Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer 1B (Kansas City Royals)

Age: 21

Bats: Left

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 215lbs

From: American Heritage High School, Plantation, Florida (#3 Overall pick in 2008)

Hosmer’s first pro season (2009) was extremely disappointing as he posted a paltry .707 OPS (major league average is .730) between low and high A ball. His struggles can be attributed to an astigmatism, which he developed during the offseason prior to the 2008 campaign and was diagnosed with prior to the season. Combined with his poor eye sight which was eventually corrected by Lasik eye surgery, Hosmer fractured a knuckle on his right hand which impeded his ability to grip the bat. When you can’t see the ball you’re supposed to hit or grip the bat you’re supposed to hit it with, you are going to struggle. The results he yielded in 2009 caused him to fall to #5 in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, down from #2 the previous year.

The following season, Hosmer had a fantastic .977 OPS while hitting 20 HRs, 7 of those HRs coming in an infamously difficult home park at Single A Wilmington. He reached AA ball at age 20 and completely reestablished his astronomical value as one of baseball’s better prospects. He’s turned everything around and has all star potential.


Hosmer has a smooth left handed swing. He combines fine bat speed with good balance and generates plus raw power. He takes the ball the other way comfortably. More impressive for me are his low strikeout totals. Hosmer struck out 66 times in 520 at-bats in 2010 and walked 59 times. That’s a rather impressive ratio for someone to boast for their 20 year old season.

The one problem Hosmer has is a tendency to get his front foot down late (Ryan Howard has the same problem from time to time) which throws his swing off and causes him to get pull happy.

Hosmer is a below average runner and won’t help on the bases.


Hosmer has an above average throwing arm that would play in the outfield which would be beneficial to the Royals because of the glut of 1B/DH types they have coming up through the minors, but his slow feet would limit his range in an outfield corner and he’d end up as a liability. He has soft hands and is enough of an athlete to be above average at first base.

As far as ceilings go, Hosmer may be the best 1B prospect left in the minors (though Brandon Belt is much closer to the majors) and is one of the crown jewels of the Royals’ stellar farm system.

Above: A couple looks at the swing
Below: A really great at-bat

Monday, December 20, 2010

Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Jeremy Jeffress

Jeremy Jeffress (Kansas City Royals)

Age: 23

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 185LBS

From: South Boston, VA (1st rounder in 2006 straight from High School)

Part of the recent Zack Greinke trade, Jeffress had one of the more electric arms I got a chance to see at the Arizona Fall League. We’ll get into that in a minute, but upfront there’s one very important piece of information you should know about Jeffress. He’s one toke away from a lifetime ban from baseball. Jeffress has already been suspended twice for violating baseball’s substance abuse policy and a third time means he’ll get the boot. I don’t have a problem with pot use as long as it doesn’t alter work habits or on field performance, and in Jeffress’ case it just might.

Like a lot of the pitchers in Arizona, Jeffress had primarily been a starter during his pro career (unitl this past season) but projects as a bullpen arm. The Royals will almost certainly insert him in the bullpen immediately, in part to free him from the more strict nature of the minor league drug testing policies. If the Royals decide to trade Joakim Soria, Jeffress will be ticketed for high leverage inning (the few that exist in KC) work right off the bat.


Jeffress’ fastball is devastating. He sat at 95-97mph and touched 99 once when I saw him in person in mid October, and then hit 101mph on TV during the Rising Stars game. It’s very straight, almost no tail, but the raw velocity behind it more than compensates.

Sure, the fastball is good but the secondary stuff is lacking. I had read that his curveball was flashy and inconsistent but I didn’t even see a glimpse of a swing and miss breaking ball in any of his outings in Zona. When he did throw it, it was blunt and hittable in the upper 70s. His changeup sits in the mid to high 80s. He can throw it for strikes, but his arm speed is noticeably slower than it is when he throws the heater. The dominant fastball and lack of viable secondary offerings already points to the bullpen.


Throws from a three quarters arm angle and has fairly easy arm action for someone who throws so hard. He does not repeat his delivery well. You can clearly see this in the video below when he drops his arm angle significantly on his final warm up offering. This inability to repeat the same throwing motion leads to control problems and is likely the cause of his curveball’s inconsistency as well as his problems with command.


