Previewing the 2017 Asheville Tourists

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Riley Pint, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Riley-Pint-2015-bm.gif

Riley Pint, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Riley-Pint-2015-bm.gif

Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series at Notes from the Sally.  I’m excited to get it rolling as there looks to be a lot of talent on the horizon.

In this series I scour the rookie levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and wherever possible I try to include a scouting report.  I’m going to be wrong a lot but it’s a fun exercise and I learn a ton from it. The official rosters won’t be available until April.  As always once I see these players live you can expect write ups on many/most of them.

1st up will be the Asheville Tourists as I work alphabetically around the league.  The Tourists are the minor league Colorado Rockies and they typically are one of the more talented teams in the league.  It’s also my home park, I live about a mile away and frequently walk to McCormick field.

The notables:

Riley Pint, courtesy of mediadownloads.mlb.com/mlbam/2016/04/14/images/mlbf_532377583_th_45.jpg

Riley Pint, courtesy of mediadownloads.mlb.com/mlbam/2016/04/14/images/mlbf_532377583_th_45.jpg

RHP) Riley Pint– Age 19, listed 6’4″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right. Pint was drafted 4th overall in the 2016 draft by the Rockies out of high school in Overland Park Ks (Kansas City Metro). According to mlb.com’s top 30 Rockies list:

“Pint had the highest ceiling in the 2016 draft so the Rockies were delighted to get him at 4.  He consistently works 93-97 and tops out at 102.  His power curve is already a plus pitch and he can manipulate it into a harder slider where desired.  The change up also plays as plus with good fade.  He comes with some risk though, there’s effort in the delivery and he struggles to repeat his mechanics and arm slot.”

 

Tyler Nevin, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/5/4/6/135545546/cuts/tyler_nevin_960_hi9j31kc_5op3bdsm.jpg

Tyler Nevin, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/5/4/6/135545546/cuts/tyler_nevin_960_hi9j31kc_5op3bdsm.jpg

3B Tyler Nevin-  Age 19, listed 6’4″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right. Nevin was drafted 38th overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Poway, Ca (San Diego Metro). I was looking forward to seeing Nevin last season but a hamstring injury cost him nearly all of 2015. According to mlb.com

“Nevin  sprays line drives from gap to gap and has a good approach at the plate.  Some scouts are questioning if he’s a 3rd baseman long term”.

 

Colton Welker, courtesy of pbs.twimg.com/media/CoGVr6wWIAAaxqj.jpg:medium

Colton Welker, courtesy of pbs.twimg.com/media/CoGVr6wWIAAaxqj.jpg:medium

3B) Colton Welker- Age 19, listed 6’2″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right.  Welker was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Parkland, Fl (Fort Lauderdale area).   According to mlb.com:

“An advanced hitter for a teenager, Welker has the potential to hit for power and average.  Though Welker has below average speed he has good instincts on the bases and in the field.  He took to the hot corner immediately and has the arm strength and accuracy to make all the plays.”

I asked a few knowledgeable folks who write about the Rockies and and they all think that both Nevin and Welker will be in Asheville in 2017. But if Nevin hits he could move up to Lancaster pretty quickly. Which echoes what I was thinking.  It’ll be interesting to see how they divvy up the playing time among the two.  They could rotate between 3B and DH and one or both could get reps at 1B too.

 

Pedro Gonzalez, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Pedro-Gonzalez-Batting-2014-bm.jpg

Pedro Gonzalez, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Pedro-Gonzalez-Batting-2014-bm.jpg

CF) Pedro Gonzalez- Age 19, listed 6’5″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Gonzalez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. According to mlb.com:  “Gonzalez’s combination of tools and projectable frame made him one of the more intriguing prospects on the 2014 International market. He has tremendous power potential but his naturally long swing does lead a lot of swing and miss.  The converted shortstop, he probably ends up in right long term where his strong arm will be an asset.”

Gonzalez is high on the list of players I’m looking forward to seeing in 2017.

 

Manuel Melendez, courtesy of milb.com/images/650513/t4364/180x270/650513.jpg

Manuel Melendez, courtesy of milb.com/images/650513/t4364/180×270/650513.jpg

CF-RF-LF) Manuel Melendez– Age on opening day 20, listed 5’11” 165 lbs, bats and throws left.  Melendez was signed out of Venezuela in 2013.  “Ryan Shoppe” of SB Nations Purple Row wrote this in June while previewing the Grand Junction Rockies 2016 season.

“If it wasn’t for Pedro Gonzalez, Melendez would probably be the best player coming stateside this year and he may still prove to be that. Currently lacking the power that Gonzalez possesses, Melendez has the better eye and more consistent approach.  He also has plus speed.  If Melendez unlocks some power as he matures he may turn into an elite 5 tool prospect.”

