Previewing the 2017 Rome Braves

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Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series.  Just Rome and West Virginia are left as we inch closer to opening day.  I hope you’ve gotten as much out of these as I have.  Today I’ll be talking about the Rome Braves as I continue alphabetically around the league. Rome is the single-A, full season affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.

Previously I’ve covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/01/previewing-the-2017-asheville-tourists/

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/13/previewing-the-2017-augusta-greenjackets/

Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/31/previewing-the-2017-charleston-riverdogs/

Columbia Fireflies (Mets)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/03/previewing-the-2017-columbia-fireflies/

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/09/previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds/

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/23/previewing-the-2017-greensboro-grasshoppers/

Greenville Drive (Red Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/31/previewing-the-2017-greenville-drive/

Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/07/previewing-the-2017-hagerstown-suns/

Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/13/previewing-the-2017-hickory-crawdads/

Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/27/previewing-the-2017-kannapolis-intimidators/

Lakewood Blueclaws (Phillies)-

Previewing the 2017 Lakewood Blueclaws

Lexington Legends (Royals)-   http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/03/13/previewing-the-2017-lexington-legends/

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include  scouting report.  It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Rome Braves, Danville Braves and GCL Braves.

I want to give a big shout out to Jeff Morris (on Twitter @_Jeff_Morris) for supplying all of the photo’s for this piece.  My 1st time working with him but he does terrific work.

At Notes From the Sally its all about live look scouting.  I set a goal this year to see every team in the SAL at least twice in the 1st half (April 6th-June 18th).  Once I see the Rome Braves you can expect write ups on many of the players listed below.  Rome will be in my area for 17 games in the 1st half (beginning with 7 from April 20-26).   I plan to get at least a 1/2 dozen looks early to see as many of there pitchers as I can as they look loaded again.

I’ve got a fund drive going right now, I set a goal to raise $250 this year to counter the costs associated with live scouting a league this size (tons of road trips plus hotel stays when I go to Columbia, Greensboro and Kannapolis) I’ve attached links to my Patreon and to Pay Pal.  If you get anything out of this site please consider contributing to the cause. Thank you.

 

Lets meet the notables

RHP) Ian Anderson- Age 18, listed 6’3″ 170 lbs, bats and throws right.  Anderson was drafted 3rd overall in the 2016 draft out of high school in Clifton Park, NY (Albany, metro) (my neck of the woods, another reason to root for him).

One of my go to sites for draft coverage is “The Baseball Draft Report”.  Rob Ozga does a great job breaking it all down.  One of my favorite features is the team by team draft reviews.  From the Braves review here’ some of what he wrote of Anderson:

“A pre-season FAVORITE who has only gone on to bigger and better things in the interim, Ian Anderson can make a case for being the top prep righthander in this class. He’s one of the handful of young arms with the potential for three plus pitches — 88-94 fastball (95 peak), 77-80 breaking ball, and a 80-85 change — but what truly separates him from the pack is his ten years in the big league veteran command. Fantasy owners rightfully scared off by high school pitchers — so far from the big leagues with so much time to get hurt! — not named Groome and Pint would be wise to include Anderson in that big three on draft day. One scout friend of mine called Anderson a “more explosive Aaron Nola.” A little bit of upside (or a lot), a little bit of certainty (very little, but still more than most HS arms)…where do I sign up?”

““More explosive Aaron Nola” is exceedingly high praise, I’d say. Anderson has a legit claim to three future plus pitches (88-94 sinking FB, 96 peak; 75-80 CB, 80-85 CU) with plus command and plenty of projection left in his 6-3, 170 pound frame. I’m literally not sure what more you could want in a high school pitching prospect. Atlanta’s system is loaded with both high-end (albeit risky) talent and crazy depth, so offseason prospect rankings of the team’s farm will be some of the most interesting we’ve seen in years. There’s so much top-heavy talent that there’s really no wrong way to organize the team’s cream of the crop (or at least I hope not…); hopefully my kind of out there take that the two best prospects in the system right now are Anderson and Kolby Allard in some order (with mystery man Kevin Maitan on the same tier but too hard for me to place just yet) isn’t seen as too nuts. On second thought, who really cares if it is?”

For the rest of the Braves 2016 draft review and much more draft coverage click here:  https://baseballdraftreport.com/2016/11/14/2016-mlb-draft-reviews-atlanta-braves/

 

 

LHP) Joey Wentz- Age 19, listed 6’5″ 210 lbs, bats and throws left.  Wentz was drafted 40th overall in the 2016 draft out of high school in Prairie Village KS (Kansas City Metro).

“Prospect junkies” is another one of my favorite draft sites.  Burke Granger sees a lot of live games and posts his thoughts on many of the projected top picks.  Here’s some of what he wrote about Wentz:

“Fastball:  Wentz’ fastball sat 91-92 mph (touching 93) when I saw him and has reportedly been up to 96 this spring.  Coming from a downhill plane with arm side run, this has the makings of an above average pitch, and should be a solid foundation from which to build the remainder of his repertoire.”

“Curveball:  At 75-76 mph with good depth, Wentz can spin a curveball.  Featuring a 1-7 break, this is Wentz’ most advanced secondary offering.”

“Changeup:  At 79-82 mph, the changeup is more of a work in progress. Wentz will need to refine the consistency of his of this pitch to neutralize right-handed hitters.  When right, it shows fade, and I can see this developing into a potentially average pitch.”

“DELIVERY:  A good athlete, Wentz displays balance and control in his delivery that is unmatched from even the college pitchers I’ve seen this spring who are 6’5″ and taller.  Leveraging his height with a high 3/4 release point, Wentz has clean arm action and repeatability in the delivery.”

“FUTURE:  Wentz has been climbing up draft lists this spring, and having gotten one of the first looks at him of the year, I’m not surprised.  There’s some projection left in his frame and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis recently stated on a podcast that Wentz has a chance to go in top 10-15 overall picks.  I view his ceiling every bit as high as Florida’s A.J. Puk, though he’s a higher risk to reach that potential.  That’s no knock on Wentz but rather a testament to what three years of elite college experience can do for your development.”

For more on Wentz and much more draft coverage click here:   https://prospectjunkies.com/2016/04/27/mlb-draft-scouting-report-joey-wentz/

 

 

 

LHP) Kyle Muller- Age 19, listed 6’6″ 225 lbs, bats right and throws left.  Muller was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Dallas, TX.

“MLB Pipeline” recently released there top 30 Braves prospects and said this of Muller.

“A tremendous athlete and two-way player during his high school career in Texas, Muller was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2016. He parlayed his strong senior season into being the 44th overall pick of the Braves, in the second round, and received an above pick-value bonus of $2.5 million to sign rather than head to the University of Texas to both pitch and hit.”

“As a pro, Muller’s future is undoubtedly on the mound, though he’s already shown an eagerness to swing the bat whenever he’s given the chance. Muller pitched sparingly during his debut, but he was effective even though his velocity was down a bit from the low-90s-to-95 mph spike he showed in high school. Muller uses his 6-foot-6 frame extremely well, throwing downhill and with sink. He also has good deception in his very repeatable delivery, so hitters do not square him up very often. His secondary stuff is inconsistent right now, but he does flash a plus breaking ball at times and has a good feel for a changeup with fade and tumble.”

“Given his size, stuff, feel for pitching and athleticism, not to mention that he’s focusing on pitching for the first time, Muller brings a lot of upside to the table. Watching him, Ian Anderson and Joey Wentz develop together could be a whole lot of fun.”

For the rest of the Braves top 30 prospects click here:  http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017/?list=atl

 

 

CF) Christian Pache- Age 18, listed 6’2″ 185 lbs, bats and throws right. Pache was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.

Eric Longenhagen of “Fangraphs” recently counted down his top 32 Braves prospects and is very high on Pache:

“Pache arguably has the highest ceiling in this system of any player not named Kevin Maitan. He’s a 70 runner with a 70 arm and burgeoning physicality that was on display when I saw him last fall. He could be plus in center with reps and I was most taken with his ability to recognize balls and strikes. He’s already showing impressive bat control for his age/size, though he has to cheat, mechanically, to do it. But as he continues to grow, he’s going to become stronger with the bat, and I think he has a chance to be a plus hitter. Any power that comes would be a bonus and, while I wouldn’t expect much more than 40 game power at peak, there’s a chance for it.”

“The risk here is obviously great, but if my projections pan out we’re looking at .270, an above-average ability to reach base and the speed to terrorize pitchers when he’s on, maybe 8-12 homers and great defense in center field. That’s a 4-WAR player and, even with a huge chunk backed out for risk, one of the better prospects in a loaded system.”

For the rest of Fangraphs top 32 Braves prospects click here:   http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-32-prospects-atlanta-braves/

 

SS) Derian Cruz- Age 18, listed 6’1′ 180 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Cruz was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.

Gondeee of “Chop County” counted down his top 30 Braves prospects recently and said this of Cruz:

“The Braves top international signing in 2015 had a successful pro debut state-side in 2016. He hit well for a month in the GCL, then scuffled a bit for a month after a promotion to Danville. His premium athleticism were on display at both stops, but like most young international players he has a lot of refinement to do. He swings at everything, and as a switch-hitter he has more work to do to refine his swing mechanics. Both speed and power showed up in his game, and his arm remains strong enough to stay at shortstop, though more work on his fielding is needed. He’s a long-term project for the Braves, so he’ll probably yo-yo up and down this prospect list for years to come. Still too far away to put an ETA on him.”

For more of Chop County’s top 30 Braves prospects click here:  http://www.gondeee.com/2017/01/16/braves-2017-top-30-prospects/

Of all the players listed in this section, Cruz seems most likely to repeat at short season.

 

 

C, RF) Alex Jackson- Age 21, listed 6’2″ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Jackson was drafted 6th overall by the Mariners in the 2014 draft out of high school in San Diego, CA.  He hasn’t found immediate success as a pro but he obviously has the pedigree.  This seems like a nice buy low for the Braves.   A catcher in high school, Jackson was strictly an corner OF with the Mariners.  But there’s talk of moving him back behind the dish.  We’ll see if he comes to Rome.

 

 

Around the Diamond

Catcher

Alex Jackson

 

Brett Cumberland- Age 21, listed 5’11” 205, bats both and throws right.  Cumberland was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of CAL Univ (Berkeley).

Eric Cole of “Talking Chop” posted a write up of Cumberland during the draft, you can find that here:  http://www.talkingchop.com/2016/6/10/11899914/2016-mlb-draft-braves-select-brett-cumberland-76th-overall

 

Lucas Herbert– Age 20, listed 6′ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Herbert was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in San Clemente, CA.

