Saturday, April 16, 2011

MLB Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Matt Barnes

Team: UConn Huskies

Position: Right Handed Pitcher

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 203lbs

One of the more talked about arms in the upcoming MLB Draft, Matt Barnes has a chance to be one of the first 10 players selected in early June. Barnes is the first amateur player I’ve ever scouted and it is very different to watch college baseball than it is to watch pro, because the players mostly suck, even at the Division 1 level.

Fastball- Barnes throws hard. His 4-seam fastball sits between 92-94mph touching 96 here and there. He also has a 2-seamer that comes in between 89-91mph with noticeable arm-side run. He seemed to like to use that to back-door right handed hitters. He maintains this velocity throughout the game thanks to his lanky, 6’4” frame. While the raw velocity is there the command is not. Barnes was pitching from behind in the count almost incessantly on Friday, as he was unable to throw strike 1. He also refused to challenge hitters inside with the heater, a product of two variables. First, UConn coaches call the pitches, not the battery, so Barnes was at the mercy of the coaches. Second, college pitchers are averse to pitching inside because aluminum bats tend to do more damage with those than wood ones do.

Curveball- A dirty upper 70s curve with 11-7 break, it is Barnes’ best pitch and he knows how to use it. Whether burying it in 2-strike counts, running it away from righties to gets swings and misses, back-dooring it to lefties or even throwing it early in counts to get ahead, Barnes seemed very comfortable using it.

Slider/Cutter- Yuck. In the low 80s, Barnes’ Slitter (hmm…not sure if I like that) is not good. It was so bad that I had trouble recognizing what the hell it was. If you want to pitch at the top of a big league rotation, you need at least 3 viable pitches. The way Barnes develops this (or a changeup, as I’d prefer) is of paramount importance to his future.

Mechanics- Barnes does not repeat his delivery well. I noticed several times his front foot landing in different places in different directions. These inconsistencies are the likely cause of his control issues. Barnes is only 20 and it’s possible he hasn’t fully grown into his 6’4” frame to a point where he has acute control of his extremities. It’s also possible his legs are just weak, tire easily and his delivery gets sloppy as a result. Video and reports on Barnes tend to note he misses up. More often for the start I saw, he was missing away. The arm action is not violent enough to be concerned about, nor is it effortless enough to fawn over.

Whatever team drafts Barnes will have some work to do, but his combination of velocity, pro-ready curveball, size to handle starter workload and bit of projectability won’t let him drop past Milwaukee at #15 overall.

MLB Prospect Scouting Report: Melky Mesa

Team: New York Yankees

Position: Outfield

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 185lbs

From: Dominican Republic (signed in 2003)

Mesa is toolsy, but old. He’s already 24 years old and is only in AA. Let me rephrase that. He’s LISTED at 24 years old. Sometimes these guys from the DR shave a few years off of their real age to get a more lucrative initial deal. Keep those two things in mind as you read.

Offense: The first thing you’ll notice when watching the right handed Mesa hit is his batting stance. It is a straight up theft of Alfonso Soriano’s stance, and Mesa has a similar offensive skill set. Listed at 165lbs just a year ago, Mesa has good power for his still slight frame. He’s hit 50 extra base hits each of the last 2 years (20 Hrs, 20 doubles, 10 triples). He’d have more of them if he hit the ball more often. Mesa’s eye-hand coordination is not good and he struggles mightily to make contact. He had more strikeouts than hits each of the last two years. He’ll never hit for a high average or get on base more than 33% of the time, just because he swings and misses too often, even when pitches are hittable. Mesa has plus speed.

Defense: A fine defender thanks to his speed and above average arm, Mesa can play any of the three outfield positions and play them well.

Overall, Mesa has enough useful tools that he’ll be a useful MLB bench player (think an extremely poor man’s Chris Young) providing late game defensive upgrade and pinch running value.

MLB Prospect Scouting Report: Austin Romine

Team: New York Yankees

Position: Catcher

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 190lbs

From: El Toro High School in Lake Forest, California (and round of 200 draft)

Romine is stuck in a strange limbo in the Yankees system. Behind Jesus Montero in terms of development (and potential) and has the much more talented (but very young/raw) Gary Sanchez breathing down his neck from Single-A. Romine will more than likely become a piece of a trade package for a starting pitcher before mid-July.

Offense: Romine has plus raw power that you won’t see by looking at his numbers because Trenton (AA) is such a difficult environment in which to hit. His swing mechanics are complicated, especially from the waist down, which throw off his timing here and there, which could make him prone to lengthy slumps. He won’t hit for a high average as a result. His plate discipline is lacking. He has below average speed.

