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 – 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
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)
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
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, 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