Here’s a link to the Shoppe piece: http://www.purplerow.com/2016/6/22/11966054/colorado-rockies-prospects-introducing-the-grand-junction-rockies

 

Around the Diamond

C) Brian Serven–  Age 21, listed 6′ 215lbs,  bats and throws right. Serven was drafted in the 5th rd of the 2016 draft out of Arizona St. He has a reputation as a good defensive catcher.  We’ll see how the hit plays.

Others in the mix at Catcher:

(Joel Diaz (C, 1B), Wilkyns Jimenez, Steve Leonard, Campbell Wear, Will Haynie)

Corner Infield

1B) Jacob Bosiokovic- Age on opening day will be 23, listed 6’5″ 240 lbs, bats and throws right.  Bosiokovic was drafted in the 19th round out of Ohio St.  I wasn’t able to find much about him but: He showed some decent pop post draft and also stole 17 bases.

3B) Tyler Nevin, Colton Welker

Others in the mix for corner infield:

(Luis Castro (1B), Hunter Melton (1B), Wesley Jones (3B, 2B) Taylor Snyder (played all over the infield) Tyler Follis (3B, LF)

 

Middle Infield

2B) Jonathan Piron- Age on opening day 22. Listed 6′ 195 lbs, bats left, throws right.  Piron was acquired out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. He started 2016 in Asheville before moving down to short season.  I got a couple of looks, he showed good feet and a strong arm at both 2B and 3B. At the dish he’s got an aggressive approach and a long swing.  He’s got some decent pop but some contact issues as well.

SS) Garrett Hampson- Age 22, Drafted in the 3rd round out of Cal St Long Beach.  According to mlb.com’s top 30 Rockies prospects: “Hampson has plus speed and gap power to go with smooth infield actions and an average arm for SS.”

Jose Gomez is also in the mix for a starting job in the middle infield or utility spot.  Age on opening day 20, listed 5’11” 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  Gomez was signed out of Venezuela in 2013. According to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs:

“Gomez is an average runner with an average arm and could be a 45 or 50 at shortstop at maturity.  He has mature bat to ball skills and hit well for his age in the Pioneer league this year but lacks power projection because the body is already pretty maxed out.  He’s got a long-term utility profile.”

Here’s a link to the rest of Eric Longenhagen’s piece on Rockies prospects: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-24-prospects-colorado-rockies/

One of Gomez and Piron will be the starting 2nd baseman with the other coming off of the bench IMO

Others in the mix in the middle infield:

(Max George or Scotty Burcham (could return to Asheville) Anthony Brito, Jose Rodriguez and Tyler Orris)

 

Outfield:

CF) Pedro Gonzalez

LF) Manuel Melendez

RF) Willy Abreu- Age on opening day 22, listed 6’4″ 225 lbs.  Bats and throws left.  Abreu was drafted by the Rockies in the 6th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Miami.  He’s a strong young man but there are holes in the swing.

Other candidates for the outfield:

(Terry McClure (LF,CF)(could be back) Vince Fernandez (RF, LF, CF), Cole Anderson (LF), Luis Brito (RF, LF) Tyler Bugner (LF) Steven Linkous (LF,CF) Daniel Suero (CF))

One of this group will likely see fairly significant time as the 4th outfielder.

Starting Pitching

RHP- Riley Pint

RHP- Robert Tyler- Age 21, listed 6’4″ 226 lbs, bats and throws right.  Tyler was drafted 38th overall in the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Georgia. According to mlb.com

“Tyler was one of the hardest throwers in the 2016 draft.  He has no trouble sitting in the mid 90’s and hitting triple digits with the fastball. In addition to the velocity, his heater is nasty because it runs and sinks and he delivers it on a steep downhill plane.  He also can flash a plus change up but he hasn’t shown much feel for spinning the ball, and now uses a knuckle-curve as his breaking pitch.”

“Tyler has difficulty repeating his mechanics and battles his command and control on a regular basis.  Many scouts believe he’s destined for the bullpen.”

RHP- Mike Nikorak- Age 20, listed 6’5″ 205 lbs, bats and throws right.  Nikorak was drafted 27th overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Stroudsburg, PA.  I was expecting him in Asheville last season but so far he’s struggled in 2 season of rookie ball. Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs shared his thoughts on Nikorak recently:

“Nikorak was once a potential top 10 pick, as his velocity and curveball both looked incredible during his showcase Summer.  By the next Spring his stuff had ticked down and he was out pitched by other prep arms in Eastern Pa down the stretch.  Nikorak has struggled to throw strikes as a pro. He was 88-91 during the instructional league in 2015 and 87-92 the Spring.  Colorado has been working to improve his arm action.”

Here’s a link to the full Longenhagen piece, It’s well worth the read: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/top-24-prospects-colorado-rockies/

RHP- Javier Medina- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right.  Medina was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in Tucson, Az.  I haven’t found much written about him lately but he had a reputation of command over stuff at draft time.

Each of these guys also saw a significant number of starts in rookie ball and could play a significant roll in Asheville in 2017.

