Feature Photo: David Paulino, RHP, Astros
Righties David Paulino (Astros), Reed Garrett (Rangers), John Curtiss (Twins), and Cameron Hill (Indians), and lefties Kyle McGrath (Padres) and Nestor Cortes (Yankees) highlight this week’s Prospect Video Library update. Also, if you haven’t been over to our Report Library lately, new contributor Will Garofolo also filed fresh reports on Francis Martes (RHP, Astros) and JaCoby Jones (OF, Tigers) last week, and Dave DeFreitas has a new look at newly-acquired Brewers shortstop Mauricio Dubon, who came over in a trade with the Red Sox for third baseman Travis Shaw earlier this morning.
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After staking his claim as one of the better power-hitting catchers in the minors (15 home runs, 23 doubles, .186 ISO in 98 games split between High A and Double-A), Marlette barreled up opposing AFL pitchers to the tune of a .267/.306/.467 slash with two home runs in 13 contests to conclude an otherwise solid 2016 campaign. The 23-year-old backstop employed an aggressive approach, and had trouble making consistent contact in Arizona (2 BB/15 K) with a swing that can lengthen and often sell out for power. Defensively, he showed the makings of both an average arm (2.00 pop time to second in one live look) and blocking skills behind the plate. Mark Shreve took a deeper look at Marlette out in the AFL in October.
A fast mover through Cleveland’s system, Hill pitched at three levels of the minors in 2016 (High A, Double-A, Triple-A) and was effective each step of the way, harboring a 2.34 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 4.31 K/BB ratio across 73 combined late-inning relief. The 22-year-old’s AFL production was uneven (4.80 ERA in 15 IP), but he got some swing-and-miss with his straight fastball that sat 91-to-94 (T95), and and mid-70s curveball that generated a handful of whiffs in one live look. There’s some effort to his delivery, but he pounded the zone and sequenced his stuff effectively.
A physical specimen at 6-foot-7, Paulino made his debut with Houston in September after a standout 2016 campaign split between three levels (2.00 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 in a combined 90 IP). The statuesque right-hander saw limited action in Arizona, but flashed some of the attributes that could make him a valuable arm. His fastball sat 93-to-96 mph from a steep downhill angle to the plate, and he backed it up with a mid-70s curve that flashed plus depth and big-time 12-to-6 hump, though it was telegraphed at times. His slider and changeup are somewhat raw, but he has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter long term.
The final piece to the deal that sent Juan Nicasio from L.A. to Colorado in 2014, Cuevas entered Arizona fresh off slashing .296/.331/.414, with three home runs and eight stolen bases across 94 games between Double-A and Triple-A. The 25-year-old’s production waned during his stay in the PCL (.622 OPS in 44 games), and those struggles persisted against AFL arms last month, as he slashed just .196/.286/.196 in 18 games with Salt River. Cuevas displays solid-average contact and gap-oriented power at the plate, and while he was previously a base-running threat (31 stolen bases in 2015), he flashed only average speed down line (4.29 HP-to-1B).
A late-round college draftee back in 2014, McGrath blossomed into one of the most effective relievers at any level of pro ball in 2016, garnering a 0.93 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 across 67.2 innings split between High A, Double-A and Triple-A. The 24-year-old southpaw saw time exclusively as a starter in Arizona and performed well (3.71 ERA, 11 K/3 BB in 17 IP) with his deceptive overhand arm slot, despite offering otherwise fringy stuff. He pounds the zone with his 86-to-88 mph four-seam fastball and blends in a fringe-average high-80s changeup to keep hitters honest, along with a 78-to-80 mph slider.
After holding his own against High A pitching in an abbreviated stay to cap 2016 (.340/.368/.415 over 18 games), Bossart joined Scottsdale’s roster as a late addition, and wound up going 1-for-11 with three strikeouts and no walks in 11 total PA’s. The 23-year-old employs a wide stance and displays average contact ability, with a short load and level bat plane. Bossart did not show much fence-clearing potential in college (11 home runs in 157 games) and his power figures to be limited to the gaps. Though we did not get an estimate on his arm, Bossart has thrown out 29% of attempted basestealers as a pro.
One of the more prolific bat-missers in the High A Florida State League this season – 3.06 ERA, 11.5 K/9, no home runs allowed in 53 IP – Curtiss’ stuff played exceptionally well in Arizona, collecting a 2.84 ERA along with 18 strikeouts over 12.2 IP out of the Saguaro’s bullpen. The 23-year-old’s repertoire consisted of a 94-to-95 mph (T96) fastball with late, riding arm-side life in one scouted appearance, along with a mid-80s slider with late 3/4’s bite that was a frequent inducer of whiffs. Drafted as a starter, Curtiss could be on a fast track to contribute to Minnesota’s bullpen in the near future.
A sixth-round draftee two summers ago, Fletcher followed an impressive pro debut with a solid campaign in 2016, slashing .280/.322/.351 with 19 extra-base hits and 16 stolen bases and 98 games split between High A and Double-A. The 22-year-old was not necessarily a treasure trove of production in Arizona (.674 OPS, one home run, two stolen bases, 5:4 BB/K in 14 games), but his skills validated some of his early numbers as a pro. Fletcher employs a disciplined approach along with a quick, compact bat path through the zone for above-average contact ability, with flashes of above-average speed (4.20 HP-to-1B).
Following a season in which he was not particularly effective from either the rotation or bullpen (6.24 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 1.72 K/BB across 109.2 IP), Garrett pitched admirably in Arizona, collecting a 2.25 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 15:6 whiff-to-walk rate across 16 frames for the Saguaros. The 23-year-old comes at hitters from a 3/4’s arm slot with some crossfire, getting both cutting and sinking action to his 90-to-92 mph fastball, with the cut version inducing weak contact when located. He’ll also blend in an average high-70s curveball and 83-to-84 mph changeup as a fourth look to hitters.
A potential late-draft steal for the Yankees in the 36th round back in 2013, Cortes threw at four levels of the minors in 2016 in route to a 1.53 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 4.79 K/BB ratio across 106 frames as a reliever and starter. The 21-year-old fanned 10 and walked six hitters in 7.2 innings with Scottsdale, each of which were logged from the bullpen. Slightly undersized, Cortes’ below-average fastball sat 86-to-89 mph in this scouted relief appearance. His best secondary was a high-70s slider that flashed above-average tilt, and his 73-to-74 mph curveball and changeup both graded as fringe-average offerings.