Feature Photo: Jose Torres, LHP, Padres
2080 contributors Dave DeFreitas, Melissa Lockard and Ryan Ozella put the spotlight on eight prospects, focusing in on talent from the Giants, A’s, and Padres playing in the High A California League. Plus, seven new reports, and notable news from around the minor leagues.
Brasoban did not stay long in the Cal League, being promoted June 6th after 13.1 dominant innings for Lake Elsinore. Brasoban has the makings of a late-inning reliever with his power arm and average slider. In my look on June 1st against Rancho Cucamonga prior to his promotion, his fastball was 95-to-97 mph, and he had a tight ¾ slider sitting at 88-to-90 mph. He has some smooth effort in his delivery and plus arm speed. He has very long legs, allowing him to get some angle and work downhill with ease. The fastball explodes out of his hand and seems to accelerate through the zone, getting late tail to both sides of the plate. He worked quickly, and worked ahead in the count, and spotted the fastball to both sides of the plate.
His slider, while it has the big velocity, is only average right now due to the lack of feel and usability. The arm speed is there, and he did show some bite with the pitch, but he had to back off to keep it close to the zone. The ingredients are there for the pitch to get to plus; but given that he is able to locate the big fastball, even if the slider stays at average, it will be more than enough to keep him effective at the upper levels.
That said, he has not always displayed such good fastball command. Coming over from the Dominican Summer League in 2012 as an 18 year old, he walked 91 in 214.2 IP through 2015. Look a little more closely and you’ll see that, while in 2014 he walked 35 through 64.2 IP, he improved upon that last year walking only 25 through 71.2 IP last year. So while some may point to his erratic command in the past as a red flag, those walk numbers are going in the right direction; also take into account how young he is, and it is quite reasonable to expect his arrow to continue pointing up. -Dave DeFreitas
Torres came over to San Diego as the lesser-known piece of the Drew Pomeranz/Yonder Alonzo trade with Oakland December 2nd of last year. Padres farm director Sam Ganey knows Torres well from the time the two shared in Oakland, and no doubt played a role in Torres’ development from a 16-year-old signee to the pitching prospect we see now. Torres was recently promoted to Double-A on June 6, but I was able to get a look at him in his second to last outing for Lake Elsinore on June 3 at Rancho Cucamonga. He is a long, lanky kid with some wiry strength. His athleticism shows in the clean, quick arm action and free and easy delivery. He has some cross-body action in the delivery as well, and even with the 3/4’s arm slot, he gets some angle to home plate. His fastball borders on elite, sitting at 95-to-97 mph with late tail to both sides of the plate, and explosive ride up in the zone. He will cut himself off out front at times, limiting his extension and causing the fastball to leak to the armside, but he showed ability to adjust, and he was able to locate to the glove side with relative ease when right. His slider is a below-average pitch right now; loose, with big shape, and sitting at 79-to-83 mph. He did show a version with more ¾ depth and bite, so given the arm strength I can see it getting to average as he gets more consistent with his release point. He is said to have a developing changeup as well, but I did not see it in this outing.
Torres impressed last year seeing both his SO/9 shoot up (6.2 to 9.8) and his BB/9 IP drop (3.6 to 2.8) from 2014. He also saw his H/9 drop from 7.3 to 6.4 in that same span. There has been some regression in those areas so far in 2016 (8.9 SO/9 and 3.6 BB/9 and 7.5 H/9), likely due to his inconsistent fastball command, and this also being his first extended look at High A hitters. This will continue to be an issue for him as he climbs the ladder; his margin for error will shrink as he deals with advanced high-minors hitters.
Padres executives obviously have liked what they’ve seen so far and, considering the recent promotion to Double-A on June 6th, feel like he is close to turning a corner. With the arm strength he possesses and the deception in the delivery, even getting to fringe-average fastball command will go a long way towards advancing the effectiveness of his secondary stuff. There is a lot to like here, and the Padres are the early winners of that December 2015 trade with Oakland. Things may look grim at the big league level for them right now, but general manager A.J. Preller and company are stocking their farm system with high-upside pieces that will impact the big league club in the not-too-distant future. – Dave DeFreitas
Single A Prospect Spotlights
Friedrichs was a seventh-round pick by the A’s last season out of Long Beach State. A redshirt senior, he emerged as a draft prospect when he moved into the LBS rotation and out-dueled several better-known college starters, including the 2015 #4 overall pick Dillon Tate (RHP, Rangers, Class A Hickory, Sally League).