(Breiling Eusebio, Erick Julio, Antonio Santos, Michael Zimmerman, Rico Garcia, Alejandro Requena, Bryan Baker, Ty Culbreth, Yohander Quintana, Luis Guzman).

While I’m just getting started with the previews I think when it’s all said and done Asheville will be among the more talented teams in 2017 with Riley Pint and Pedro Gonzalez 2 of the more compelling prospects in the league.  I hope you got as much at of this as I did. The Augusta Greenjackets team preview should be up in the middle of next week. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

SAL team previews start tomorrow + some site notes

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Riley Pint, courtesy of kansascity.com/sports/2mesho/picture82886872/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/Pint

Riley Pint, courtesy of kansascity.com/sports/2mesho/picture82886872/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/Pint

Hey guys, anybody else want to end 2016 one month early? Tomorrow 12/1 I’ll start looking ahead to 2017 with the SAL team preview series. For those not familiar I scour the rookie levels of each organization and speculate on who’s coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I’ll include a scouting report.

Up 1st will be the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies affiliate).  And will go alphabetically around the league from there.  Last year I waited until January to start these but they’re big so doing more than 1 per week is difficult.  Plus I like to keep the few weeks before opening day available for any number of different stories.

In other news, I’m committed to seeing every team in the Sally twice in the 1st two months in 2017.  I realized the importance of this last season when I missed some of the players I wanted to see because they were promoted at the All-Star Break (11 weeks in the season). I can’t sit back and wait for teams to come to the area.  So I’m planning 3 overnight trips to Columbia (including opening weekend) and 1 overnight to Greensboro.   I’ll also be stepping up from the 6-8 games I saw last season per month to 12-14 (April-June) in an effort to meet my goal.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining or this is a hardship.  I love to do this, it’s my passion and I’m excited about the expanded work load. I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off from my regular job to accomplish the goal.  Unfortunately it’s not cheap, so I’m expanding the fund raising from 1 month last season to run concurrent with the team preview series this season.  Seriously If you’re getting anything out of this site, please consider contributing.  Even if it’s $1 or $3 or $5 or $10 it all adds up.  I’m not looking to make a dime, just trying to offset costs. I’ll be attaching a Pay Pal button to the bottom of every post, plus there will be a post pinned to the top of the site. Cheers and thank you for the support. It means a lot.

Early observations with the 2017 SAL lg schedules plus some site notes

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Photo courtesy of elawassell.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/magnifying-glass-203x300.gif

Photo courtesy of elawassell.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/magnifying-glass-203×300.gif

Hey guys I’m super stoked for 2017, looks like another great crop of talent coming in.  I’m a little less enthusiastic with the end of the year stuff.  As it’s the same players I wrote about all season but I’m working through that.

The 2017 SAL team previews will begin December 1st with a look at the Asheville Tourists and will continue alphabetically around the league.  The goal is to have 1 up about every 4 or 5 days.

 

So I had a few minutes to spare the other day and I began looking at the 2017 Sally schedules.  Here are some early observations:

Opening day is April 6th and Greenville hosts the Delmarva Shorebirds.  Delmarva comes to this area just once more in 2017. In mid July at Hickory.

Kannapolis is coming west for 7 games in the 2nd week of the year (4) in Hickory and (3) in Asheville.

I’ll be getting a lot of early looks at Rome, they’ll be in the area for 4 series by the end of May.

Lakewood makes zero trips to Hickory despite being in the same division. They come to the area just once when they visit Asheville June 1-4.

The SAL lg All Star game will be on Tuesday June 20th  in Columbia SC home of the Fireflies. I hope to be there.

Augusta will be in Asheville for 10 games in July and August

Columbia makes zero trips to Asheville in 2017 despite being in the same division.

That’s what I’ve got so far.  I didn’t get too deep into it just yet but wanted to post a few early observations that I found interesting.

 

 

2016 Hagerstown Suns Year In Review

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Victor Robles, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Victor-Robles-2016-tf.jpg

Victor Robles, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Victor-Robles-2016-tf.jpg

Hey guys, it’s the slow season at Notes from the Sally I’ll be continuing to do some end of season prospect lists but you may have noticed I’m not writing at the same pace as I was in season. To help fill in the gaps I will be reblogging a post here and there.

My friend Ricky Keeler (on Twitter @Rickinator555)
put out a post this morning reviewing the 2016 Hagerstown Suns season and an interview with Suns manager Patrick Anderson. I’ve enjoyed Ricky’s work for the last couple of years.  He’s a talented writer and he does a great job covering the Washington Nationals majors and minors at “District on Deck”.

Here’s the link to the original piece, cheers: http://districtondeck.com/2016/10/28/washington-nationals-minors-2016-hagerstown-suns-season-review/

Our minor league year in review series looks at the Washington Nationals low-A afilliate, the Hagerstown Suns, managed by Patrick Anderson

So far, on our Washington Nationals 2016 Minor Leagues in review series, we have looked at triple-A Syracuse, double-A Harrisburg, and high-A Potomac. Today, we take a look at the low-A Hagerstown Suns in the South Atlantic League, who clinched a playoff spot by winning the North Division in the first half.

