In-Person Scouting Looks, Headlined by Dodgers Prospect Joel Ibarra

As we accumulate enough scouting notes to fill an article, we’ll publish dispatches from our in-person looks. Below are some of those observations from our most recent excursions. Past In-Person Looks can be found here.

Eric’s Notes
I began my Saturday morning at a Giants/Rockies extended spring training game and ran into two of last year’s notable Rockies DSL pitchers, Alberto Pacheco and Angel Chivilli. Pacheco, who was an Honorable Mention prospect on this year’s Rockies list, was up to 95 mph, sitting 91-94, and had a better breaking ball than our reports from 2021 indicated, a two-plane slurve in the 82-85 mph range. He had better feel for landing it as an in-zone strike than he did for burying it as a finishing pitch. His changeup was in the 84-87 mph range, consistent with reports from last year. There are ways you could frame it (teenage lefty up to 95!) to justify a re-evaluation and a move up the Colorado pref list, and Pacheco is certainly a pitcher in their system to know, but let’s see how the velo trends this summer. Pacheco has three pitches in the 45/50-grade area and is still several years away from the big leagues, so he probably still belongs in the Others of Note area.

Chivilli came in in relief and worked a couple of innings sitting 95-98 mph. He is super loose and projectable and might still throw harder, but his secondary stuff (a mid-80s slider and changeup) is currently below average. There’s one obvious impact pitch here in the fastball, and Chivilli only needs to develop one other offering to project in relief. Because he signed in 2018, the 2022 season is technically his 40-man evaluation year. He’s a developmental prospect at this stage, likely too far from the big leagues to be added to the 40-man after the season, and also too raw to be taken (and stick) via the Rule 5 Draft. We’re looking at a two-to-three year timeline for Chivilli to work towards a 40-man spot, probably still in relief.

After I wrapped up extended on Saturday, I drove down to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to catch the final game of USC’s series at Arizona State. Entering the season, I had Sun Devils center fielder Joe Lampe down as an interesting speed-only prospect, but he’s had a breakout year and is hitting for more power. He’s slashing .321/.390/.616 as of Wednesday morning and has already tripled his 2021 home run total, swatting nine so far. His swing is different than it was before: His leg kick is bigger, his hands are loading lower and he’s been given a subtle bat wrap. He hit a triple off the center field wall on Saturday that left the bat at 108 mph, and in the bottom of the eighth, he dropped the bat head and golfed out a majestic, go-ahead homer straight down the right field line. It wasn’t clear if it was fair or foul off the bat, and the stadium was silent in anticipation, then exploded when it tucked inside the pole. Lampe is an above-average center field defender with burgeoning pop, and could go as high as the second round of this year’s draft.

I spent Monday writing, finishing up the Guardians list, then got out of the house again yesterday to head to Surprise, where the Rangers and Royals were hosting extended spring training games against the Dodgers and Mariners, respectively. Frank Mozzicato started for Kansas City. This was the second time this spring I’ve seen the 2021 first rounder, and both times he has been in the 91-93 mph range with life at the top of the zone, but not in the heart of it. His trademark curveball had more consistent snap and depth than it did in the March intrasquad I saw, and was once again consistently plus. Mozzicato has many of the underlying components teams look for in young pitchers. His frame is very projectable, his delivery is fluid and athletic, his fastball has natural riding life and a flat approach angle, and it plays well off his excellent 12-to-6 curveball. Mozz’s feel for spin should translate to an eventual slider, while his great arm action could eventually yield a good changeup.

The Royals have done well drafting pitchers who have something close to a big league foundation when they first enter the org, but they haven’t really developed any of them into impact starters yet. Mozzicato is the sort of prospect who needs to add layers of velo and a pitch or two to what he’s already doing, and Kansas City hasn’t shown a consistent ability to coax that out of their guys. Most of the pitchers the team has taken in drafts have had sinking/tailing fastballs. Mozz’s heater has much bigger bat-missing ceiling than the Brady Singer/Jackson Kowar/Daniel Lynch types if he can throw harder. It’s too soon to be worried that that hasn’t started to happen yet.

Tuesday’s revelation was Joel Ibarra, a 19-year-old pitcher in the Dodgers system. I had seen Ibarra when he was a two-way amateur prospect. He was intriguing then because of his on-mound athleticism and the whippiness of his arm action, but his stuff was only in the 88-92 mph range and he was very wild. His pro career began as a shortstop in the 2019 DSL. He spent 2021 in the DSL again, this time on the mound, and was a walk-prone 90-94. Here’s a taste of what Ibarra looked like as an amateur:

On Tuesday, he sat 94-98 mph with around 17 inches of vertical break, and threw several plus sliders in the 82-84 range at roughly 2,700 rpm, some plus cutters at 92-93 mph, and a good changeup or two in the 86-88 mph band. This is a 19-year-old former shortstop with monster stuff. I ask this question a lot because I think it’s a useful lens through which to view very young players who are far from the big leagues: If Ibarra were draft eligible, where would he get picked? The obvious caveats about this being one look at two relief innings apply here, but his stuff is better than any college pitcher’s available in this year’s draft and is at least comparable to top-of-the-draft high schoolers like Dylan Lesko and Brock Porter. When he’s pitched, Ibarra’s control/command have been well-below average to this point, but it looked fair this outing. As he continues to throw in extended, and especially as he accumulates stats on the complex, we will learn whether he’s progressed in this area. This is another potential impact prospect in a loaded Dodgers system.

It was a windy day in the West Valley, so apologies for the audio/visual quality here, but it’s what I got. The Dodgers prospect list will drop next week.

Tess’ Notes
Brayan Castillo, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Friday line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K

Castillo sat 95-97 mph on Friday and touched 98. He gets short movement on his mid-80s slider, but it bites late and flashes good depth; he didn’t throw many changeups in my look. He worked the inner and outer half of the plate with his two-seamer and elevated in the zone to miss bats. Castillo creates good deception with his upper body during delivery, with his glove arm and torso tilting to hide his right arm behind his shoulder as he draws back. The progress Castillo made as a strike thrower last year — he was walk-prone during the summer, then very efficient at instructs — seems real. He’s consistently inducing whiffs from Low-A batters thanks to the late movement on his pitches, though this might happen less often against more advanced opponents. His ability to hit his spots, especially low in the zone, is a contrasting look to today’s trendy upper-zone flamethrowers. If he can better his changeup, that low-zone command could earn him a spot at the back of a starting rotation.

Will Bednar, RHP, San Francisco Giants
Friday line: 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K

In his first start of the season, Bednar sat 90-91 mph with his heater (toward the bottom of where he’d sit at Mississippi State) and his command was very erratic. He hit five batters in 3.2 innings, all of them righties who were plunked with fastballs that missed up and in (two on the helmet, with the others in at the hands). His velocity in his Friday start (92-94 mph) was more in line with his 2021 NCAA postseason velocity and he had better command – he seemed to be aiming too much in his first start and had more confidence in his stuff in the second. His slider had hard, horizontal bite, missing bats and inducing weak contact from righties. The fastball shape was good, and the pitch had life up in the zone. Compared to when he was in college, Bednar’s delivery looks easier, with less cross-bodied action and less violent recoil after release. Based on these looks, Bednar’s scattered control and fastball/slider combo gave off reliever vibes.

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1 year ago

Any recent extension data on Mozzicato that you can share?