Hey guys, I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving I thought I would take a slight detour from the Sally team Preview Series that I’ve been working on. And take a look back to my 1st year of scouting the Sally (2015). Over the next two pieces, I’ll highlight some players I was high on at the time and how they’re performing two years later. And where applicable try to identify the disconnect. It’s still too soon for a definitive stance on who these players will be. But we certainly have more clues then we did 2 years ago.
For part one, I want to focus on the two teams I saw the most of: The Greenville Drive and the Asheville Tourists:
The Greenville Drive (Red Sox) was the most talented team in the 2015 Sally. They were led by: Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Michael Chavis Javier Guerra, Maurico Dubon and Nick Longhi. With Andrew Benintendi and Anderson Espinoza each getting a cup of coffee late. They were getting a lot of national press along with the Chattanooga Lookouts (Buxton and gang) as the two most talented minor league squads.
This was a team I watched a ton of. Devers was my favorite, I loved the bat speed and the oppo power I thought he could hit 290 + with 25-30 HR, and I still think that. I thought the defense at 3B came a long way that year working with Drive Manager Darren Fenster. Still questionable whether that will be his long term home in the bigs. But the bat will play everywhere.
I thought Moncada had 300-25-40 upside and preferred the RHH to the LHH mostly due to lift. 300 seems rich though he does grind out AB’s and he should have a consistently strong OBP. After putting up an ISO of .240 in 2015, he’s struggled from the right side each of the last 2 seasons. Now .270 (360) 30 HR – 25 SB (early in his career) seems more likely and still potentially a very good player. I thought it was 50/50 he could end up in an OF corner and he still may.
Chavis had an extremely fast bat (still does) but he tried to hit the ball to Boston with every swing. He was very aggressive and was looking to lift and pull everything. I thought maybe best case scenario was the hit tool gets to average (260) with 20-25 HR. He had a major breakout in 2017 and destroyed Salem in the process. My original expectation hasn’t changed but others I know in the industry that have seen him this year are higher on him. Ralph Lifshitz for one (Prospector for RazzBall and on Twitter@ProspectJesus). He and I have had some good Chavis discussions on Twitter. Paraphrasing here but Ralph said “Chavis has made some adjustments to his swing, this year and is utilizing more of the field.” That certainly sounds promising, his power potential is scary. It just comes down to how far the hit comes. Would love to be wrong on this one. I enjoy Ralph’s takes and he’s a very good Twitter follow.
It’s been a struggle for Chavis defensively at 3B. He shows good hands and a strong arm but the range is limited, partularly to his left. He also has inconsistent and lazy footwork and is prone to a lot of throwing errors as a result. He and Devers split time at the hot corner in 2015 and by the end of the year, I thought Devers was the better of the two defensively by a pretty good margin.
Kopech had the electric arm (95-96) and (at times) a sharp breaking 2 plane slider. I loved the easy velo, FB command needed work. I thought perhaps a #2 SP (if he could find a 3rd pitch) or late inning reliever. He got suspended for 50 games in June and reportedly learned a change up during the break. As high an upside as any pitcher in the minors.
Guerra was my pick for best defensive SS in the 2015 Sally, and there were a ton of great SS that year (more on that later) a terrific glove man with great range and a strong arm. Offensively an aggressive approach and a longish swing. I thought he could be a 1st division starting SS with 270-20 HR upside. He’s struggled offensively since 2015 but the glove gives him a utility floor. In hindsight the aggressive approach combined with the pitch recognition issues should have been more of a red flag.
Dubon was/is a favorite and another good glove man, he’ll play all over the diamond. An aggressive hitter who hits everything he swings at but with minimal load (swing is all upper body, doesn’t incorporate the lower half much) Probably fits best as a utility glove. I watched a lot of pre game warm ups in Greenville and there always seemed to be a crowd around Dubon and they always seemed to be laughing. Struck me as player who would be popular in the clubhouse.
Longhi was a favorite too. 1B and corner outfield, a terrific glove man with a strong arm. Handles the bat well but too many grounders for the style of hitter he is, I thought he had 280 upside with 20-25 HR and a ton of doubles and still do think that. He was traded to the Reds in 2016 for bonus pool money. His ISO climbed to 144 in double-A this year. 2017 is a big year for Longhi, if he can get the ISO in the 180- 190 range and still hit for great contact. He can really put himself on the map.
Greenville is a team that is aging very well, still a lot of star potential with this group two years later.