He strikes out a ton of batters, and has had problems with walks (sounds like a reliever to me). His walk totals dropped significantly last season (from 8 per 9 innings in 2009 to 3 per 9 innings in 2010) but the sample of innings from 2010 is too small (due to the suspension) to say his control issues are solved.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NFL Draft Pospect Scouting Report: Jerrel Jernigan

Jerrel Jernigan

Position: WR

School: Troy

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 190lbs

Offensive trends in the NFL are ever changing. We now see more shotgun formations and multiple WR sets than ever before. As such, teams are finding value in WRs that change direction quickly, run good routes, and get yards after the catch. Guys like this (Wes Welker, Davone Bess) turn a high percentage, short pass into gains of 7-15 yards and some even bust them for big plays. This is the kind of player I was hoping to see when I turned on the New Orleans bowl to watch Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan. The things I read in preparation for scouting Jernigan had me thinking that he might just be evolution’s next logical step in wide receiverdom.

Speed: He’s got plenty. He’s not DeSean Jackson or anything like that, but he’s certainly faster than your average receiver. I timed him at 4.46 from the 40 to the goal line in full pads on a QB Power Right run out of the Wildcat. It’s good to know that his stature doesn’t hinder his speed when he’s fully dressed. Lots of these WRS that run good 40 times at the combine can’t carry pads and a helmet and maintain that speed. Jernigan can.

Route Running: This is a difficult thing to scout from watching TV because often times WRs will run out of frame. From what I DID see, his routes aren’t sharp all the time. He’s been able to rely on his physical gifts to get open thus far. He won’t be able to in the NFL. Route running can always be coached, though, as long as Jernigan is receptive to it. So while he’s raw right now, he has tremendous potential in this area.

Hands: He catches the ball with his hands, which sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, but lots of receivers use their bodies to catch the ball, which lead to drops. I counted two occurrences on Saturday when Jernigan looked to turn upfield before he had the catch well secured.

Other: Not a good blocker. Operates very well with the ball in space a la Donte Stallworth. Didn’t have a chance to see him go up for any jump balls. Jernigan average 15 yards per catch his junior year and only 9 yards per catch during his senior campaign. While this would normally be cause for concern, it’s likely due to the absence of QB Levi Brown who graduated after last season and is now in the NFL. May have trouble with press coverage.

Prediction: 2nd maybe 3rd round. Not enough skills to offset his physical limitations and be a #1 WR but should excel in the slot guy and as a weapon on returns.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Ben Ijalana

Ben Ijalana

Position: Guard/Tackle

School: Villanova

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 320lbs

With college bowl season around the corner, I have a long list of NFL prospects to watch over the holiday break. It’s much different from scouting baseball players and I haven’t published anything like this to this point, but once upon a time I was better at evaluating football players than baseball players.

I’d heard about Ben Ijalana and watched him in person at Lehigh, on TV vs. Richmond and again today against Appalachain State. I feel comfortable enough to publish my thoughts on him and will continue to do so with other draft eligible players over Winter Break. Here are my thoughts on Ijalana

Run blocking: Ijalana certainly has the size to be an effective run blocker. He has long arms to control defensive linemen and plays with good footwork. He pancaked several defenders on crash plays to his right which has to appeal to teams that run cutback runs and nakeds. He kicks out well on sweeps.

Pass blocking: Kick slide isn’t so great, his legs even cross at times. Savvy ends would recognize this and knock him to the ground while he’s off balance or swim inside while he over extends toward the outside. He has a hard time deciding who to block when teams overload his side. When he does lock on to his guy, the play is over, he won’t let him go. He kept ‘Nova QB Whitney clean all game vs. App State.

Other Stuff: I’d like to see if Ijalana is faster in his kick slide at Right Tackle. This is something, at the latest, I’ll know by the combine. He passes the eyeball test as far as physicality goes. That doesn’t always mean anything (see Boothe, Kevin) but he does look the part. There wasn’t an instance where he blocked in space downfield on a screen, something lots of teams would like to see him do. Everything I’ve read on him anticipates a move to guard at the next level, but I’d like to see him at right tackle first. He doesn’t seem quick enough to play LT in the NFL. Keep in mind that, while he looks dominant now, the level of competition he is playing against isn’t on par with other prospects. Some small school guys work out (Jahri Evans) and some don’t (Vlad Ducasse so far).

