The Grind: Prospect evaluations from a veteran scout (Hartford/Reading)

Ryan Castellani, Rockies prospects
Ryan Castellani - Colorado Rockies 2015 spring training

Feature Photo: Ryan Castellani, RHP, Rockies

Right-hander Ryan Castellani and and catcher Dom Nunez from the Rockies, and an impressive Victor Arano (RHP, Phillies), highlight five prospect reports from last weekend’s Hartford/Reading Double-A matchup.


2080 Prospect Spotlights
Double-A Eastern League
Reading Fightin’ Phils (PHI) at Hartford Yard Goats (COL)
August 18-20, 2017


Ryan Castellani, RHP, Rockies (Double-A Hartford, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/220 lbs.   B/T: R/R     Age (As of April 1, 2017): 21y, 0m

Castellani, a 2014 second-rounder, is a young, durable, and projectable starter with a projectable three-pitch mix. He works from a full-windup and has a herky-jerky delivery, with a long arm action and a wrap in the back. The arm action reminded me of Brent Honeywell (RHP, Rays). Even with the moving parts, he repeats the actions well, and throws strikes with above-average control this year (2.55 BB/9 over 137 1/3 innings, after 2.7 BB/9 over a league-leading 167 2/3 innings last year in the Cal League). He throws both a two-seam and a four-seamer around 90-to-93 mph, with run and tail on the four-seamer and plus sinking action on the two-seamer to generate a good deal of ground ball outs (career 1.31 GO:AO ratio). He throws strikes with the fastball with above-average command, setting up an average slider in the 84-to-86 mph range that shows average tilt and depth, though he’ll need to develop more consistent feel for the pitch. He shows good arm speed and arm action to sell the changeup well in the 84-to-86 mph range, with late fade. He’s got pitchability, and he’s showing big-time durability by already nearing 500 career innings in the minors at such as young age – the three-pitch mix and quality of the stuff should net him a big league rotation spot as a solid number four starter.


Dom Nunez, C, Rockies (Double-A Hartford, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’01”/202 lbs.     B/T: L/R       Age (As of April 1, 2017): 22y, 3m

Nunez has steadily progressed a level per full season of pro ball for the Rockies after being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. After a solid 2016 campaign at High A Modesto, where he slashed .241/.321/.362 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI’s for the Bees, he has struggled mightily offensively in his first season of Double-A action, with a paltry .180 batting average only being offset by an improving eye at the plate (50/74 BB/SO rate) – although the power has transitioned well, with another 10 home runs this year. Nunez has a conservative approach at the plate, and in my viewings he displayed a grooved swing plane with limited adjustments, although it was a single-game look. He has exploitable holes on the inner half of the plate and looks to get extended, though he also has enough bat speed to project for better barrel control that should help him work the ball up the middle more consistently. He does have enough strength, loft and leverage to his swing to project to average game power, especially as he learns to pull the ball more often. Behind the dish, he shows plus arm strength with the ability to throw runners out, and his footwork is average. He showed solid-average hands and receiving actions. The package should project to a solid-average defender, but Nunez’s limited offensive potential and ability to hit for average will make him a Role 40 backup on most clubs, with a ceiling of a Role 45 if the below-average hit tool matures better than expected at the higher levels.


Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Phillies (Double-A Reading, Eastern League)
Ht:Wt: 6’1”/210 lbs.      B/T: R/L      Age (As of April 1, 2017): 22y, 11m

Cleavinger, a third-round pick in 2015 of the Orioles, came to the Phillies as part of the trade for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on July 29 of this year. He threw two innings for Reading in my August 19 look, allowing just a hit and a walk, and striking out three batters. Cleavinger is fully developed, with a strong, durable frame, and with a semi-power arm and plus arm strength. He works from the stretch, and has a long arm action with quick arm speed, while being able to generate some good angle for a pitcher his size. His fastball is above average, sitting mostly at 92 mph, but he can reach back for as much as 95 mph when it’s needed, and the pitch should settle in at plus velocity more consistently. The fastball is tough on righties, coming in with run and bore to the arm side, though the command is presently inconsistent. His curveball has solid two-plane depth and ¾’s break at 75-to-77 mph. The biggest question around Cleavinger’s profile is the command and control, where he has put up well-below-average control numbers to-date (5.7 BB/9), which is a regression from his 2016 BB/9 rate at High A Clearwater last year (4.0). That said, he will strike out his fair share of hitters as well (10.12 SO/9 this year, and 12.00 SO/9 last year at the Class A and High A levels with the O’s. The quality of his stuff gives him a realistic role of a Role 40, middle reliever capable of handling the sixth or seventh innings, assuming the command and control can be refined with more experience.


Victor Arano, RHP, Phillies (Double-A Reading, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/200 lbs.      B/T: R/R        Age (As of April 1, 2017): 22y, 1m

I was able to see this reliever pitch two hitless innings and striking out three on August 18. Arano is fully developed, with a strong, durable frame. He’s a power arm with plus to double-plus arm strength, and he’s a strike-thrower who isn’t afraid to attack hitters aggressively in the zone. His fastball is plus, coming in at 91-to-96 mph, but he pitches mostly at 93 mph with average command. He should settle at plus to double-plus velo at maturity. The pitch has run, bore and ride with late life, and it’s a swing-and-miss offering. His slider is above average at 82-to-85 mph, with tilt, depth and deception, and he’ll use it versus right-handed hitters. He also throws a plus circle changeup at 86-to-87 mph, with average separation from the fastball, and with hard fade and splitter-like action and late dive, and he’ll use it versus left-handed hitters. His overall control profile is above average, with a 2.45 BB/9 in 2017, following up a 2016 split between High A Clearwater and Reading, where he showed plus control (2.14 BB/9). Arano has a projectable three-pitch mix of plus pitches, and he’s a plus strike-thrower who can commands all three pitches. He has the potential to be a Role 60 top set-up man or occasional closer, and there’s a chance he could get called up as early as this year’s September roster expansion for a big league test.


Deivi Grullon, C, Phillies (Double-A Reading, Eastern League)
Ht/Wt: 6’1″/210 lbs.     B/T: R/R     Age (As of April 1, 2017): 21y, 2m

Grullon came to the Phillies as an international free agent out of the Dominica Republic in 2012. He has a short, squatty body that’s fully developed, but he’ll need to be attentive to his weight as he looked to be above his listed weight – closer to 215 pounds. He’s a defensive-minded catcher with a plus arm (1.94 pop time) who handles pitches well, with average receiving actions, good hands and good framing ability. While his lateral range and ability to shift is also average, that could play down a grade – or more – if he gets any bigger. Offensively, he is way behind his defensive acumen. He has a long swing with a groove-type swing path, and there is some some pull-side power. He swings and misses often, and is a high-strikeout guy (23% at Class A Lakewood, and bit better at 21.4% this year across two levels). His barrel control is limited, as are his pitch recognition skills, and he struggles versus breaking and off-speed pitches. Grullon projects to be a 30-grade hitter with 40-grade power, but he has the tools to be a solid-average defender with a plus arm. If he can monitor the weight and keep the body durable, he has the defensive ability to see a floor of a Role 30 up-down emergency catcher, with a ceiling of a Role 40 backup.