Feature Photo: J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies
Welcome to this week’s installment of Notes From the East, covering the 2016 International League (Triple-A), Eastern League (Double-A) and Carolina League (High A) seasons. Chaz Fiorino, Mark Shreve, Reggie Yinger, and C.J. Wittmann provide first-hand notes and prospect spotlights, as well as news, stats, and scouting reports from around the three leagues.
Eastern League Prospect Profile
Dietrich Enns, LHP, Yankees (Double-A Trenton)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/210 B/T L/L Age (as of April 1, 2016): 24 yrs, 11m
Enns opened eyes in the scout section on April 22 when he fanned 9 of his first 11 batters, and took a dominating no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Akron RubberDucks. A 19th-round pick from Western Michigan in 2012, Enns is coming off of mid-season Tommy John surgery in 2014 while at High A Tampa, where up to that point in his career he had been used as a both a reliever and starter. He was assigned to Trenton April 4th, and was making just his third start at the Double-A level — and he’s showing that the Yankees are making the right choice in developing him as a starter post-surgery. His deceptive delivery, with a three-quarters arm slot, was the most impressive part of this viewing. He hides the ball exceptionally well throughout the windup, and his combination of an up-tempo and balanced delivery, quick arm action, and consistent release points across his four-pitch mix gave Akron hitters pitch identification fits all night.
He showed above-average command of his fastball, sitting 89-92 mph (T93) and working it two ways: boring in on LHH with tailing life, and working it in to RHH with late cutting action down-and-in – with the latter settling in at the lower end of the velo band. The deception added a few ticks of sneaky velocity to the offering, making it play up a potential plus pitch overall (six of his first seven strikeouts were of the swinging variety, all with the FB).
His slider (82-to-85 mph) showed tilt and late bite down-and-in to RHH, and was a solid strike-to-ball offering nibbling at the back foot. His changeup showed 10-to-12 mph of velo separation while maintaining his arm speed, and its late-diving action induced two more swinging Ks later in the game. He also flashed a few loopy, 1-to-7 curveballs in the low-70’s that kept hitters off-balance. Enns’ velocity dropped a couple of ticks as he tired in the 6th inning, and a fastball left up in the zone led to a sharply hit two-out double to break up the no-no. To date, he’s thrown 23.2 scoreless innings over four starts, giving up nine hits while striking out 25. We’ll be following Enns more closely from here, focusing in on how he commands his secondaries in future starts. – Mark Shreve
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2080 Top 125 Prospect Updates
-Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (#2): Buxton was demoted from the big leagues back to Triple-A Rochester after a rough start with the Twins. In his first 17 games, he slashed .156/.208/.289, struck out 24 times in 49 PAs, and drew just 2 walks. Riann Watt of Vice Sports profiles Buxton and the loneliness of learning on the job.
–Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (#10): The Pirates’ top prospect struck out 11 while allowing just two hits and a walk over six innings as Triple-A Indianapolis defeated Durham, 9-0, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday. (Link courtesy Sam Dykstra, MiLB.com)
-Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins (#18): Berrios was 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 20 strikeouts and eight walks over his first three starts and 17 IP at Triple-A Rochester to start the 2016 season, before being called up to the Twins on April 27, where he took the loss in his major league debut, giving up 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, and 5 Ks over four innings while being saddled with the loss to the Tigers. He threw 93 pitches, 53 for strikes.
-Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox (#30): Benintendi hit his first home run of the season on April 27th for High A Salem, extending his current hit streak to 16 games. The home run came on a 1-0, 92 mph fastball that was hit over the right-center field wall. He’s been squaring-up Carolina League pitching to the tune of a .338/.395/.636 slash line, with 15 of his 26 hits going for extra bases over his first 83 PAs.
–Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (#40): Winker belted his first home run of the year for Triple-A Louisville. In his first International League stint (Link courtesy Kelsie Heneghan, MiLB.com), the left-handed hitter is batting .316 with 12 RBIs and nine walks in 15 games.
-Jorge Alfaro, C, Phillies (#48): Alfaro has been cleared to resume baseball activities, and could return as early as next week from the oblique injury that landed him on the disabled list last week, according to Ryan Lawrence of the PhillyVoice.
-Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates (#74) was named International League Player of the Week after hitting .400/.438/.767 with 2 HR, 9 RBI including hitting for the cycle on Friday (Link courtesy Robert Emrich, MiLB.com) at Louisville.
-Aaron Blair, RHP, Braves (#76) was named International League Pitcher of the Week. Blair was also called up to make his MLB debut on Sunday, April 24th after he went 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 22 strikeouts and just three walks in 19 innings at Triple-A Gwinnett. In Blair’s debut (Link courtesy Matt Winkeljohn, Charlotte Observer) he allowed three runs and six hits in 5.1 IP, walking a pair (one of them intentional) and striking out one.