In 2016, Friedrichs began the year in the Class A Beloit Snappers’ rotation in the Midwest League, where he was part of a starter-tandem to start the year. Friedrichs breezed through his first five outings, and moved into a traditional starter’s role in his fifth start. After 50 1/3 innings, a 1.25 ERA and a 31:6 K/BB rate at Beloit, Friedrichs was promoted to Stockton on May 28. His first start for the Ports was a disaster (9 ER in 1 2/3 innings), but I saw him in his second outing on June 5, and he had a big bounce-back versus the Visalia Rawhide. In six innings, he struck out 11, didn’t walk a batter and recorded all eight outs on balls in play on the ground. He did allow a long solo home run to right, but the other two runs he gave up were scored, in large part, thanks to two wild pitches on balls in the dirt that a more advanced defensive catcher would have blocked.
Friedrichs isn’t a hard thrower. His four-seam fastball maxed out at 89 mph, but he spotted it well to both sides of the plate. His most effective pitch was his sinker, which had the Rawhide hitters swinging over it all game. The pitch, which sat 85-to-87 mph, had significant late fade and was effective both as a swing-and-miss pitch and as a pitch that was pounded into the ground. Friedrichs also used his two off-speed pitches well. He utilized his slider, sitting 77-to-79 mph, to freeze right-handed hitters with significant lateral movement. He often started the pitch from the right-handed hitter’s hip and got it to finish on the inner-half of the plate. His changeup was a good change-of-pace pitch, sitting 80-to-81 mph, and he was able to throw it for strikes in fastball counts.
Although Friedrichs doesn’t throw hard, he hides his release point behind his head, making it difficult for hitters to pick it up. His delivery also has a slight hesitation before he releases his pitches, which disrupts hitters’ timing. Friedrichs’ command is his best “tool”. If he misses up, his pitches flatten out and he is very hittable, but when he is locating down, he gets enough movement that the pitches are effective despite the lack of top-shelf velocity. He reminds me in both pitching style and delivery of former A’s right-hander Jason Windsor, who was a third-round pick in 2004 and reached the big leagues in 2006 before a shoulder injury derailed his career. – Melissa Lockard
Wieck was a seventh-round pick by the Mets in the 2014 draft, and the Padres picked him up as the add-on piece in a March 30, 2015 trade with the Mets for Alex Torres (LHP, Triple-A Sacramento, PCL). Wieck has a massive frame with very long arms and legs, which he uses to create considerable deception. He does not have a very firm body, but does display some lower-half strength and overall flexibility. He has a big crossfire delivery and ¾ arm angle, both of which serve to make him a very uncomfortable at-bat for any left-handed hitter. He has some trouble repeating his release point, but I think some of that can be attributed to him, even at 24 years old, still growing into his body and finding his coordination. Furthermore, The Padres tinkered with his arm slot after acquiring him last year, raising it to high ¾ only to see his velocity drop several mph.
He spent all of 2015 in the rotation, making 12 starts at Class A Fort Wayne and Savannah, and then 11 starts for Lake Elsinore, totaling 123 innings. Wieck showed a plus fastball that sat 93-to-94 mph with late life in a 1 1/3 inning appearance last week vs. Rancho Cucamonga, but he struggled to locate it with any kind of consistency. He also features a below-average slider that, while shallow and lacking much bite, plays up a good bit vs. lefties due to his arm action and his ability to throw it for strikes. However his best pitch may end up being his circle changeup. At 82-to-85 mph, he gets late bottom, and is able to get some come-back when using it to the glove side.
Wieck has always had ability to generate significant swing and miss (218 Ks through 178 professional innings). His high-maintenance delivery and quick arm work to play up his stuff, and he’s averaged about 12 SO/9 since beginning his pro career. He saw that ratio drop to 8.4 SO/9 last year with Lake Elsinore as a starting pitcher, but that was reportedly because was sitting in the upper 80s with the fastball while trying to adjust to the higher arm angle.
Since being moved to the bullpen full time and dropping his arm back to the ¾ slot, he has seen his groundball rate go from 0.80 in 2015 to 1.10 through 29 IP this year. His K’s are back up as well, sitting at 12.4 K’s/9 after his last outing on June 4th. It is easy to see why San Diego likes this kid, and while he may be a little bit old for the level, he still has less than 200 innings as a pro, and already has worked through a couple of not-insignificant adjustments. Command in the zone and walks have been issues for him; his BB/9 have gone in the wrong direction each year from 2014 (2.1, 3.6, 4.0 respectively) and his H/9 sit at 8.3 so far as a pro.