Although Hagerstown lost in the semifinals to the Lakewood Blue Claws (Philadelphia Phillies), they finished the season with a 83-57 record, which was seven games better than any other team in the SAL. Plus, the Suns have made it into the postseason in four of the last five years.

On offense, the Suns led the league in runs scored (668), were second in the league in stolen bases (172), and they had a .261 batting average as a team (third in the league). In the first half, the top three in the order of Victor Robles, Max Schrock, and Kelvin Gutierrez each hit over .300 and had 30+ RBI’s (Gutierrez led with 48). Once those three players were promoted to high-A, new players began to step up.

Hagerstown’s offense had three players hit double-digit home runs and the player who led in that category was right fielder Rhett Wiseman. Wiseman, who was the Nats third round pick in 2015, had 13 home runs, drove in 75 runs, and stole 19 bases in 29 attempts. Another player who had a strong season was Ian Sagdal, who hit .303 with ten home runs, 59 RBI’s, and had 30 doubles.

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As for the pitching staff, the Suns had a 3.75 team ERA and had the third fewest strikeouts in the SAL. Joan Baez led the staff in wins (nine) and had the most strikeouts (110). In the bullpen, the Suns had 44 saves and three players had eight, including Mariano Rivera III (4.04 ERA in 39 games).

To talk more about the Suns, I had the privilege to talk this week with Hagerstown’s manager, Patrick Anderson. Below you will find our Q+A conversation about the team this season, his success with the GCL Nats in 2013, and his thoughts on Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez’s development:

Ricky: What was your biggest takeaway from this season?

Patrick: “We started off really well and very fortunate to clinch the playoffs in the first half. We were very young all the way around. It was a gratification in itself to see those kids (Victor Robles, Max Schrock, Kelvin Gutierrez, Edwin Lora) get viewed up. The development of all those kids was a lot of fun. For the most part, it was a great season as a whole. Bottom line, the development of those players was the best part of it.”

R: How does it change to have a new lineup once players like Robles, Schrock, and Gutierrez were promoted?

P: “Well, the challenge is getting to know the new players and bringing them into the atmosphere we have along with a different league. The organization as a whole has a lot of continuity that allows these players to feel comfortable. With players getting moved up, it’s a challenge all the way around. It was fun and at the lower levels, they want to get better and the challenge of playing every day is one of the hardest things to do. The guys won a lot of games and had a lot of fun doing it.”

R: Rhett Wiseman led the Suns in home runs and RBI’s this year. What stood out to you about Wiseman’s season?

P: “Rhett’s a raw athlete. He really has a lot of tools. The biggest thing for Rhett was getting that game experience and learning the game at the professional level. He has a lot of potential, has some pop. Defensively, he’s come a long way and I was happy with the strides he made there. He’s a great kind, unbelievable makeup and the work ethic is off the charts.”

R: Ian Sagdal hit .366 in the second half of the season and played at four different positions (first base, second base, third base, and left field. Which position does he fit at the most as his career progresses?

P: “I don’t know which position and that’s what makes it so much fun with this guy. A lot of the times, we haven’t developed a utility type of guy in our organization. The last one pretty close to that was Wilmer Difo (more of an infielder). Sagdal’s a jack of all trades. He reminds me kinda like Ben Zobrist. He can swing it, his bat potential is really high, and defensively, he came to instructional league and worked in the infield. I was proud and he did a good job in left field when we needed him. He can handle his own out there. The bat plays really good.”

R: This season, we saw Mariano Rivera III go to the bullpen for a whole season after being a starter at Auburn. How has he developed as a reliever?

P: “He was intriguing throughout the year and did a great job early on. Went through a lull and the numbers can float up there really big. His numbers, as a whole, were very good. He developed a really good breaking ball. For his size, he got on top of a fastball, increased the angle, and topped out at 95-96 miles per hour. The fun part was his dad (former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera) came to a bunch of games and talk to the kids. His son took to it in a good way while his dad let him do his own thing.”

“His son started developing a cutter and it was interesting to see that the apple didn’t fall from the tree with some of those pitches. His dad told me his son was better off now than what he was at that age. It was fun to be around him.”

R: While relievers aren’t judged by wins, how impressive was Jorge Pantoja’s season (9-1, 2.63 ERA in 28 games)?

P: “He came in a little bit late, but he ran a bunch of sinkers and threw them over the plate. He didn’t overwhelm you with stuff but he was getting groundball outs with his sinker and two-seam fastball. Started building some confidence and always in that position to pick up some wins. He deserved them. It was good to see him develop.”

R: How did you view your starting rotation this season?

P: Matthew Derosier was in the rotation. Had to back off of him because he was coming off Tommy John, but I was impressed with him. Jefry Rodriguez had so many quality starts and got so much better from the last two years. Joan Baez came up last year and got hit around. This year, he matured right in front of us. [He had a] electric fastball and worked on his breaking ball. At the end of the year, he got so much better.”

