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March 19, 2015 at 7:41 PM

Scouting Scratch: Notes from the backfields

- Through two days of game action, the standout performer at the plate has been infielder Michael Chavis. Chavis has made hard contact in almost every at-bat, including a home run, double, and triple on Wednesday along with two singles and another hard-hit line drive for an out on Thursday. Chavis doesn’t have a prototypical third baseman physical profile, listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. He has a physically mature body for his age, with a strong lower half, core, and upper body and limited physical projection remaining. At the plate, Chavis hits from a slightly open stance with some pre-pitch movement before eventually settling into a solid hitting position. Chavis has a very advanced bat for a high school draftee with plus bat speed, quick hands at the plate, and excellent bat control. The ball really jumps off his bat and he has shown the ability to barrel it up with backspin. What has stood out the most, however, is his ability to hit to all fields with power. Out of his five hits, four of them went the other way to right field with the home run the only hit he pulled. He doesn’t try to do too much, rather taking what the pitcher gives him. The 19-year-old demonstrated this on Wednesday by staying back and driving outside fastballs to right field on his double and triple then kept his weight back to clear out a changeup down and in for a home run to left field. Chavis’ advanced bat and demeanor at the plate are more than ready to handle an initial assignment to full-season ball, where he should serve as one of the key cogs in the Greenville lineup.

- Though Yoan Aybar has yet to appear in a game, based upon how he has looked in morning defensive workouts and batting practice, it is easy to understand why he is considered one of the more exciting prospects in the low minors. Still only 17 years old, Aybar has a tall, projectable frame, but a very young face. He is very lanky at present, with plenty of room to fill out without losing any of his present athleticism as he physically matures. Aybar’s length stands out in the outfield where he covers ground very quickly with long strides. During outfield drills, he got good reads and showed a quick first step. However, he did have some trouble with the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand when charging in on balls. At the plate, Aybar hits from a slightly open stance with wide base. He keeps his hands high and uses a toe tap timing device. In live batting practice, he had some trouble recognizing off-speed pitches, but with someone his age that is to be expected. Aybar has quick hands and utilizes his whole body in his swing. During batting practice, he showed the ability to square a ball up with backspin, but due to his lack of strength over-the-fence power could take some time to develop. Aybar is a long way from being a finished product, but the raw tools are impressive. If his development goes as planned, he is someone that could work his way up towards the upper echelon of prospects in the system.

Quick hits:
- Jamie Callahan has filled out considerably since he joined the organization, especially in his lower half. He has also cleaned up his delivery, but he still throws directly over the top with a long arm action and a slight pause at the height of his delivery. He sat 91-93 mph, topping out at 95 mph in his first inning of work. However, he lost some velocity as he worked deeper into his outing and struggled to control the pitch. When he didn’t finish his delivery, he left pitches up in the zone where it was on the straight side and very hittable. He also mixed in a 74-76 mph 12-6 curveball and mid-to-high 80s changeup. The curveball showed the most potential as he spun off a couple solid-average ones.

- 2014 27th-round pick Taylor Nunez struggled with his command and control, but his raw stuff was intriguing in a bullpen role. Nunez has a solid pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds with some room to fill out. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with a stab when he brings the ball behind his body. He has a live arm, his fastball sitting 92-94 mph with late movement. He struggled with his command of the pitch especially when trying to locate it to the glove side. Nunez also showed an 11-5 curveball at 80 mph with some depth through the zone when he snapped it off.

- Edwar Garcia has a tall, lanky frame with some physical projection remaining. He sat in the low 90s Wednesday, mixing in a 76-77 sweepy 11-5 curveball and an 86 mph changeup that was on the firm side. There are some issues with his delivery, as it is arm-heavy, not effectively incorporating his lower half. He was also landing hard and off balance and wasn’t keeping his line to the plate. The result was his command and control suffered.

Photo credit: Michael Chavis and Jamie Callahan by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.

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