-Roman Quinn, OF, Phillies (#82): Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com says that Quinn is looking to find his timing at the plate from the left side at Double-A Reading after the speedy center fielder landed on the disabled list last June, missing the remainder of the 2015 season.
-Ian Happ, 2B, Cubs (#94): Per Wayne Cavadi of Minorleagueball.com, Happ is slashing .313/.450/.547 and is coming off of a week that saw him belt three home runs and drive in eight while walking nine times at High A Myrtle Beach. He is a perfect 3-for-3 on the season in stolen bases, while striking out 18 times and walking 15. Of his 20 hits thus far, eight are for extra bases.
Check below for reports on 2080 top 125 prospects Nick Williams (OF, Phillies, #11), Mark Appel (RHP, Phillies, #70) and Jomar Reyes (3B, Orioles, #111), as well as some notes on Trea Turner (OF, Nationals, #20) and Dansby Swanson (SS, Braves, #23)
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Prospect Spotlights – International League
The former 2013 #1 overall draft pick took the mound against Pawtucket and went five innings, allowing 5H, 2ER, 1BB, 3K, throwing 91 pitches, 59 for strikes. Appel’s fastball sat 91-to-93 mph topping out at 94 mph. The fastball was fairly straight with some arm-side run when down, with downhill plane from his 6-foot-5 frame and three-quarters arm slot. While Appel was able to effectively control the pitch around the zone, his ability to command and hit his spots was hindered due to the amount of moving parts in the delivery. The fastball is above average in terms of velocity, but it played down to just an average pitch due to the lack of movement & command profile in this look.
The slider, at 83-to-86 mph, is his go-to secondary offering, and it showed late-two plane break at it’s best. The slider was an average-grade pitch that didn’t really have that consistent tight, late break, particularly down and away out of the zone to miss bats. Appel’s changeup was his clear third offering, and bordered on the line of fringe-average, lacking any real fade or drop. Appel’s biggest mistake of the day game on a first-pitch changeup to Pawtucket’s Justin Maxwell that floated up and in to the right-hander, who completely turned on it, pulling it to left field for a two-run home run over the bullpen for Appel’s only runs allowed. – Chaz Fiorino
I got my first live first-hand look at Williams during a three-game series at Pawtucket, where Williams went 7-for-13, 1 3B, 1BB, 0K, 1SB. Williams is a raw, tooled-up outfielder with the body, speed and athleticism to play all three outfield positions. During this series, Williams played one game in center field and the other two in right field.
The notable carrying tools and skills with Williams were his above-average bat speed, bat-to-ball ability and speed. He was able to consistently hit the ball hard, albeit with a pull-heavy approach pulling the ball to the right side 10 times. It was an overall aggressive approach early in counts, and he showed poor pitch recognition – getting caught out in front consistently on breaking balls and off-speed stuff when thrown early, or thrown in fastball counts. He can however, make up for the lack of pitch recognition with his above-average bat control and still manage to square balls up and yank them to right field on occasion. He’ll have to show he has the ability to go to opposite field as pitchers start to try and exploit this weakness, and teams begin to deploy the shift to the right side of the infield.
The power profile appeared to be line-drive gap power, mostly in the form of doubles with the ability to run into 10-to-14 home runs given his bat speed and bat-to-ball skills. On the basepaths, Williams was an above-average runner, clocking at 4.07 at his best from HP-to-1B, and he can really accelerate once underway around the bases. The arm was average at best, and it’s playable enough for all three outfield positions, although he probably profiles best in left field. Defensively, Williams took inefficient routes and seemed indecisive, lacking fundamentals in the outfield, but he’s too athletic, agile and quick to not be able to develop into at least an average defender with more reps and experience. – Chaz Fiorino
Herrera gets the spotlight put on him this week after anchoring the first no-hitter of the young Eastern League season, tossing eight dominant innings in a 4-0 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats April 26 in Trenton (with Jonathan Holder closing it out for the Thunder). Originally signed by the Oakland A’s as a non-drafted free agent in December 2011, Herrera is a small-statured right-handed starter, but he has a compact delivery that he has no trouble repeating. His strengths come from his ability to repeat his delivery and arm slot with all of his pitches, and from his ability to attack hitters. Throughout his 8 IP, he was mixing and matching his 89-to-93 mph fastball, featuring sinking action that will generate ground balls at a high rate. He mixed in an average 82-to-85 mph changeup that featured armside fade, and consistently fooled hitters since it looks identical to his fastball.
