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A Thursday Scouting Notebook – 5/6/2021

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another week of college baseball and the return of minor league play. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Kevin’s Notes

After nearly 600 days without them, it was sure nice to have minor league boxscores. It was also overwhelming in terms of thinking about who to highlight for today’s notebook. During a lunchtime call with Eric Longenhagen, we probably discussed 40 or 50 guys. To celebrate the long-awaited return of minor league baseball, I’ll push the draft aside for a week and talk about some prospects with real numbers next to their names for the first time in over a year. Instead of just finding five players, I decided to focus on a quintet of catchers who had big starts to the season. Catching prospects fascinate me as it’s the toughest position to find. There’s aren’t 30 legitimate starting catchers in baseball, but there are 30 teams, so while the bar is ridiculous on a defensive level, the necessary production in terms of offense is nowhere near that of other positions. Here are five real prospects — some big names, some sleepers — who have a shot at becoming that everyday guy.

Francisco Álvarez, C, New York Mets (Low-A St. Lucie)

Álvarez put up a .916 OPS in his 2019 stateside debut as a 17-year-old, and his 2021 is off to an impressive start. Eric ranked Álvarez as the best prospect in the Mets system this spring, and I support that ranking whole heartedly. Famous in the international community since his early teens, Álvarez commanded a $2.7 million bonus, and it’s easy to see why as there is the potential for the Venezuelan product to be an plus contributor both at the plate and behind it. He’s tightened up his meaty frame over the past year, which gives him good mobility in terms of block and receiving to go with a plus arm. With a bat in his hands, he has showcased an impressive approach for a teenager to go with real power that projects for 20-plus home runs annually when all is said and done. He’s not only the Mets’ best prospect, he’s on of the best catching prospects in all of baseball, a player who has the potential to be ready somewhere around the end of James McCann’s four-year deal. Read the rest of this entry »


A Thursday Scouting Notebook – 4/29/2021

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another week of college baseball, minor league spring training, and big league action. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Kevin’s Notes

John Baker, RHP, Ball State: 9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8K

When I saw John Baker’s line from Friday’s game against North Illinois, my first reaction was, “Wait a second, that John Baker?” It feels like he’s been part of the Redbirds’ weekend rotation since the Clinton administration, but in reality he’s a fifth-year senior with 60 games and over 300 innings on his college resume. He’s always been good, earning All-Conference awards and a couple of pre-season All-American mentions while compiling a 3.17 career ERA and more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2019, he was a 29th round pick of the Marlins; he was overshadowed on that year’s Ball State team by eventual Arizona first-round pick Drey Jameson, who was taken 34th overall. Read the rest of this entry »


A Wednesday Scouting Notebook – 4/21/2021

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another weekend of college baseball, minor league spring training, and big league action. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Editor’s Note: This piece originally incorrectly stated Cole Winn had had a Tommy John surgery. It has been removed. FanGraphs regrets the error.

Eric’s Notes

Chase Walter, RHP, San Diego Padres

Most of the teams that ended up signing several non-drafted free agents for $20,000 bonuses last year were the ones with thinner farm systems, like the Reds or Nationals. But the Padres inked several as well, and the first one to pop up and look like a real steal, at least for me, is Western Carolina signee Chase Walter. Walter sat 96-98 out of the bullpen in a minor league spring training game late last week. His breaking ball shape varied pretty significantly, looking like a lateral slider sometimes and a power overhand curveball at others. Regardless of its shape, Walter’s breaking ball bent in at 84-87, and the ones that had more of a curveball look to them were plus. He looks like a potential quick-moving relief piece.

Asa Lacy, LHP, Kansas City Royals

Lacy’s first career pro outing against hitters from another org lasted two innings (the second of which was rolled), and was more of a check-in to see where he’s at rather than a look that should alter anyone’s opinion of him. I went into this look knowing that some scouts had seen him throw a live BP about a week and a half earlier and that Lacy was pretty wild during that outing, which is totally fine considering he’s just getting going for the year. He was a little wild in my look, too, and to my eye seemed to have a noticeably lower arm slot while throwing some of his sliders, even during warm-ups.

