A beautiful Saturday afternoon was beginning to waste away and my friends and I were chomping at the bit to go out and do something different. Previous plans to go see a night of amateur boxing in Philly fell through so we scrambled for some entertainment. We decided to head out to Reading to see the R-Phils play the SeaDogs. As I can never pass up a chance to sharpen baseball observation skills, I brought along my notebook. Here's what I saw:
Mike Cisco- Cisco (that thong tha thong thong thong) is a small righty, just 5-11, 190lbs. The literature I checked out on him beforehand said his fastball would sit in the lower 90s and possibly touch 94mph. This assessment was optimistic, however, as he was mostly in the high 80s and peaked at 90 just a few times. He had difficulty throwing it for strikes during the first few innings on this night, and fell behind in the count several times. It certainly was not impressive enough to be an effective major league pitch, unless Cisco can locate it better. His changeup (low 80s) was fantastic, especially early on in the game. He garnered 4 swings and misses with it in the first inning alone, including 3 straight during the at-bat of touted Red Sox 1B prospect Lars Anderson. The first time he threw it I actually had to think twice about whether or not it was a breaking ball because it had so much fade/sink. Cisco's change got plenty of swings and misses from lefties, while right handed hitters often made poor contact. He mixed in a curve (which he actually threw for strikes a few times) and a cutter (weak slider maybe?). Neither was impressive.
Cisco was better earlier in the start, when most of the outs he acquired were via grounders. Balls started to take flight towards the middle of his start when the lineup turned over. He worked himself out of a few jams.
I think Cisco could add velocity if he pitched out of the bullpen. He needs to find a way to strike more people out. An improved fastball (by adding velocity or improving command) combined with his plus changeup would make him a viable middle relief candidate in the future. The changeup would allow him to keep lefties off balance and the two breaking balls would help against righties.
Cisco's final line: 6ip, 5 hits, 1 walk, 2Ks, 1 earned run
Tyson Gillies (CF)- Gillies came over in the offseason from Seattle as part of the highly controversial Cliff Lee trade. He is a lean 6-2 190lbs. He has hearing aids in both ears which may be a blessing in disguise if he ends up playing for the Phillies one day, since he can simply remove them when he has a bad game. The first thing I noticed about Gillies is that he runs EVERYWHERE. I would too if I could run as fast as he can because he can freaking fly. He runs from the dugout to the outfield and back in again at 75% speed at the start and finish of every inning. He has lots of energy and hustle which will play well if Philly.
At the plate, Gillies is a slap hitter (think Luis Castillo or Chone Figgins) with no power. He failed to hit a ball hard during the game, his two hits being a bloop single that he barely squirted past the second baseman and a sly drag bunt. His On Base Percentage numbers from the past two season are very impressive (both around .430) which means he most likely has a terrific feel for the strike zone. This selectivity combined with his speed can make Gillies a serious weapon at the top of the lineup. However, neither of the times Gillies was on base presented him with a chance to run, so I did not get to see if he had base stealing instincts/skills. He was also not forced to make any defensive plays that I could scrutinize (never had to throw anyone out or chase down a ball in the gap), although he does have the same sort of "hop" that Alfonso Soriano has when he catches a routine fly ball. Youtube it to see what I mean.
The biggest caveat with Gillies comes from his lack of power. At higher levels (AAA and MLB) pitchers will know he has no power and simply challenge him with pitches in the strike zone. He may be forced to put ball in play on more at bats then he would like and his walk rate will drop. About 70% of balls in play are recorded for outs. His OB% will drop and his speed will be kept off the bases.
I want to scout Gillies again and get a look at his arm, his defense, base-running and pitches per at bat tendencies.
Domonic Brown (OF)- Brown is universally regarded as the Phillies top prospect. I got to see why for myself. 6-5 and lean, Brown has the frame to add muscle without losing his baseball skills. He's a tremendous athlete and had a scholarship offer to Miami (Domonic Brown.....the U) to play baseball and football.
Each of Brown's at-bats (he went 1 for 4) ended with him drilling the ball, most of the time down the middle of the field. His final plate appearance culminated with a blast to dead center that was caught at the warning track. His has great bat speed (something I'm just starting to be able to discern) which he showed on this near-homer as he allowed the ball to travel very deep into the hitting zone. Brown seems to recognize pitches well.
Like Gillies, I he wasn't forced to make any plays in the field or on the bases. I need to see him more to get a better idea of what he can do.
Several other interesting players participated in this game, but I will not get into what I noticed with those guys right now because it is getting pretty late and I have an 8 o'clock class tomorrow (Chemistry). Next Friday we are heading out to Harrisburg to check out Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen and more, Be sure to check back then for another installment. of scouting and all week long for other random things.