Featured Photo: Evan White (1B, Mariners)
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Each week Jared Wyllys digs into his notebook and shares some info on a prospect of his choice, then passes along some select entries from our 2018 Prospect Spotlight Library. This week, we get a closer look at 2017 first-rounder Evan White (1B, Mariners (High A Modesto)), who appears to have quickly adapted to life as a professional ball player.
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Prospect Focus: Evan White (1B, Mariners)
Often success in pro baseball comes down to a player’s ability to make adjustments along the way. Through the first week of the season, Mariners prospect Evan White was hitting only .156. He is in his first year of full-season ball after only 14 games in the Northwest League in 2017, so it would have been understandable for him to panic and start pressing.
Instead, he made a simple adjustment to his stance and continued trusting his process from there. In the week that followed, White hit .366.
“From an approach standpoint, I’m absolutely going to stick with what I’ve been doing,” White told 2080 Baseball. “I feel like I’ve been jumping at the ball a little bit in certain situations, and I feel like that has to do with my set position, my pre-pitch deal, so just doing a final tweak with that and going from there.”
White said he adjusted his shoulders slightly and kept everything else the same. It was that simple.
He described these changes just days before starting a 15-for-41 stretch that includes just one hitless game. Despite not yet experiencing a full season in professional ball and starting the year with a mini slump, White remained grounded in a near prescient confidence as to how things would turn out after implementing his small tweak. This is the kind of calm wisdom that is not always found in 22-year-olds with barely over 30 professional games under their belt.
But thanks to some time in the major league camp this spring, White said he had the chance to learn from the best of the Mariners organization.
“I got to be there and watch those guys go about their business, which was great,” White said. “I was picking and choosing little things I see that I can incorporate in my routine.”
Newcomer Dee Gordon made the biggest impression on White, mostly because of how open he was with every player in the Mariners organization, regardless of his standing. This, according to White, was a model he wants to follow with his teammates at High A Modesto.
“Whether I’m up, down, wherever I’m at, just being a good teammate. Someone that everyone wants to be around,” White said. “That’s something that might seem like a small thing to some people, but I feel like that’s a big thing for team chemistry.”
While battling through struggles in the first week of the season and making the necessary adjustment to fight through and right the ship, White found bandwidth to prioritized clubhouse culture, something that can be overlooked in the minor leagues. His maturity in doing that might be a surprise, given how little time he has notched in the professional ranks, but he’s well versed in what it takes to keep loose off the field.
White is a first-round draft pick out of the University of Kentucky and is no stranger to high pressure baseball, having lasted three years of tough SEC competition like first-rounders Alex Lange (RHP, Cubs), Kyle Wright (RHP, Braves), and Alex Faedo (RHP, Tigers).
“I feel like that’s definitely prepared me,” White said. “To see those kinds of arms, the more you see them, the more you’re going to be hitting them, and the better you’re going to get at seeing pitches and recognizing pitches.”
Thanks to the valuable experience of big-league camp in spring and the growth he experienced during three years of tough college competition in Lexington, White has a demeanor and confidence that belies his experience, and should help his ascent through the Seattle system.
Weekly Featured Spotlights: Notes from the Complex
Pedro Espinola | RHP | Yankees (GCL Yankees)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/207 B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2018): 22y, 2m
Signed in 2015, Espinola didn’t debut until two years later as he dealt with multiple injuries. The wait could be worth it, as he shows an extremely live two-pitch mix in his fastball and curve. He’s now 22-years-old and stands a physical 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds and doesn’t project to add much more weight to the frame. He slings the ball from a quick, compact arm action with a low three-quarters slot that’s tough for hitters to see.
The fastball is in the 93-to-96 mph range with plus running action, boring in on the hands of same-side hitters. It is odd that Espinola spins a true curveball from such a low arm-slot, but it shows sharp, late 10-to-4 action that froze a number of hitters in my viewing. This could be a byproduct of simply building back mound time, but Espinola runs into bouts of wildness because of an inability to repeat his deceptive arm-slot.
The control and pitch mix looks like it will move him to the bullpen eventually, but he could have two swing-and-miss pitches there. Adding more intrigue are Espinola’s outrageous spin rates: he averages 2500 RPM on his heater with the curveball registering nearly 3000 RPMs on average
–Steve Givarz, April 30, 2018
Manuel Silva | LHP | Phillies (GCL Phillies)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/145 B/T: L/L Age (as of April 1, 2018): 19y, 3m
Silva had a great stateside debut in the GCL last season, holding his own as an 18-year-old and showing a nice blend of projection and current stuff. Standing 6-foot-2, he has added weight and is more muscular than his under-listed 145-pound frame, and there’s still plenty of physical projection left in the body. He pitches from a semi-windup with a long arm-circle, finishing fluidly out front with signs of adding velocity as he matures.
He sits 90-to-92 mph with the heater right now, touching 93 mph at times with glimpses of above-average run that’s hard to barrel up. Silva shows advanced ability to command his fastball to both sides of the plate for his age. Silva shows plus feel for his slider, a low-80s pitch with sweepy tilt that he will throw in any count. It’s more advanced than his 84-to-86 mph change, a pitch he doesn’t show much and lacks the same type of feel for. There’s reason to dream on his left-handed three pitches and projectable 6’2’’ frame turning into a rotation piece, but Phillies fans should consider Silva a low-minors lottery ticket who will need numerous years to add physicality and develop his arsenal.
–Steve Givarz, April 30, 2018
Santiago Florez | RHP | Pirates (GCL Pirates)
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/225 B/T: R/R Age (as of April 1, 2018): 17y, 11m
Signed for $150,000 during the 2016 J2 period, Florez shows good size and potential to add to his fastball. Aside from that, there is a long way to go refining other aspects of his game. He’s 6’5’’ and 220 pounds and still just 17-years-old, though he will turn 18 in May of 2018. His high three-quarters arm slot is fairly stiff, but there’s enough projection in the body that it’s likely Florez gains a few ticks on the heater as he fills out. He sits around 90 mph with the fastball right now, scraping the 91-to-92 mph range on his best bolts with moderate arm-side tail. His command is in the early stages, as are a mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup that need significant refinement.
It’s tough to call him a genuine big league pitching prospect right now, but the size and potential for arm-strength are in place to take steps forward. Florez is a long-range development prospect, though deep-dive Pirates prospect watchers should get to know him. How he adds stuff and makes adjustments to his delivery and control over the next one to two years will dictate his prospect status as he climbs the ladder.
–Steve Givarz, April 30, 2018