Lacy came out sitting 94-96 in his first inning of work and then was 95-98 in the second. He doesn’t need to have precise fastball command because his is the sort of fastball that has huge carry and can compete for swings and misses in the zone. Maybe it’s because of the arm slot variation stuff, or because it’s a developmental focus for him, or just because Lacy faced so many right-handed batters, but he ended up throwing many more changeups than anything else during this outing. They were often in the 85-88 mph range and some of them were quite good, while others were not. He broke off a single plus curveball (his curves were about 80-81) that froze a righty hitter and landed in the zone for a strike, while Lacy’s sliders (86-ish) often missed well below the zone but still garnered some awkward swings. Read the rest of this entry »


A Wednesday Scouting Notebook – 4/14/2021

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another weekend of college baseball, minor league spring training, and big league action. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Kevin’s Notes

Jonathan Cannon, RHP, Georgia: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

After throwing 11.2 scoreless innings out of the pen last spring as a freshman for Georgia, Cannon entered the year as a potential late-first round pick this summer, earning draft eligibility as a sophomore due to age. He’s had an up-and-down season, but was at his best over the weekend as he shutdown one of the top teams in the country in Vanderbilt, while throwing 75 of his 111 pitches for strikes. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Cannon has a classic starting pitcher’s frame to go with an on-line delivery and clean arm action. On the season his stats don’t impress, with a 4.35 ERA and 21 hits allowed in 20 innings, but with just three walks and 24 strikeouts, the numbers indicate an ability to locate, which is exactly what he did against the Commodores.

Cannon has decent velocity, with a fastball that averages 94 mph and touches 97, but his three-quarters arm angle produces less than desirable shape to the heater. His mid-80s slider isn’t a big breaker and his upper-80s changeup has decent fade but is a bit on the firm side. There’s nothing even bordering on nasty in the arsenal, but Cannon can locate any of his pitches in all four quadrants of the strike zone, and knows how to work outside it when looking for a chase. With continued success, he should return to those pre-season late first-round projections, and overall feels like a classic safety-over-upside pick. Read the rest of this entry »


A Wednesday Scouting Notebook – 4/7/2021

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another weekend of college baseball, a prospect trade, and minor league co-op action in Arizona. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Kevin’s Notes

Waldy Arias, 3B, Campbell: 3-for-9, 3 BB, K, 2 SB, 2 HBP

If you are here for hardcore draft info, skip to the next paragraph. If you want to have fun for a minute, stick around. Arias is a little junior third baseman at a mid-major program who is slugging .290. Nobody is going to print a magnet with his name on it come July. My question is why does he have so many enemies? With two more hit by pitches over the weekend, Arias has now been hit 16 times in 21 games. That’s nearly once every six plate appearances, which was his exact rate last year, when he got hit 12 times in 15 games. Arias is a pesky slap hitter who crowds the dish. His high front elbow hangs out over the plate and the overall setup reminds me a bit of a mini-Carlos Quentin, who took a fair number of pitches to the body in his career. With access to some of the video and data tools pro teams have, I was able to click a few buttons and watch all 16 HBP. Here are the results:

1. Curveball: Foot
2. Slider: Leg
3. Fastball: Thigh
4. Fastball: Thigh
5. Slider: Foot
6. Fastball: Thigh
7. Fastball: Elbow
8. Fastball: Elbow
9. Slider: Head
10. Fastball: Elbow
11. Changeup: Shoulder
12. Fastball: Back
13. Slider: Elbow
14. Fastball: Elbow
15. Changeup: Hand
16. Slider: Shoulder

Read the rest of this entry »


A Wednesday Scouting Notebook – 3/31/2021

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another weekend of college baseball and week of spring training. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Kevin’s Notes

Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

Bachman has cross-checkers around the country Googling where the hell Oxford, Ohio is (it’s in the southwest part of the state; fly into Cincinnati and it’s about an hour drive north from there). He’s been getting into triple digits most weekends and touched 101 on Saturday against a sub-par Northern Illinois squad; his outing featured nine up, nine down, and nine strikeouts on 41 pitches. Bachman is being treated with kid gloves as a starter due to some early-season shoulder soreness, but most teams see him as a pure reliever due to an awkward, unathletic delivery. At 6-foot-1 and somewhere in the neighborhood of 235 pounds, he’s built like a linebacker, and he seems to throw like one as well. The scary thing about him is that his 96-100 mph fastball might not even be his best pitch. Of the 41 offerings on Saturday, he threw 24 sliders, and it’s a 70-grade pitch that features massive velocity and equally impressive break; in the end, it generated eight of his nine whiffs. Despite the concerns about his delivery and ultimate role, this is some of the best pure stuff in the draft and Bachman is starting to generate some mid-first-round buzz.