He struggled offensively in his 1st look at full season but got high grades for his receiving.  I made a mental note early in the season last year because Rome was facing Hickory starter Jonathan Hernandez who was consistently 93-95 touching 96 and Herbert was getting very good swings on the fastballs.  A lot of loud contact,  he did struggle with soft away though.  The glove gives him a high floor will see if there’s some advancements with the bat.

 

Other options at Catcher:  Carlos Martinez, Alan Crowley,

 

Middle Infield

2B)  Matt Gonzalez- Age 23, listed 5’11” 193 lbs, bats and throws right.  Gonzalez was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of Georgia Tech Univ.

 

SS) Derian Cruz-

 

2B-SS) Kevin Josephina- Age 20, listed 6′ 170 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Josephina was signed out of Curacao in 2013.

 

If Cruz makes the jump this year I suspect it will be he and Gonzalez the starters with Josephina spelling both.  Mooney and McLemore could both see significant time and SS) Alejandro Salazar could be back.

 

We could also see 2B-SS) Luis Ovando, age 18, listed 6’1″ 160 lbs, bats and throws right.  Ovando was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.  He only got into 11 games of stateside rookie ball so he’s probably headed for short season.

 

Other Middle Infield Options:  Marcus Mooney (2B, SS, 3B), Darien McLemore (2B), Jeremy Fernandez (2B, SS)

 

Corner Infield

1B-3B) Juan Yepez- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Yepez was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.   I’m not sure if the Braves have closed the book on Yepez starting at 3B.  He figures to be the starter at one of the corners but he may get significant run on both.

Drew Bonner of “Prospects 1500” counted down his top 50 Braves prospects and had this to say of Yepez:

“After a strong debut in 2015, Yepez had a lost season in 2016 due to injury. He has good contact skills and the ability to develop significant power. Yepez is a relatively strong defensive first baseman and will look to jump start his development again in 2017.”

For the rest of “Prospects 1500” top 50 Braves prospects click here:  http://prospects1500.com/top-50-lists/braves-top-50-fantasy-prospects/

 

1B) Ramon Osuna- Age 21, listed 6’2″ 245 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Osuna was drafted in the 16th round of the 2014 draft out of Walters State Community College (Morristown, TN).

 

3B, SS) Alex Aquino- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 165 lbs, Bats and throws right. Aquino was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.   Aquino got a lot of starts at 3rd in 2016 previously he was 2B,SS.   It’s clearly an organizational need at least until Maitan is ready assuming he’s playing 3B and not SS.

 

The middle infield is crowded but the corners are not.

 

Other Corner Infield Options Ryan O’Malley (3B), Alex Lee (1B)

 

Outfield

CF) Christian Pache-

 

CF-RF) Isranel Wilson- Age 19, listed 6’3″ 185, bats left and throws right.  Wilson was on my radar last year because of the .257 ISO he put up in the GCL in 2015.  He’s toolsy but super raw.

 

LF-RF) Anthony Concepcion- Age 21, listed 6’1″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Concepcion was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.

 

LF) Leudys Baez- Age 20, listed 6′ 160 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Baez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.  Baez is super tooled up, puts on a show in BP but is raw.  The approach and pitch recognition skills need work.  Spends a lot of time out on his front foot.

 

 

Other OF options:  Bradley Keller (LF, RF), Matt Hearn (LF, CF, RF), Tyler Neslony (RF, LF), Jackson Pokorney (LF),

 

Starting Pitching

RHP) Ian Anderson

 

LHP) Joey Wentz

 

LHP) Kyle Muller

 

LHP) Ricardo Sanchez- Age 19, listed 5’11” 170 lbs, bats and throws left.  Sanchez was signed by the Angels out of Venezuela in 2013.  He was traded to the Braves in Jan 2015 for 3B prospect Kyle Kubiza and right handed relief pitcher Nate Hyatt.  Both of them appear to be out of baseball and 2014 was statistically speaking there best season.  So this was the definition of selling high albeit for a lottery ticket.

My friend Wayne Cavadi of Minor League Ball got to watch Sanchez pitch last August and wrote about him here:   http://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/8/6/12393452/first-impressions-of-the-rome-braves-ricardo-sanchez

 

LHP) Drew Harrington- Age on opening day 22, listed 6’2″ 225 lbs, bats right and throws left.  Harrington was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Louisville.

 

RHP) Bryse Wilson- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 225 lbs, bats and throws right.  Wilson was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Hillsborough, NC (Raleigh, Durham area).

Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America watched Wilson throw a no hitter a couple of months before the draft and wrote about him here (no subscription required):  http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/game-report-bryse-wilson-throws-no-hitter/#ZBQ7ojmgdpWftD4J.97

 

Other SP who could see some time:  Jaret Hellinger, Jhon Martinez, Luis Mora, Luis Gamez

 

Conclusion

I enjoyed my deep dive into the Braves system.  This is going to be a very talented squad again, they’ll be very deep at SP and Middle Infield. And Pache will be near the top of my players to watch this season.

I hope you got as much out of this as I did.  Up next will be my final team preview The West Virginia Power (Pirates).

 

 

Previewing the 2017 Lexington Legends

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Meibrys Viloria, courtesy of http://www.eluniversal.com.co/sites/default/files/201201/imagen/meibry_viloria2.jpg

Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series.  Just a few more to go as we inch closer to opening day.  I hope you’ve gotten as much out of these as I have.  Today I’ll be talking about the Lexington Legends as I continue alphabetically around the league. The Legends are the single-A full season affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

Previously I’ve covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/01/previewing-the-2017-asheville-tourists/

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/13/previewing-the-2017-augusta-greenjackets/

Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/31/previewing-the-2017-charleston-riverdogs/

Columbia Fireflies (Mets)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/03/previewing-the-2017-columbia-fireflies/

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/09/previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds/

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/23/previewing-the-2017-greensboro-grasshoppers/

Greenville Drive (Red Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/31/previewing-the-2017-greenville-drive/

Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/07/previewing-the-2017-hagerstown-suns/

Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/13/previewing-the-2017-hickory-crawdads/

Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/27/previewing-the-2017-kannapolis-intimidators/

Lakewood Blueclaws (Phillies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/03/04/previewing-the-2017-lakewood-blueclaws/

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include  scouting report.  It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Lexington Legends, Idaho Falls Chukars, Burlington Royals and AZL Royals.

At Notes From the Sally its all about live look scouting.  I set a goal this year to see every team in the SAL twice in the 1st half (April 6th-June 18th).  Once I see the Lex Legends you can expect write ups on many of the players listed below.  They’re on the preliminary schedule for April 10th in Greenville and May 29th and 30th in Asheville.

I’ve got a fund drive going right now, I’m trying to raise $250 to counter the costs associated with live scouting a league this size (road trips, hotel stays that sort of thing)  Please consider contributing if you can, I’ve attached links to my Patreon and to Pay Pal.  Thank you.

 

Lets meet the notables:

 

Seuly Matias, courtesy of http://m.mlb.com/assets/images/7/6/6/134058766/cuts/Seuly_Matias_1280_4yxnl0ds_a9e8o8d0.jpg

CF, RF) Seuly Matias– Age 18, listed 6’3″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Matias was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.

Nobody knows the Royals system better than Clinton Scoles, he’s an excellent resource that helped me with last years Legends preview.  He released a four piece series with BP Kansas City back in December that really covered the Royals system and it’s a great read.  Here’s his thoughts on the young slugger Matias:

“The Royals big dollar 2015 Latin signee has two talents that can’t be taught in his power bat and cannon for an arm. Currently, Matias has the speed to play centerfield in the minors but at 17 and already 6’3″, 211 lbs. it would be easy to see him outgrowing the position and moving over to right field where he can show off the best arm in the organization. The power in this youngster certainly seems real after finishing in a three-way tie for the Arizona summer league lead with eight home runs. He was the youngest of the group to tie for that title and the highest mark by a Royals player in that league since Miguel Vega hit 10 in 2005. As with most teenagers, with that power came with plenty of strikeouts, falling victim to the whiff in 37% of his plate appearances while leading the league in total strikeouts (73) by a comfortable margin. Despite that whiff rate, Matias showed growth during the season. He bettered his OPS numbers month to month until ending August with a .921 OPS and a 25% K-rate. At young ages hitters tend take a yank and crank approach, but Matias showed an ability to drive the ball the opposite way, hitting three of his home runs during the year the other way with that unteachable raw strength. Despite all those strikeouts, Matias showed he’s not adverse to taking a walk (11%) and figuring out a plan as the majority of those 22 walks came in August after he flashed much of his home run power the month prior and pitchers started to work around him. It’s a good sign that his bat speed may not be wasted in the future.

The Royals haven’t added a player with this type of raw power since back to back drafts of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. Do they assign him to Lexington at 18 or give him an Idaho Falls assignment?”

For much more Royals prospect coverage click here:   http://kansascity.locals.baseballprospectus.com/2016/12/27/prospecting-the-royals-process-reboot/

 

 

Meibrys Viloria, courtesy of http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CnC5mDRXYAUrBzY.jpg

C) Meibrys Viloria, Age 20, listed 5’11” 175 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Viloria was signed out of Columbia in 2013.

John Sickles of Minor League Ball recently counted down his top 20 Royals Prospects and had this to say of Viloria:

“Age 19, hit .376/.436/.606 with 28 doubles, 20 walks, 36 strikeouts in 226 at-bats in Pioneer League; signed out of Colombia in 2013; left-handed batter with good pure hitting skills; contact approach with power to the gaps from 5-11, 175 pound frame; lacks running speed but has good defensive tools, though needs polish to cut down on mistakes; sleeper prospect to watch as he transitions to full-season ball in 2017. ETA: 2021.”

For the rest of the Royals top 20 prospects click here:  http://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/11/21/13708310/kansas-city-royals-top-20-prospects-for-2017

 

 

Khalil Lee, courtesy of https://09d1d85a2275582e9dad-7b3e649a230e2ba2cff912d8af17e0b5.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/630475.jpg

CF, RF, LF) Khalil Lee- Age 18, listed 5’10” 170 lbs, bats and throws left.  Lee was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Oakton, VA (Washington, DC area).

MLB Pipeline released there top 30 Royals prospects recently and had this to say of Lee:

“Lee drew interest from clubs as both an outfielder and a left-handed pitcher in the 2016 Draft. Though he had a low-90s fastball and a promising slider, the Royals liked his bat and made him a full-time position player after signing him for an above-slot $750,000 as a third-round pick. Gatorade’s 2016 Virginia high school player of the year, he topped the Rookie-level Arizona League in runs (43), triples (six) and total bases (88) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.396) and fifth in slugging (.484).”