My Prediction: It’s early and this will change, but I’d say 3rd round with a move inside to left guard.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor (Oakland Athletics)

Age: 24 (25 on December 19th)

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 250lbs

From: Stanford (5th round of 2007 draft)

After Taylor was part of the Roy Halladay trade (and immediately spun to Oakland for Brett Wallace) he went on and had what can only be described as a as a disappointing year at Triple-A. He hit a modest .272 and slugging an atrocious .392 Pacific Coast League which tends to be rather hitter friendly. Taylor was my favorite IronPig to watch (because he had actual, big league talent) in his tenure there and I saw, daily, the talent he possesses. I had a hard time believing it all just disappeared. My brief trip to the AFL allowed me to catch a glimpse of those tools all over again.


Taylor’s never fully tapped into his physical potential. He’s a monster at 6’6”, 250 and you’d expect him to have a ton of raw power. He probably does, but his swing doesn’t allow it. Stanford coaches typically alter incoming high-schooler swings and teach habits that a lot of pro scouts claim need to be untaught, but I’ve read Taylor committed to Stanford on the condition that they didn’t alter his swing. Maybe the Cardinal coaches aren’t to blame (by the way, if Stanford is supposed to be this school for brilliant, hard working minds, shouldn’t they pluralize “Cardinal”? ). So the power is good, but not as good as you’d think it’d be by looking at him.

I’ve seen Taylor spray balls all over the field with authority and hitting .270, while disappointing for him, isn’t terrible. He was making solid contact at the AFL when I saw him.

Taylor has above average speed and good instincts on the basepaths.


Taylor has a fine arm and good range. I fondly remember watching him throw out guys trying for a double from the left field corner of Coca Cola Park. He could play either corner at an above average clip.

Overall, Taylor had a bad year, none of which I got to see in person. It’d be stupid to write him off after one bad year just as it would be stupid to crown a player as elite after one good one (see Bautista, Jose). That said, next season is a crossroads in Taylor’s career. He either becomes a solid regular with the potential to have an All Star season or two, or an upscale reserve outfielder in his mid twenties. I’m unabashedly rooting for him. Let’s check some video!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Eric Longenhagen: One Year Closer to Death

Hello, I’m Eric Longenhagen. As you read the introduction to this post, imagine me, Eric Longenhagen, sitting in an easy chair in a luxurious living room at night with a fire roaring in the background. Hear it crackle. I’m staring very intensely, almost sensually, into your eyes. I’m wearing a long, burgundy, paisley smoking jacket with my legs crossed in the most masculine way possible. A wry, mischevous smile creeps across my face. I have a pipe in my left hand. I place the pipe to my mouth for a drag and bubbles slowly spew from the bowl. I speak:

I am now 22 years old. It’s all gone by rather quickly. If you’re experiencing this memoir, you’ve almost certainly affected my life in some way or are interested enough in me or what I have to say to have clicked your way here. I thank you, and hope I’ve somehow positively altered your life experience and that you enjoy what I’ve done here.

As you may know, I’m not really one to celebrate my birthday at all, let alone in a way that is typical of someone in my generation, by getting dressed up, going out to a club or bar, getting totally shitfaced, doing body shots off of a vagrant and eventually breaking down in tears when my tiara breaks after being thrown from a mechanical bull. Alas, it is not my style. So, instead of creating some narcissistic Facebook group inviting everyone to a party I’ve planned for myself, I’ve done this.

I’m constantly worried about “Future Eric”. I want to make sure I leave his keys in a place he’ll be able to find them, keep his cell phone charged, and lock his car doors and basically make sure he only has to worry about the situation at hand. Last week, however, I thought about “Little Eric”. What would I want a younger version of me to have a heads up on as he got older? You think about it, what would YOU want a younger version of YOU, to know? I’ve decided to write an open letter to 12 year old Eric Longenhagen, currently in 6th grade and probably hiding a boner with his social studies textbook right now. I picked 12 because it was 10 years ago, and that a nice round number. I could have picked 18 or 19, because that Eric was pretty stupid too. Actually, in 5 years, I’ll probably look back and say “When I was 22, I was retarded.”, but as of right now I think I’m the smartest and most well rounded person on the planet.

