Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Scouting Reports on J.T. Chargois and Pat Stover

Pat Stover of Santa Clara was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 7th round of the 2009 draft. He obviously didn't sign, and is draft eligible again. He was playing left field when I saw him. If he really is a corner outfielder, he has to really hit. I don't really like his swing, as he seems to get unbalanced and rob himself of power. He takes a step and then swats at the pitch it seems like. He counteracts this by having a good eye and plate discipline. He was pitched outside and wasn't really biting. Of course, the starter he faced didn't really appear to be a prospect. In one at-bat, after a called strike 2, he panicked and chased a curveball way out of the zone. Defensively, his arm isn't much to write about, but he is an above average runner on the basepaths and in the field. He can hit the breaking ball, and should make plenty of contact, but it appears he is a ground-ball hitter.
The guy I was a little more intrigued with was Lucas Herbst, the center fielder for Santa Clara. He hits lefty and has a good combo of size and speed. He is a good runner, and has good bat speed. He had one really long at-bat before striking out on a curve. Defensively, he doesn't really seem to have a good arm.

J.T. Chargois is a guy pegged by many to go in the supplemental round (the compensation picks between the 1st and 2nd rounds). The right-hander DHs for the Rice Owls, but his draft value is in his relief pitching. He has good velocity, as advertised, as he hit 95 MPH. It has a little tail, but its not really a "moving fastball". He throws it away to lefties and into righties. He also has a hard curve that has good speed differential, okay movement, and he can throw for strikes. He has a lot of confidence in the pitch and throws it a lot (at least when I saw him). He not only has swing and miss stuff, he also has ground-ball stuff. He keeps the ball low, can throw the breaking ball in the dirt, and in both sides of the zone. Every once in a while the breaking ball stayed up, but that was the only thing lacking polish. He doesn't have a starters delivery, but has bullpen ace stuff. He shouldn't have crazy splits, even though he seems to only have two pitches. Other than Damien Magnifico of Oklahoma (who I would pick over Chargois just because of fastball velocity and the slight chance he could be a starter), Chargois is the best relief prospect I have seen (I am not counting Stroman of Duke, who many people see as a future reliever because of his height).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Scouting Report: Josh Bell

Josh Bell (not to be confused with Pirates prospect Josh Bell) is a former 4th round pick who has had a disastrous MLB career. In 79 games, he has an OPS of just .485 (33 OPS +) and -.9 WAR. At the start of the 2010 season, he was ranked as the 37th best prospect in all of baseball. After a .094/.256/.250 start to 2012 in 9 AAA games, the Orioles traded him to the Diamondbacks. He has responded to the hitter friendly PCL very well in 24 games with a batting average over .400 and OPS of almost 1.100.

According to the Baseball Cube, his best attribute is power (Baseball America said he was the best power prospect in the Dodgers organizations in 2008), which is rated at a 79 out of 100. Contact has been his real problem, at 26. He has below average speed at 42, but decent patience and batting ratings.
As a switch hitter, he is hitting for a slightly better average and OBP on the right side, but is hitting for more power on the right side so far this year.
I got to watch him on May 18th 2012 (the same day I watched Bauer). His first at-bat was against Aneury Rodriquez and he started by taking a low pitch. He then got a fastball down the middle, and Bell got way under it and flew out to medium deep center field.
In his 2nd at-bat, he got in a 1-1 count before a wild low inside fastball was taken. He was then fooled on a curve in the zone with a swing and miss. It is such a violent violent swing.  He was a ground-ball hitter in his short MLB stint, but his swing does not look like a ground-ball swing. He looks like he is trying to hit a homer every time up. Rodriquez then tried to throw the same curve in the same location and Bell made him pay for it. Bell went the other way and hit the ball hard, mashing the wall for a double.
At-bat 3 started with a way outside fastball taken before Bell flew out to medium center on the next pitch.

