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.