Asheville was the other team I saw a ton of and they were led by: C) Dom Nunez, 1B) Roberto Ramos, 2B) Forrest Wall, 3B) Kevin Padlo, CF) Wes Rogers, CF) Omar Carrizales and SS) Luis Jean. The anti Greenville, a talented but largely unheralded group.
In the 1st half Nunez was hitting .220 and displayed very little power and far too many ground balls. Over the All Star break he added some lift and was a very different hitter after, he hit 330 with all 13 of his HR and more walks than strikeouts in the 2nd half. A very good contact hitter, with the swing adjustment I thought he had a chance to be special. But for whatever reason he hasn’t hit a lick since leaving Asheville. He was new to catching when he was here but a good athlete I thought he had a chance to be an above average backstop.
Ramos arrived in June and I was a fan from the 1st look, 6’5″ 230 lbs left handed hitter, the ball really jumps off of his barrel. A lot of oppo contact. I thought he had 270 with 25-30 HR upside and I still do. Though with just a .147 ISO and a 32% flyball rate in Lancaster he may need a swing adjustment to get there.
Wall was the highest profile player on the team, a patient approach. He handles the bat pretty well. Early on in Asheville he was trying to lift and pull everything and was having a miserable time of it. It took about 6 weeks for him to settle in. At his best he’s letting the ball travel and is peppering the gaps with line drives. The over the fence power will come from occasionally turning on inside fastballs. I thought he could hit 280 with 12-16 HR and 20 SB. He looked good around the bag and the arm was fine for the right side of the infield. After putting up a .158 ISO in Asheville, he put up just a .90 ISO with Modesto in 2016. He was back in the Cali league in 2017 and playing CF. He got off to a good start but injured himself in early May diving for a ball and missed the remainder of the year with shoulder surgery. Hoping for the best there.
Padlo was in Asheville for 1 month in 2015 and really struggled (not unusual for a teenager). I liked him though, I thought he could have above average hit and pop. Not a burner but he was extremely aggressive on the bases and showed very good instincts, probably good for 10-15 SB a yr due to that. Traded to the Rays after the ’15 season he’s had ISO’s in the 170 range but has mostly scuffled with the bat. Still just 21, there’s time. The swing has some length to it and pitch recognition skills continue to be a work in progress. Also the bulk of the contact is of the pull variety, of he learns to stay back and let the ball travel deeper, he’ll be less vulnerable to the off speed stuff.
Rogers loudest tool is the 70 speed and he plays a good defensive CF. The swing is on the long side for the type of hitter he is and power won’t be a big part of his game. I thought he could be a 270 10-15 HR and 40+ SB if given everyday at bats. Maybe a 2nd division regular or 4th/5th OF, though the arms really not suitable for RF.
Carrizales doesn’t really have a carrying tool. An aggressive hitter with very good bat control, known to have lengthy AB’s with 1/2 dozen foul balls or more. I thought the hit could play 55-60, the power probably settles in the 55 range as does the speed. Might make it as an extra OF or depth in Triple-A.
Luis Jean is another excellent glove man who can play all the infield positions and probably OF too. Much like Dubon, Jean typically hits what he swings at but not a player that will do much damage. The glove does give him a solid chance at a big league career.
The Asheville Pitchers: Jesus Tinoco – showed a fast arm and was 93-95 early but 89-92 by the 2nd inning. His mid 80’s slider flashed some very good bite, potential late inning pen arm.
Sam Howard – a low 90’s heater and good command, best secondary is a mid 80’s slider.
Carlos Polanco – A live arm 92-95, very inconsistent command and struggled to repeat his release point. When he was on he was very difficult to hit. He also threw a change up and slider that both flashed above average. Potential to be a late inning arm.
Asheville’s not holding up as well. Nunez went the opposite direction then I thought he would go. Ramos, Padlo and Wall haven’t hit at a level I think they’re capable of. They have time to figure things out though. Just another reminder that prospect development isn’t linear.
This is getting pretty long, so I’ll stop here and pick it up next week with a look back at all of those shortstops: Ozzie Albies, Jorge Mateo, Cole Tucker, Malquin Canelo, Luis Guillorme and Michael De Leon. Plus share my thoughts on sluggers Rhys Hoskins, Ryan O’Hearn, KJ Woods and a whole lot more. Also I’ll profess my love for Casey Meisner lol.
Also coming up on Notes is a Asheville Tourists 2018 team preview that should be up early next week, Bobby DeMuro owner of baseballcensus.com (on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro) stops by to tell us who to watch for coming out of Grand Junction in 2018. Cheers.
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