However, he was a different pitcher as a starter – working with a below-average fastball, it is hard to battle back when down in the count. Now that he has found his velocity as a reliever, his margin for error has gone way up, and factor in that he doesn’t have to work through a lineup multiple times an outing, and his weapons significantly increase in potency. Once he settles into the reliever role, I see him getting more consistent with his fastball command, maybe getting to fringe average. If his plus changeup continues to develop, his slider then becomes serviceable as a third pitch. His mechanics will always require attention, but he is athletic for a big man, and I believe will see the coordination come as he gets stronger. If he can get to fringe-average command with the fastball, look for everything else to fall in line and I bet he starts to rise quickly through the Padres’ system. – Dave DeFreitas
Jackson burst into the Minors last season, finishing as the Class A Northwest League MVP, and showing a strong bat to match his plus speed, defense and arm.
Last weekend against San Jose, Jackson showed a short, quick swing from a slightly open stance. He stands tall and holds his hands high around the shoulder with a small load that creates consistent gap power. He won’t be a big home run hitter, but his swing balance allows the bat to stay in the hitting zone leading to high contact. He has patience on pitches out of the zone, and looks for fastballs to drive early in the count. At times he drops the bat head, leading to a small loop, and swinging through off-speed pitches away.
His plus speed (4.17 second home-to-first times, 4.3 on the turn to second) helps him beat out ground balls and allows him to take chances on the base path, like he did tagging and getting to third base on a sac fly to the left field. I’d like to have seen the same base-stealing ability he had last year (47 stolen bases in 51 attempts) but his smart, aggressive baserunning puts defenders on their heels, and allows him to go 1st-to-3rd with ease.
Defensively, Jackson was smooth and has great body control that shows off his lean-muscled, athletic build. He’s a natural shortstop that covers a ton of territory with a quick-twitch first step to get to balls up the middle and in the 5.5 hole. He showed a 70-grade arm, first zipping the ball across the diamond from a backhand in the 5.5 hole, and then again on a play up the middle where he slid on his hip, turned and threw.
Overall, Jackson profiles as an above-average defensive shortstop that can hit early in the lineup, get on base, and score runs. I expect him to be pushed up to Double-A after the All-Star break to test his talent against more polished competition. – Ryan Ozella
Petty is having a great season, slashing .346/.418/.527 for the Blaze, and looking like a guy who, at 25 years old, may be starting to develop into his talent after playing four years at Division II Cal. University of Pennsylvania, and then a season in the Australian Baseball League (where he led the league with 14 home runs in 2015), all while moving from catcher to the outfield to first base. He was recently named to the Cal League All-Star team, and he showcased his talents against San Jose in last weekend’s four-game series, going 9-for-18 with two home runs and five RBIs.
A tall, lean-muscled athlete with tree trunks for legs, Petty is an above-average hitter who showed above-average power and surprising speed for a guy of his size (4.36 HP-to-1B) He stands tall with a quiet, simple setup and has strong, quick hands that produce a swing with natural lift. His swing will lead to him striking out a bit (around 24% for his career), but his pitch selection was good, and from the stats it looks like he’s learning to be more selective. During my views of Petty last weekend, the ball jumped off his bat when he got his hands extended. He turned a 95 mph fastball into deep left center one game, and crushed another to left field in the second game. He has eight homers so far this season to go along with 19 doubles, so it looks like he’s made some adjustments to his swing allowing him to utilize that natural lift, matching it with his strength and size.
In the field, he’s comfortable at first and moves well to both his glove and arm side. He showcased a good feel around the bag, and soft hands on a couple balls in the dirt. He’s played some outfield in his career, but is best suited as a first baseman. But his overall defensive flexibility could help him develop into a utility guy who could come off the bench with some pop. If he continues to hit the way he has, the Mariners shouldn’t waste any time moving him up to test him against more advanced pitching. – Ryan Ozella
Coonrod is a well-built, athletic pitcher with a strong lower half. He has an easily repeatable delivery with a simple step, turn, leg-lift motion, with his hands sitting at his waist. He gets his arm out of the glove quickly into a short circle behind him and drives towards the plate out of a 3/4 arm slot. I’d like to see him gather a little more over the rubber before going downhill, as it seemed like he was rushing at times.
Overall it was not a good outing for Coonrod in my viewing June 5. He struggled with command, regularly pitching from behind in the count and not getting on top of the ball, leaving it chest high. He battled through the outing with stuff that clearly wasn’t his best, giving up six earned runs, four hits (including three home runss) and two walks. It was only the second time all season that he gave up more than two earned runs in a start.