At-bat 4 was against a lefty, so he batted right handed. He faced some hard velocity and took a low pitch for ball after a first pitch strike. He then swung and miss on a breaking ball that was low and just out of the zone. He then took a low hard fastball in the dirt, but was fooled by a breaking ball that he chased for a swinging strikeout.

I didn't get a read on him defensively, but in his short MLB stint, he saved 2 runs above average according to Baseball Reference. Baseball America rated him as the best defensive 3rd baseman in the Southern League (AA) in 2009. Fangraphs' UZR also had him as a positive fielder.

Scouting Reports on Jake Odorizzi and Trevor Bauer

Jake Odorizzi in the Kansas City Royals organization made his first start in AAA on Friday night. He has a moving fastball (2-seamer looking type pitch) that tails down with good movement. His 4-seamer straight fastball is very straight with not much movement, and good not great velocity. He also had a soft curve that he broke out in the 2nd, and mixed with a change, it is a pretty impressive assortment of pitches.
On the curveball, he had back luck on a soft grounder hit up the middle, but he also wasn't getting the pitch down early on in the game. As the game went on, it is almost like it over-corrected and he couldn't get it out of the dirt. With the 4 seamer, he got a fly-out to the warning track to the 2nd hitter of the game (Luis Rodriquez). In the first inning, he did get 2 grounders. The changeup was hung in the middle of the plate to Carlos Peguero who turned it into an absolute bomb. He seemed to be really inconsistent with it, and it wasn't a great pitch. In the 4th, he gave up a double to Luis Jimenez on a decent looking low moving fastball. Overall, he wasn't hitting his spots, and had control problems. He went 6.2 innings and gave up 9 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. In the 3rd, he gave up back to back BABIP type hits, as one was hit hard, but it was on the ground. He got out of the inning with a fly-out, a strikeout on a breaking pitch, and a ground-out. The run he gave up in the 5th was pretty bad luck, with an infield single, a steal, and a bloop single. He then got a lucky double play on bad base running, so it evened out somewhat.

Trevor Bauer in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization also made his first AAA start Friday night against a pretty pedestrian Oklahoma City Redhawks (Astros) lineup. He struck out Brian Bixler on 3 pitches to start the game, and it took just 8 pitches to get through the first. He loves to throw a high fastball that has great velocity in the mid 90s. He threw a couple ones low, but most of them were high. He started the game with a lot of fastballs, but threw more off-speed stuff as the game went along. He has a big curve that he hung the first time he threw it, but he got the fly-out to end the first. There has been a lot of discussion around ground-balls to fly-balls when discussing Trevor Bauer, as he seems to want to go for strikeouts at the risk of getting fly-balls. I am as much of a ground-ball to fly-ball ratio guy as there is, but there are different types of fly-balls. Infield fly-balls are almost automatic outs, and there is a difference between weak fly-balls versus deep or "hard" fly-balls. Just looking at ground-ball to fly-ball ratio can be misleading sometimes if you ignore the quality of those fly-balls. So I decided to keep count of weak fly-outs versus deep fly-outs. According to my count, he got 4 weak fly-balls and just 1 deep fly-ball. The deep fly-ball was a homer to lead-off the 8th. I was a little surprised they let him pitch into the 8th, as it was a close game, and he had to bat in the bottom of the 7th. He fell behind the next hitter 3-0 before getting the batter out. Overall, he got a lot of grounders, more than he got fly-balls. I thought he did a good job of working both high and low overall, mixing his pitches. He didn't get many swing and misses on the fastball, it may be too predictable, meaning he may have to start working it in different locations. He gave up a line drive double to Bixler in the 3rd with 2 outs on a fastball down the middle. The curveball is just nasty, especially once you consider the speed differential he gets between it and the fastball. This and his hard splitter seems to be his out pitch. He got 11 strikeouts in the game, and even if 2 were to the opposing pitcher (Aneury Rodriquez), it was pretty impressive. He also has a change-up that he has a lot of confidence in, which he showed when he got behind 2-0 and threw one in the middle of a plate for a strike. He ended up striking out the batter (Jimmy Paredas) on a splitter way out of the zone, but the ball got away from the catcher and extended the 3rd inning. He responded by striking out the next guy on a splitter. The 4th was pretty easy with a ground-ball, another ground-ball, and a strikeout. He really can throw all his pitches for strikes (other than his splitter, which you really don't want for strikes anyway). The best example may have been in a 3-2 count where he threw a curve in the 5th. It ended up being a ball and a walk (his only walk) but it speaks to how advanced he is as a pitcher in my opinion (he would go on to strikeout the next hitter on the curve). He was really impressive, as his line showed: 8 innings, 4 hits, 1 run.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scouting Report: Dae-Eun Rhee

