The Grind: Prospect evaluations from a veteran scout (Cape Notes, Vol. 3)

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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Ryan Rolison, LHP, Univ. of Mississippi
Ht/Wt:  6’3”/200 lbs.       B/T: R/L         Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 11m

Background:  Rolison finished the 2017 Cape Cod season sixth overall in strikeouts (35) and third overall in SO/9 (11.25) among arms with at least 25 innings pitched, in addition to producing a 1.93 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, .156 BAA, and 3.21 BB/9 over his six starts and 28 innings of work. Further, the Ole Miss southpaw shined on his two largest stages of the summer, pitching a perfect inning and striking out one during the Cape Cod All-Star Game and spinning a playoff gem against Chatham in his final outing, throwing six shutout innings and striking out seven while allowing just one walk and one hit (he faced just three over the minimum). This strong Cape summer follows a solid spring for Mississippi in which he recorded a 6-3 record with a 3.06 ERA over 19 appearances (10 starts) and 61 2/3 innings pitched. He punched out 64 over that span (9.34 SO/9) while walking 24 (3.50 BB/9).

Notes:  Fully-developed athletic frame; three-quarters to low-three-quarters arm slot with long arm action and clean arm circle; quick arm; average fastball velocity (89-to-93 mph), sitting primarily at 91 mph; run and tail to both sides of the plate; fastball velocity projects to plus with movement; needs to be more consistent with fastball command, can get erratic at times; two-plane, 2-to-8 break slider (81-to-83 mph); works with tilt and depth, can resemble curveball action; projects to plus slider; projectable, late-fading, sinking plus changeup (82-to-83 mph); seldom used off-speed to right-handed hitters; varied arm slot limits command and control at times; has exhibited fringe-average control (3.21 BB/9) throughout summer and below-average control (3.50 BB/9) during spring at Ole Miss; project three plus pitches but control/command have to come on.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)


Kevin Smith, LHP, University of Georgia
Ht/Wt:  6’5”/225 lbs.        B/T:  L/L         Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft) 21y, 1m

Background:  Smith finished his abbreviated summer on the Cape on July 5th, before returning to school for a prior commitment. He totaled four starts and 18 innings pitched with 15 strikeouts (7.5 SO/9) and seven walks (3.50 BB/9), and opponents batted just .169 against him over that span. This followed an up-and-down Spring for the righty, who split time as a starter and a reliever for Georgia (20 appearances, 12 starts), totaling 61 innings pitched in which he struck out 67 (9.89 SO/9) and walked 31 (4.57 BB/9) while allowing 67 hits – over a third of which went for extra bases. He finished the spring with a 5-5 record and 4.87 ERA with opponents batting .288 against him.

Notes:  Strong, well-proportioned frame, fully developed; durable; cross-body delivery with a long arm action and quick arm; three-quarters arm slot, produces good angle; above-average fastball velocity (89-to-93 mph), sits at 91-to-92 mph with run and bore to both sides of the plate, sinking action down in the zone; will show occasional cut into right-handed hitters; projects above-average fastball movement; solid average slider (79-to-82) with tilt and depth, occasional slurvier action; slider more effective versus left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters; slider projects to above-average; good arm speed and fade action on his above-average changeup (80-to-83 mph) with late fade action; overall, projects to solid three-pitch mix with plus fastball and changeup, above-average slider; works quickly and throws strikes with projectable, average command and control; has the size, durability and projectable stuff to come off the board early next spring.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)


Romy Gonzalez, 3B, Univ. of Miami (FL)
Ht/Wt:  6’2”/210 lbs.     B/T:  R/R         Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m

Background: Gonzalez enjoyed a productive Summer with the Firebirds, earning East Division Cape Cod All-Star honors. The Miami product was used by Orleans across the infield (3B/SS/2B) throughout summer, competing in 29 games before missing the last handful of regular season contests and the entirety of the playoffs with an unspecified injury. Over 118 plate appearances, Gonzalez slashed .318/.342/.509 with four home runs and nine doubles, while also stealing 10 bases in 12 attempts. He tallied just five walks (under 5% of his plate appearances) while striking out in just over 30% of his plate appearances. Gonzalez showed a little more on-base utility in the Spring for the Canes, drawing walks in just over 10% of his 253 plate appearances while slashing .265/.344/.462 in his 58 games played.

Notes:  Strong, compact, durable frame; wide-base hitting approach with a high back elbow; quick bat; gets the bat head out and barrels up balls; has the ability to drive the ball to all fields;  projects to average hitter; double-plus raw power, projects to plus in-game power; good extension to his swing with ability to turn on balls; good loft and leverage to swing; plus-to-double-plus arm strength with good carry and average accuracy; average hands with steady fielding actions; average range with good first step quickness; below-average runner (4.40 home-to-first) but does have good instincts on bases; projects as third baseman, defensively; body type and actions do not project to play in the middle of the diamond in the future.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)


Cameron Bishop, LHP, Univ. of California – Irvine
Ht/Wt:  6’5”/245 lbs.      B/T:  L/L         Age (as of June 1, 2018): 22y, 4m

Background:  A 2017 draftee of the Baltimore Orioles (26th round), it was believed Bishop would be heading back to UC-Irvine for the 2018 season after he failed to sign a contract with Baltimore prior to the July 7th deadline. News surfaced a week later, however, that Major League Baseball approved a signed deal between Bishop and the Orioles despite the paper work being submitted five-to-ten minutes after the 5 p.m. ET deadline. Bishop missed the entire 2017 season Irvine with a strained oblique muscle and made three appearances (two starts) on the Cape for Chatham prior to shipping off to the Orioles system upon approval of his deal. In his 11 innings of work, the lefty struck out 15 (12.27 SO/9) and allowed just two walks (1.64 BB/9) and seven hits, with opponents batting .171 against him.

Notes:  Working his way back after missing the entire 2017 college season with the strained oblique muscle; big and strong, fully developed; worked in relief during observed appearance; no windup, abbreviated delivery; compact, quick arm from a three-quarters arm slot; ball jumps out of his hand; solid average fastball velocity (88-to-92 mph) with sink, run and tail; can show plus cut action into right-handed hitters and can turn fastball over on occasion; fastball projects to plus; average-to-plus slider (82-to-85 mph), can show hard action, depth and tilt against right-handed hitters and more of a hard-sweeping, slurve action to left-handed hitters; good arm speed on plus changeup (82-to-83 mph) with late fade action.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds); subsequently signed with Baltimore Orioles