The Spectrum – Spring Training Notes 2/29 – 3/6

Nomar Mazara - Texas Rangers 2014 spring training (Bill Mitchell)

Feature Photo: Nomar Mazara, RF, Rangers

Welcome to The Spectrum! This feature will publish twice a week on Mondays and Fridays during spring training and it will grow as the regular season starts. This weeks edition is pretty thick so let’s get right into it.


Sean Coyle, 2B, Boston Red Sox: 1-2, 1R
Sam Travis, 1B, Boston Red Sox: 4-5, 1R, 3 DBs

Not a lot of action this day as there were only two games going. Sean Coyle earns a lot of praise for his scrappy playing style and contact skills. He utilizes his speed well and would make a nice utility player for a team. The Red Sox are pretty set up the middle for now so it’ll be interesting to track what they do with Coyle. Sam Travis has an interesting bat, he makes solid contact and has some pop. Travis can also play the outfield which helps his profile.


Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates: 1-1, R, RBI, 1 BB
Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO

Alen Hanson has speed and good contact skills and a good glove over at second base. Hanson will likely get consideration for major league reps at some point in 2016. Jung Ho Kang is slated to be ready to play a bit later in April but until then Sean Rodriguez or Hanson could start at the keystone in the interim. Michael Fulmer has some serious bat-missing stuff, a four pitch mix and an ideal starting pitcher’s body. He broke out in a big way in 2015 and will look to continue his good run into 2016.


Mallex Smith, CF, Atlanta Braves: 4-6, 2 R, DB, 2 HRs, 3 RBI
Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves: 0-5, 7 LOB
Ozzie Albies, SS, Atlanta Braves: 3-5, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI
Aaron Blair, RHP, Atlanta Braves: 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 0 SO
Jorge Polanco, 2B, Minnesota Twins: 2-3, 1 R, DB, HR, 2 RBI
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
Nomar Mazara, RF, Texas Rangers: 3-3, 2 R, One Sexy HR, 4 RBI
Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 SO
James Paxton, RHP: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO

Mallex Smith had himself a day at the plate. Power isn’t a big part of his game so the home run stands out as misplaced, but he does have top-of-the-scale speed and shows enough contact skills to make some use of his wheels. In contrast it was a rough day at the office for Dansby Swanson. Swanson has solid barrel control and contact skills so I wouldn’t expect too many of these days for him moving forward. Much like the aforementioned Smith, Ozzie Albies doesn’t have much in the way of power in his game, but he does have elite speed and contact skills. Guys without overwhelming stuff will run into a few stinkers here and there, and that’s how it went for Aaron Blair today. He profiles as a solid #4 starter who still needs to develop some pitchability to aid his profile because he lacks a true out pitch. Jorge Polanco is in a stacked system with the Twins, so he can get overlooked from time to time. His ultimate defensive home is a question mark at this point, but Polanco can really hit. Robert Stephenson’s profile can go in a few different ways. His command gets loose too often, and because of that there’s the risk he might end up in the bullpen. The stuff is there for his bullpen role to be that of a closer, however. Nomar Mazara has ridden a rocket ship to the top of prospect lists in the past year, and the only thing that rivals his rise are the rocket shots he hits in game. It’s good to see Kyle Zimmer throwing again as it’s been a tumultuous career for the still young Zimmer. It’s similarly good to see the tall James Paxton pitch as well. Both players have been affected by injuries and will look to finish the year healthy.


Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles: IP, 1 H, 1R, 0 BB, 0SO
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles: IP, 2 H,  1 SO
Jandel Gustave, RHP, Houston Astros: IP, 1 H,  1 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
Jake Thompson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO
Andrew Knapp, C, Philadelphia Phillies: 2-3
Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals: 1-2,  HR
Roman Quinn, CF, Philadelphia Phillies: 2-5, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI
Mark Appel, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 0 SO
Josh Hader, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
Jacob Nottingham, C, Milwaukee Brewers: 2-3, 1 R, 2 DBs

Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey were once considered the crown jewel prospects in the Orioles’ farm system. Injuries have ravaged both profiles, and in Bundy’s case it’s difficult to see a return to the rotation as a permanent solution for what’s plagued him. Straight fastballs and flat sliders have undone Jandel Gustave in the past but pitchers who throw in the upper 90s will always get chances. Jake Thompson has a pretty safe #4 starter profile and he can occasionally pitch above that designation thanks to a plus slider. Thompson should get innings at the majors in 2016. Andrew Knapp has some things to work on behind the plate but he shows good contact skills from the left and right side when he’s at the plate. Trea Turner’s speed is his calling card but he’s not a slap-hitting speedster, he has some surprising power and good contact skills. Roman Quinn is pretty buried on the now-loaded Phillies prospect list but don’t forget about him; Quinn plays a great center field and figures to hit enough to start at maturity which, when paired with his elite speed, is an above-average package for a center fielder. Mark Appel remains a controversial prospect thanks to a perceived lack of toughness. He has good stuff but his unwillingness to attack is a turn-off. Josh Hader drew rave reviews from industry sources this year and his stuff is legit. The Brewers are suddenly awash in prospects and Hader will rise up lists this year. Speaking of Brewers prospects Jacob Nottingham is a big, strongly-built catcher at present, but his size and lateral mobility make it tough to see him sticking behind the plate. Nottingham has a lot of power, however, and has enough contact skills to actualize his raw pop into game power.


Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 1 SO
Luke Weaver, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals: 2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
Sean Manaea, RHP, Oakland Athletics: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
Franklin Barreto, SS, Oakland Athletics: 1-2, 1R,  HR, RBI
Gabby Guerrero, RF, Arizona Diamondbacks: 2-3, 1 R, HR, 4 RBI

Lucas Sims hasn’t developed as some expected coming out of the 2012 draft. Lack of control continues to be the culprit for his limited success. Luke Weaver has a plus fastball and developing secondaries. His slider comes and goes in terms of bite and depth but his change is a pretty consistent above-average offering. Watching Lucas Giolito drop hammers in short bursts is a fun experience from what I’m told. He’s likely to start 2016 in Double-A as a 21-year-old. Sean Manaea has a plus slider and fastball combination and his change is coming along. Manaea has a big starter’s body and might get some major league innings in 2016. He might end up in center field, but Franklin Barreto will hit enough at just about any position he ends up at. The nephew of Vlad, Gabby Guerrero, is looking to rebound after a tough 2015 campaign. He still possesses intriguing raw power.


Nick Burdi, RHP, Minnesota Twins: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees: 1-1, 1 R, HR, 3 RBI
Jorge Mateo, SS, New York Yankees: 1-2, 1 R, HR, RBI
Dom Smith, 1B, New York Mets: 2-4 with one loud single
Robert Gsellman, RHP, New York Mets: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
Jose De Leon, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
Phil Ervin, CF, Cincinnati Reds: 1-2, 1 R, HR, RBI
Mac Williamson, OF, San Francisco Giants: 2-3, 3 R, 2 HRs, 8 TB
Mychal Givens, RHP, Baltimore Orioles: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO

Nick Burdi figures to be a fast mover because of his fastball that reaches the upper 90s, and his slider that shows potential, so keep an eye out for him in 2016. Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo both hit home runs. Judge will keep hitting them because he’s a large human with impressive amounts of raw power, albeit with a muscled-up swing. Mateo won’t because he’s a smaller guy with a linear swing who lacks the kind of raw strength to do so on a regular basis. Mateo has other qualities to like, however. He has top-of-the-scale speed and can stick at short. We’re going to have to talk about Dom Smith admiring a hit that ended up being a long single. I don’t think it was that big of a deal but it is a bad look to admire your shot and have it hit the wall. Smith has a contact-oriented bat, and he surprised last year after starting out ice cold. Where he goes in 2016 will be interesting to track. Robert Gsellman has some interesting stuff, with a sinking fastball that hits 92 mph and a changeup that shows plus on occasion. His curveball is the key to unlocking the rest of the profile, if he maintains it as an average pitch he’ll be a competent #4 starter. Jameson Taillon has been around forever and is finally back healthy after missing the past two years with injuries. Jose De Leon has loud stuff and produced high strikeout numbers in 2015. His fastball and changeup combo have been devastating in the minors, and his slider is an improving pitch as well. Phil Ervin has struggled over the course of his pro career, but he still shows interesting power and speed with good centerfield defense. He doesn’t project to hit for much average but Ervin can be a solid contributor if he pulls his tools together. Mac Williamson has already seen some major league time and will look to earn some more in 2016. The power he showed with his two homeruns is real, he has plus raw power but it might play down because of his inconsistent contact skills. Mychal Givens is a hard throwing reliever that has a high-leverage ceiling. Givens’ breaking ball and fastball combo projects to miss bats at the next level.


Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros: 2-4, 2 R, DB
Joe Musrove, RHP, Houston Astros: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 SO
Jandel Gustave, RHP, Houston Astros: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
Steven Moya, RF, Detroit Tigers: 1-2, 1 R, HR, 2 RBI
Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
David Dahl, CF, Colorado Rockies: 2-5,  2 R, HR, 2 RBI
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies: 1-1, 1 R, HR, RBI

Kyle Tucker started rough before righting the ship in 2015. Drafted 5th overall last year, Tucker makes solid contact and a body full of projection so his power production could grow as he does. Joe Musgrove is a bit of a sleeper in the Houston Astros’ farm system, he has a four-pitch mix with a plus fastball and two breaking balls that are average or better. Musgrove moved quickly across four levels in 2015, and given his maturity and delivery it’s conceivable that he could be on the fast track to the majors. Jandel Gustave and Michael Fulmer were impressive again. Steven Moya has loads of raw power but questionable contact skills have hampered his ability to tap into it in game. Blake Snell broke out big time in 2015 thanks to three plus-potential pitches. He’d be a good bet to keep rising quickly if not for the Rays’ tendency to slow-cook their pitchers developmentally. David Dahl and Trevor Story each hit home runs. Dahl looks to continue his comeback from an injury that was supposed to end his 2015 (it didn’t) and Story looks to continue a bounce back year that saw him produce very well at Double-A.