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SoxProspects News

August 24, 2011 at 12:26 PM

The Ladder: 8.24.11

Author’s note: Today’s installment of the series features contributions from SoxProspects.com Northeast Scout Ian Cundall, who penned the section on Matt Marquis. I want to thank Ian for all of his hard work this season and for helping further expand the coverage of the Scouting Department.

OF Matt Marquis

The Line: Lowell- 14 Games .409/.526/.636

The View: Originally drafted in the 28th round of the 2008 draft out of high school by the Red Sox, Marquis turned down professional baseball to attend Vanderbilt University. After his freshmen season, Marquis transferred to the University of Maryland where he played two seasons before getting redrafted by the Red Sox in the 41st round this season. Only getting 29 at-bats in college this season due to injury, no one knew what to expect out of Marquis after he signed on August 4. Following a brief stint in Gulf Coast League, Marquis moved up to Lowell and has provided a much-needed bat in the Lowell lineup, which has been decimated by promotions and injuries.

When seeing Marquis, the first name that came to mind was Alex Hassan, albeit four inches shorter. No tools stand out, but on the other hand, there are no glaring weaknesses in his game. Marquis has put together a solid debut with the Spinners, demonstrating strong plate discipline and some pop at the plate. He has an athletic frame, but since he is only average sized, there isn’t much projection in his body. If he were to fill out much more, it would inhibit his speed and mobility in the outfield, decreasing his value. At the plate, Marquis hits from a crouched stance. He starts with his hands low, before raising them as the pitch approaches. He looks comfortable in the batter’s box and thus far has demonstrated above-average pitch recognition and plate discipline. One thing that jumps out is he can get over selective at times, taking pitches he could drive in hitter’s counts. While this might have to do with the inconsistency of pitching in short-season ball, as he progresses he will see fewer fastballs to hit, so it will only become more important that he attacks the ones he gets. Possessing a swing with a slight uppercut, Marquis does a good job shifting his weight forward, driving with his lower half to generate power. At times, however, his swing can get a little long, causing him to come around the baseball and get jammed on inside pitches. In the outfield, Marquis has average speed, a plus arm and the potential to be a solid-average to plus defensive outfielder. With the season winding down, Marquis should continue to get consistent playing time, and be one of the standout hitters for the Spinners. After missing most of the college season, Marquis needs these at-bats to develop a consistent hitting approach and to get acclimated to the daily grind of playing every day in order to prepare him to push for a starting outfield position in Greenville next season.

RHP Stolmy Pimentel

The Line:
Portland- 15 starts, 50.1 innings, 75 hits, 30 strikeouts, 23 walks
Salem- 8 starts, 33.1 innings, 31 hits, 21 strikeouts, 12 walks

The View: 2011 has been a tough year for Pimentel and a season where he has not been able to get much consistency going from start to start. Breaking camp with Portland, his struggles began out of the gate and snowballed to the point where the organization was forced to send him back down to High-A in an effort to get him back on track. The command of his arsenal has been off this season, especially in regards to the fastball. Much of his struggles can be tied into the below-average command he has displayed with the heater. Pimentel has not established it early in sequences. Despite sitting 92-93 MPH and touching up to 95 MPH, he often misses wide of the strike zone or grabs too much of the plate elevated in the zone when he does throw it for a strike. Opposing hitters, especially during his time in Double-A, have jumped all over the pitch to create a lot of hard contact.

Pimentel’s inability to spot his fastball has greatly reduced the effectiveness of his plus 78-82 MPH changeup. When he gets ahead in the count, this is the offering he heavily leans on to either create swings and misses or get batters to weakly put the ball in play. He has not missed enough bats this season because hitters typically have not had a reason to swing at anything besides his fastball. Pimentel’s changeup shows excellent separation from his fastball and there is little variation in his arm speed when throwing it. The pitch should be a valuable asset for him against advanced hitters if he can make strides with his fastball command.