This letter is honest, has inside jokes, and may touch on subjects that people may find in poor taste or too personal, especially considering the fact that I did not have the consent of those included in the letter. Deal with it. 12 year old Eric needs to know this shit, and if we ever find a way to send email back in time, he’ll be better off for having read it. So without further adieu….

Dear Eric,

Hey, little dude. How are you? Horny and acne ridden? I figured. Listen, I’m you. I’m sending you this letter from the future to better prepare you for the next decade of your life. Don’t believe me? You cried yourself to sleep after Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard short of the goal line in last year’s Super Bowl. See! It’s you, dude! Speaking of the Titans, something sucky happens to Steve McNair in 2009, but we’ll get to that later. Right now, I will systematically give you the breakdown of what to expect in the many aspects of life as you age. I’ll try to cover as much as I can but, as you know, I’ll probably forget some stuff. Here we go.

World Events

It is important for you to know what significant things occur between 2001 and 2011 so you know what to devote your time to.

- Cure for Cancer: Nope, not yet, but you never really worked on that one anyway

- Creation of Anti Matter: Yes! Just a little bit for fractions of a second in a controlled environment in which temperatures are near absolute zero in order to slow things down enough for it to be detected, but still, it totally happens. You can stop worrying about this one.

- Bigfoot Existence Proven: No, sorry. Try looking harder out the window when you drive through the woods.

- Next September something really shitty will happen. Not to you but to everyone in general. Try to be strong for your classmates that have trouble dealing with it. This isn’t one you can diffuse with humor, at least at first. The events that take place that day will alter everyone’s life, but just because they will change things doesn’t mean life will be bad. I hesitate to say exactly what happens, for fear that you will somehow find a way to stop things, I know you’d certainly try. While stopping them sounds good on the surface, this one’s bigger than you and altering history like that could cause the universe to collapse or something.

Also, there isn’t actually a kid in the balloon. It’s a hoax.

Women, Relationships and Sex

Alright Cassanova, let’s talk girls. Don’t be embarrassed, asshole, I’m you. Unless things change this is not likely to be your strong suit but that’s okay. Spending most of your life as a single guy hasn’t turned you into a sexual deviant or anything. So while I don’t have a wealth of knowledge to impart, I do have some.

- Your first kiss will come within the next year. It will take place at the Catty Park, in the ditch behind the men’s bathroom. It will be super hot. I won’t say who it is to its still a surprise!

- The girl you kiss will dump you shortly thereafter, citing a lame joke you tell as her primary reason. The joke? That one about the US spending tons of money to make a pen that will write in anti-gravity and the Russians using a pencil instead. Don’t tell it and maybe you get to second base.

- Laura Stubits will dump Andy Shankweiler and want to go out with you. Don’t do it. Andy is your best friend and you’ll feel like shit years later for doing it. This courtesy will eventually be known as “bros before hoes” and the phrase isn’t in vogue until 2008 or so. Maybe you should start saying it?

- Do NOT watch Miss Congeniality alone. If you do, don’t tell everyone about it later.

- Know ahead of time when the SI Swimsuit Issue comes out. Get home fast on those days. If you’re not the first to get it, it will be thrown out.

- Practice unhooking bras, you’re still not very good at it.

- Despite early projections, you become an “Ass Man”

- High School is relatively desolate because you don’t have enough self confidence to trust that a girl could actually like you because you don’t really like you. They do. Failure to realize this creates a casualty or two. Should be avoided, tell Jill and Devin you’re sorry, douchebag.

- Keep this one in your back pocket for a while because this is important. When you intern for the…well, don’t worry about the name of the team because I’ll have to explain it…just know it’s a sports team. As soon as you see the cute usher girl go talk to her. She’s little and might have a bow in her hair. Bring her a diet coke to get things rolling. You will eventually talk to her anyway but much later than you should have. Every second counts with this one and even if pulling the trigger earlier doesn’t change the way things end (in a fireball of sadness that sends you spiraling into a dark emotional and psychological abyss where you stop shaving for 3 weeks and stop working out for 5) it’s all worth it because this one is very special.

- If you like a girl, ask her out. The pain of rejection may seem horrific to you now, but that’s because you’ve never had any real problems. It’s really not that bad. Just do it, pussy.