Taylor Guilbeau threw the ball really well. Left-hander Tyler Watson came in at the end. He is one of those sleepers. Can throw up to 92 from the left side around the plate. He is mature beyond his age. It was a lot of fun to watch these guys.”

R: What was it like to manage a Gulf Coast team that went 49-9 in 2013?

P: Everybody was on the same page. They competed and they were fundamentally sound. They bought into grinding out at-bats on offense and making plays defensively. We waited around and it was like, who was the next guy to take over and lead us to a win? Guys got used to it, it was contagious. We had some talent and they just got used to winning. It didn’t matter who you put in the lineup, somebody was going to step up and find a way to win a game. It was great to sit back and watch.”

R: How have you changed as a manager since you joined the Washington Nationals organization?

P: “I was with Kansas City for nine years and had a lot of guys that mentored me. When I came over to the Nationals, every year understanding that winning is everything. I get competitive and want the players to be competitive, but the development is really important. For me, to identify we might lose this game tonight, but this kid needs this experience.”

“In those situations, I’m still learning and learned a lot to where you look aside from just winning and say this is what’s best for this player. That alone is a huge task every game. Randy Knorr, Bobby Henley, Doug Harris, those guys in our front office, all our rovers help me out, give me some advice, they like the things that we do. Still, there is stuff I need to get better with and it’s a great learning experience for myself.”

R: This season, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez make their Major League debuts. How have you viewed their development and what stood out to you about them when you managed them in 2014?

P: “We had them so early on and it was a treat to watch their stuff. Their stuff is electric. The fastball was overwhelming, above average. I remember from the postseason, Lopez threw against Greensboro. I saw a couple of scouts after the game and they told me he could’ve pitched at any level. He had three pitches for strikes and the quality of stuff was off the charts.”

“When Lucas came back and pitched a rehab game with us this season, the questions and the maturity he had when he came back was awesome to be able to see from a development standpoint. Koda Glover ran through the system quickly and it was a joy to see him in the Major Leagues.”

“Sam Narron (pitching coach) and myself got to see Lopez pitch his first start and to see the look on his face before he got there is what we are in it for. It was beautiful to see the smile on his face in a big league clubhouse.”

R: How does it feel for you as a manager when you watch your former players make an impact on the next level?

P: “It’s a joy and a treat because you see them so early on. You see the development and close to the finished product when they have a chance to compete and do something at the big league level. It’s a great feeling for everyone. It’s the process from rookie ball all the way up to triple-A. All the coaches, people, scouts, and everyone putting it together, it’s a fun ordeal. We are hoping for a championship and that’s what we preach. It’s such a joy to see these kids have an impact.”

15 toolsy outfielders from the 2016 Sally

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Victor Robles, courtesy of mg.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/files/2015/09/246.jpg&w=480

Victor Robles, courtesy of mg.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/files/2015/09/246.jpg&w=480

Hey guys, I continue to look back at the 2016 Sally with a look at 15 toolsy outfielders.

 

Tier 1, Cream of the crop

Victor Robles, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Victor-Robles.gif

Victor Robles, courtesy of baseballamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Victor-Robles.gif

CF) Victor Robles – Nationals.  Robles is an exciting young player in the Nats system. Potential plus or better hit, with double plus speed, excellent center field defense and a cannon for an arm. Game power could play average too. Here’s a full writeup I did back in May:  My 1st look at Victor Robles, CF, Hagerstown

 

Ronald Acuna, courtesy of cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/ubJVWk3-X7ezLEDGN3VRMtQBKzs=/0x432:4608x3024/1600x900/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/50661945/S0620445.0.1472973595.JPG

Ronald Acuna, courtesy of cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/ubJVWk3-X7ezLEDGN3VRMtQBKzs=/0x432:4608×3024/1600×900/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/50661945/S0620445.0.1472973595.JPG

CF) Ronald Acuna – Braves.  Acuna missed a large chunk of 2016 due to thumb injury.  So I was only able to get one look.  Excellent bat to ball skills.  The hit tool is potential plus or higher and the game power could play average or maybe slightly higher and he’s got plus speed. An exciting young player.  Here’s a more in depth report: My 1st look at Ronald Acuna, CF, Rome

 

Tier 2, Athletic but questions

 

CF) Luis Alexander Basabe – Red Sox.  A nice combination of power and plus speed but there are question marks about the hit tool.  A very good defensive CF.  Showed significant improvement in the 2nd half.

 

CF) Tito Polo – Yankees.  Polo had a monster couple of months in the Sally before being promoted to Bradenton. I only got one look, I loved the bat speed and the athleticism I thought he looked good in center.  But it’s a small sample size and others feel he may have to move to a corner which would add pressure to the bat.

 

CF, LF) Mylz Jones – Rockies. Jones is very athletic and has plus speed.  He’s a good hitter and there is some pop in the bat.  Some feel he will be groomed for a super utility role.  He did play SS in college.

 

Eric Jenkins – Rangers. Jenkins is an athletic young man with plus, plus speed. Physically he reminded me of a young Kenny Lofton. Even has a similar setup at the dish.  He’s got a long swing and struggled to make consistent contact this year but it was his 1st full season.  A lot of tools to work with, it will be interesting to see how he develops.

 

CF) Cedric Mullins – Orioles.  Mullins is interesting in that he could have 5 average or better tools.  His loudest tool is his plus speed, he’s a threat on the bases and covers a lot of ground in center.  He’s aggressive at the dish with a long linear swing, and above average bat speed, and he makes decent contact.  The hit can play average or maybe slightly above, and for a little guy the ball definitely jumps off of his bat.  Above average raw right now.  Not a great throwing arm but average for CF.  So with 500 at bats: 270 ish, 305 OBP, 12-16 HR and 25-30 SB.  My guess is 2nd division regular or 4th/5th OF.

 

RF-CF) Anderson Miller – Royals. A pretty good athlete for a big man, moves well.  Probably profiles best in right long term and he has the arm for it.  Miller has the strength for 20-25 HR but so far he hasn’t gotten to it in games because of his long, linear swing.  Quite a bit of swing and miss here too.

 

RF-CF) Ray Patrick Didder – Braves.  Didder is very fast and has excellent glove in center.  His teammate is Ronald Acuna who also plays center so Didder played a lot of right field when Acuna was healthy.  Didder’s got a long swing with very good bat speed and gap power currently.

 

CF) Johneshwy Fargas – Giants.  I was disappointed to see Fargas back in the Sally as he had a good year last year and earned a promotion to San Jose to start 2016.  But after a slow start he found himself back in Augusta.  These things happen and he’s still age appropriate for the level.  His loudest tools are his plus speed and strong throwing arm. A decent hitter Fargas doesn’t offer much in the way of pop though.

 

 

Tier 3, not super toolsy but chance to be solid

 

LF)  Cornelius Randolph – Phillies- Randolph is kind of compact and thick. But I love the bat to ball skills and I think there will be enough power there to be a fit in left or at 1st if he outgrows corner outfield. Think 290 15-20 HR’s early and 20-25 at peak.  Not a threat on the bases. A longer write up here My 1st look at Cornelius Randoph

 

RF) Dylan Davis – Giants- Much like Randolph not super toolsy but Davis is a strong young man.  He has the potential to be an average to above average hitter with 20-25 HR.  Average range in right with a strong arm.

 

RF) Jose Pujols – Phillies- Pujols has some of the best raw power on the circuit this season and he led the Sally with 24 HR’s.  He’s long and lanky and when he gets his arms extended, look out. There are holes in the swing however and there will be a lot of swing and miss. Average range in RF with a strong arm.

 

Tier 4..  Toolsy but work is needed

 

Kyri Washington – I saw a lot of Kyri this season. He’s got some tools, plus raw power and he runs well for a big man. Questionable hit tool though with a long swing and aggressive approach.

 
Stone Garrett – Marlins.  I only got 1 look at Garrett this season.  But he’s got some similarities to Basabe up above.  Missed a bunch of time due to injury but really struggled with contact when he did play.

 

Amalani Fukofuka – Royals,   Leudys Baez- Braves.

These two young men posses some of the loudest tools I saw this season however they’re really raw offensively.

One player that likely would have made it into the 2nd group on this list had I seen him is Alex Call of the White Sox.  You can read about him here Thoughts on Alex Call, OF, White Sox.   This was a guest post by by my friend Dan Victor (on Twitter @slydanno70).

 

top 5 power hitters in the 2016 SAL

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Josh Naylor, courtesy of thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/sports/baseball/2015/06/09/mississaugas-josh-naylor-always-destined-for-mlb/josh-naylor.jpg

Josh Naylor, courtesy of thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/sports/baseball/2015/06/09/mississaugas-josh-naylor-always-destined-for-mlb/josh-naylor.jpg

Hey guys, I took a little break from writing at the conclusion of the season.  Congrats to the Rome Braves the 2016 SAL lg champs. For my 1st piece back I want to talk about the long ball or more specifically 5 players who can hit them in bunches. Here’s my top 5 power hitters in the 2016 SAL.

 

Josh Naylor, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/9/6/2/192418962/cuts/Naylor_osn4q1m3_kjb2g3f1.jpg

Josh Naylor, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/9/6/2/192418962/cuts/Naylor_osn4q1m3_kjb2g3f1.jpg

Josh Naylor – Greensboro Grasshoppers, Age 19, listed 6′ 225 lbs, bats and throws left.  Naylor was drafted 12th overall in the 2015 draft by the Marlins out of high school in Mississauga, Ontario.  He was traded to the Padres at the deadline for pitcher Andrew Cashner.

