Monday, July 11, 2016

Out In Front: Review of the Futures Game + Something Extra

The 2016 Futures Game is done and the World Team won by a score of 11-3 on an impressive offensive performance by Yoan Moncada and defensive gems by Manuel Margot and Eloy Jimenez. But for me, that's not what I am concerned at the most. I'm more concerned on the performance of the two Giants prospects that played in the Futures Game, Phil Bickford and Adalberto Mejia. In this edition of Out In Front, I'm here to talk about the performances of Mejia and Bickford and in Something Extra will be the performance of some interesting prospects.

I have recorded Bickford and Mejia's outings for my review but I will not upload it because it doesn't have sound.

Phil Bickford entered the game in the top of the 5th inning and right away, he got Ronald Guzman on a one-pitch lineout to center field. Bickford's pitches looked strong pitching in the windup as his command of his fastball and slider are good. The 0-1 slider at 85 MPH thrown to Yandy Diaz should've been a strike but called a ball. After Yandy Diaz hit a single on a 1-2 down and away fastball, Bickford's command on his pitches start to disintegrate. He misses his fastball in his glove side fairly wide and he starts to yank his slider in the dirt. He actually threw a nice 2-2 slider that Gary Sanchez didn't bite. After that, he struck Sanchez with a slider that was supposed to be away but hung and luckily, Sanchez was looking for a fastball and got locked up. Command is still off on Bickford as he still struggles to locate his fastball and slider against Jorge Bonifacio. The umpire bailed him off on a 3-1 fastball that looks outside but called a strike and he then yanks a slider outside for the walk. Bickford then stepped on the gas harder, threw a beautiful slurve at 79 MPH then a located middle-in fastball and then yanked a fastball way outside that Adames swung through.

Overall, Bickford's outing is fairly mixed. People should expect now that Bickford's fastball will sit in the low-90s and will flirt mid-90s in his starts. People probably expected an uptick in velo as he touched 98 in his bullpen duties in the Cape Cod League. His slider and curve are average to a tick above where I have seen it having late break but isn't crisp. I didn't see him threw a changeup because I haven't seen any pitch that got a changeup-like movement in it. He possibly got jitters pitching against big competition in his birthday and affected his command of his fastball but he fought hard as he still threw good pitches in the edge of the zone. I have seen his best in San Jose and Augusta but this should be a good experience for him as he faced very good hitters.

Adalberto Mejia entered the bottom of the 9th to close out the game as World Team manager Moises Alou said that he was reserved to the end in case the game goes extra innings. His outing was very uneventful compared to Bickford's as he went 1-2-3 to close out the game.

He got Carson Kelly to pull an 0-1 changeup to the left side and Amed Rosario made a beautiful play on the groundball to get the out. He then get David Dahl to swing early and pop a 1-2 changeup up and in to the second baseman Yoan Moncada. He struck out Alex Bregman on a 2-2 slider middle-in to end the game. 

He threw four pitches in today's appearance. First is a sinker that he threw on a very first pitch at 92 MPH with little but late sink. Other sinkers that he threw are around 92-94 with the same little but late sink. He threw a changeup at around 83-84 MPH with little but late fade that moves like his slower sinker and nice velocity separation. He threw a cutter with late cutting action at 92 MPH to David Dahl in the 1-0 count and I like more than the sinker. His move impressive pitch of the day is his slider, thrown at 82-83 MPH with nice two-plane break. He threw sliders that I like. The first is the first pitch to Alex Bregman with good late break and the strikeout pitch boring inside him. He filled the zone with relative ease but the fine command tonight isn't there for him. One thing that I see is that he is overthrowing a few times and dropping his arm slot to near sidearm as his sinker, change and cutter all missed wide when he did.

Overall, Mejia was fine in his outing in the Futures Game. He looks good and the stuff and repertoire can get Major League hitters out in the future and enough control to have an impact in the future. Slider and change looks like it can get some swings and misses, sinker and cutter can get weak contact but really needs to spot it well to get good success. He overthrew pitches probably because of the adrenaline rush that he had but great outing from him. 

Something Extra

In this edition of Something Extra, I will talk about guys that I have found under-appreciated in my mid-season special.

- Caleb Smith has been on a very, very good season as clearly the best reliever in the Augusta bullpen. He has put on very, very good numbers. In 29 innings of work, he has put up a 13.97 K/9, 4.97 H/9, crazy 1.86 ERA, even crazier 1.55 FIP and hitters are just hitting .154 against him. He is actually have been more effective against righties, hitting just .150 against him but he has been lights out on both hitters. His BB/9 isn't really pretty at 4.66 but from videos that I have seen on him, he isn't really missing wide on his pitches and the control is good enough for the walk numbers to go down. His mechanics has some effort in it so that is some kicker so does his age (he's 23 now) but I think that putting up numbers like this, he can be something nice in the future as there isn't a lot of good lefty reliever prospects in the farm right now.

- One guy that have been a very good pitcher in the Richmond rotation while not being noticed is Matt Gage. I really feel guilty not including him in the Top 30 let alone in the honorable mention part. His numbers are actually very good. 3.43 ERA with an even better 2.88 FIP, 0.11 HR/9, solid 7.48 K/9, 2.43 BB/9, and .249 batting average against him. Aside from his very awful first start of the season where he allowed 7 ER, Gage has just allowed more than 3 ER in one start and has gone 12 straight starts of allowing 3 ER or less. He really got the components of being an Adalberto Mejia-type of pitcher and in a lot of ways, he reminds me of Mejia. The low 3/4 slot, slight crossfire motion that has deception, good four pitch mix and great feel for pitching as well as good control and command. I should've put him in my Top 30. Maybe I'll edit it maybe not but I think at the end of the season, if he is still dealing, I'm going to slot him fairly high in my Top 30 list. He's good.

I hope you enjoyed reading this edition of Out In Front and Something Extra. I'm still feeling torn if to put Gage on the list or not. I also want to say a big thank you to those who enjoyed reading the contents of my blog. 

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