Daily Prospect Notes: 8/8

Daily notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Michel Baez, RHP, San Diego (Profile)
Level: Low-A   Age: 21   Org Rank: NR (signed before SD rankings)  Top 100: NR
Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 9 K

I could probably reserve a place for Baez in this space every fifth day and not be let down. His fastball velocity has backed up a bit since extended (when he was routinely in the upper-90s) but is still sitting mid-90s with huge extension. Baez’s secondaries are also progressing, especially his running changeup, and he’ll flash a plus breaking ball and change a few times during the course of a start now. He’s come a long way since spring training when he was just a tall guy who threw hard.

Gabriel Maciel, OF, Arizona (Profile)
Level: Short Season  Age: 18   Org Rank: HM  Top 100: NR
Line: 3-for-5, 2B

It’s encouraging that Maciel, who is a 70 runner and potential impact defender in center field, is hitting a robust .368/.439/.500 in the Pioneer League at age 18. One caveat though, Maciel hits the ball on the ground a lot and his speed/contact profile is one that eats low-level defenses alive before typically getting a reality check at upper levels. That’s not to say Maciel isn’t a good prospect with a chance to do some damage with the bat. He does have feel to hit and a good idea of the strike zone, just don’t expect him to sustain this level of production as he approaches the Majors.

Moises Nova, RHP, Cincinnati (Profile)
Level: Low-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: HM   Top 100: NR
Line: 2.2 IP, 0 BB, 0 R, 5 K

Nova was promoted from Billings to Dayton after making the Pioneer League All Star roster. He’ll touch 96 and sit just beneath it in the 92-94 range with a low-3/4s arm slot, and his sweeping slider is an off-putting change of pace that misses bats because of what it does to hitters’ timing just as often as it does due to movement. Nova is 22 and old for a mid-year Midwest League promotion, but he signed a few years later than the typical Latin American teen.

Notes from Blair Field
Forsyth Central HS (GA) RHP Ethan Hankins was mostly 92-95 yesterday and touched 97 according to the Trackman data provided during his start. His fastball spin rate ranged anywhere from around 1900-2300. What’s most interesting about Hankins is not necessarily his prototypical 6-foot-6 frame, nor his ability to generate some of the best velocity in this class (and the best so far at Area Codes) but his constant mechanical alterations and manic on-mound habits that make him very uncomfortable to face. Hankins is constantly fidgeting and shamelessly ambushes hitters with quick pitches, varied leg kicks and all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with his stuff. It’s fun, unless you’re a hitter, and seems to impact batters more than it detracts from Hankins’ already fringey command. He also flashed an average curveball yesterday. It will be interesting if hitters can adjust to this kind of stuff after seeing Hankins multiple times. If they do, he instantly becomes just a big, twitchy kid who throws hard. That’s still probably enough to get you him in round one.

A few other good arms from yesterday. Otay Ranch HS LHP Randy Abshier is a 6-foot-5, 165 pound drink of water with an upper-80s fastball and some feel for a curveball in the mid-60s. His stuff requires substantial body-based projection to be viable but it’s easy to see that his frame has room for 50 pounds or so without so much as a tricep outline becoming visible underneath his billowing jersey. Abshier turns 18 in November and is committed to Arizona.

The pitcher with the best present combination of stuff and pitchability yesterday was Kokomo HS (IN) righty Jack Perkins. He’s 6-foot-2, 192, and sat 90-93, touched 94 and featured a breaking ball — inconsistent in shape but persistently average in quality — which he was able to locate to the back foot and back door of left-handed hitters. His changeup, which featured noticeable arm deceleration, is well below average, but Perkins got by for several innings with his fastball, breaking ball and ability to locate.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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I don’t see the extension on Baez? Looks like he has a moderate length stride and an upright delivery. Is it just because he’s so tall?