“Kansas City considered Lee the best athlete available with the 103rd overall choice, and he has average or better tools across the board. Though he’s not physically imposing, he has some juice in his quick left-handed stroke. He has good feel to hit and a mature approach, plus he already has shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate.”

“An average runner out of the batter’s box, Lee shows more speed once he gets going. He played all three outfield spots in his pro debut, getting most of his time in center field, though he may be better suited for a corner in the long run. His obvious arm strength would play well in right field.”

For the rest of the Royals top 30 click here:  http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017/?list=kc

 

 

Garrett Davila, courtesy of http://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cl1obivWMAAUq-N.jpg

LHP) Garrett Davila– Age 20, listed 6’2″ 180, bats and throws left.  Davilla was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Belmont, NC (Charlotte metro).

Eric Longenhagen of “Fangraphs” recently listed his top 20 Royals Prospects and had this to say about Davila:

“Davila was an interesting amateur prospect. His measurables favored projection but his frame was slight and not everyone thinks he’ll fill out. He was carving up North Carolina high-school hitters with a blunt arching curveball that didn’t project to miss bats in pro ball but was a good athlete with a workable delivery and good feel for pitching. Davila was touching 93 by his senior spring and the added velocity began to answer some of the questions scouts had about the velocity projection.”

“Rather than tweaking his breaking ball in the pros, Davila has focused on changeup usage and early returns are promising. If the body has more to give, he could have an above-average fastball/changeup combo with above-average command and a serviceable change of pace breaking ball. That’s a back-end profile.”

For the rest of the Royals top 20 click here:  http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-20-prospects-kansas-city-royals/

 

 

Nolan Watson, courtesy of http://www.milb.com/assets/images/3/8/0/179152380/cuts/NolanWatson_LEX_ypwr9qfk_yrdnscuu.jpg

RHP) Nolan Watson- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right.  Watson was drafted 33rd overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Indianapolis, IN.

Dave Defreitas and Nick J Faleris of “2080 ball” do a terrific job on organizational reports.  And the two team up for one of my favorite prospect podcasts.  They recently released a lengthy Royals Org report and had this to say of Watson:

“Quick Hit: The 33rd overall selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, Watson has a disappointing full season debut from a production standpoint, averaging just 5.6 SO/9 over 96 1/3 innings of work for Class A Lexington while allowing over a hit per inning and averages of 1.8 HR/9 and 4.1 BB/9. The stuff still shows potential, with the fastball working in the low 90s and reaching the middle 90s with some arm-side action and sink. His slider is a potential above-average to plus offering, but it lacks consistent action, and the former Hoosier state prep product can struggle mightily to place to pitch with purpose. His curveball and changeup are potential average offerings, but the lack impact at present, leaving him with little in the way of a present putaway weapon.”

“Watson will play all of 2017 at the age of 20, so it’s far too early to hit the panic button. Still, one year into his development the profile appears to be more that of a capable back-end of the rotation arm than the mid-rotation standout that the Royals envisioned back in June 2015. He should get another crack at the Sally League this spring, with an eye towards High A ball later in the year if all goes well.”

For much more on the Royals click here:  https://2080baseball.com/2017/03/2017-orgrev-kcr/

 

 

Nicky Lopez, courtesy of http://m.mlb.com/assets/images/5/2/6/183279526/cuts/lopez_v15gqk5j_rk60iv5q.jpg

SS) Nicky Lopez– Age 22, listed 5’11” 175 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Lopez was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 draft out of Creighton Univ.

 

“The Baseball Draft Report” has been one of my go to sites for draft coverage the last couple of years.  Rob Ozga does an excellent job keeping the readers informed. He did a draft review of the Royals and had this to say of Nicky Lopez:

“On Nicky Lopez (253) from March 2016…

Creighton’s best pro prospect for 2016 is Nicky Lopez, a slick fielding shortstop with plus speed and serious athleticism. Like the rest of the names at the top his bat might keep him as more utility player than starter. He’s a fine prospect in his own right, so hopefully this doesn’t come across the wrong way…but Lopez benefits greatly from being draft-eligible in 2016 and not 2015. Last year he might have gotten swept away with all the excellent college shortstop prospects getting popped early and often on draft day; this year, he stands out as one of the better options at the position for no other reason than the fact there’s little doubt he’ll stick there as a professional.

 

From January 2017….

From that point on, Lopez grew on me a little bit with every passing day. Guys who hit .306/.417/.444 with twice as many walks (26) as strikeouts (13) in their draft year tend to do that. Beyond the obvious awesome plate discipline indicators, what I liked about Lopez is the steady increase in functional power (.038 ISO in 2014, .089 ISO in 2015, .138 ISO in 2016) and continued strong base running (83.3% career success rate). Those kind of secondary offensive skills and his longstanding quality defense at short — above-average range, plus arm, soft hands — elevate Lopez’s ceiling to a potential regular at short. If that’s too rich for you, then Lopez’s hot start should at least up the odds of him reaching his existing upside as a high-level utility guy.”

For much more Royals draft coverage click here:  https://baseballdraftreport.com/2017/01/09/2016-mlb-draft-reviews-kansas-city-royals/

 

 

RHP) Ashe Russell- Age 20, listed 6’4″ 201 lbs, bats and throws right.  Russell was drafted 21st overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Indianapolis, IN.

One of my favorite prospectors Rich Wilson of “Prospect 361”, recently counted down his top 10 Royals prospects and gives a good indication of what the Royals thought they were getting when the drafted Russell.

“Russell has a quick arm with a lot of moving parts to his delivery.  The herky-jerky movement does provide deception but it also could prove difficult for him to repeat his delivery.  The delivery is also at a lower three-quarters arm angle, which neutralizes his height and brings the ball towards the hitter at a flatter angle.”

“When healthy and pitching well, the arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 91 to 93 MPH and can touch higher.  Since there is some projection, Russell could see his velocity increase a grade.  He also throws a slider that has a nice tight spin and is working on a change-up.”

 

Russell hasn’t found immediate success as a pro, there have been reports of loss of velocity and the Royals pulled him from the complex league after only (2) one inning starts in 2016.  There was no explanation given and he didn’t surface in instructs.  While the reports certainly aren’t promising, if he shows up this Summer with his stuff intact he could soar up prospect lists.

With three levels of rookie ball available, it seems unlikely he makes it to Lexington this Summer.  We’ll see.

 

SS) Jeison Guzman- Age 18, listed 6’2″ 180 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Guzman was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.  Guzman would be listed much higher here if I thought he was coming to the Sally. I suspect he’s headed for Great Falls or Burlington.

Ben Badler of Baseball America has a quick write up of Guzman and a link for a more detailed piece for subscribers:  http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/royals-agree-sign-11-international-prospect-jeison-guzman/#WeKvwZejK44Ug7PH.97

 

 

Around the diamond

Catcher

C) Meibrys Viloria

 

Other options at Catcher: M.J. Sanchez, Nick Dini, Nathan Esposito, Michael Arroyo,

 

Middle Infield

2B) Gabriel Cancel- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats and throws right. Cancel was drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Puerto Rico.

 

SS) Nicky Lopez

 

SS) Ricky Aracena- Age 19, listed 5’8″ 160 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Aracena was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.

 

Some chance that either Lopez or Aracena make the jump to Lexington but not both.  If they both come I expect that Lopez will start at SS and Aracena will see time at both or maybe get full time duties at 2B with Cancel seeing time at both.

 

 Other Middle Infield options:  Jordan Ebert (2B), David Edwards (2B, 3B), Jonathan McCray (2B, LF)

 

Corner Infield

1B) Chris DeVito- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 220 lbs, bats left and throws right.  DeVito was drafted in the 8th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of New Mexico.

 

1B) Joe Dudek- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 230 lbs, bats and throws left.  Dudek signed as a Minor League Free Agent out of the Univ of NC (Chapel Hill).

 

3B) Manny Olloque- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 165 lbs, bats and throws right.  Olloque was drafted in the 16th round of the 2014 draft out of high school in Torrance, CA (Los Angeles metro).

Not much out there right now on Olloque I’ll post my thoughts when I see him.

 

Other Corner Infield options:  Travis Maezes (3B, 2B) could be back. Jecksson Flores (3B, SS, 2B), Ryan Dale (3B), Angelo Castellano (3B, SS), Colton Frabasilio, Brandon Dulin (1B), Tyler Straub (1B, 2B, 3B) Logan Gray (DH)

 

Outfield

CF, RF) Seuly Matias-

 

CF, RF, LF) Khalil Lee-

 

CF) Marten Gasparini- Age 19, listed 6′ 195 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Gasparini was a high profile signee out of Italy in 2013.

More from MLB Pipeline:

“Given his background and youth, the Royals knew Gasparini would need a lot of time to develop, and they are willing to give it to him because of the potential payoff. A switch-hitter with good bat speed from both sides, he shows better-than-average raw power during batting practice, but he’s still extremely raw at the plate in terms of his approach, plate discipline and pitch recognition.”

“Gasparini’s most usable tool at this point is his plus speed, though he’s still figuring out how to steal bases. His quickness and arm strength are suited for shortstop, but he lacks soft hands and committed 98 errors in 181 games there in his first three pro seasons. Kansas City transitioned Gasparini to center field during instructional league and plans on using him there in 2017, a move that might help his bat by lessening his defensive responsibilities.”

Click here for the rest of the Royals top 30:  http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017/?list=kc

 

RF) Yeison Melo- Age 21, listed 6’1″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Melo was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.

 

RF-LF) Kort Peterson- Age 22, listed 6’1″ 195 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Peterson was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of California (Los Angeles).

 

The outfield looks crowded especially if Matias makes the jump. We could see Matias in Center, with Lee starting in right, and Peterson in left.  With this scenario Gasparini probably gets held back in extended and sent to short season but it’s possible Matias and Gasparini flip. Nick Heath and Yeison Melo may get some looks as well.

 

Other option in the OF:  Amalani Fukofuka (CF, RF) could be back he’s got tools but is very raw.  Tanner Stanley (RF, LF) could be back also.  Ben Johnson (RF, LF, CF), Rudy Martin (CF, LF), Jose Sanchez (CF, LF, RF), Nick Heath (CF, RF, LF), Luke Willis (LF), Vance Vizcaino (CF, LF)

 

Starting Pitching

LHP) Garrett Davila

 

RHP) Nolan Watson-

 

RHP) Gerson Garabito- Age 21, listed 6′ 160 lbs, bats and throws right.  Garabito was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

He spent the entire 2016 season with Lexington and could be a candidate to repeat.  I missed him last year but Robert Emrich of milb.com wrote about him after a solid start he had in August:  http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20160822&content_id=197144388&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb

 

LHP) Cristian Castillo- Age 22, listed 6′ 190 lbs, bats and throws left.  Castillo was signed out of Mexico in 2014.

