Feature Photo: Steven Moya, OF, Tigers
2080’s Chaz Fiorino, Mauricio Rubio, and Dave DeFreitas take us through some recent views of nine prospects at all three minor league levels, while we publish new reports on Yankees pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Matt Wotherspoon, and the Brewers’ Bubba Derby. All in this edition of 2080 Prospect Spotlights.
Triple-A Prospect Profile
Ed. Note: Our eyes and ears in the International League, Chaz Fiorino, recently filed a report on Appel after his start against Pawtucket on April 23rd. Dave Defreitas, our scout out West, was able to catch a view of Appel since then, reviewing his May 11th start on video to see how he was progressing. Here’s Dave’s take:
Appel’s professional career has been well documented since being taken #1 overall in the 2013 MLB Draft by Houston. His struggles with consistency have been well documented as well, and he was thrust back into the spotlight this past offseason when he was a key component acquired by the Phillies, along with Vincent Velasquez, in the Ken Giles deal with the Astros on December 12, 2015.
Appel has been decent thus far in 2016 for the IronPigs, but he has continued to struggle his fastball command, and it’s something that’s preventing him from pitching deep into ball games. In his five starts up to May 11th, Appel has needed 90+ pitches to get through five-plus innings three times, and he’s only completed the 6th frame once. His outing Wednesday, May 11th was more of the same, needing 93 pitches to complete five innings in a 10-2 loss to the Columbus Clippers. While Appel’s defense really hurt him in this one, with two errors leading to three unearned runs in the second inning, he did little to help himself.
There is a lot to like with Appel and his easy delivery and arm action. He can create great angle and dial up late life on his fastball, but his command of the pitch remains below average. In this look, he struggled to consistently locate it to either side, and he would miss up and over the plate often, which could be the culprit for the consistently high hit totals he’s giving up this year (33 hits in 32 IP). While the delivery is easy, he does have some moving parts, and it looks like he has trouble finding that good rhythm and repeating his release point. The fastball stays flat and hittable when up, and while he showed the makings of two above-average breaking balls, his feel for the pitch comes and goes.
He worked from behind in the count through the first three innings, and hitters were able to spit on his breaking ball while his pitch count climbed, but he found some feel in the fourth and fifth innings, showing solid depth and bite, and started getting some swing and miss.
Appel’s BB/9 through his first few seasons continues to trend in the wrong direction (2.6, 3.5 and 3.9 from 2014-16) and his ability to generate swings and misses hovers around average to just above in K/9 (8.4, 7.5, 7.9 from 2014-16). Not the dominating K/9 ratio that Houston probably expected to see after drafting him, but solid…and numbers that would look a lot better if he can command the fastball, work more from ahead in the count, and limit his base runners.
Overall, the ingredients are there for him to impact a big league rotation, and you can see why everyone was so high on this guy going into the draft. His raw stuff alone should give him some margin for error, but ultimately his fastball command will have to get to average for him to fulfill his potential as a starter. Luke Hochevar (RHP, Dodgers) comes to mind as a comparable player- another former #1 overall pick by Kansas City in 2006 – to struggle as a starting pitcher. Hochevar found some consistency and swing and miss in a relief role, however, and has been one of the better late-inning guys in the majors the past few seasons. Andrew Miller (LHP, Yankees) also compares in that regard. Will Appel go that direction? It’s still a bit early to go down that road, but it is something to keep in mind, should his struggles continue over the next season or two. – Dave DeFreitas
Triple-A Prospect Spotlights
Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’8”/225 | B/T: L/R | Age: 22 yrs, 9 m
Heading into his start last night (May 12th), 2080 Baseball’s #10-ranked prospect in our Preseason Top 125 Prospect Rankings, Glasnow currently leads the International League with 48 strikeouts. His line to date through six starts has produced 33IP, 21H, 6 ER, 13, BB, 48K, and a 1.03 WHIP. The 6’8” right-hander has a very quick arm with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a plus curveball. His developing changeup has a chance to be average, and it remains one of his main points of development at Indianapolis to justify his ceiling as a top-of-the-rotation starter at the big league level.
As with most pitchers his size, his long limbs and delivery have hindered some of his ability to repeat his delivery and command the zone on a consistent basis. Glasnow could provide immediate value in the Pirates’ rotation with his current tool set, but he is better served to continue developing in Triple-A for now – working on his changeup and his ability to throw consistent strikes – for the betterment of his long term development.