Naylor is thick especially in the lower half I’d guess he’s 230 or 235 right now.  The raw power is double plus, he puts on a show in BP, I was not surprised to learn he had one of the best rounds at the futures game.  Which is pretty remarkable for a teenager.  He’s an aggressive hitter with plus bat speed and good barrel control but he’s slapping a lot of balls to left and left center.  He needs to get more selective and look for pitches he can drive.  An exciting young slugger, when I squint I can almost see a young Adrian Gonzalez in there.  I’ll be keeping an eye on him.

He showed good hands and feet but it’s hard to imagine him getting thicker and being effective around the 1st base bag.

Here we get some good looks at Naylor’s swing courtesy of Baseball America

 

 

 

Austin Riley, courtesy of tomahawktake.com/files/2016/01/autinriley002.jpg

Austin Riley, courtesy of tomahawktake.com/files/2016/01/autinriley002.jpg

3B) Austin Riley-  Rome Braves, Age 19, listed 6’3″ 220 lbs, bats and throws right. Riley was drafted 41st overall in the 2015 draft by the Braves out of high school in Memphis TN.

Riley is a big, strong dude I’d guess he’s 6’2″ 230 lbs and he appeared to be in excellent shape.  He’s got plus to double plus raw power.  When it comes to Riley there’s a vast difference from my early reports to my later reports.  In early May he was having a hard time catching up to even medium heat. I saw him consistently late on 92-93 two games in a row.  But when I saw him in July and August he was noticeably quicker to the ball and turning around good heat.  Not sure what changed maybe he was hurt early or just wasn’t picking the ball up. The power is real but there will be some swing and miss though.

Riley’s range at 3rd is average or maybe a tick below his hands are average and he’s got plenty of arm.  He should be able to stay at the position in the short and medium run (2-4 years) assuming he doesn’t get too much bigger.

Here we get several looks at Riley’s swing courtesy of Chris Blessing, Baseball HQ, on Twitter @C_Blessing (Note this video was shot early)

 

 

 

Jose Pujols, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/2/6/6/176456266/cuts/jose_pujols_cropped_6e4mtl3l_6fqqrjaf.jpg

Jose Pujols, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/2/6/6/176456266/cuts/jose_pujols_cropped_6e4mtl3l_6fqqrjaf.jpg

RF) Jose Pujols – Lakewood Blueclaws, Age 21, listed 6’3′ 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  Pujols was signed by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 for $100,000.

Pujols is long and lean.  I guessed on the field he was 6’4″ 200 lbs. He’s a strong young man and when he gets his arms extended he can send a baseball a long way.  He’s got a big strike zone and he needs work with pitch recognition.  But if you make a mistake he’ll hit it 450′.

He moves pretty well for a big man and has a strong throwing arm.

Here we get several good looks at Pujols swing courtesy of Jose Pujols

 

 

 

Josh Ockimey, courtesy of c.o0bg.com/rf/image_1920x1280/Boston/2011-2020/2016/05/19/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/josh_ockimey-9981.jpg?uuid=dJzWkB4dEeaPsQsuhPouhQ

Josh Ockimey, courtesy of c.o0bg.com/rf/image_1920x1280/Boston/2011-2020/2016/05/19/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/josh_ockimey-9981.jpg?uuid=dJzWkB4dEeaPsQsuhPouhQ

1B) Josh Ockimey –  Ockimey is about to turn 21, he’s listed at 6’1″ 215 lbs. He bats left and throws right. Ockimey was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 by the Red Sox out of high school in Philadelphia.

Ockimey is a strong young man I would guess 6’1″ 225-230 lbs.  He appeared to be in excellent shape.  A patient hitter Ockimey has strong hands and wrists and he whips his bat head through the zone. His long swing has some holes though and pitch recognition skills need work.

Defensively Ockimey has pretty good footwork at 1st base but he’s got stone hands.

Here we get several good looks at Ockimey’s swing courtesy of Chris Blessing of Baseball HQ, on Twitter @C_Blessing

 

 

 

Chris Gittens, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/9/8/4/184509984/cuts/27054570091_d69a46679c_k_6920wm8p_zprhcw43.jpg

Chris Gittens, courtesy of milb.com/assets/images/9/8/4/184509984/cuts/27054570091_d69a46679c_k_6920wm8p_zprhcw43.jpg

Chris Gittens, age 22, listed 6’4″ 250 lbs, bats and throws right. Gittens was drafted in the 12th rd of the 2014 draft out of Grayson County College in Denison TX (1 hr north of Dallas).

Gittens would be my pick for strongest man at the level this year. He’s a big dude.  He has the record for hardest hit ball in Greenville at 117 MPH exit velocity and his raw power is double plus.  He can hit a ball out of any part of the park.  It’s a long swing with above average bat speed.  His pitch recognition skills need some work and he needs to find some lift, half of his batted balls are on the ground.

He has pitch recognition issues and he also hits a lot of balls into the ground.