Michael Avallone of milb.com wrote up Castillo after he threw a complete game shutout for Burlington.  It’s a good read:  http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20160729&content_id=192508826&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb

 

LHP) Andre Davis- Age 23, listed 6’6″ 230 lbs, bats and throws left.  Davis was drafted in the 8th round of the 2015 draft out of the Univ of Arkansas (Pine Bluff).

Davis is an interesting story in that he was drafted as a 1st baseman and immediately jumped on the mound.  More about that here:  http://www.havenews.com/sports/20160624/davis-transitions-into-starting-role-for-royals

I’m intrigued, 6’6″ lefties don’t grow on trees.  Already 23, I wonder if he’ll be given the 3+ years to fully build up the innings and to hone his craft as a starter (assuming he has a starters repertoire) or if they put him in the pen at some point.

Jace Vines, Age 22, listed 6’3″ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Vines was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of Texas A&M Univ.

 

Lexington will have a deep staff with Davila, Watson, Garabito, Castillo, Davis and 4th round pick Jace Vines all in the mix.

Other SP options:  Arnaldo Hernandez (On restricted list don’t know the details), Igol Feliz, Andres Machado, Matt Portland,

 

Conclusion:  I enjoyed my deep dive into the Royals system there’s more here than I imagined there would be.  Lexington will be among the deeper units in the Sally this season.

Up next is a look at the Rome Braves

Please remember to support the site if you can thank you.

Site Notes, annual fund raiser and my 1st half Schedule

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An old school baseball bank, courtesy of http://www.museumofplay.org/online-collections/images/Z002/Z00224/Z0022439.jpg

Hey guys, I want to first say that I’m humbled and grateful for all of the support and great feedback I’ve received since starting Notes From The Sally back in August of 2015.

The preview series is way, way up in page views this year.  Multiple team previews are approaching or have exceeded 1000 hits and I’m getting a ton of great feedback. I’m blown away by this. Its easy to see you folks are as excited as I am about the 2017 season and all of the talent on the horizon.

It’s that time of year again where I stand in front of your favorite brick and mortar store with my bell and my bucket.  Please consider supporting your friendly, neighborhood Independent Baseball site to help cover the costs associated with scouting a league this size.

I set a goal to raise $250 this year.  Most of that will go toward fuel and lodging.  There’s also administrative costs to keep the site operational.  Thanks so much for your support.

I added a pay pal button and links to my new Patreon https://www.patreon.com/user?u=5262959.  Cheers!

 

1st half schedule

I have a new goal this year, I want to see every team in the Sally at least twice in the 1st half (April 6th – June 18th).  It’s to catch as many of these players as I can before they’re promoted or traded.

There will be a some subtle changes based on pitching match ups but this will be very close to my final copy:

I’m taking the opening week off from work and hammering out a bunch of games.  I can’t wait.

April 6-7 Delmarva @ Greenville

Road trip April 8-9 Augusta @ Columbia

April 10 Lexington @ Greenville

April 17 Kannapolis @ Asheville

April 18-19 West Virginia @ Hickory

April 21-22 Rome @ Greenville

April 27-28 Greensboro @ Asheville

April 29-30 Rome @ Hickory

 

If things go according to plan by April 30 I’ll have seen 11 of the 14 teams.  Just Lakewood, Hagerstown and Charleston remain.

 

Once a team appears on the schedule a 2nd time I’ll highlight them.

 

Road trip May 5-6 Lakewood @ Columbia

May 8  Augusta @ Greenville

May 10-11 Charleston @ Hickory

May 12  West Virginia @ Asheville

May 13-14 Hagerstown @ Asheville

Road trip May 20-21 Delmarva @ Greensboro

May 23-24 Rome @ Asheville

May 29-30 Lexington @ Asheville

 

I will have seen 10 of the 14 teams at least twice at this point.  I still have to get a 2nd look at Lakewood, Hagerstown, Charleston and Kannapolis.

 

June 1-2 Charleston @ Greenville

June 3-4 Lakewood @ Asheville

Road trip June 13-14 Hagerstown @ Kannapolis

 

There will be other games mixed in here too:  Rome, Columbia and Lexington will be in town in early to mid June so if I missed a pitcher this is when I can get caught up.

It will be a grueling schedule at times and around it I’ll be working full time and trying to stay happily married.  I think the hardest part might be trying to find time to do the write ups.

Things won’t be as hectic in the 2nd half but there will still be plenty to see:  lots of recent college draftees will start filtering in.  Kids will be promoted from rookie ball and there will be trades and players recovering from injury.

PS If you see me at the games, say hello.

https://www.patreon.com/user?u=5262959

Just 3 team previews remain, up next is a preview of the Lexington Legends (Royals)

 

Previewing the 2017 Lakewood Blueclaws

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Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series. I’m excited to get these going again. Today I’ll be talking about the Lakewood Blueclaws as I continue alphabetically around the league. The Blueclaws are the single-A full season affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Previously I’ve covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/01/previewing-the-2017-asheville-tourists/

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/13/previewing-the-2017-augusta-greenjackets/

Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/31/previewing-the-2017-charleston-riverdogs/

Columbia Fireflies (Mets)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/03/previewing-the-2017-columbia-fireflies/

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/09/previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds/

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/23/previewing-the-2017-greensboro-grasshoppers/

Greenville Drive (Red Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/31/previewing-the-2017-greenville-drive/

Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/07/previewing-the-2017-hagerstown-suns/

Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/13/previewing-the-2017-hickory-crawdads/

Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/27/previewing-the-2017-kannapolis-intimidators/

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include  scouting report.  It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Lakewood Blueclaws, Williamsport Crosscutters and GCL Phillies.

I want to thank Baseball Betsy for providing all of the photos for this piece.  You can find her at baseballbetsy.com and on Twitter @BaseballBetsy.  I’m a big fan of her work.

At Notes From The Sally it’s all about live look scouting.  Once I see the “Blueclaws” you can expect writeups on many of the players listed below.  I set a goal to every team in the Sally twice in the 1st half (April 7th-June 18th).  I’m planning to see Lakewood on May 5-6 in Columbia and in early June in Asheville.  I’ll get more into that before opening day.

 

Lets meet the notables

 

CF) Mickey Moniak- Age 18, listed 6’2″ 185 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Moniak was drafted 1st overall by the Phillies out of high school in Carlsbad, CA (San Diego metro).

“Matt Winkelman” of “Phillies Minor Thoughts” released his top 50 Phillies prospects recently, here’s  snippet of what he said about Moniak:

“Moniak had the best hit tool among high school hitters, with some scouts putting a future plus plus grade on it. Moniak is a smooth center fielder with an above average to plus arm and plus speed. Moniak’s only weakness is his power. Part of the problem is that Moniak is skinny, both in terms of muscle he still has to put on and lack of places to put the muscle. The other problem is his swing. The very parts of his swing that allow him to make plenty of contact also limit his power output. Moniak’s swing is geared towards line drive and all fields contact. He does not get a lot of loft to his swing, and he doesn’t drive the ball well. The Phillies think that Moniak can hit 20 home runs a year at his peak, but many find that optimistic. The argument for Moniak’s power development is that his feel for hitting is going to lead to quality contact. As he gets stronger, he may not hit bombs, but that quality contact will lead to a decent home run rate. Moniak has been knocked for not being a transcendent superstar, but his hit tool and defense give him a high floor, and they also clear a path to stardom.”

For more on Moniak and the rest of Matt’s top 50 Phillies prospects click here:  http://philliesminorthoughts.com/2017-top-50-phillies-prospects-1-5/

 

 

 

RHP) Sixto Sanchez- Age 18, listed 6′ 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  Sanchez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.   He lit up the GCL and is shooting up prospect lists, I’m looking forward to seeing him.

John Sickles or “Minor League Ball” released his top 20 Phillies prospects at the end of December and wrote this about Sanchez:

“Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2015 for just $35,000; posted 0.50 ERA with 44/8 K/BB in 54 innings in rookie ball, just 33 hits, 1.68 GO/AO; fastball at 93-95 with reports of 98-99 at his best; pitch is heavy despite his relative lack of height at 6-0; already shows quality curveball and change-up, throws strikes, strong pitching instincts; very polished; reports from Gulf Coast League were glowing; next step is building up stamina, workload; watch him closely in ’17, could leap into elite categories. ETA 2020.”

For more of Minor League Ball’s top 20 Phillies prospects click here:  http://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/12/27/14090122/philadelphia-phillies-top-20-prospects-for-2017

 

 

 

 

RHP) Kevin Gowdy- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 170 lbs, bats and throws right.  Gowdy was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Santa Barbara, CA.

“Rich Wilson” of “Prospect 361” counted down his top 10 Phillies prospects back in November.  Here’s a snippet of what he wrote about Gowdy:

“At 6-foot-4 and a listed 170 pounds, Gowdy has the type of body that scouting directors love to draft.  It’s the definition of projectable and when you couple that with a fastball that can already bump 93 MPH, a velocity that can bump 95 to 96 in a year or two is not out of the question.  His best secondary pitch is his curve ball but it’s still emerging.”

“His delivery is very classic with a high leg-kick and a pronounced trailing leg extension.  He pitches over-the-top and that should lead to excellent plane on his pitches.  The arm action is clean and the delivery is smooth.”

For more on Gowdy and the rest of the Phillies top 10 click here:  Philadelphia Phillies

 

 

 

SS-3B) Cole Stobbe- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Stobbe was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of High School in Omaha, NE.

The “Baseball Draft Report” is one of my go to sites for draft coverage.  Rob Ozga does a good job keeping us informed on who to look for before, during and after the draft.  He did a Phillies draft recap last Summer and had this to say about Stobbe:

“If you’re the type who values comps, then Cole Stobbe (152) is your man. Perfect Game dropped pre-draft comps of Jed Lowrie and Mark Ellis on him. I’ve always gotten a Brian Dozier vibe, though, to be fair, that was before 40-homer Brian Dozier came into our lives. Stobbe’s relatively high floor (for a HS hitter, anyway) fits a larger Phillies draft trend of selecting exactly this kind of player in 2016. Obviously Mickey Moniak got it started, but later picks like Stobbe and eleventh rounder Josh Stephen officially make the high character, advanced hit tool, well-rounded high school prospect a thing with the Phillies. Stobbe’s card is full of future five’s: hit tool, power, speed, and arm (maybe a touch more here) are all right around average tools. Many overlook the value of what an average tool really is; in Stobbe’s case, the idea of him being a well-rounded high floor prospect (again, relative to his teenage peers) sells his actual ceiling short. There’s a reason that Stobbe’s game elicited comparisons to so many above-average big league infielders. He brings an unusually mature whole-field approach to the table and a great deal of strength is packed into his 6-1, 200 pound frame. His intriguing defensive skill set makes him playable at short for now, but I see him as being particularly interesting at either third or second, my preferred long-term destination for him. Depending on where you slot him on the diamond, he’s either the best (3B) or second-best (SS behind JP Crawford, 2B behind Scott Kingery) prospect at that position in the system.”

