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September 29, 2012 at 7:21 PM

Scouting Scratch: Notes from The Fort

Northeast Scout Ian Cundall takes our first look at two new pitchers in the system and follows up on one position player he scouted during the season.

-Having never seen Simon Mercedes pitch before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Mercedes is a big man, listed at 6-foot-4 200 pounds, with the weight listing pretty generous. He is well built and I don’t see much physical projection with the body. His delivery was a little stiff and his mechanics need work, as he doesn’t utilize his size to his advantage as much as he could. He throws straight over the top and has a loose arm, clocking 91-94 mph with his fastball. The pitch doesn’t have much movement and the command is presently fringe-average, but in the future with cleaned up mechanics, he could add velocity. Mercedes’ low-80s curveball is a true 12-6 offering, showing tight spin and depth when he got on top of the ball. He has the tendency, however, to release the pitch too late resulting in it ending up in the dirt. The 85-87 mph changeup is also inconsistent, as times looking more like a fastball he took something off of. The pitch did show drop on occasion, with the makings of a swing and miss offering.

-One of three Florida pitchers drafted by the Red Sox this year, right-hander Austin Maddox was the only one I hadn’t seen during the regular season. A closer in college, Maddox started the game, where he labored through two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. Maddox has already filled out his 6-foot-3 frame and has a strong lower body. He throws close to over the top and his delivery has some effort in it. Maddox used three pitches in the outing and had trouble commanding all of them, especially his fastball. Maddox consistently sat 90-92 mph with his fastball, although past reports have had his fastball touching 95 mph. When he finished his delivery and got on top of the ball, he was able to bury the pitch down in the zone showing solid sink. Most of the time, however, he left the ball up in the zone where hitters had little trouble squaring it up. Maddox also threw a low-80s slider that showed bite on occasion, but at lower velocities tended to roll to the plate and became slurvy. Maddox will work as a starter to continue to hone his arsenal, with the focus to tighten up both his command and secondary stuff, but long-term looks best suited for a bullpen role.

-After suffering through an up and down season with Lowell, Deven Marrero looks much more comfortable both at the plate and in the field. His swing looks more fluid and he is doing a much better job recognizing off speed pitches. In game action during this scouting look, he put the best swing on a ball I’ve seen all year, driving a fastball up in the zone with backspin to deep centerfield for a triple. At times during the regular season his swing got a little long resulting in him coming around the ball, where as now his swing is compact, and short through the ball. Defensively, he looks much more confident, showing the makings of a plus to better defender with above-average arm. His actions were smooth, and he showed off his athleticism, at one point, ranging deep into the hole to field a ground ball and used his strong arm to make the long throw to get the runner. Carrying over these adjustments will be key for Marrero next year, as he looks set for a full season assignment in either Greenville or Salem.

Each year since coming down to Instructs, I've typically gotten a chance to get a first look at some of the new, rising prospects within the system.  In the last handful of days, I've been able to lay the eyes on outfielder Manuel Margot, whose tools have impressed me.  Here's my first look at a player I see gaining traction over the course of the off-season and into next season when he comes stateside.

There is a lot to like about Margot's overall package; tools and fast twitch athleticism. Offensively, he shows very quick hands and is smooth with his load.  During batting practice sessions, I have seen the separation with his hands during his stride that leaves him balanced and in position to generate plus bat speed.  It has also carried over into game action.  Margot has some leverage and upward plane in his swing, allowing him to create backspin when he squares up the ball.  He is presently a line drive hitter and the drives lack some carry, but I see him being able to grow into about average power.  Margot is a lean body, with room on his frame to pack on more muscle.  I feel the power can develop into about a 15 home run a year projection as he matures into his mid-twenties.  Given his medium sized frame, the growth shouldn't cut too much into his speed, which presently grades as plus-to-better.

Margot is also already smooth tracking flyball out in center field.  He has looked like a natural at the position, with a strong chance to stick.  The routes are crisp and he sees the ball off the bat well.  I haven't gotten a chance to see him unleash a throw yet though so that's something to evaluate in a future scouting look.  The defense can round into above-average, and with the hitting skills, he has the ability to develop into a regular at the major league level.  There will be some growing pains for Margot when he begins to face better breaking balls, but he has shown an approach that is willing to take pitches and work through counts.  He also needs to learn to hit inside the ball better to drive offerings to the opposite field instead of carve them off.  There's plenty of work to go for the just turned 18-year-old, with the development potentially leading to a top-of-the-order first division center fielder.

Photo Credits: Simon Mercedes by SoxProspects staff; Deven Marrero by Dave Letizi

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com.  Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen