I spent Tuesday night in Lakewood at the South Atlantic League All Star Game and Wednesday night in Reading to see, among other things, Chase Utley rehab against Anthony Ranaudo. I’ve got nine pages of handwritten notes from those two days and a few more back logged from other games I’ve been to lately. I want to get this information out (not just the Phillies stuff, it’s time I dust off my own little site and write up non-Phillies stuff, too. I am scouting and taking notes on everyone so i may as well put it to use) so here’s a quick summary on the guys I’ve seen recently, excluding the guys that I think require full reports (except for Mecias). These start out as very conversational reports and gradually de-construct into shorter, more scouting report-like blurbs. We’re going to do a scouting mailbag in the near future so if there’s jargon you don’t understand, hold that question for next week sometime.
Triple-A Lehigh Valley
Mauricio Robles (LHP) – Robles is short and thick at 5’10”, 215lbs. His vertically oriented arm angle allows him to pitch with more downhill plane than someone of his stature normally would. His fastball will sit 92-94mph and he’s show you an above average 12-6 curveball at times. He’s on the 40 man roster. He’ll be up in September, if not sooner. I want to see more of him, look at fastball movement, control/command and see if there’s a third pitch (someone with his arm angle has a change for an effective splitter but his hands may not be big enough to grip the ball that way) there. He has a shot to stick.
Leandro Castro (OF) – Castro was playing some CF when injuries forced him to, but I haven’t seen enough of him there to have a real opinion on whether or not it is a viable option. He’s only playing it once a week or so. If he can, it would certainly improve his chances at a big league career. There’s nice raw power here but too much swing and miss to tap into it. He flies open and leaves himself vulnerable away and just in general swings with everything he has all the time and loses sight of the baseball. I really like watching him play but don’t think it’ll be effective enough for him to carve out a big league career. If he can play CF then we’re talking fourth OF-type.
Darin Ruf (1B) – He’s gotten himself in much, much better shape than he was in Reading and is not an abomination in the outfield anymore, though he still makes me nervous. For me, Ruf’s still a first-base only guy. A 20 runner, he just doesn’t get to enough balls in the outfield for my liking. He has made some spectacular catches, but they’re on balls that most outfielders corral rather comfortably. One good sign from Ruf that I saw last week was a HR he hit the opposite way. It’s only the second ball I saw him take to the right side of second base all year. My scouting report on him from last year isn’t obsolete, but I’m slightly encouraged. I think he’d be less awful against left handed pitching than Ryan Howard is right now, but I’m not sure I want to use a roster spot on someone whose role is “less sucky, 1B only bench bat platoon guy.” He turns 27 in a month.
Brody Colvin (RHP) – In some publications, Colvin is listed at 6’4”. In others, he’s listed at 6’3”. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were really 6’2” because he certainly doesn’t look very big on the mound. Combine that with shorter arms and a lower arm angle, drop and drive delivery and this is a guy who pitches like he’s barely an even 6’. His fastball has plus velo and some sink to it but he leaves it up in the zone quite often. He mixes in a two-plane curveball in the low 70s and a changeup in the low 80s, both of which show average or better at times. Poor control caused by a varying release point hurts him. He was shelled by Portland on Thursday. He’s a “no” for me until he moves to the bullpen permanently, at which point it will be time to re-evaluate.
Luis Garcia (RHP) – Garcia is a tad old for the level but the fastball is hard enough to make you pay attention. He sat 93-95mph for me on Thursday with a blunt, average-ish slider he’d throw anywhere from 83-86mph. He located slidey well to his glove side and the pitch is good enough that he could get swings and misses with it if he locates it like that all the time. He has a Joel Peralta sleeve which is meaningless, but I think it’s cool. Who does that custom tailoring?
Jay Johnson (LHP) – Sidearmer whose curveball had more RPMs on it than any other curve in last year’s Arizona Fall League, according to the Trackman guys. If he spun the curveball from a normal arm angle with that sort of spin it would be a devastating, eye level altering pitch aided by gravity. Since he drops down so low the ball is spinning more horizontally and has nice two plane movement. It’ll sit in the upper 70s and he’ll work it in the back door. I was pleasantly surprised by his fastball velocity, touching 93mph, sitting just underneath it. This is a future big league bullpen lefty.
Tyler Knigge (RHP) – Plus fastball velo, routinely 92-94mph from a ¾ arm slot. Generates torque with hips. Slider in the low 80s. Not sharp. Fastball has some natural cut when thrown to glove side. Has a changeup but doesn’t show it much in game action. Body is a bit dumpy. Secondary stuff needs to come along a bit for me to be intrigued.
Hector Neris (RHP) – Short strider. Delivery isn’t very athletic. Slider is short in the low 80s. Has plus fastball velo but it’s very straight. Changeup is a little firm but has nice action, an average offering. Up and down bullpen arm ceiling for me.
Anthony Hewitt (RF) – Hand-eye coordination just isn’t good enough for him to make contact with baseballs on a regular basis. When he does barrel balls, it’s easy to see why a scout could fall in love. NP.
Yoel Mecias (LHP) – 6’2” and just 160lbs leaves a good amount of room for projection. Fastball at present has average velocity but projects better thanks to the physical development he has left. Changeup is a present plus pitch with insane screwball action. It sits in the upper 70s. Slurvy breaking ball in the low 80s. Has two plane movement but it lacks definition and sharp movement. Work too fast for his own good and the delivery needs a ton of work to smooth it out. Could see future 60 fastball, 65 changeup and 45 slider. Control/command and physicality to handle a starter’s work load will depend on development of his mechanics and his body. It’s certainly possible. He’s just 19 years old.