- Girls will say they like guys who have a sense of humor. They are lying. They just laugh at stupid shit that good looking guys say. Your current pudginess and overall looks force you to develop something called “a personality” and then late in high school and in college you get hot. It’s awesome.

School and Education

- If you run into Mr. Abraham, check to see if his pupils dialate.

- Keep any girlfriends you might have away from Mr. Dreisbach

- Right now you’re probably frustrated that, while YOU have a well developed grasp on the social structure of a small public middle school, nobody else does and you don’t have anyone to talk about it with. Your classmates are rightfully concerned with their own lives and your teachers are too far removed from middle school to remember what it was like. This isolation continues until the second half of high school when your classmates…actually they’re still justifiably worried exclusively about themselves, but one teacher totally gets it. I won’t spoil who it is because it won’t be who you think it is.

- Don’t go to St. Joseph’s University. The people are great and its nice being near but not really in Philly, but it’s cold and grey, the traffic sucks, crime is bad, and the school’s infrastructure is so poor that even now, in your senior year, scheduling classes is a complete pain in the ass. Go to Pepperdine.

Career Path

- Right now you want to be a marine biologist. That will change when you take your first biology class next year. Sharks are really cool, but not cool enough to deal with that horrific smell. That smell is the same reason you can cross any job associated with the elderly off your potential career list.

- In high school everyone will be required to take a government issued test that assesses the line of work they are most suited for. You skip school on the day it is administered to go to a Phillies game with your friends. That should tell you EXACTLY what line of work you need to be in. (It will snow that day, wear more than your zip up Phillies Hoodie, I was really cold that day)

- Keep a small notebook on you at all times. That stand up comedy pipe dream of yours isn’t likely to come true, because you’ve never been able to sit down and write jokes. Most of the funny things you think of come from reactions to everyday occurrences, so having something to put those ideas down on right away can’t hurt your chances.


- By now you’ve started playing MLB Showdown. Unsurprisingly, you get really good at it. Devote more time to the strategy cards, your failure to do so will leave you just short of a spot in nationals.

- Take an art class in high school

- Start acting sooner

- Within the next year you’ll pick up a guitar for the first time. You get pretty good but don’t work at it enough to reach your full potential.


- You never care


- The Phillies will get competitive soon, but not so soon that you should feel guilty for having a little bit of an affair with the Diamondbacks next year.

- Tiger Woods is not such a great dude

- Remember the name Tom Brady

- You don’t realize now, but Chad Solomon’s dad’s request for you to find out who will eventually replace Scott Rolen at 3rd base leads you to learn about a player named Chase Utley. You relay that info to Mr. Solomon and he nicknames you “GM”. You take it very seriously.

- There’s a college basketball player named Stromile Swift. He sucks. Don’t fall for it.

- Steve McNair is murdered.

- Durant, not Oden

- Horford, not Oden

- Conley, not Oden

- Sam Bowie, not Oden

- Michael Vick is not such a great dude

- We later find out OJ Simpson actually didn’t do it. Just kidding he’s a fucking murderer.

- John Kasay will kick the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. It will suck.


- You and Shankweiler will go to see M Night Shayamalan’s “The Village”, but it will be sold out. You’ll see “Anchorman” instead. Happy accident.

- The Series Finale of The Sopranos will take place during your high school baccalaureate. In order to get out of there sooner so you don’t miss it, you will not perform. This is a mistake.

- You watch the pilot episode of Chappelle’s Show and never look at comedy the same again. Don’t get too attached.

- Best Director of the next 10 years: Christopher Nolan

- Be ready for the first 10 minutes of “Up”

- Don’t let Steve Carrell’s season 1 interpretation of Michael Scott discourage you from watching The Office. He gets much less annoying in season 2.

- The Wire, the greatest TV series of all time, starts in 2002. Find a way to watch it as it airs, instead of in gluttenous DVD sessions later.

Self Care

- Wear your retainer

- Take a second to run your hand across your chest. Feel how smooth and hairless it is? You’ve got two years of that left so enjoy it.

While not comprehensive, this list is a pretty good heads up on lots of things. I completely left out music because you do a pretty good job sorting all that stuff out. I guess whether or not you heed my advice will be reflected upon changes I experience in my current state. Have a happy birthday, little guy.