Daily Prospect Notes: 9/10/21

These are notes on prospects from Tess Taruskin. Read previous installments of the Daily Prospect Notes here.

Johan Rojas, CF, Philadelphia Phillies
Level & Affiliate: High-A Jersey Shore Age: 21 Org Rank: 9 FV: 45
2-for-4, HR, 3 SB, K

Rojas was called up to High-A at the beginning of the month and has gone 12 for 30, slashing .400/.486/.633 since the promotion. He hit his second home run at the new level on Thursday, taking advantage of a hanging breaking ball and sending it over the left field fence. But perhaps most notable on Thursday were his three steals (two of second base and one of third). He hadn’t yet put his wheels on display at the higher level, stealing just one High-A bag prior to last night’s contest, but his speed was a prominent part of his pre-promotion profile; Rojas’ 25 swipes placed him within the top 20 base stealers in all of Low-A this season. Rojas’ plate discipline has long been a question, but his walk rate has been higher in 2021 than in previous seasons and for what it’s worth, he’s walked more than he’s struck out at High-A so far, meaning there’s reason to believe his power/speed combo could be bolstered with a more mature approach as he continues to develop.

Bryce Elder, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Level & Affiliate: Triple-A Gwinnett Age: 22 Org Rank: 21 FV: 40
7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K

The only hit Elder allowed on Thursday was a hustle-double on a grounder through the 5-6 hole in the first inning. He issued a walk to the next batter and another in the third, but no one else reached base against the big-bodied righty, and he rarely fell behind in the count. He did miss badly on a handful of offerings, and it seemed to me that on those pitches, he was opening up his hips and torso too early, resulting in a wonky distribution of his weight by the time his foot landed.

Here are two back-to-back pitches he threw in the fourth:

And here are those same pitches, with a few freeze frames added, to illustrate where his mechanics diverge:

As you can see, in that first overlay his motion is the same for both pitches, but within just three frames of video, the two deliveries become markedly different. In the pitch on the right, Elder’s hips and shoulders are square toward the plate by the time his front leg lands, causing his long arm action to stray from the path demonstrated in the previous pitch.

Andry Lara, RHP, Washington Nationals
Level & Affiliate: Low-A Fredericksburg Age: 18 Org Rank: 7 FV: 40+
4.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 3 K

Thursday was Lara’s Low-A debut after having made seven starts and two relief appearances in the FCL. In his first frame on the mound, he got into and out of trouble, allowing two base runners (a walk and a single), but emerging unscathed with an inning-ending double play. In the second, he sent the opposing batters down in order and threw just eight pitches to do so. But the third inning was not so friendly to the 18-year-old. He was one pitch away from escaping a bases-loaded jam, and while he did finally get the batter to ground out to short, it was after allowing two runs to score on two separate wild pitches. Based on the looks of things, it seems like there may have been an element of catcher cross up on at least one of those tosses, which can be chalked up to a relative lack of familiarity between Lara and his new teammates. He had another quick one-two-three fourth frame, but it was still somewhat surprising to see him back on the mound for the bottom of the fifth, considering he’d already thrown 71 pitches. He faltered again in the fifth, issuing two walks and allowing a long ball before being pulled for the bullpen to record the final out of the inning.

Donta’ Williams, OF, Baltimore Orioles
Level & Affiliate: Low-A Delmarva Age: 22 Org Rank: 24 FV: 40
0-for-3, BB, SB, K

The first of Lara’s walks was issued Donta’ Williams, who joined Low-A Delmarva in mid-August after a week in the FCL. He stumbled out of the gate approach-wise, striking out an uncharacteristic eight times in his first seven games, while drawing only four walks, but since then, he’s reversed course completely. In his last eight games, he’s drawn 11 walks against just three strikeouts. It’s only been a few weeks, of course, but it’s good to see him showing the ability to adjust and bounce back at the professional level while making consistent contact.

Tess is a contributor at FanGraphs. When she's not watching college or professional baseball, she works as a sports video editor, creating highlight reels for high school athletes. She can be found on Twitter at @tesstass.

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8 months ago

Those overlays are superb!