Dae-Eun Rhee is a 23 year old right hander from South Korea currently pitching for the Tennessee Smokies (the AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs). He has a good curveball that looks like it is of 12-6 variety. It definitely qualifies as a "slow curve". When I saw him (May 15th 2012 against the Jackson Generals), he was getting opponents to chase a lot, especially on the curveball. He has decent looking velocity on a moving fastball that can run in or tail away (and usually moved down as well). He also threw a couple of straight, high 4-seamers with good looking velocity. His numbers are nothing special, but he looks pretty advanced as far as his different pitches and pitch selection. Nothing is real straight, and he changes speeds pretty well. In the game I saw, he didn't give up much hard contact, and has always had a pretty respectable GO/AO ratio. He did have some control problems in the 3rd, and that seems to come with pitcher that have heavy movement like Rhee, as they can't always control it. His minor league walk numbers suggest that he has had this problem a lot. However, there is nothing in his delivery that suggests that he won't be able get control at some point (as in, it is not a quirky delivery). The moving fastball was really the wild pitch for him, as he can throw all his breaking pitches for strikes (but doesn't necessarily have to, as he can get hitters, at least minor league hitters, to chase). He has a little bit of a goofy body type, and looked pretty awful defensively.

Overall, there is obvious potential for Rhee. It all seems to hinge on what he is able to do command wise. I don't really see any reason why he won't be able to gain more command as he develops further. The stuff is there for him to be a solid MLB starter.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Scouting Report on Neil Ramirez (Updated)

Neil Ramirez was ranked as the 5th best prospect for the Texas Rangers coming into 2012 by Baseball America. He was picked in the Supplemental First Round by the Rangers and signed for 1 million dollars. According to Baseball Cube, his best attribute is his strikeout ability, which is ranked as a 79 out of 100. He has really low control and versus power ratings.

He doesn't have crazy splits this year, with a .267 OBP against righties and .278 OBP against lefties (the SLG is .103 higher against lefties). He has a decent strike percentage of 64.68% (all numbers are not counting the start I detail below), but has really struggled keeping the ball on the ground with a 22/38 GO/AO ratio. In 25 AAA starts, he has a 4.06 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 9.44 K/9IP. This is really impressive once you consider that the 22 year old (will turn 23 years old later this month) pitches in the very hitter friendly AAA. According to our AAA (PCL edition) metric, this is projected to be a 3.59 ERA in the big leagues.

I watched him on Sunday May 13th 2012 against the Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners' AAA). The Rainiers have a weak PCL lineup. To give you an idea of just how weak it is, Carlos Triunfel was batting 3rd. Triunfel has been extremely disappointing as a prospect, with a .697 career MiLB OPS. On the under hand, he definitely was getting squeezed by the umpire.