For much more Phillies draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies

 

 

 

 

RHP) Adonis Medina- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  Medina was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

mlb.com recently released there top 30 Phillies prospects and wrote this about Medina:

“Ever since signing with the Phillies in May 2014, all Medina has done is pitch well. It started with his debut that summer in the Dominican Summer League and continued with his United States debut in 2015. The next step up to the New York-Penn League wasn’t too much of a challenge, as Medina finished with a sub-3.00 ERA and landed among the league leaders in WHIP.”

“The athletic, albeit a bit undersized, right-hander has the chance to have a solid three-pitch mix. He’ll throw his fastball anywhere in the 90-95 mph range and he throws it with a lot of life, inducing ground-ball outs at a very high rate. He’ll show an average breaking ball, but it’s inconsistent, something he’ll have to tighten up as he moves up the ladder. He has a feel for a changeup, which could also be a Major League average offering for him. He tends to be a strike-thrower but does not miss a ton of bats, something that sharper secondary stuff will help.”

“More than anything, Medina needs to get out and pitch and log Minor League innings so he can work on his full repertoire. A full season in a rotation should help him move in the right direction.”

For more of the Phillies top 30 prospects click here:  http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2017/?list=phi

 

 

 

2B) Daniel Brito- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 155 lbs, bat left and throws right.  Brito was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.

John Town of “That Ball’s Outta Here” linked to several quality articles on Brito.  He sounds very interesting:  http://thatballsouttahere.com/2017/01/31/phillies-daniel-brito-break-2017/

 

 

 

 

SS) Arquimedes Gamboa- Age 19, listed 6′ 175 lbs, bats both and throws right. Gamboa was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.

“Eric Longenhagen” of Fangraphs recently counted down his top 33 Phillies prospects and had this to say of Gamboa:

“Gamboa is pure projection. He’s well-built, athletic, a plus runner with a plus arm, who shows raw but promising footwork and actions that, with polish, fit at shortstop. He swing is visually pleasing from both sides of the plate during batting practice, with a smooth, casual weight transfer and glimpses of impact bat speed. During games, he stiffens up and the tools don’t play. Yet. The risk here is extreme, but shortstops with potentially competent, well-rounded bats don’t exactly grow on trees, and if he starts to hit he’ll displace many of the names ahead of him on this list.”

For the rest of the top 30 Phillies prospects click here:  http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-33-prospects-philadelphia-phillies/

 

 

 

RF) Jhailyn Ortiz- Age 18, listed 6’3″ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Ortiz was a high profile signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 receiving a $4 Million dollar signing bonus.  He skipped the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and came stateside and playing in the Gulf Coast Lg (GCL) which is pretty aggressive for a 17 year old.

Jim Peyton of Phuture Phillies wrote this about Ortiz last Winter after watching him in Instructs:

“I’ve seen Ortiz at Instructs.  He’s a big kid, but not fat as has been reported and repeated by the uninformed.  His swing is long and creates holes for off-speed pitches away and fastballs up-an-in.  His stride looks inconsistent and gets a little long on some of his harder swings.  His hands and load are fairly quiet and he has a small bat waggle.  But, in the at bats I saw, he was patient.  He saw 4-5 pitches most at bats.  I only saw him play one ball poorly in right field.  It was a bright, sunny day.  But it was overhead.  He just blew the play. However, it was the only poor fielding play I saw.  It came late in Instructs.  Up to that point, I was satisfied that he might be able to play acceptable outfield defense.”

This was part of a readers top 30 Phillies prospects for more on that and much more Phillies minor league coverage click here:  https://phuturephillies.com/2016/02/07/phuture-phillies-2016-reader-top-30-24/#more-24905

Ortiz sounds very interesting, I’m looking forward to seeing the power on display.  I may have to wait though as Gamboa and Ortiz could both be headed for Williamsport this yr.  The fact the Gamboa was there last year makes him slightly more likely to come to Lakewood. It’s possible we see both in the 2nd half anyway.

 

 

Around the diamond

Catcher

Gregori Rivero- Age 20, listed 5’11” 195 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Rivero was signed out of Venezuela in 2012.

 

Henry Lartigue- Age 22, listed 6′ 205 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Lartigue was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Mississippi (Oxford, MS).

 

Deivi Grullon could be back, still just 21 but he’s already played 2+ seasons with Lakewood.  Just a guess but he’s probably headed for the Florida State Lg.

Other Catching options include:  Edgar Cabral, Rodolfo Duran, Daniel Garner,

 

Corner Infield

1B) Darick Hall- Age 21, listed 6’4″ 236 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Hall was drafted in the 14th round of the 2016 draft out of Dallas Baptist Univ (Dallas, TX)

 

1B, C) Brent Barbier- Age 23, listed 5’11” 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Barbier was drafted in the 16th round of the 2016 draft out of Cal Poly.

 

3B-SS) Cole Stobbe-

 

3B) Lucas Williams- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Williams was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Dana Point, CA (60 miles south of LA).

 

Other options at the infield corners:  Jan Hernandez (3B) could be back. Danny Zardon (3B-1B), Caleb Eldridge

 

Middle Infield

2B) Daniel Brito-

 

SS) Arquimedes Gamboa-

 

If Gamboa does another year of rookie ball than Stobbe could get the bulk of the playing time at short and Lucas Williams could get the bulk of the reps at 3rd.  If Gamboa does come to Lakewood than Stobbe could see time at both positions.  He could also see some time at 2B spelling Brito.  Williams could also repeat at Williamsport.

 

Other options in the middle infield:  Luis Espiritu (2B), Jose Antequera (1B, 2B, 3B, SS), Chandler Hall (SS, 3B, 2B), Evan Rogers (3B, SS, 2B)

 

 

Outfield

CF) Mickey Moniak-

 

RF) Jhailin Ortiz-

 

LF, CF) Josh Stephen- Age 19, listed 6′ 185 lbs, bats and throws left.  Stephen was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Santa Ana, CA (Los Angeles metro).

One more look at “Rob Oga’s” look back at the Phillies draft.  Here’s what he wrote about Stephen.

“I don’t know what to make of Josh Stephen (182), one of the 2016 MLB Draft’s most divisive prospects. Those who like him point to his above-average or better speed, mature approach at the plate, burgeoning lefthanded pop, and solid chance to remain a center fielder over the long haul. Those who are more bearish on him paint him as more of a future reserve outfielder good enough to hang in center only occasionally with not quite the kind of all-around offensive game (average speed, power, and on-base skills) to make it in a corner. Most, however, do agree that Stephen can really hit. I’ve had more than one contact tell me he’s a future .300 hitter in the big leagues. If that’s the case, almost all of that other stuff won’t matter beyond being icing on the cake; a .300 hitter in a corner with modest power and speed is still pretty damn useful. If you’re a believer in the rest of his game coming through, then an above-average regular with sneaky star upside isn’t out of the question.”

 

For the rest Rob’s thoughts on the most recent Phillies draft and a whole lot more draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies

 

LF) Enmanuel Garcia- Age 22, listed 6′ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Garcia was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

 

CF) David Martinelli- Age 22, listed 6’2″ 209 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Martinelli was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of Dallas Baptist Univ.

 

RF, LF, CF) Jesus Alastre- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 155 lbs, bats and throws right.  Alastre was signed out of Venezuela in 2013.

 

The Lakewood outfield looks crowded, one thing I feel pretty certain about is Moniak will be the starter in CF.  Garcia would be the logical choice for LF unless they want to try Stephen there though he could be  candidate for Williamsport.  If Ortiz is held back and sent to Williamsport Alastre could get some significant time in right and Martinelli could be backing everybody up, he could also get a significant time in a corner.   In case that wasn’t confusing enough, there’s a non zero chance that Pujols is back for a little more seasoning as the everyday RF.

 

Other options in the outfield: Carlos Duran (CF) could be back, CaJuan Luis (RF, LF, CF), Luke Maglich (RF)

 

Starting Pitching

RHP) Sixto Sanchez

 

RHP) Kevin Gowdy

 

RHP) Adonis Medina

 

LHP) Bailey Falter- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 175 lbs, bats right and throws left.  Falter was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Chino Hill, CA (Los Angeles Metro).

Matt Winkelman sees some promise in the left hander placing him at #29 on his Phillies top 50 prospect list.  He sounds intriguing:  http://philliesminorthoughts.com/2017-top-50-phillies-prospects-25-30/

 

LHP) Jojo Romero- Age 20, listed 6′ 190 lbs, bats and throws left.  Romero was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of Yavapai College (Prescott, AZ)

“Jeff Rush” of “Prospect 1500” counted down his top 50 Phillies prospects recently and had this to say about Romero.

“Following a single season of college ball, Jojo got snagged by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. But not before performing the stuff of school legends – a 15 K championship clinching performance for Yavapai College in the JuCo World Series. From there, it was onto Williamsport, where the young lefty did nothing to sway the opinions that landed him in the organization in the first place. He possesses a 4-seam fastball that gets up to 95 mph, as well as a curveball, slider and changeup that are all good for getting strikes. He’s relatively short – just 6’0 – and that has scouts projecting him for a role in the bullpen. His stuff is good enough to garner him rotation consideration though, and the fact that he’s a coveted LHP will earn him that opportunity sooner than later.”

For the rest of the Phillies top 50 prospects list click here:  http://prospects1500.com/top-50-lists/philadelphia-phillies-top-50-prospects-2017/

 

Felix Paulino, Ranger Saurez

 

 

Wow, this is my 11th team preview of 14 and I’ve come across a lot of high end talent and deep rosters but no team to this point has matched Lakewood’s combination of high end kids and intriguing depth.  It will be interesting to see how the Rome Braves (my preseason favorite for most talented team, before I started the previews) stacks up against this team.

I enjoyed my deep dive into the Phillies system, up next is a Lexington Legends preview (Royals).  Cheers!