Watch him hit a shot to the opposite field courtesy of milb.com

That’s some serious thump.  Up next at Notes will be my top 5 speedsters and that should be up next week. Cheers

Rome Braves vs Lakewood Blueclaws league championship preview

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Mike Soroka, courtesy of evans.allongeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2016/04/soroka-770x470.jpg

Mike Soroka, courtesy of evans.allongeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2016/04/soroka-770×470.jpg

For starters I would like to congratulate both teams for making it this far.

How they got here:

Both teams won the 2nd half crown and are currently red hot. . Lakewood (Phillies) swept Hagerstown (Nationals) to get the final. Rome (Braves) took 2 out of 3 from Charleston (Yankees) They’re both built on strong pitching and timely hitting.

A look at the Lakewood starters

Game 1 starter Franklyn Kilome has some the best stuff I saw all year.  A power fastball and knee buckling curve makes a nice 1-2 punch.  He hasn’t been scored on in his last 2 outings but hasn’t pitched in 8 days. Hard to hit.

Gm 2  Seranthony Dominguez has been hot since his promotion from the NY/Penn league in early July.  If you throw out the 1st game he’s allowed 8 ER in his 9 Sally starts and none in his last 4 (21 innings).

Gm 3  Alberto Tirado has been dominant in his last 10 starts (49 innings) he’s got 78 strikeouts.  Just 11 ER in his last 10 starts as well.

Gm 4 If necessary: Harold Arauz has been on fire too he’s allowed just 3 ER in his last 4 starts (25 Inn) with 15 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 21.

Gm 5 TBA

Extra starter Jose Taveras has been good all year but he’s on fire lately too allowing just 5 ER in his last 6 starts totaling 39 Inn, allowing 23 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 40.  And he really shut down Hagerstown in the playoffs.

The only starter I saw from this group is Franklyn Kilome, but the whole staff is hot which isn’t too surprising.  They finished 20 over in the 2nd half for a reason.

The Braves have not yet announced the SP rotation for the best of 5 finale but I reached out to two of my favorite Twitter follows: Garrett (on Twitter @BravesMILB) and Jeff (on Twitter @ProspectBraves). They believe it will stack up like this. Again this is unofficial.  Give these guys a follow they’re good dudes and they know there stuff.

Gm 1 Mike Soroka-  One of the top arms I saw all season.  A nice combination of stuff and current command.  He really hammers inside on right handers with fastball and curve combo.  Good changeup too.  I’m a little surprised he hasn’t hit a wall yet he’s logged some innings for an 18 year old.

Gm 2 Touki Toussaint- Touki flashes some of the best stuff you’ll see anywhere in the minors.  Throwing the fastball for strikes is key, with 2 strikes that curve can be devastating.  The change ups that I saw are little more than a change up pace pitch.

Gm 3 Kolby Allard-  Another of the best arms I saw all season  Allard has a nice fastball, curve combination.  The change is good as well as is the command.  Very advanced for a HS arm.

Gm 4 if necessary Max Fried- Fried works off of his fastball and likes to pound in on righties. It’s an above average pitch that he locates well.  His 11-5 curve is plus and is a swing and miss generator.  The change lags behind the other 2 and is more of a change of pace pitch.

The caveat is that I saw Fried early and he’s still working his way beck from TJ.  It’s possible I didn’t see him at his best.  I was hoping to get a 2nd look late but missed him.

Gm 5 in necessary Mike Soroka

This is the best staff I’ve seen at the Low-A level and they’re all pitching well now.

Some of the top hitters to watch out for:

Lakewood:

LF) Cornelius Randolph- Selected 10th overall in the 2015 draft.  I love the swing and the bat to ball skills.

CF) Mark Laird has been a spark plug for Lakewood since he  arrived from the NY/Penn.  In his 31 games he has a .445 OBP hitting in the top spot of the Blueclaws lineup.

RF) Jose Pujols-  The Sally home run king, he hit 24 bombs this year. The long and lanky right hander does have some holes in his swing however.  Not the best guy to make a mistake to.

Rome

CF) Ronald Acuna- One of the best hitters I saw all year.  I love the combination of hit, plus speed and power potential.

3B) Austin Riley- I got a couple of looks early on and he was consistently late on low-90’s fastballs.  But about halfway through the year he unlocked some bat speed and he as a different hitter.   A strong kid with big time raw power.

RF) Ray Patrick Didder- The swing is a tad long but excellent bat speed, gap power currently.  Very fast and a + glove in the OF.

It’s been a fun year in the Sally and we’ve got 2 great squads representing the league. Runs could be a premium here.

My prediction It’s hard to go against a team so hot but I’ll take Rome in 4.

Rome is the most talented team in the Sally this year IMO and that pitching will be very difficult to beat. And with Acuna back in the fold the offense will do enough damage to scrape by.

Coming up on Notes I’ll continue to go around the diamond with detailed looks at each position.

Plus a lot of top prospect lists on the horizon,  separated by skill (top 5 power hitting OF in the Sally) and by positions (top 5 2B). Cheers.