His curveball was ranked the best in the organization by Baseball America in 2007. I really saw him go to it when it looked like he was in trouble early on. Most of the time his curveball didn't get as low as you would like and stayed up. When it did get down, it was clearly his best pitch. It wasn't a big looping curve, but it had good speed differential.
He can throw all his breaking pitches for strikes. Especially his changeup. He threw one changeup on a 3-1 for a swinging strike in the 2nd against Savastano. It doesn't have a lot of movement, so it is all about speed differential and just making the hitter guess. It is certainly not a Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez "here is my changeup, and you can't hit it" change, but few of them are. It is a serviceable pitch.
The breaking stuff induced a lot of weak pop-outs, 4 in 3 innings (2 in 1st, 1 each in the 2nd and 3rd). His fastball was in the low to mid 90s and he showed a lot of promise with it, commanding it on both sides of the plate and both up and down.
He definitely had some hard downward movement. His fastball had real sink when it was kept low, almost like he has a separate sinker. His velocity did show off, as a lot of hitters were late on the fastball early. He was really fastball happy, and I think to a detriment. I thought he should have thrown more curveballs. He gave up a double on a fastball down the middle and really started to have major control problems in the 3rd (and he got no help from his defense, I felt bad that the left side of his infield was Matt Kata and Tommy Mendonca. The Detroit Tigers think that is a dreadful defensive infield). With the bases loaded, he threw a fastball up and in to fastball up and in hitter Luis Jimenez, and predictably, he hit a grand slam. Whether this is simply a lack of scouting report or just awful command one can't be real sure, but it was not pretty. Overall, his fastball isn't a "put away" pitch, even though it seems he wanted it to be. He had some really wild fastballs up high, which might be a product of an inconsistent release point. He hit a batter in the 4th, and there was definitely a regression from the first time he went through the lineup to the 2nd time. However, he still got some swings and misses, which I thought was very encouraging.

Overall, he has a very simple delivery, with no real deception but no real mechanical flaws or major injury risks (although our understanding of pitching mechanics are not very good). He displayed what I thought was mid rotation stuff, but he looks really far from polished and is clearly not ready for the big leagues yet. The promise is there, which I thought was magnified when he made Johan Limonta (to be fair, a player with no big league future or potential) look really silly on his fastball/changeup combo. He threw too many pitches in the middle of the plate, and even with decent (not great) movement on his pitches, it is just not a recipe for success. Whether Ramirez lives up to his stuff or not will depend on location, like most pitchers.

Update: I saw Ramirez again in Round Rock against the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's AAA). Here is some poorly done video (by my brother Daniel):

 He was throwing 90-92 MPH, and had real control problems early. He got better as game went on. He was nasty when he hit the corners with the fastball and curve. He gave up a homer that was a typical PCL homer, it didn't appear to be hit hard and it just carried. Jason Cole of Lone Star Dugout told me (on the twitter machine) that he has had a really odd season, with times where he has had excellent command and then times where he has had no command. I saw both on Thursday May 24th 2012.

Some other notes from the game:
Michael Taylor of the A's is an absolute monster as far as size goes. He takes a huge hack, but the bat speed is pretty slow and he swings and misses a lot. He seems to have a decent eye (he walked when Neil Ramirez was walking everyone and then struck out when Ramirez was striking out everyone).

A.J. Griffin started for the Rivercats and he was 88-89 MPH with a 78-79 curve and then a slow curve/change that got a couple of 68 MPH readings. The stuff doesn't really match his minor league strikeout totals. He had a couple of bad luck plays in the first, followed by a good fielding play. Matt Kata of all people took him all the way to the wall later in the game.

Tyler Tufts for Round Rock has an overhand delivery with a little bit of tail on a 87-91 MPH fastball (Cole notes that he was hitting 93-95 earlier this year). He has an 80 MPH curve, and kept all 3 balls in the infield.

Pedro Figueroa is a lefty that was throwing 90-93 MPH out of the bullpen for Sacramento.

Tanner Scheppers of Round Rock was throwing 95-97 MPH, and hit 98 MPH twice. He hung the 82 MPH slider the first time he threw it and gave up a single, but then got a double play. He got a nasty swing and miss in the last at-bat on the slider, and then got a called strike 3 to the end the game.