Glasnow is pretty athletic, and I fully expect to see him able to make the appropriate adjustments. He could make his MLB debut in the near future, but how soon? The Pirates are best served at waiting until the expected “Super Two” cut-off date passes – at this point expected to be sometime in June. – Chaz Fiorino
Steven Moya, OF, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’7”/260 | B/T: L/R | Age: 24yrs, 9 m
Moya was just called up by the Tigers on May 12th after a hot start this year for the Mud Hens, slashing .310/.341/.627 with nine home runs, five walks and 29 strikeouts through his first 126 ABs. Moya’s calling card is his raw power, which rivals that of any other prospect in the minor leagues. He also has plus arm strength that profiles perfectly for right field.
However, I personally don’t see Moya adjusting well to the big leagues and having the ability to hit enough to tap into that raw power, and be able to stick as an everyday corner outfielder. From my first-hand looks at Moya, he is easily beat on the inner half with velocity and breaking balls out of the zone. His large frame creates a long swing and large strike zone making it tough from a plate coverage standpoint. Defensively, Moya appears to be a fringe defender with his range and routes thought the plus arm is there.
While I’m not sold on Moya as an everyday corner outfielder, however, it’s worth it for the Tigers to bring him up while he’s currently having success at the plate to see if he can carry over to the big league level. At the very least, he’ll provide value as a left-handed hitting power bat off the bench that can fill in at the corner outfield spot. – Chaz Fiorino
Double-A Prospect Spotlights
Matt Chapman, 3B, A’s (Double-A Midland, Texas League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/210 | B/T: R/R | Age: 23 yrs, 0 m
Chapman put together three strong series at the plate against Corpus Christi and San Antonio, slashing .283/.333/.623 over those 12 games, before cooling down this week in a four-game set at Frisco. His calling card is his defensive work, which features a double-plus arm and slick glove work at the hot corner. Chapman has shown intriguing raw power in the past, as evidenced by the 23 home runs he launched in the Midwest League last summer, and he’s already hit seven round-trippers over his first 22 games this year.
There are still some questions on his ability to make consistent contact, though he is showing an understanding of the zone and he’s working a free base in 14.3% of his plate appearances. Should he show that he can hit consistently enough to tap into his power in-game over the course of a season, it will go a long way in improving his stock. – Mauricio Rubio
Ronald Guzman 1B, Rangers (Double-A Frisco, Texas League)
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/205 | B/T: L/L | Age: 21 yrs, 8m
It’s been a tumultuous career for the tall, lanky first baseman. Guzman’s ability to make contact was lauded when he first signed with the Rangers in 2011, but his contact issues and massive struggles at Class A Hickory in 2014 (where he hit .218 with 24% K rate in 445 Abs) cratered his prospect stock. After an encouraging bounce-back season in 2015, where he hit a combined .283 with 12 homers and 87 RBIs for Class A Hickory and High A High Desert, a strong start to his 2016 Double-A campaign may have him firmly back on track as a prospect of import.
At present, Guzman is hitting .343 over his first 28 games, good for fourth best in the Texas League, and over the last four series he’s slashing an impressive .364/.426/.655, with three home runs and almost half of his hits going for extra bases. Despite the gaudy slugging of late, Guzman’s hit tool is still ahead of his power for now, and the over-the-fence pop may not project to be what one would expect out of a typical top-shelf first baseman. Accordingly, Guzman will have to continue hitting for average, and developing his on-base skillset, in order to maintain value as a corner defender at the highest levels.
So far he’s doing just that as a 21-year-old in the Texas League, but keep an eye on his contact rate as teams start to get their third and fourth looks at him – Guzman’s striking out at a 25% clip thus far in 2016. – Mauricio Rubio
Yairo Munoz, SS, Athletics (Double-A Midland, Texas League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/165 | B/T: R/R | Age: 21 yrs, 4m
Munoz has wasted little time in acclimating himself to the Texas League, hitting a home run in his second game on April 28th and three more against Frisco this week. Munoz started the year in extended spring training, as a foot injury delayed his arrival to Midland, and the talented infielder will be playing on a playing progression program in the short term while the Athletics evaluate how his foot is progressing.
Once fully healthy, Munoz could start building upon a strong finish to a 2015 season that saw him flash some power to go along with above-average defensive chops on the infield dirt. His plus arm and athleticism provide the foundation upon which his prospect profile is built. Munoz flashes excellent footwork at shortstop, and he has shown an improved ability to slow the game down around him and better play within himself.
His bat is behind his defensive skills at present, but Munoz shows some sizzle at the plate as well, including plus bat speed and the ability to hit the ball hard when he hits it square. Munoz has some physical projection left in his body, and he profiles to add more strength and raw power at maturity. His approach at the plate has also consistently improved since 2014. He’s improved his walk rate (2.5% BB% in 2014, 5.8% in 2015) while maintaining excellent contact rates (12.1% K%) in 2015.