Defense: Fan opinion seems to be that Romine is good defensively, likely because he and Montero (who couldn’t catch a cold, or syphilis in a Vietnamese whore house) are always compared to one another. I can say for sure (I’ve now seen Romine at least 5 separate times) that he is not. His receiving skills are poor and his game calling skills are about average. On the other hand, his arm is very strong, though it can be inaccurate at times and his transfer is slow. Romine could probably play left field, but his bat isn’t good enough to profile out there.

Good catchers are hard to come by. Romine will likely be an average everyday catcher for a handful of years before becoming a backup with some pop (think John Buck). All this will likely take place with an organization other than the Yankees.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Insert Suidae Pun Here: A quick Lehigh Valley IronPigs Preview

Insert Suidae Pun Here

The 2011 IronPigs season is upon us and it’s highly likely for the organization to experience the same sort of success it’s enjoyed over the first few years of its existence (I’m talking about financial success, not success on the field). Aside from the incessant pig-monikered products and events, there has been little to complain about at Coca-Cola Park except for the product on the field. Will that change this year? Let’s have a brief look at the IronPigs opening rosters….


Vance Worley- One of the few Pigs who might provide the Phillies with mentionable value during his career, Worley was a 3rd round pick in 2008 out of Long Beach State. His fastball has MLB average velocity (88-90mph, touching as high as 93 here and there) with a bit of armside run. He also throws a low 80s slider which grades out as average, a low-mid 70s curveball which shows flashes of viability but is inconsistent, and a below average changeup (79-83mph) on which he often noticeably slows his arm speed. He’s got #5 starter upside if he can refine his secondary stuff, especially the changeup to get lefties out. At 23 years of age, he doesn’t have much projection left. He’s much more likely to contribute long term in a middle relief role, where a lighter work load might allow him let loose and see a jump in his fastball velocity.

Drew Carpenter- Carpenter has anchored the LV rotation for the past couple years but his stuff just isn’t good enough to play in the big leagues. He’s moved to the bullpen in hopes of carving out some sort of role for himself in the majors. In doing so, he has scrapped his curveball and changeup and will pitch exclusively with his fastball, splitter and slider out of the bullpen. The splitter will likely be a tertiary pitch for Carp, used primarily against lefties. It’ll be interesting to see if Carpenter’s stuff plays up out of the ‘pen. He has Chad Durbin-type upside if his slider improves.

Scott Mathieson- Mathieson has been in pro baseball for 9 seasons. He is now 27. Despite this, he remains a favorite of the organization and is the oldest guy to retain the “prospect” label I can ever remember. The reasons for this are well known; Mathieson had two Tommy John surgeries and an ulnar nerve relocation over a three year span. When pitchers come back from TJ, the first thing to come back is the velocity and Mathieson has that, sitting from 94-96 with his fastball and touching 99. Other aspects of pitching, like season long stamina, take a little longer to return. Mathieson’s velocity was down in the low 90s late in the year, which is a big reason why he was kicked around in his brief MLB stint. He should be ready for a full season’s workload this year. His secondary stuff is average and that should improve this year as continues to come back from injury. I like him to eventually ascend to a high leverage spot in the Phillies bullpen by the end of the year.

Mike Zagurski/Mike Stutes/Michael Schwimmer- Terrific AAA relievers. May get call ups here and there for depth/injury. Have some upside because they’re a little younger than….

Brian Bass, Eddie Bonine, Nate Bump, Jason Grilli, Juan Perez, Dan Meyer- Organizational players.


Dane Sardinha- Sardinha was on the 40 man last year but isn’t as this is being written. The Phils have only 2 catchers on the 40 man roster right now and I’d expect Sardinha to be the first guy called upon should either Chooch or Brian Schneider get injured. He’s a fine defensive catcher but can’t hit.

Erik Kratz- Kratz had a brief major league stint with the Pirates last year and is likely to bounce around the minors with injury induced MLB time here and there.


Delwyn Young/Josh Barfield/Ronnie Beliard/Kevin Frandsen/Jeff Larish- The Phillies are hoping one of these guys can have some sort of renaissance and soften what looks to be a serious, season long blow at second base. Young and Barfield can also play the outfield.


Brandon Moss- Moss was part of the 3 way trade that sent Manny Ramirez from Boston to LA a few years ago. At the time he was thought to be a decent prospect who would likely become an average major leaguer. It hasn’t happened.

Rich Thompson- One of the nicest dudes on the planet, Thompson will lead the International League in autographs signed again this year.

Cory Sullivan- A local guy (Wexford, PA) with some speed.

Overall the IronPig roster is underwhelming. I think they’ll do well in the standings but other than Mathieson and, to an extent, Worley, will be boring to watch. Triple-A has become a group of emergency replacement level players with little ceiling. Many top prospects will skip Triple-A altogether nowadays.