The Grind: Prospect evaluations from a veteran scout (Cape Notes, Vol. 1)

Feature photo courtesy of Nick J. Faleris

Each summer the Cape Cod Baseball League hosts a contingent of the top collegiate talent in the country, offering evaluators an opportunity to see high-level competition with wood over a summer-long season. Veteran pro scout and 2080 Baseball senior advisor Ted Lekas offers his thoughts on some of the top talent he observed in this four-part series. All players are 2018 draft-eligible unless otherwise indicated.

For purposes of these writeups, and summer evaluations at 2080 Baseball, “early designations” fall into three categories: Top Follow (Potential Day One — Top 2 Rounds), High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds), and Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed). Players are shifted from early designation to a more specific “suggested slot/suggested investment” during the spring, leading up to draft day.

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Series Links: Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4

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Griffin Conine, RF, Duke Univ.
Ht/Wt:  6’1”/200 lbs.        B/T: L/R        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 11m

 Background: Conine finished the CCBL regular season tied for the league lead in home runs (9), fifth in batting average (.329), and tied for third in runs batted in (28). This follows a productive season for the Duke Blue Devils where he was a 2nd Team All-ACC Selection, and he was selected to compete in the 2017 College Home Run Derby in Omaha on July 1 (an annual event featuring some of the top collegiate power bats in the game).  His breakout season for the Blue Devils included leading the team in slugging (.546), on-base percentage (.425), runs batted in (56), home runs (13), total bases (119), and walks (41), over 58 games and 243 plate appearances.

Notes: Athletic right fielder with plus bat and power potential; good, sound approach at the plate from a slight open stance; good balance; plus bat speed with quick hands and quick wrists; plus barrel control, barrels up balls and projects as a plus hitter; present strength; loft and leverage to all fields, projects to plus power; below-average run; did not produce home-to-first run time;  above-average arm strength (55) with good carry; average defensive actions; tools to be above-average major league regular contributor.

Early Designation: Top Follow (Potential Day One)

Zack Hess, RHP, Louisiana State Univ.
Ht/Wt:  6’6”/216 lbs.       B/T: R/R        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m

Background: Hess made three appearances for the Bourne Braves this summer, each as a starter, punching out 10 over 10 1/3 innings of work and sporting a 2.61 ERA. His lack of command and control was also on display, however, as the LSU righty walked seven batters over that same span. This past spring at LSU, he began the season as a mid-week starter who subsequently was moved to the closer role after injuries depleted the Tigers’ bullpen.  He dominated and flourished in the closer role, finishing the season with a .182 batting average against and 83 strikeouts (12.40 SO/9) over 60 2/3 innings of work (six starts and 24 relief appearances) while helping LSU to the College World Series National Championship Game. He also issued 30 walks (4.45 BB/9).

Notes: Was on a 60-pitch count limit on July 20 start, and was only able to last 3 2/3 innings due to his inability to command and control his pitches; strong, well-proportioned, athletic frame with strength through the back and shoulders; fair feel, looks to throw everything hard; three-quarters slot, no wind-up delivery with long arm action and quick arm circle; appears to occasionally shorten arm on backside on breaking ball; plus to double-plus fastball (92-to-95 mph) with heavy, hard, late sink and bore; plus movement; plus curveball (80-to-82 mph) with hard break and two-plane action; seldom used changeup (87-to-88 mph) to left-handed hitters, mostly overthrown with average action; command and control issues; appears to have the mentality and stuff to fit well as a right-hand reliever, late-inning arm.

Early Designation: Top Follow (Potential Day One)


Griffin Roberts, RHP, Wake Forest Univ.
Ht/Wt:  6’3”/210 lbs.         B/T: R/R        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 22y, 0m 

Background: Roberts was drafted by the Twins in the 29th Round of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft as a draft-eligible sophomore but elected to return to Wake for his junior year.  During his freshman year in 2016 he struggled with command, striking out 18 hitters in 15 2/3 innings of work but also walking 22.  This past spring he continued to show command and control issues, walking 32 batters over 53 1/3 innings with a well-below-average BB/9 ratio of 5.40. Despite the erratic execution, Roberts did continue to miss bats, striking out 80 hitters over that same span.  This summer has been a different story for Roberts, who finished the regular season with six starts and two relief appearances for the Gatemen. The righty logged 32 innings of work and sported a 35/6 SO/BB rate while holding opposing hitters to a .193 average and boasting a 1.96 ERA and 0.88 WHIP.

Notes: Well-proportioned, athletic frame;  low-3/4’s arm slot with long arm action; has trouble repeating his no windup delivery; flies open and doesn’t stay over the rubber; delivery inconsistencies lead to in-zone command issues; plus fastball (92-94) with plus sinking action down in the zone and occasional run and bore to both sides of the plate; projectable, average slider/slurve (80-82), needs to stay on top more consistently to improve execution; ability to command/control fastball will be determining factor of his success – needs to build upon summer improvements and show ability to maintain and improve heading into the spring.

Early Designation: Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed)


Tristan Pompey, RF, Univ. of Kentucky
Ht/Wt:  6’4”/200 lbs.       B/T:  S/R        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 2m 

Background: Canadian-born outfielder who is the younger brother of Dalton Pompey (CF, Blue Jays).  Pompey started all 66 games for Kentucky in 2017, batting .361 for a strong Wildcats offense while racking up 10 home runs, 18 doubles, and 41 runs batted over 320 plate appearances.  Pompey finished the spring with a slash line of .361/.464/.541 and also flashed some speed swiping nine bases in 13 attempts. Pompey’s production was less impressive this summer on the Cape, with the outfielder slashing .230/.284/.345 over 23 games and 95 plate appearances and striking out in just over 25% of is PAs.

Notes: Well-proportioned, athletic body with width to his shoulder and hips; five-tool player; open stance that closes at contact; quick bat; plus bat speed with a good trigger, gets bat through the hitting zone with quick hands and wrists; feel for the barrel; strength, loft and leverage to his swing; plus power potential; above-average runner out of the box and double-plus runner underway with good running stride; plus defensive actions seen in right field with good routes, jumps, and reads; plus range, glides to the ball; above-average arm with good carry; potential first-round tools for the 2018 MLB Draft who should hold down center field for the Wildcats; should be one of the top players in the SEC.

Early Designation: Top Follow (Potential Day One)