Feature Photo: Champ Stuart, OF, Mets
My week-ending package of video from this Arizona Fall League includes outfielders Bradley Zimmer (Indians), D.J. Stewart (Orioles), Aaron Brown (Phillies), and Champ Stuart (Mets); third base prospects Miguel Andujar (Yankees) and Brian Anderson (Marlins); righthanders Josh Staumont (Royals) and Spencer Turnbull (Tigers); and new video Reds lefty Seth Varner and Athletics second baseman Max Schrock. Our complete Prospect Video Library can be found here.
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Acquired by Oakland in the Marc Rzepczynski trade last August, Schrock scurried his way through three levels of the minors in 2016, finishing the year with Double-A Midland slashing a .331/.373/.449 with nine home runs, 32 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 129 combined games. The Gamecock product has brought that production to Arizona, managing a .786 OPS with four extra-base hits through 10 games. Schrock pairs quality contact skills and bat speed with a compact, violent stroke through the zone, along with above-average 4.15 second HP-to-1B speed. Small in stature and lacking leverage in his swing, Schrock may never hit for anything more than fringe-average raw power with his share of doubles, but the contact/speed tandem, combined with what looks to be an average infield glove, gives him some solid tools to build on.
Burdened by a shoulder impingement and oblique strain, Turnbull logged just 44.1 innings in 12 starts split between the rookie GCL and High A Florida State League in 2016, a span over which he garnered a 3.45 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 7.9 K/9. While the whiffs have been abundant early in Arizona (11 in 12 innings), the rest of the profile has been uninspiring, ceding eight walks in route to a 6.00 ERA and 1.86 WHIP. Turnbull’s fastball sat 91-to-94 mph with cutting action on Tuesday, and he also flashed plus arm-side sink with his two-seam variety. He also used an 84-to-87 mph slider as his two-strike offering that had above-average tilt early but backed up on him later in the outing. His mid-70s curveball did not miss many bats and was telegraphed when he did throw it, and I logged only one changeup at 87 in the appearance.
Zimmer has staked his claim as one of the better power-speed combinations in the minors, and 15 home run, 38 stolen base totals across 130 games at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2016 only strengthened his resume. His strikeouts have been increasing steadily over time as well, with a 37.3% strikeout rate in 37 games at the Triple-A level in 2016, but the 23-year-old has impressed with his selective approach (18.9% walk rate) and speed on the bases (seven stolen bases) against fall league arms. Tall, lean, and athletic, Zimmer pairs an above-average arm with plus range in center field, which will be enough for him to stick at the position long term. The ball has jumped off his bat with a low-effort swing, and he should be a solid bet to hit for average in-game pop. His barrel path can lengthen at times, leading to some of the swing-and-miss tendency, and that will be a sticking point for him to work on as he challenges for a big-league call-up as early as next year.
Miami’s third-round pick from 2014 quickly morphed into one of the most productive bats on the fall league circuit, slashing .367/.426/.592 with 3 home runs and 11 runs scored in 14 games (54 PAs). Anderson’s early prowess with the lumber should only be viewed as a positive after struggling in his extended stay in Double-A to finish out 2016, posting a .689 OPS across 86 contests after mustering a .816 OPS in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Anderson has shown the makings of an above-average runner in live views (4.28 HP-to-1B), and he has drawn praise for his defensive range and arm at the hot corner from 2080’s John Arguello. Those tools, combined with good bat speed, flashes of above-average power potential and a patient approach (5:6 BB/K ratio) give plenty of reason to believe Anderson will project to an average third baseman at the major league level.
One of the hardest throwers in the minors, Staumont’s first full season in pro ball was mostly a mixed bag, as the 22-year-old wound up posting a behemoth 12.2 K/9 over a sample of 120-plus innings between High-A and Double-A, while simultaneously issuing 7.6 walks per nine in route to a 1.69 WHIP. Staumont’s mixture of mid-to-upper 90s heat (he touched 98 mph last week in Scottsdale) combined with flashes of an above-average curveball has helped him grab 21 strikeouts in 18 innings in Arizona, and his control has improved as well (3.9 BB/9). There’s still a ways to go with his command, frequently leaving the his curve up in the zone and missing to the glove side with his fastball, and he’ll need to incorporate his changeup more if he’s to stay in a rotation long term.
The Orioles’ 2015 first-rounder, Stewart thrived in the High A Carolina League after notching a mid-year bump, slashing .279/.389/.448 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and a 0.78 BB/K ratio across 59 contests. Fall league arms have thus far tested the strong, stocky 22-year-old, who owns a .226/.388/.340 slash line with five extra-base knocks in 14 games. My live looks have been notable for his aggressive approach (69% swing rate in 26-pitch video sample) and below-average bat-to-ball skills (67% contact rate) with stiffness in the swing at times, though the ball jumps off his bat to the pull side with hard line drives in batting practice. Stewart’s 4.4 second HP-to-1B times (well below-average), and his muscular frame limit his versatility, and with fringe-average tools across the board, Stewart’s overall value figures to be limited.
Signed out of the Dominican at 16 years old, Andujar torched the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to the tune of a .283/.343/.474 slash line, with 10 home runs in 58 games before getting the call to Double-A Trenton midseason. His production tapered off at the level, however, posting a below-average .681 OPS with only 2 home runs in 72 games, though he was one of the youngest bats in the Eastern League. Andujar has been quick to adjust out west, though, hitting .326 across 55 PAs, though he’s without a home run. The 21-year-old’s carrying tool might be his plus arm at third base, which he pairs with flashes of above-average range. His contact rate and patience at the plate have been impressive and the power should come as he fills out physically. He has never been much of a base-stealer, but I have clocked him as low as 4.19 seconds to first at full effort, which is plus.
A University of Ohio product, Varner’s Arizona debut comes after performing between an unorthodox combination of the High-A and Triple-A levels, across which he posted a mostly uninspiring 4.43 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 6.7 K/9 in 138 innings. The 24-year-old has posted decent peripherals thus far (9 K/2 BB) but has allowed a lot of contact, ceding 18 hits in 12 innings. Varner owns an 86-to-88 mph fastball that plays up with his plus command, and he will subtract a tick when throwing his 84 mph slider/cutter with below-average bite. His best pitch is a 79-to-81 mph changeup that induced seven swings-and-misses in nine pitches in my sample from his start last week, regularly fooling right-handed hitters. His 75-to-77 mph curveball also missed bats out of a 12-to-6 plane with gradual break and average depth. Varner’s ceiling figures to be very limited, but the changeup/curveball combination has potential to get outs.
Philadelphia’s third-round pick from Pepperdine two summer ago, Brown got his first taste of the upper minors in 2016, slashing an underwhelming .224/.313/.360 with three home runs across 74 games in the Double-A Eastern League. He missed time with injury midseason, and eventually finished 2016 with High-A Clearwater, where he hit .304 over 20 contests. Brown’s fall league debut has left a lot to be desired offensively (he has struck out in 36% of his 48 plate trips while walking only once), and while he has shown mostly flashes of pull-side power (three home runs), his average has dwindled to .170 in 15 games as he struggles to adjust to advanced offerings. With average speed of 4.2 seconds from HP-to-1B and defensive utility that seems limited to a corner-outfield spot, Brown may ultimately have limited organizational value if the contact skills and power aren’t able to show up more consistently.
A former sixth-round pick, Stuart bounced back from an abysmal 2015 campaign with a .240/.314/.349 slash line with eight home runs and 40 stolen bases across 114 contests between High A and Double-A. One of the older bats on the fall league circuit, Stuart has finally started to show some signs of life offensively, leading qualified Scottsdale hitters in average (.372) and stolen bases (eight) while ranking second to Gleyber Torres in SLG% (.535) across his first 12 games. Stuart possesses double-plus speed and burst out of the box and, despite an only average arm, should play an above-average to plus center field at the next level.