Previewing the 2017 Kannapolis Intimidators

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Alec Hansen, courtesy of http://www.baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Alec-Hansen-2016-bm.jpg

Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series.  I’m excited to get these going again.  Today I’ll be talking about the Kannapolis Intimidators as I continue alphabetically around the league.  The Intimidators are the Chicago White Sox, single-A, full season affiliate.

Previously I’ve covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/01/previewing-the-2017-asheville-tourists/

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/13/previewing-the-2017-augusta-greenjackets/

Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/31/previewing-the-2017-charleston-riverdogs/

Columbia Fireflies (Mets)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/03/previewing-the-2017-columbia-fireflies/

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/09/previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds/

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/23/previewing-the-2017-greensboro-grasshoppers/

Greenville Drive (Red Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/31/previewing-the-2017-greenville-drive/

Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/07/previewing-the-2017-hagerstown-suns/

Hickory Crawdads (Rangers)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/13/previewing-the-2017-hickory-crawdads/

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include  scouting report.  It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Kannapolis Intimidators, Great Falls Voyagers and AZL White Sox.

A big shoutout to Matt from Future Sox (on Twitter @FutureSox)  http://www.chicagonow.com/future-sox/.

He was  big help in assembling this piece, he’s a good guy and he knows the White Sox system as well as anybody.

At “Notes From The Sally” it’s all about live look scouting.  Once I see the Intimidators you can expect write ups on many of the players listed below.  I set a goal to see every team in the Sally twice in the 1st half (April 7th – June 18th).  I expect to see Kannapolis in the 2nd week of the season when they come west for 7 games and again in late May in Hickory.  I’ll get more into this later.

 

Lets meet the notables

 

Alec Hansen, courtesy of http://img.scout.com/sites/default/files/stories/hansen.jpg

RHP) Alec Hansen- Age 22, listed 6’7″ 235 lbs, bats and throws right.  Hansen was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Oklahoma.  Hansen started 2 games with the Intimidators last Summer post draft.  He seems like a candidate to open in Winston-Salem (A+) but Matt thinks he’ll be back which is good enough for me.  I’m looking forward to seeing him.

Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs recently listed his top 27 White Sox prospects, here’s a snippet from what he wrote of Hansen:

“Hansen’s fastball will climb into the upper 90s and back down into the 92-94 range later in starts. He has some drop and drive to his delivery but still generates downhill plane because of his height. Chicago worked to break his hands earlier and prevent arm drag. His slider, a late-breaking 85-88 mph dart, projects to plus. When I saw Hansen’s first pro appearance, he was working more frequently with his curveball, currently average, with moderate depth and bite. It should at least be an effective change of pace and will help Hansen negotiate opposing lineups multiple times, but some scouts think it will be his best secondary.”

“Hansen’s changeup is way behind right now because he very rarely got himself into changeup counts in college. He shows some nascent feel for it, but it’s clearly below average, and its development is heavily dependent on Hansen’s future ability to throw strikes.”

“The volatile nature of Hansen’s health, stuff and performance makes him incredibly risky for a college draftee, but the upside here is obviously huge. He could be a No. 2 starter if everything comes together, and the chances of that occurring are much better now than they were in April.”

For much more on Hansen and many other White Sox prospects click here:  http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-21-prospects-chicago-white-sox/

 

 

Bernard Flores, courtesy of https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CknfYriVEAIEq00.jpg

LHP) Bernardo Flores- Age 21, listed 6’3″ 170 lbs, bats and throws left.  Flores was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Southern California.

Future Sox put together a detailed scouting report here:  http://www.chicagonow.com/future-sox/bernardo-flores/

 

 

Micker Adolfo, courtesy of http://m.mlb.com/assets/images/7/1/0/143120710/cuts/Micker_Adolfo_1280_8l687hnd_2100ctqv.jpg

RF) Micker Adolfo- Age 20, listed 6’3″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Adolfo was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.  He’s toolsy with big time raw power but the approach is raw.  Still young though.  Worth noting that Matt thinks Adolfo will start in Winston-Salem.

 

 

Corey Zangari, courtesy of http://www.milb.com/assets/images/1/6/8/180188168/cuts/Zangari_it3f9hjh_07zc3z9v.jpg

1B) Corey Zangari- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 240 lbs, bats and throws right.  Zangari was drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 draft out of High School in Midwest City, OK (Oklahoma City metro).

“Phil Goyette” of Prospects 1500 released his top 50 White Sox prospects recently and had this to say of Zangari:

For the rest of the White Sox top 50 click here:  http://prospects1500.com/top-50-lists/chicago-white-sox-top-50-prospects-2017/

 

Dane Dunning, courtesy of https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/files/2016/06/AP_3792508374461465660081.jpg

RHP) Dane Dunning- Age 22, listed 6’4″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Dunning was drafted by the Washington Nationals 29th overall in the 2016 and was traded to the White Sox in the Adm Eaton trade.  Matt thinks he skips Kannapolis which is perfectly reasonable for a highly thought of college arm. If I thought he was coming here I would list him 1st but wanted to include him here just in case.

John Sickles of Minor League Ball released his top 20 White Sox prospects list back in early January and had this to say of Dunning:

Age 22, first round pick in 2016 from University of Florida by the Nationals, another segment of the Eaton deal; posted 2.02 ERA with 32/7 K/BB in 36 innings between GCL and NY-P; primarily a reliever in college but has arsenal to start including 90-95 sinker, plus slider, and a change-up with average potential; throws strikes; path forward will depend on how quickly the change-up develops but could be a fine workhorse. ETA 2019.”

For the rest of Sickles White Sox top 20 click here:  http://www.minorleagueball.com/2017/1/3/14156566/chicago-white-sox-top-20-prospects-for-2017

 

Jameson Fisher, courtesy of https://cdn.d1baseball.com/uploads/2016/04/16125548/JamesonFisher1-1.jpg

LF) Jameson Fisher- Age 23, listed 6’2″ 200 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Fisher was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 out of the Southern Louisiana Univ.  Fisher could be another candidate to skip up to A+.

 

My friend “Joshua Schwager” and his team from Baseball Ranks (on Twitter @BaseballRanks) do a great job of scouting the minors.  I know they watch a ton of video over there. Recently one of the writers”Andy Sroka” released his top 25 White Sox prospects and had this to say of Fisher:

“It’ll be interesting to see how the career of Jameson Fisher plays out, considering he was one of NCAA Division-I’s very best hitters all while getting on base 56 percent of the time as a senior. Even as a sophomore, Fisher developed this reputation for taking his walks and mashing the ball, finishing the season in the top 20 of all eligible D-I hitters with a .389 batting average. It’s about what happened in between that kept him off draft boards as a true junior in 2015.”

“A torn labrum in his shoulder took away his position – catcher – and stuck him in left field and eventually first base. Right now he doesn’t have a position, but he can still hit a lot, though, he’s never hit for much power and has always seemed to be a little pull-happy, according to scouting reports. It remains to be seen if his prolific eye and contact abilities were a product of his competition in a historically weak Southland Conference. South Side optimists can be excited, however, that he hit .342/.436/.487 in 50 games in the Pioneer League a part of the White Sox’s rookie ball squad.”

“Fisher’s knack for hitting makes it seem like he can cut it in the pros as a useful bat off the bench, at least, but without any real noticeable feel for left field or first base coupled with a below-average arm, his hopes of hitting his way into the lineup every single day are slim.”

For more on the White Sox and many other prospect lists and scouting reports click here:  http://www.baseballranks.com/2017/02/14/chicago-white-sox-top-prospects-2017/

 

Around the diamond

 

Catcher

Nate Nolan- Age 22, listed 6’1″ 210, bats and throws right.  Nolan was drafted in the 8th round of the 2016 draft out of St Mary’s College of California (Moraga, CA)

“Southside Sox” (SB Nations White Sox affiliate) had a write up for every player taken in day 2 of the draft including Nolan:  http://www.southsidesox.com/2016/6/11/11908424/mlb-draft-2016-day-2-recap

 

Casey Schroeder- Age 23, listed 6’2″ 210 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Schroeder was drafted in the 8th round of the 2015 draft out of Coastal Carolina Univ (Conway, SC).

 

A tag team of Nate Nolan and Casey Schroeder seems likely but there’s also 13th rounder Michael Hickman in the mix, Age 20, listed 6’1″ 215 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Signed out of Chipola Junior College in Marianna, FL.

 

“Rob Ozga” of the “Baseball Draft Report” does a terrific job breaking down the draft every year.  One of my go to sites for draft coverage.  He went round by round through the White Sox 2016 draft and had this to say of Hickman:

“Michael Hickman is living proof that sometimes players fall through the cracks here. That’s the downside of this being a one-man show. Hickman went from being ranked 242 out of high school in 2015 to being unranked after a solid junior college season (.345/.442/.610 with 17 BB/38 K in 177 AB) at powerhouse Chipola in 2016. Technically he was only unranked nationally on the final board; he came in 48th on my college catcher list. Buying Hickman is buying his lefthanded power and impressive bat speed while living with some swing-and-miss and rough defensive edges. At this point in the draft, that trade-off is well worth a shot.”

For more coverage of the White Sox draft click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Chicago White Sox

 

Others who could see time at catcher: Carlos Perez, Joxelier Garcia, Daniel Gonzalez,

 

Corner Infield

1B) Corey Zangari

 

3B) Zach Remillard- Age 23, listed 6’1″ 200, bats and throws right.  Remillard was drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 draft out of Coastal Carolina Univ.  He got into 31 games with Kannapolis in 2016 so no guarantee  he’ll be back.

 

3B) Brady Conlan- Age 23, listed 6’1″ 207 lbs, bats and throws right.  Conlan was drafted in the 24th round of the 2016 draft out of Cal State Dominguez hills (Carson, CA)

 

 

1B, 3B) Anthony Villa- Age on opening day 23, listed 6’3″ 220 lbs, bats and throws right.  Villa was drafted in the 19th round of the 2016 draft out of St Mary’s College of California (Moraga, CA).

 

Zangari should be the starter at 1B, probably Conlan at 3rd and Remillard in Winston-Salem, with Villa spelling the starters.

 

Other corner Infield candidates: Felix Mercedes (1B-3B),

 

Middle Infield

SS, 2B) Mitch Roman- Age on opening day 22, listed 6′ 161 lbs, bats and throws right.  Roman was drafted in the 12th round of the 2016 draft out of Wright St Univ (Dayton, OH)

 

2B, SS) Max Dutto- Age 23, listed 6′ 205 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Dutto was drafted in the 9th round of the 2016 draft out of Menlo College (Atherton, CA)

 

2B, SS, 3B) Sam Dexter- Age on opening day 23, listed 5’11” 185 lbs, bats and throws right.  Dexter was drafted in the 23rd round out of the Univ of Southern Maine.

 

I think Dutto will be the starting 2B and Roman will start at SS.  Dexter will be spelling both as well as seeing time at 3B.  SS) Amado Nunez and 2B, SS) Luis Curbelo both sound interesting but seem ticketed toward Great Falls.

 

Other options in the middle infield: JJ Franco (2B)

 

Outfield

 

CF) Joel Booker- Age 23, listed 6’1″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Booker was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Iowa.

 

RF, CF) Aaron Schnurbusch- Age 23, listed 6’5″ 235 lbs, bats and throws left.  Schnurbusch was drafted in the 28th round of the  2016 draft out of the Univ of Pittsburgh.

 

RF) Antonio Rodriguez- Age 21, listed 6’4″ 230 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Rodriguez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011.

 

RF, DH) Micker Adolfo

 

The outfield looks to be a highlight for the team.  Booker and his electric speed plus Schnurbusch and Rodriguez are intriguing as well.  And Adolfo if he’s back with his premium power potential.   It will be interesting to see if one of Schnurbusch or Rodriguez slides over and gets the bulk of the playing time in left or if Glines or Fincher get significant run.

 

Other outfield options: Jackson Glines (LF, CF, RF), Jake Fincher (RF, LF), Trevin Sonnier (CF, LF, RF, 2B), Louis Silverio (RF)

 

Starting Pitching

RHP) Alec Hansen

LHP) Bernardo Flores

RHP) Yosmer Solorzano- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 181 lbs, bats and throws right.  Solorzano was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.  He was a player that made last years Kannapolis preview too: http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/02/24/previewing-the-2016-kannapolis-intimidators/

But the White Sox sent him to Great Falls instead. Giving teenage arms another season of rookie ball is never a bad idea.  Still just 20 I’m looking forward to seeing him.

Future Sox has a detailed scouting report:
http://www.chicagonow.com/future-sox/yosmer-solorzano/

 

Other options at SP:  RHP) Christopher Comito could be back and Aron McRee should be up from Great Falls.

 

This piece came in about about a week later than I anticipated.  My daughter totaled her car last week, she was hit from behind and fortunately wasn’t hurt but I spent quite a bit of time dealing with insurance companies and researching cars.  Fun stuff, I apologize to those who were waiting for this.

I enjoyed my deep dive into the White Sox system, there is some talent headed our way.  Particularly at SP, OF and 1st base and Catcher.

I want to give a quick shout out to Future Sox this is not because Matt helped me.  I do a lot of research for these pieces and when I come across a site like Future Sox (and they’re rare) it makes the whole process easier.  They had something on every player I listed.

Up next is a preview of the Lakewood Blueclaws (Phillies)

 

50 names I’m already excited to see in the 2017 Sally

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Jason Groome, courtesy of https://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_1200w/Boston/2011-2020/2016/08/23/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/groome_debut1-10368.jpg?uuid=bec-VmjKEea-91JAsaAaWw

Hey guys, I’ve completed 9 of the 14 SAL team previews at this point and the talent is really stock piling.  With Kannapolis (White Sox), Lakewood (Phillies), Lexington (Royals), Rome (Braves) and West Virginia (Pirates) still to come here’s 50 players I’m already excited to see in the Sally this year.

 

LHP) Jason Groome- Greenville

RHP) Riley Pint- Asheville

CF) Blake Rutherford- Charleston

RF) Juan Soto- Hagerstown

RF) Estevan Florial- Charleston

CF) Desmond Lindsay- Columbia

LHP) Braxton Garrett- Greensboro

CF) Leody Taveras- Hickory

LHP) Thomas Szapucki- Columbia

RHP) Alex Speas- Hickory

CF) Pedro Gonzalez- Asheville

RF) Sandro Fabian- Augusta

RHP) Justin Dunn- Columbia

LHP) Cole Ragans- Hickory

RHP) Michael Matuella- Hickory

SS) Carter Kieboom- Hagerstown

CF) Thomas Jones- Greensboro

3B) Colton Welker- Asheville

RF) Austin Hays- Delmarva

C) Donny Sands- Charleston

CF-RF-LF) Manuel Melendez- Asheville

SS) Anderson Tejeda- Hickory

SS) CJ Chatham- Greenville

CF) Stone Garrett- Greensboro

3B) Tyler Nevin- Asheville

CF) Leonardo Molina- Charleston

3B) Sheldon Neuse- Hagerstown

RHP) Cody Sedlock- Delmarva

LHP) Keegan Akin- Delmarva

LHP) Tyler Watson- Hagerstown

RHP) Merandy Gonzalez- Columbia

RHP) Melvin Adon- Augusta

LHP) Matt Krook- Augusta

RHP) Ofelky Perlata- Delmarva

3B) Kelvin Beltre- Augusta

RF) Isael Soto- Greensboro

CF) Yoan Aybar- Greenville

CF) Lorenzo Cedrola- Greenville

RHP) Freicer Perez- Charleston

CF) Blake Perkins- Hagerstown

RHP) Tyler Kolek- Greensboro

RHP) Austin DeCarr- Charleston

RHP) Drew Finley- Charleston

2B, 3B) Kole Enright- Hickory

CF/RF) Dalton Wheat- Greensboro

3B) Charles Leblanc- Hickory

3B) Anderson Franco- Hagerstown

RHP) Tyler Phillips- Hickory

RHP) Edward Cabrera- Greensboro

CF) Ryan McKenna- Delmarva

RHP) Alex Wells- Delmarva

 

The Sally looks like it will be loaded in 2017.  Other names who could be coming our way, the #1 pick in the 2016 draft Mickey Moniak, the three headed monster of Ian Anderson, Joey Wentz and Kyle Mueller and a whole lot more.

Up next at Notes is a Kannapolis Intimidators team preview.  Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previewing the 2017 Hickory Crawdads

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Cole Ragans, courtesy of http://mediadownloads.mlb.com/mlbam/2016/06/10/images/mlbf_794771583_th_45.jpg

Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series.  I’m excited to get these going again.  Today I’ll be talking about the Hickory Crawdads as I continue alphabetically around the league.  The Crawdads are the Texas Rangers, single-A, full season affiliate.

Previously I’ve covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/01/previewing-the-2017-asheville-tourists/

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/13/previewing-the-2017-augusta-greenjackets/

Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2016/12/31/previewing-the-2017-charleston-riverdogs/

Columbia Fireflies (Mets)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/03/previewing-the-2017-columbia-fireflies/

Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/09/previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds/

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/23/previewing-the-2017-greensboro-grasshoppers/

Greenville Drive (Red Sox)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/01/31/previewing-the-2017-greenville-drive/

Hagerstown Suns (Nationals)- http://notesfromthesally.com/2017/02/07/previewing-the-2017-hagerstown-suns/

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include  scouting report.  It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton.

At Notes from the Sally it’s all about live look scouting, once I see the Hickory Crawdads in 2017 I’ll post reports on many of the players listed below.  Hickory is one of my home teams so I’ll see them a lot,  beginning in week 2 of the season when they host Kannapolis for 4 games and West Virginia for 3.

 

Lets meet the notables:

 

Leodys Taveras, courtesy of http://www.baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Leodys-Taveras-2015-bm.gif

CF) Leody Taveras– Age 18, listed 6’1″ 170 lbs, bats both and throws right.  Taveras was a high profile signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 receiving a $2.1 Mil signing bonus.  Taveras  skipped the Dominican Summer league (DSL) and headed straight to Arizona League rookie ball (AZL).  Which is pretty aggressive and the fact that he earned a mid season promotion to Spokane is very impressive.  He’s high on my list of players to see this season.

Rich Wilson of “Prospect 361” counted down his top 10 Rangers prospects in mid January, here’s some of what he wrote about Taveras:

Taveras’ scouting report contains a lot of plus grades.  It starts with a great looking swing that is short to the ball with enough bat speed when combined with his physicality to have plus future power.  Again, it’s future power as the swing lacks loft and he still has yet to develop man-strength.  However in a few years, that will change with a chance to hit for 20 plus home run power.

He’s also a plus runner but still needs work on his base running skills.  However with instruction, 20 stolen bases are definitely in the cards.   He also has the speed and arm to play any outfield position.

For more on Taveras and the rest of the Rangers top 10 click here:  Texas Rangers

 

 

Anderson Tejeda, courtesy of https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/795446446577303553/6FZwfquQ.jpg

SS) Anderson Tejada- Age 18, listed 5’11” 160 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Tejeda was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014.

John Sickles of “Minor League Ball” released his top 20 Rangers list near the end of December and had this to say about Tejeda:

“Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2014 for just $100,000; looks like a bargain at that price; hit .283/.326/.520 between DSL, AZL, and NWL; combined for 10 homers, 18 walks, 73 strikeouts in 269 at-bats; whiffed 33 times in 94 at-bats in NWL but also hit eight homers in just 23 games; lefty hitter with bat speed, 55 power despite 5-11, 160 build; wiry strong; aggressive hitter and contact will be a concern at higher levels but production was remarkable overall; good throwing arm, average speed; range stretched at shortstop, fielding at second needs work too; not as athletic as Taveras but has more present power. ETA 2021”

For more of the Rangers top 20 prospects click here:  http://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/12/23/14064042/texas-rangers-top-20-prospects-for-2017

 

 

Cole Ragans, courtesy of https://2080baseball.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ragans-Cole-1503-Mitchell.jpg

LHP) Cole Ragans- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 190 lbs, bats and throws left.  Ragans was drafted 30th overall in the 2016 draft out of High School in Tallahassee, FL.

mlb,com last updated there Rangers top 30 prospects last Summer after the draft and had this to say about Ragans:

“North Florida Christian High (Tallahassee, Fla.) has produced four quality prospects in the last three Drafts, starting with Diamondbacks third-round outfielder Matt Railey and Cubs fourth-round left-hander Carson Sands in 2014. Right-hander Cole Sands (Carson’s brother) fell to the Astros in the 22nd round in 2015 only because he was intent on attending Florida State, while Ragans became the highest pick of them all — 30th overall as a first-rounder this June. He turned down the Seminoles to sign for $2,003,400.

Ragans works with three pitches, all of which should become at least solid offerings. His 89-91 mph fastball tops out at 93 and plays better than its radar-gun readings because he commands it well and delivers it on a steep downhill plane. His curveball has downer action when he stays on top of it and could become a plus pitch if it adds more power as he gains strength, while he’s improving the quality of and his trust in his changeup.

