out. He also had a weak foul in the at-bat, his timing seemed off. He has been a pretty decent hitter in league's that he is younger than average. He has a respectable .833 OPS in the Carolina League (advanced A). He strikes out a little bit too much, and hits less line drives than average, but he has a respectable walk rate and ISO. 

Donavan Tate was drafted 3rd overall by the Padres in 2009 and was given a 6 million dollar bonus. However, he has really struggled at the plate with a career .326 SLG, and .077 ISO. He does have a decent K/BB ratio, as he strikes out a lot, but also walks quite a bit. So I watched his game from June 29th 2012 at Advanced A.
I watched him play on Saturday against the San Jose Giants and took notes on his at-bats:

AT-bat 1: Took high outside fastball, whiffed on fastball on outside part of the plate. He then took a fastball on outside part of the plate, then took another one which appeared to be outside but was called strike 3. His swing looked really slow.
At-bat 2: After a whiff on low fastball, he whiffed on a change low and away. He then took took an outside pitch. Another outside and low pitch lead to another whiff.
It is very easy to see what the problem is: Pitchers won't go inside to him because he will chase the outside pitch. He is struggling with both pitch recognition and bat speed.
At-bat 3: After a low pitch that tailed outside was fouled off, he chased a low slider for a whiff. He then took an outside 91 MPH fastball before fouling off a high fastball. A low and away slider was chased and missed badly for another strikeout. It almost looks like his head is way up and he isn't watching the bat hit the ball. This is really elementary and would be easy to fix one would think. 
At-bat 4: He faced Edward Conception, a hard thrower who doesn't always know where it is going. Tate took a fastball way outside and then took a low outside fastball at 94 MPH for a strike. A fastball came on the inside, the first pitch that had done so in the game, and he watched it for strike 2. Conception threw a breaking ball on the outside corner for strike 3. At this point, he is just overwhelmed at the plate and shouldn't be at this level.
At-bat 5: This was the encouraging at-bat. It didn't start off this way as a high and outside fastball turned into a whiff. An up and in fastball was ball 1 before the umpire continued to make the plate grow outside for a called strike 2 on a fastball. He fouled off the next fastball and took a breaking ball well outside and in the dirt. At 2-2, Tate fouled off another high and outside fastball. Pitch 7 was a slider and it was fouled off. Pitch 8 was outside and fouled off again. Pitch 9 was well outside and a fastball taken.A fastball well outside turned into a walk. 

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