Jacob Campbell, C, Illinois: 4-for-7, 2B, HR, BB, K

I was talking to a front office person the other day when he suddenly stated, “Catching around the league is so awful.” It’s baseball’s most difficult position, and takes a physical toll that greatly limits backstops’ ability to perform at the plate. There are 30 everyday catching jobs, but there aren’t 30 everyday catchers. That forces teams to move catchers up on their draft boards, and Campbell could end up a beneficiary of that strategy. A 36th-round pick by the Cubs in 2018 out of a Wisconsin high school, he hit just .197 in his first two years at Illinois, but scouts remained optimistic because of his athleticism and power, though there was concern about the latter following offseason hamate surgery. He’s come out strong so far this spring, going 12-for-27 with three bombs, and he’s suddenly being talking about in the third round, give or take 30 picks. Campbell moves well behind the plate and has a plus arm, and while there’s some swing-and-miss in his game, he has a solid approach to go with sneaky pop. Catching around the league is awful and players like Campbell are in a good position to take advantage of that come July. Read the rest of this entry »


Top 30 Prospects: Atlanta Braves

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Atlanta Braves. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. Each blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report if there were any. As always, we’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, we’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in our opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on team lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.

For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

Read the rest of this entry »


Top 42 Prospects: Detroit Tigers

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Detroit Tigers. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. Each blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report if there were any. As always, we’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, we’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in our opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on team lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher.

For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value.

All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here.

Read the rest of this entry »


Another Scouting Notes 10-Pack (3/16/2021)

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of thoughts after another weekend of college baseball and week of spring training. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Eric’s Notes

Marcos Castanon, 2B, UC Santa Barbara: 4-for-12, 2B, HR, 5 BB, 5 K

Entering the year, Castanon had played in more games during a dour freshman season (42 games, .214/.278/.321) than he had in two good ones (.308/.357/.488, 38 games) interrupted by a hamstring injury and the pandemic. He’s out of the gate really hot in 2020 (.358/.500/.642) and now has eight home runs in his last 30 games. Castanon doesn’t have huge raw power but he does good pull-side pop for a second baseman and can barrel velocity. He’ll make some slick plays at second, some of which help enable a lack of bend and flexibility, and overall he’s an average second baseman with a below-average arm. Though his swing doesn’t have playability all over the zone (he’s vulnerable up and in), I think the performance and near average hit/power combo put him in the early Day Two mix.

Cade Doughty, 3B, LSU (2022 eligible): 5-for-14, 4 HR, 3 BB, 3 K

Doughty was the star of a roller coaster three-game set against UT-San Antonio, during which he hit several dramatic home runs, and he already has six on the year. Doughty indeed has plus pull power and is getting to it in games when he get extended and clubs pitch on the outer half. He appears to track pitches well and has squared up a mix of fastballs and breaking balls. Let’s see how he fares in conference play. Doughty likes to swing, and SEC pitching has the best chance to expose what have been some early struggles against fastballs in on his hands. Read the rest of this entry »


A Collection of Weekend Scouting Notes (3/9/2021)

Prospect writers Kevin Goldstein and Eric Longenhagen will sometimes have enough player notes to compile a scouting post. This is one of those dispatches, a collection of college baseball and spring training thoughts from this past weekend. Remember, prospect rankings can be found on The Board.

Kevin’s Notes

Will The College Hitters Please Come Forward?

Eric and I have talked about this subject in this space and elsewhere, but the college hitter group for the 2021 draft is developing into an especially challenging one for scouting departments. Much of that is because with both an exceptionally short 2020 season and no Cape Cod League, it was hard to line up boards heading into the year. Some of the best freshmen from 2019 became the best draft-eligible bats heading into the year almost by default, and many have disappointed. Take a look at this quartet, all of whom entered the season as potential top-half of the first round picks. Read the rest of this entry »