Saturday, July 1, 2017

Out In Front: Short Season Prospect Notes

Hello! I'll be back in my blog posting my stuff until some procedures regarding Giants Farm will be sorted out. This time, I'm going to take a look at the debut of prospects in short season ball, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and the Arizona League Giants. 

- The best prospect that I have seen in the Volcanoes squad is Malique Ziegler. A former NAIA star, Ziegler has wiry strength and shows his plus athleticism on offense and defense. His wiry strength shows in his surprising pull power with the swing having a natural loft and his wrists can generate bat speed and turn fastballs for homers. He has feel for sequencing and has a good eye at a plate and is willing to take walks. He can also bunt and take off quickly and post a 4.10-4.20 second home to first base times and that's plus speed. He's also an excellent and aggressive base stealer, having already stolen 10 bases in just 15 games with 1 caught stealing where he's nabbed by an excellent throw from a Hillsboro Hop catcher. I haven't seen plenty of his defense but his speed shows with good first step and the arm looks average. What I like about him is his youth and his improvements offensively. Even though he hasn't faced top pitching prospects yet, his tools have been impressive with his speed being a 65 tool and his bat has the potential to be average with fringy power. I have thought of him putting him in top 30 list before the season and he should be present in my mid-season update.

- Some notable Volcanoes prospects in mind there are pitchers Logan Webb and Stetson Woods and hitter Manuel Geraldo. Webb underwent Tommy John and made him miss plenty of time in 2015 and 2016. Now healthy, he looks to find his old stuff as he pitches out of the pen and easing his way back. I think this is the first time that I've seen him and he's tall and wiry and coming from a low 3/4 slot. He has decent stuff and he has good present control. I think he's better suited as a reliever. Geraldo is young prospect with a scorching bat in Salem-Keizer and he keeps on hitting for average after being horrible in Augusta. Working the counts and taking walks is still a problem for him as well as swing and miss issues but he got the tools to be a decent prospect to consider 2 years from now.

- I know its just one game but boy the debut of the 2017 class in the Arizona League is mind blowing, especially the first three picks Heliot Ramos, Jacob Gonzalez and Seth Corry

I'm going to start with Corry, the team's third round pick. Corry pitched only an inning but with 2 strikeouts and a walk. Corry's athleticism, rawness and potential is evident in his appearance. Corry's mechanics is still raw where he can collapse his front leg at the time he releases the ball. You want the front leg to be straight and stiff at release point. In his debut appearance, Corry's leg is not straight but it is stiff and he has shown good body control and smoother action. His front foot is also now on a 45 degree angle upon landing which is better than before and that helped his control and showed command of his fastball. He finishes his mechanics throughly with a drop and drive-esque motion. Only two pitches were shown in a Sande Charles video but it has potential. His fastball is in the 90-92 MPH range but it has plenty of life anywhere in the zone. I think the strikeout pitch might actually be a cutter based on the break that's located nicely. He's still raw in terms of polishing but the ingredients and the immediate improvements that I've seen in his mechanics has him with a good chance to reach his starter potential in 4-5 years even though there's not much projection in his frame.

Next is Jacob Gonzalez, the second round pick. He's a tall dude and has all the nice levers. First two at bats for him resulted to a free pass, and that already shows that he got an advanced baseball knowledge at the batter's box (ever wonder where he got that). I read that he's a 30 runner at best and I don't exactly buy that. In his double that he hit, he timed out at 8.60-8.65 second range and he's just coasting around in the last 10-20 feet, which is good enough to warrant fringe average speed grade in my book. His swing path is quite reminiscent of Jayson Werth with a wide base at front foot land and low center of gravity, collapsed front leg, slightly flat bat path and inside out elements in the swing (he destroyed a pitch in the outside half of the plate and pulled it to left center field in an inside out swing). He can grow and add muscle in his body to have plus raw power and I think he's a very good low ball hitter and produces plenty of backspin to help carry baseballs out of the park often. Haven't seen anything related to fielding but reports are good. He'll be exposed to high fastballs and good breaking balls due to his wide base and swing path but he has the elements of a potential impact hitter due to his baseball IQ and very good knack for producing loud contact.

Last and definitely not the least is Heliot Ramos, the first pick. He made a huge impact offensively in his debut, hitting 2 doubles and a triple last night. Ramos' talent and athleticism is very obvious in the bases, where he hustled a double that I clocked at 7.96 seconds and his triple that I clocked at 11.47 seconds. He runs with graceful strides and seems to be running slower than what I clocked him because of his easy running actions. His present strength showed where his strong wrists can produce plus to plus-plus bat speed and he got nice rhythmic action and an easy load. He produced loud contact on all three at bats where his first double I thought would be a homer. He gets rid of the bat quickly and sets himself up nice to run. He fouled off tough pitches including a nice breaking ball as a result of above average eye-hand coordination and 65 grade athleticism but there's overaggressiveness currently that should be toned down where he swung through foolishly on breaking balls and develop a better approach. No videos of him fielding but there are positive reports on it. Ramos showed the potential to hit for average and power with the aide of his speed and natural athleticism and baseball instincts.

- There are other draftees that had a good day as well like Aaron Bond and Andy Rohloff, while other fellow draftees Nico Giarattano and Orlando Garcia debuted as well.

Even though it's just the first day and they haven't faced good quality pitching prospects like fellow 2017 draftees, the tools that Ramos, Gonzalez, and Corry showed in the clips are impressive and all have the promising ingredients to be an impact player in the big leagues in 4-5 years (for Ramos, maybe 3 years). 

That ends my Out In Front about top prospects in short season ball. Expect the college players to play in either Arizona or in Salem-Keizer where I'm excited to see all the tall, small college pitchers and Bryce Johnson. I'm really excited about Garrett Cave. That's all for now!

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