Munoz shows the potential to become a solid major league contributor at his peak. He’ll likely see a lot of time at second base while he is playing at the same level as Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman, but his defensive skills offer evidence that he has a strong chance to stick at shortstop. – Mauricio Rubio
Single A Prospect Spotlights
Austin Allen, C, Padres (Class A Fort Wayne, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/225 | B/T: L/R | Age: 22 yrs, 5m
It’s kind of hard to not to talk about a guy raking .411/.491/.522 through his first 103 PAs of his first full season of pro ball. Taken in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Florida International, Allen has some hit tool utility, just not enough to hit over .400. Allen’s a big boy who can hit for power as well, and his bat is the main draw in his profile. His catch-and-throw skills need work, and his large frame isn’t doing him many favors behind the dish, either. Despite that, Allen’s power potential, penchant for making contact, and his approach at the plate make him an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on for the rest of the season. – Mauricio Rubio
Cameron Gann, RHP, Diamondbacks (Class A Kane County, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/203 | B/T: R/R | Age: 23 yrs, 8m
Gann’s height, or lack thereof, is the first thing you notice when he toes the rubber. He’s listed at 6’0”, which appears generous, and he doesn’t have an ideal physique, which makes what happens as soon as the batters dig in remarkable. Gann utilizes every single inch he has in his delivery, and he generates surprising plane with his fastball. It runs 91-to-93 mph and gets heavy down in the zone, making it difficult to hit anything flush off of him. His curveball runs in the 76-to-79 mph velocity band and can flash plus with depth and deception.
Gann uses both offerings to attack left-handed and right-handed hitters alike, utilizing his heavy fastball down in the zone and effectively elevating from time to time, as well. Gann will occasionally mix in a changeup, but it’s behind his other two offerings at present. There’s effort in the delivery with some crossfire, which can negatively impact his consistency and command, so remaining a starter may be a tall task for Gann. Out of the ‘pen, he profiles as a potential seventh-inning arm who pitches with good stuff and courage. – Mauricio Rubio
Michael Gettys, OF, Padres (Class A Fort Wayne, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/203 | B/T: R/R | Age: 20 yrs, 7m
Defensively, it doesn’t get much better than the package Gettys brings to the table. His throws have been clocked at 100 mph from the outfield, and he pairs that arm strength with excellent defensive instincts and a double-plus run tool, making him a potential double-plus defender in center. Gettys’ loose and fluid athleticism, however, doesn’t show up in his swing.
He has plus bat speed, but his wrists get stiff and the swing follows suit, creating a more muscled up swing than you’d expect from him, causing some choppiness in the barrel path. Gettys’ approach needs some refinement, as well, as he can struggle to find the right pitches to attack. He’ll need to make more consistent contact in order to utilize some of his plus raw power in-game. His physical tools are loud and it makes him interesting; the next step is to better utilize his bat in-game to start reaching his potential. – Mauricio Rubio
This Week at 2080 Baseball…
Check out our prospect video library here.
- We’ve created a Prospect Spotlight database, available in a sortable format and covering everyone we’ve sen so far this year.
- 2080’s Chris King gets us up to speed on the top JUCO pitchers to watch for in the upcoming MLB First-Year Player Draft, being held June 9th.
- Ian Happ, Gleyber Torres, Jacob Nix, Jorge Alfaro, Willson Contreras, and other prospects are topics of discussion between C.J. and Mauricio this week, as is Raul Mondesi’s 50-game suspension, on The Scale: Episode 1.14 – Not Lacking Fortitude
News and Notes
- Brian Peloza of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says that a few Pirates’ Triple-A starters, including 2080’s 52nd-ranked prospect Jameson Taillon, are getting close to major league-ready, with four starters having ERAs under 2.00.
- Throwing more strikes and inducing early contact have paid dividends for the Giants’ Tyler Beede, 2080’s 119th-ranked preseason prospect, at Double-A Richmond this year, writes David Driver of the Worcester Telegram.
- John Meoli of the Baltimore Sun writes that David Hess is building confidence in his secondaries (changeup and slider), and becoming less reliant on his fastball, and it’s getting results at Double-A Bowie.
- Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant updates us on the ongoing saga of the Hartford Yard Goats, who have yet to play in their home park due to construction delays at their new ballpark, yet their 23-9 record – all road games – ties them for the best record in the Double-A Eastern League.
- Interested in the Cuban Baseball Federation thinks about the normalizing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba and its impact on a CBF/MLB partnership? J. Brady McCollough of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went straight to the horse’s mouth and interviewed commissioner Heriberto Suarez Pereda on the topic.