His athletic frame still has a lot of projection remaining it and garners him comparisons to a young Cole Hamels. Ragans has a sound delivery that he repeats easily. With his stuff, savvy and mound presence, he has what it takes to become a mid-rotation starter.”

For more of the Rangers top 30 prospects click here: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=tex

 

 

Alex Spies, courtesy of http://imgix.scout.com/151/1513857.jpg

RHP) Alex Speas- Age on opening day 19, listed 6’4″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Speas was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of High School in Powder Springs, GA (Atlanta Metro).

Adam J. Morris of Lone Star Ball, did a write up on Speas at the dawn of the draft while speculating he might be the Rangers target at 30.  In the piece he quotes a lot of draft experts that acknowledge there’s work to be done while at the same time were drooling over the possibilities.  Good read, I’m looking forward to seeing him.

http://www.lonestarball.com/2016/6/7/11876436/2016-texas-rangers-draft-preview-alex-speas

 

 

Michael Matuella, courtesy of http://www.baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Michael-Matuella-2016-bm.gif

Michael Matuella- Age 22, listed 6’6″ 220 lbs, bats and throws right.  Matuella was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of Duke Univ.  Matuella was in the running for the 1st overall pick in 2015 but he had Tommy John surgery two months before the draft and fell to the Rangers in the 3rd round. He got back on the mound in June of 2016 and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs got to see him in extended ST and wrote about him here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/scouting-the-rangers-mike-matuella-against-first-pro-batters/

Unfortunately Matuella was only able to make one official start in 2016 due to  ligament strain in his throwing elbow.   That sounds scary, even more so for a player attempting to come back from TJ.  Baseball America gave a recent update on his status and you can find that here (not behind a pay wall) :  http://www.baseballamerica.com/majors/spring-training-looming-top-players-mend/#8VDfmLILYkjtZRXD.97

 

 

Kole Enright, courtesy of http://m.mlb.com/assets/images/9/6/0/183301960/cuts/enright_article_6f7a0nxh_5d3g6rxo.jpg

2B, 3B, SS) Kole Enright- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 175 lbs, bats both and throws right. Enright was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of High School in Winter Garden, FL (Orlando Metro).   I’m not finding a whole lot out there right now on Enright that I didn’t already link to.

 

 

Around the diamond

Catcher

Alex Kowalczyk- Age 23, listed 6’3″ 205 lbs, bats and throws right.  Kowalczyk was drafted in the 12th round of the 2016 draft out the Univ of Pittsburgh.

 

C, 1B) Carlos Garay- Age 22, listed 6′ 210 lbs, bats and throws right.  Garay was signed out of Venezuela in 2011.

 

These next two players are interesting but they both seem ticketed toward Spokane.  It’s possible we see one or both in the 2nd half, unlikely though as teams don’t typically rush teenage catchers.

 

C, 1B) Yohel Pozo- Age 19, listed 6′ 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  Pozo was signed out of Venezuela in 2013.  He made his stateside debut in 2016 and had  a 6% BB and 5% K rate and a .105 ISO.

Grant Schiller of “Shut Down Inning” wrote up Pozo late in the AZL season, sounds promising.

http://www.shutdowninning.com/yohel-pozos-ridiculous-stateside-debut/

 

Sam Huff- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Huff was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Phoenix, AZ.

Rob Ozga of the “Baseball Draft Report” does a terrific job breaking down the draft every year.  He went round by round through the the Rangers 2016 draft and had this to say about Huff:

“It would be easy to write off the 6-4, 200 pound Sam Huff (433) as a prime candidate to move out from behind the plate sooner rather than later, but the big guy from Arizona is a far more advanced and natural defender than his size might otherwise suggest. He’s not a total slam dunk to remain a catcher over the long haul — few teenager catchers are, after all — but he’s got a better than 50/50 shot to remain a backstop going forward. If that’s the case, then the upside for a potentially above-average regular is very clearly here. Huff’s calling card is his average to above-average raw power, but he’s also shown impressive plate coverage and disciplined approach as a hitter. Much of the feedback I’ve gotten on Huff this past offseason has been of the “pump the breaks” variety (equal parts concern about his ability to make enough contact and his defense holding up long-term), but my instinctual lean here has me ignoring that and going all-in on Huff as a future big leaguer.”

For more Rangers draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Texas Rangers

 

Other options at catcher:  Clay Middleton and Isaias Quiroz

 

 

Corner Infield

1B) Curtis Terry- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 255 lbs, bats and throws right.  Terry was drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Lawrenceville, GA (Atlanta Metro).

Here’s a fun piece on Curtis “Big Rig” Terry from Tepid Participation of Lone Star Ball

http://www.lonestarball.com/2016/8/29/12684794/curtis-terry-baby-big-rig-with-a-big-bat

 

3B, SS, 2B) Kole Enright-

 

3B, SS) Charles Leblanc- Age 20, listed 6’3″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right.  Leblanc was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Pittsburgh.

More from he Baseball Draft Reports review of the Rangers 2016 draft:

 

“I’ve probably said this too often that it doesn’t quite carry quite the same meaning as it would otherwise, but, man, Charles Leblanc (111) to Texas in the fourth round might be my favorite pick in the draft. This is in part because I saw Leblanc this past spring and was incredibly impressed in my short three game view, but I think my love of the big infielder from Pittsburgh goes beyond the small sample size eye test. Leblanc checks every box for me: ultra-productive draft year (.405/.494/.513 with 30 BB/29 K), great size and strength (6-4, 200 pounds), clear carrying tools (power and arm), no obvious weaknesses (solid athlete with decent wheels), young for his class (won’t be 21-years-old until next June)…the list goes on and on. His eventual defensive transition to third base will be one to watch closely as the college shortstop has the ability to man the hot corner but not yet the experience. If that goes off without a hitch, I think Leblanc could be the above-average regular at third that so many (myself included) thought Mike Olt could once be. I’m all-in on Leblanc.

(For the record, a quick check of published draft reviews so far for the terms “favorite pick” and “best pick” only turned up two names so far. Those are far from the most conclusive search terms I could use, but my hyperbole still wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. Jake Elliott and Jon Duplantier were the recipients of that praise, FWIW. I didn’t come right out and say it, but Alex Speas in the second round is another one of my favorite picks. Nice work by Texas here.)”

For much more Rangers draft coverage click here:  2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Texas Rangers

 

1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF) Luis Terrero-  Age 21, listed 6′ 215 lbs, bats and throws right.  Terrero was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012.  Terrero played 5 position in 2016.

 

Other options at the infield corners: Todd McDonald (1B), Stephen Lohr (3B, 1B), Xavier Turner (3B, 1B), Willy Diaz (3B, 1B), Kelvin Fajardo (3B, 2B)

 

Middle Infield

2B- Blane Prescott- Age 21, listed 5’10” 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  Prescott was drafted in the 28th round of the 2015 draft out of Midland College.

 

SS) Anderson Tejeda-

 

 

Other options in the middle infield: Brallan Perez (2B, 3B, SS), Elio Castillo (2B, 3B, SS), Luis Silva (2B, 1B, 3B), Jonah McReynolds (SS, 2B, 3B)

 

Outfield

 

RF, LF) Chad Smith- Age 19, listed 6’2″ 200 lbs, bats and throws left.  Smith was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Snellville, GA (Atlanta Metro).

 

CF) Leody Taveras

 

CF) Eric Jenkins-  Age 20, listed 6’1″ 170 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Jenkins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Cerro Gordo, NC.  I think there’s a chance he repeats.  There’s a lot to like with Jenkins, the double plus speed, the glove in center.  Has to tighten up the bat to ball and the pitch recognition but he’s young.

 

LF, CF, RF) Josh Merrigan- Age 23, listed 6’2″ 172 lbs, bats left and throws right.  Merrigan was drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 draft out of Georgia Gwinnett College.

 

The outfield is kind of thin, if Jenkins comes back he’ll be seeing some time in the corners which I guess seems unlikely.  But that might mean LeDarious Clark comes back. Or they may decide Taveras, Smith, Merrigan with (Day and Lacrus is enough).  We’ll find out soon enough.

 

Other options in the outfield

Sherman Lacrus (RF) and Darius Day (LF, CF, RF) could be back, Travis Bolin (LF, RF), Preston Scott (LF, RF), London Lindley (LF, RF, CF), Austin O’Banion (RF, LF), Marcus Mack (LF, RF)

 

 

 

Starting Pitching

LHP) Cole Ragans

RHP) Alex Speas

RHP) Michael Matuella

RHP) Tyler Phillips- Age 19, listed 6’5″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right.  Phillips was drafted in the 15th round out of high school in

mlb.com wrote about Phillips last Summer when they released there Rangers top 30 prospects list:

“Heading into his 2015 senior season at Bishop Eustace Prep (Pennsauken Township, N.J.), scouts viewed Phillips as a classic projection arm who would be best off with some development time in college. Once his fastball velocity surged from the upper 80s to the low 90s, however, the Rangers paid him $160,000 in the 16th round to buy him away from his commitment to State JC of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.

Phillips has an athletic 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame and a loose, quick arm that works extremely well. He currently operates at 91-94 mph with downhill plane plus tail and sink on his fastball, and he should continue to add velocity as he gets stronger. Both his slider and changeup are works in progress with the potential to become average or better offerings as he gains experience.

Phillips’ athleticism and easy delivery should enable him to throw plenty of strikes. While he’s a project who will need time to develop, his ceiling is higher than most of the starters in the Texas system.”

For the rest of the Rangers top 30 prospects click here:  http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=tex

 

RHP) Kyle Cody- Age 22, listed 6’7″ 245 lbs, bats and throws right.  Cody was drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Kentucky (Lexington).

John Sickles did a piece on Cody leading into the draft and he sounds intriguing as well.  http://www.minorleagueball.com/2016/6/8/11862416/2016-mlb-draft-kyle-cody-rhp-university-of-kentucky

 

That’s a hell of a top 5 if we get them all, obviously Matuella is the biggest question mark.

 

 

Other Starting Pitching options

Luke Lanphere could be back, and Sal Mendez and Demarcus Evans could see time as well.

 

I enjoyed deep diving into the Rangers system, there’s more talent here than I imagined there would be.

Obviously led by the pitching, the Hickory staff has a chance to be among the best and deepest in the 2017 Sally.

There will be some intriguing hitters as well led by the talented CF Leody Taveras.  But also infielders Anderson Tejeda, Cole Enright and Charles Leblanc all sound interesting as well as masher Curtis Terry.  We’ll see who else breaks out.

I hope you got as much out of this as I did, I’ll be back soon with a Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox) team preview. Cheers!