Coonrod worked with mainly two pitches, a fastball and a slider, showing just a few changeups during the outing. The plus fastball was 92-to-94 mph (T96), but was straight, and being picked up and hit hard. At it’s best, it can have some arm-side tail. The slider, sitting 82-to-86 mph, is a plus pitch, and was his best of the day, with tight and late lateral/downward break. He was able to locate it off the plate to the glove side for weak ground balls and some swing and miss, but his overall poor command during the day allowed hitters to sit on the fastball. The changeup was flat with no follow through, leaving it up in the zone at 76-to-80 mph. The Giants’ statisticians who were charting pitches mentioned that he had been developing a 12-to-6 shaped curveball, but he didn’t throw it during the game, or during warm-ups.
One bad outing does not define a pitcher, and even though Coonrod’s command was off in this viewing, he flashed two potential plus pitches. If he can continue to develop a third pitch and limit the walks (22 through 55 innings, though he’s been able to pitch around them thanks to a .208 BAA), I could see him as a number four-type starter, and that sounds like what San Francisco wants to do.
With the fastball/slider combination, and ability to dial the fastball up to 96 mph at times, Coonrod looks more like a backend bullpen guy who can come in and miss bats. – Ryan Ozella
The Giants’ fifth-round pick in 2015 out of Middle Tennessee State, Jebavy’s lean, athletic build compliments his quickness and athleticism in the field. Defensively, he is a plus center fielder, showing great range and a natural ability to track the ball off the bat quickly. He uses his quickness to get great jumps on balls and prevent a lot of hits from dropping. His strong arm plays plus for the position, and it keeps runners from taking the extra base.
He has above-average speed (4.26 HP-to-1B) from the leadoff position and looks to affect defenses going from 1st-to-3rd base. He was 23-for-27 last year in stolen bases, but only 6-for-13 so far this season, and didn’t look to run much when on the base paths during my views. He could be trying to focus on his hitting, but as a guy who won’t hit for a high average, he’s going to need to be more aggressive on the bases to showcase his true offensive value.
Offensively, Jebavy has some work to do. He’s a slightly below-average hitter (.241) who has a short line drive swing that will produce some gap power (11 2Bs, 3 3Bs) and some mistake pitch home runs (four this season). He has a compact stance that has a slight load and puts him in a good hitting position, but doesn’t generate much power. He’s a fastball hitter that doesn’t show a lot of patience or pitch selection (14:60 BB:Ks), and he struggles against good off-speed pitches. He’s better suited hitting lower in the lineup, where he could see more fastballs and attack them earlier in the count to prevent falling behind. If he falls behind he will chase pitches down in the dirt.
Overall, Jebavy profiles best as a defensive replacement at the major league level. If he is able to make some adjustments at the plate and can continue to work on his pitch selection, I could see him as a fourth-outfielder type. – Ryan Ozella
This Week at 2080 Baseball…
- Jared Massey profiled the highly-touted Blake Rutherford of Chaminade Prep (Simi Valley, CA) who went to the Yankees with the 18th pick in last night’s MLB Draft.
- Mauricio Rubio and C.J. Wittmann discussed the June 9th MLB Draft, Delvin Perez (selected by the Cardinals with the 23rd pick last night), outfield prospects, and other topics on The Scale: Ep. 1.18 – Pranks Gone Bad.
- Chris King wrote up six promising JUCO hitters to follow in the MLB Draft.
- Lisa Winston keeps cranking out compelling profiles of the latest players to make their major league debuts in her latest Les Debutantes column.
- The MiLB Triple-A All-Star ballot is out – vote for your favorite players here.
- 22-year-old Harrison Bader, (OF, Cardinals, Double-A Springfield, Texas League) is raking in in his first 54 games at the Double-A level, hitting .312 with 13 homers and a .912 OPS in his first 54 games. The Springfield Leader’s Jim Connell has a profile and video of the Cardinals’ 2015 third-round pick here.
- Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant has a nice profile of Raimel Tapia (OF, Rockies, Double-A Hartford, Eastern League) and his unorthodox, but consistent, approach at the plate, and observations from manager Darin Everson and Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson.
- Blake Snell (LHP, Rays, Double-A Montgomery) and Orlando Arcia (SS, Brewers, Double-A Biloxi) lead the 2016 Southern League Midseason All-Star Team, writes Sam Dykstra at MiLB.com.
- Several of 2080’s Top 125 Preseason Prospects were named to the Florida State League All-Star team, announced this week (courtesy of Sam Dykstra at MiLB.com).