Herrera featured two breaking balls all night; one being a potentially-average slider at 82-to-84 mph that showed small late break with some tilt. The other was a change-of-pace curveball at 74-to-76 mph, that he used to keep hitters honest later in the game. Overall, Herrera is confident in his stuff, and in his ability to pitch. Despite not having a pitch that would grade above average, he dominated this game. For the season, he is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA, striking out 28 and walking just seven over his first 26 IP for the Thunder. – C.J. Wittmann
Ray Black, RHP, Giants (Double-A Richmond)
Ht/Wt: 6’5″/225 | B/T: R/R | Age (as of April 1, 2016): 25y, 10m
The big righty worked a clean 9th inning against the Bowie Baysox to earn his third save of the season. He was sitting 98-to-101 mph with his fastball and struck out two, walked one and hit a batter. In addition to the big fastball, Black featured a slider that sat 86-to-89 mph. The slider was an average pitch, but plays up because opposing batters are constantly trying to time up the upper-90’s heater. Despite the big fastball, Black has battled multiple injuries in the past; making him an extreme risk prospect for the Giants. Overall, he projects as a seveth-to-eighth inning reliever due to injury risk and command issues. – Reggie Yinger
After viewing Reyes last year in the South Atlantic League, and now in the Carolina League to start the season, the biggest thing that stands out is that he appears to have slimmed down to start the season. He only had one hit during the 11 at-bats that I saw him, in addition to two walks and three strikeouts. He looked lost at the plate and constantly struggled with recognizing off-speed pitches, being overly aggressive and trying to do too much at the plate. He displays plus raw power during batting practice, as he’s able to go to all parts of the field with home run power. However, that power during games will likely be gap-to-gap power due to the pitches he will see. In the field, his arm showed no issues with accuracy and velocity getting the ball from third to first, but his footwork was slow and choppy, due to poor athleticism. The bat will come around, and he will learn to pick up secondary pitches, but he will likely need to move to first base because of his lack of defense. – Reggie Yinger
Devers was trying to bust out of a 0-for-8 slump during my second viewing, and he did just that, lining a double to left field during his first at-bat. In the fourth inning, Devers delivered a no-doubt, line-drive home run to right field on a firm changeup. He also worked a six-pitch walk against LHP Tanner Scott, who was trying to throw 97-to-98 mph fastballs to the outer half of the strike zone. Devers had no problem squaring-up balls and spraying them to the opposite field, while also turning and pulling a flat change up for a home run. Much like the aforementioned Jomar Reyes, Devers is one of the youngest players in the Carolina League, and he’s still learning his way around the plate. However, he shows the ability to hit for power and average, and the ability to stick at third base. – Reggie Yinger
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This Week at 2080 Baseball…
No first-hand video this week for the International, Eastern, or Carolina Leagues. For now, take a look at our video library of other prospects from around the country.
- 2080’s John Arguello takes a look at three up-and-coming pitching prospects that could contribute to the Cubs’ rotation sooner than some expect. Check out his ‘Who ya Got’ feature here.
- Lisa Winston continues her Les Debutantes column with updates on 10 pitchers making their major league debuts last week .
- Mauricio Rubio and J. Wittmann’s latest episode of 2080’s podcast, The Scale, is now avaialble at 2080baseball.com and on iTunes!
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News and Notes
- Mike Yastrzemski (OF, Orioles, Double-A Bowie)) was named Eastern League Player of the Week.
- Ben Lively (RHP, Phillies, Double-A Reading) was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week.
- Pedro Fernandez (RHP, Royals, High A Wilmington) was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week.
- The Lynchburg Hillcats (High A, Indians) got off to a hot start in the Carolina League by going on a 10-game winning streak to start the season, (Courtesy Dave Walls of WSET.com) before the streak was snapped by Frederick Keys (Orioles)
- Bob Sutton of The Times-News with notes on the Nationals outfielder Trea Turner (OF, Nationals, Triple-A Syracuse) winning last week’s International League Player of the Week honors in his minor league notes column.
- Kip Coons of NewsObserver.com profiles the Dansby Swanson (SS, Braves, High A Carolina) as being a rare MLB prospect, with quotes from Mudcats manager Rocket Wheeler.
- Kevin Reichard of BallparkDigest.com discusses the rumblings that the Astros and Rangers are looking to move their High A affiliates from the California League to the Carolina League.
- The Hartford Yard Dogs are having mountains of trouble finishing construction of their new ballpark, and it has forced the Yard Dogs to play their first 52 games of the Eastern League season on the road. Steven Goode of the Hartford Courant explains.
- Adam Peterson of SB Nation Purplerow.com looks at Colorado Rockies pitching prospects who are eating up the Eastern League with the Hartford Yard Goats.
- Tom Housenick of The Morning Call with five things to know about the Reading Fightin’ Phils.