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April 1, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Scouting Scratch: Young Arms

- 2014 ninth-round pick Kevin Steen is a great athlete with a projectable frame, but pitching-wise, the right-hander is on the raw side at present. Steen has a thin, lanky, athletic frame. He has a loose arm and low-effort, repeatable delivery. He throws over the top with a slight stab behind, and during an outing in an intrasquad game, had some trouble finishing his delivery and keeping his fastball down. His fastball primarily worked 86-88 mph, and he topped out at 90 mph once. The pitch was heavy with some natural cut late, but his control with the pitch was inconsistent. Steen’s top secondary offering is his curveball, which showed bat-missing potential during the outing and flashed plus potential. He has strong feel for the pitch and showed the confidence to throw it for a strike and to bury it down and out of the zone, recording two strikeouts with it. The pitch came in at 72-74 mph, with sharp 12-to-6 break and solid depth through the zone. Steen will take some time to develop and has a long way to go physically, but already having the ability to spin a breaking ball is a good sign for someone on his developmental path.

- One of the pleasant surprises of camp for us was 2014 12th-round pick Jalen Beeks, who showed some potential as a future bullpen arm. Beeks throws from a high three-quarters arm slot from the left side and has a small, but filled-out frame, listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds. His delivery is stiff, with a lot of effort and moving parts. He starts on the first-base side of the rubber, has a high leg kick, then turns his back to the batter and pauses as he rocks back before coming forward. He also has an arm hook behind and lands pretty stiff on his front side. The funk in his delivery and past arm issues limits him likely to a bullpen role, but Beeks has a live arm and some deception in his delivery that makes him a potentially intriguing option in that role. Beeks sat 92-94 mph with his fastball, topping out at 95 mph. The pitch had some life on it and showed that it could miss bats. He also threw what looked to be a two-seam fastball at 87-89 mph that showed late, arm-side run in on left-handed batters. He only threw a handful of secondary pitches, showing a changeup and a loose slider. At the Fall Instructional League at least, he showed feel for both offerings, but neither projected as a future plus offering. A left-handed pitcher with plus-to-better velocity is a very interesting player. Beeks could be one to watch this year as a potential sleeper from last year’s draft class.

- Right-handed pitcher Daniel Gonzalez is a great example of why DSL statistics should be taken with a large grain of salt. Each of the last two years, he excelled at that level, putting up a 0.97 ERA and 0.58 WHIP in 2013 and 2.25 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 2014, so on paper, he looks like an intriguing prospect. But on the field, it was a different story. Gonzalez has a large frame, listed 6-foot-5, 210 pounds. He stands out in a crowd when on the field with other 17-20-year-olds, and looks even heavier than listed. He has a mature build with limited physical projection, and conditioning is something that will have to be monitored with him as he ages. Unfortunately, his raw stuff does not match that of what you would expect with someone his size. His fastball worked at 83-85 mph, topping out a tick higher on occasion, and the pitch lacked life. Gonzalez falls off hard in his delivery, with poor balance and posture and an arm hook behind. He also lacks arm speed. He did show a little feel for a curveball, but the pitch came in in the high-60s, a slow, long, loopy breaking ball.

- Luis Ramos is a slightly undersized left-handed pitcher with a sturdy, developed lower half. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot and has limited physical projection remaining. He has a jerky delivery and long stride, creating some deception, and the ball seemed to jump on hitters as a result. His arsenal, however, is on the pedestrian side. Ramos showed four pitches during this outing, a fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider. His fastball sat 87-88 mph topping out at 89 mph with fringe-average life. He has good feel for his changeup, which showed the most potential of his secondary pitches. He throws the pitch with similar arm speed to his fastball, and it showed late fade in the high-70s. Ramos also mixed in a 74-76 mph curveball that is more of spinner at this point and lacked tight rotation. He also showed a slider at 80 mph with short, vertical break.

Photo credit: Kevin Steen and Daniel Gonzalez by Kelly O'Connor

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