I Am the Highway: 3 games/3 days/1500 miles

The first of 4 out-of-state trips started in Myrtle Beach, SC followed by Rome, GA and then back home to Tampa, FL.

Carolina Mudcats v Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Neither the Brewers or Cubs train in Florida so this was an invaluable trip to see prospects that I will never get the experience to see otherwise.  One game isn’t necessarily enough to generate a detailed report on any hitter but it is enough to start formulating ideas and flexible opinions.

Aramis Ademan of the Cubs was the kid I wanted to see the most.  He is a smaller, athletic looking SS from the D.R.  His hands are loose and he has a lot of moving parts before he gets to load.  While Ademan did draw a walk and score the game’s first run, pitch recognition is still a work in progress.  You can see from the video that he gets to his front foot too quick, his hands aren’t ready to hit, and that he consistently picked up spin late.  While he didn’t chase, the takes show that his recognition is a bit delayed.  When he did swing, which I did not get video of, he was late on the FB.  Bat speed is a bit of concern but I think it improves with experience.

The biggest treat of the night though was Cubs pitcher Keegan Thompson.  The former Auburn RHP threw 7 perfect innings.  His FB touched 93 but sat 91 the whole night.  He flashed three other off-speed pitches: A 10-6 curveball that he used early on in the game at 75-77, change-up at 84-87, and a slider at 84.  The curveball is definitely his best secondary pitch but Thompson threw all four with confidence.  The most impressive pitch of the night was a 3-2 backdoor slider to his last hitter for the backwards K.  Thompson rarely fell behind and used his FB early and often but kept the Mudcats hitters off-balance all night.  He threw all 3 off-speed offerings in hitter’s counts.  He is definitely a player to keep an eye on.  While I saw him at his absolute best, I would give him a 45 FV with a ceiling of mid-rotation SP.

For the Carolina Mudcats, Braden Webb was almost equally impressive.  He has more power stuff than Thompson, featuring a FB that sat 94-95 and a true hammer at 74.  Webb struggled at times with command and got himself in trouble with back to back walks before throwing a poorly located 2-strike FB to give up a RBI single. Webb also throws a fringe CH. His stuff plays up in the bullpen where I see him ending up if he makes it to Milwaukee. Webb walked 5 and K’s 10 in 5.2 IP.

Misc. Notes

  • Wladimir Galindo, 3B Cubs:  Long swing, lot of swing and miss.  Thick lower half. Big frame.  Made 2 plus defensive plays.  Quick, soft hands.  50 grade arm.
  • Joantgel Segovia, OF Brewers:  Looks the part. Athletic. Good speed.  Listed at 6’1 175lbs, but he looks bigger and may develop some power along the way.  Put him on the watch list.

Lexington Legends v Rome Braves

The Legends, Kansas City Royals A ball affiliate, are another team that I don’t come across without traveling.  Legends are LOADED.  Featuring Seuly Matias, Nick Pratto, and M.J. Melendez, I could not pass up the chance to get a quick 1 game look.  Unfortunate for  me, Melendez did not play.  However, I did see Seuly Matias and he was every bit as powerful as I had heard.  Despite a 7% BB rate and 38% K rate, Matias is easily a top 100 guy and the power will continue to play in games.  The 2018 power spike is no fluke.

I was expecting to see a long swing and with poor two strike adjustments.  However, what I saw was a short powerful stroke and really poor pitch recognition.  Matias in his first two at bats seemed to be in-between the FB and off-speed.  He struck out looking in a lengthy first AB and had two sort of half-hearted, no lower half swings in AB 2 (The video below shows 1 poor swing. Sorry ahead of time for bad quality.) AB 3 and 4, Matias locked in and scorched a liner to 3rd before launching his 21st HR.

At only 19, Matias is a ways off from Kansas City.  I think the walk rate will stabilize a bit with experience and the K rate should lower a bit.  The K rate is not tied to his swing so I think as Matias continues to mature and grow, the hit tool should improve as the K rate lowers a bit.  If this kid learns to pick up spin, the sky is the limit.  His hit tool is 30/45 and power 50/65.  Game power will play up with improved contact.

As for Pratto, I didn’t get the best look at the plate.  He struck out, grounded out weakly, attempted a first pitch bunt for base hit (Ned Yost would be proud) and walked ahead of Matias’ HR.  Pratto’s set up is pretty quiet.  Minimal stride, hands low with minimal load. He was on his front foot too quick and his hips flew open a bit, slowing his bat down.  Defensively, he moves well and has soft hands.  Like Matias, Pratto’s improvement as a hitter is tied to his ability to recognize spin and stay back and through the ball.

On the Rome side, I was able to get 3rd looks on Drew Waters, Jean Carlos Encarnacion, and Jefrey Ramos with first looks on Drew Lugbauer, William Contreras, and Derian Cruz.

Waters is clearly the best player on the Rome squad.  At the plate, as with all the Rome hitters, he is extremely aggressive.  The entire offense tried to see as few pitches as possible.  Nolan Watson threw a 6 hit shutout on 89 pitches.  Derian Cruz had two hits and Izzy Wilson tripled in the first but was thrown out at home trying to stretch the triple into an inside-the-park HR.  So while it wasn’t the best look at the Rome hitters, there was a lot to learn.

Waters is a true 5 tool switch hitting CF.  He is a top 100 prospect right now with his hit tool lagging behind the other tool.  His swing is a bit long and he needs to learn to use his lower half.  He went 0-4 with 4 weak GB outs.  As I said earlier, he was looking to hack every time at the plate, but in his aggressiveness was not able to drive anything.  Defensively, he will stick in CF.  He gets excellent jumps/reads on balls and made a diving stop on a sinking liner.

Drew Lugbauer was a guy that I had read about and was excited to see.  Nicknamed “SlugBauer” after hitting 13 HR in 60 games in 2017, I was expecting a more burly offensive catcher-1B profile.  Lugbauer is tall and athletic looking and gets good leverage with natural loft.  He is quick inside but struggles with spin.  His swing can get real long.

I’ve heard it said that Izzy Wilson may have the loudest tools in the Braves rich farm.  I don’t know if I agree with that but I definitely can see why some think so.  Wilson is built like a safety.  He is incredibly quick to balls inside and blazes down the baselines.  Defensively he has a cannon.  He tripled and was thrown out trying to stretch the triple into a HR.

If Waters is the top player on the Rome team, William Contreras is 1B.  Defensively, he is the best catcher in the Braves system.  He has a 60 grade arm with a quick release.  He gunned down 1 runner and should have picked off another at 1st but hesitated and double pumped.  Offensively, this kid will hit for average and power.  He was one of the few Rome hitters that attempted to work the count against Watson. I love his stance, set-up, and swing.

It remains to be seen if any of these Rome guys will make the jump to the Florida State League in 2018 but if they do, I’ll be able to get more in-depth looks and reports up.

Speaking of the FSL….

Florida State League All-Star Game featured top prospects Cristian Pache, Taylor Trammell, Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, Lucius Fox, and Jesus Sanchez.  In a game like this, it’s hard to scout hitters.  Pache was fed a dose of sliders that he swung through all night.  Sanchez was swinging as if he was trying to hit the ball out of the stadium.

Yankees 20-year-old SS/2B prospect, Diego Castillo, took home MVP honors with two doubles.  Austin Listi of the Phillies has two hits and three RBI. The North All-Stars won 5-0.

Batting practice videos of every hitter can be found over at Prospects1500.com.


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