The times I have seen him this season the main driver behind his lack of command has been inconsistencies with his delivery. Pimentel varies with his release point, which causes the ball to come out of his hand in different spots. This issue especially affects his fastball and mid-70s curveball. Ideally throwing from a high ¾ slot, he has not been able to lock into this spot when delivering these two offerings and drops down with frequency. With his heater, coming under the ball causes it to sail on him and also considerably flatten out, losing the downward finish it can show. He ends up wrapping his wrist when trying to throw his curveball and the pitch rolls to the plate with loopy break. Pimentel is still just 21 years of age and learning to execute his mechanics, but he repeats his mistakes often. Once he can make strong progress in this area, I feel the consistent results will follow. However, there is a lot of work to go and despite having the raw stuff to project as a third starter down the line, a lack of strides over the course of the next year could push Pimentel towards a bullpen role.

Trending Up

Salem left-handed starter Chris Hernandez has found his groove during the last two months of the season. In his 60.2 innings since the All-Star break, Hernandez has given up 48 hits and only 2 home runs. The former University of Miami standout works to change speeds on hitters, cutting his mid-80s fastball and moving the ball around both sides of the plate. Hernandez’s stuff looks best suited as a lefty reliever out of the bullpen, but his time in High-A this season has proven he deserves a shot to continue starting at the next level…On the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, PawSox righty Junichi Tazawa has seen his stuff make strides in returning to the level of crispness he displayed prior to the injury. Most notably his fastball velocity has ticked up. Sitting in the mid-80s while rehabbing with Salem, he has seen that jump to 88-91 MPH as of late. Tazawa also has shown a much better feel of his curveball and the trust to snap it off hard into the dirt. All good signs that his arm strength is ramping up and that his progression is going well. It should be interesting to see where he slots next season, with the feel here that he ends up a full-time reliever at the major league level…Recently back in action after having surgery to remove his appendix, Portland first baseman Reynaldo Rodriquez looks to be getting his timing back. The 25-year-old has shown solid power since his promotion to Double-A, but also needs some work handling advanced breaking balls. Rodriguez quickly brings the head of the bat through the strike zone, while creating strong lift with his swing. He tends to over-commit against secondary offerings though. Next season should be a good view as to whether he can learn to keep his weight back consistently and continue pushing himself up the ranks of the Red Sox system.

Trending Down

Salem’s left-handed starter Drake Britton has been unable to get himself on track this season. Plagued by inconsistencies with his command and control in High-A, opposing batters have hit Britton extremely hard. Possessing excellent stuff, highlighted by a 92-94 MPH fastball, the tools are there for him to consistently get hitters out, but he has not gotten ahead of enough batters this season. Britton’s curveball also has not been as sharp in the past leading him to throw a large percentage of fastballs in outings. He also rarely throws his changeup, which is a below-average offering and needs considerable sharpening. Britton has the potential to make rapid gains in 2012 if his command can improve and the learning experienced is applied…PawSox lefty Felix Doubront has had a tough time getting his footing on the ground this season. Things started poorly for Doubront when he came into Spring Training in less than ideal shape and went down early in camp with a strained arm. After starting his season late, he has also dealt with nagging groin injuries during his time in Triple-A and overall has been inconsistent on the mound. Out of options next season, it is important for Doubront to come into 2012 ready to win a job on the major league team. His low-90s fastball is nicely complimented by his plus low-80s changeup, while his 75-78 MPH curveball made excellent strides last year in Double-A. He is an arm that can help the big league team, but he also must prove that this year was just a bump in the road and not a re-occurring theme…After putting up an impressive first half in Greenville, 20-year-old first baseman Miles Head has found the step up in High-A pitching to be a challenge. Head has plus power potential, but his hit tool needs some refinement to square more offerings up. Carolina League pitchers have spotted the ball more consistently against him and the next step is to learn how to hit more than mistake pitches. Head has put in a lot of work trying to develop his approach since signing with the organization and honing his batting eye. This aspect of his game has been making steady improvements. The challenge will be to incorporate his hands into his swing more and use them to stay inside the baseball.