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June 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Notes from the Field: Margot's Double-A debut and more

READING, Pa. - I had the chance to watch the Portland Sea Dogs in action for the first time in 2015, and it just happened to be Manuel Margot's Double-A debut. Here are my scouting/journalistic observations from what I saw.

- Monday was the Double-A debut for SoxProspects.com's fifth-ranked prospect, 20-year old Manuel Margot. Margot had been scorching to start the season in Salem, batting .362/.391/.586 in his first 15 games. He scuffled after that however, and eventually landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Since coming off the DL on May 30, Margot hit .298/.322/.452 in his final 87 plate appearances with Salem.

Margot impressed with his bat and his glove in this particular game. At the plate, he went 1 for 4 with a single. His single came in his first at-bat, dumping a soft blooper into right field. The pitch he hit was a 2-1 fastball on the outer half of the plate. Reading's starter was throwing 93-95 mph (all pitch speeds come from the stadium radar gun) all night. He showed great bat speed all night, proving he can catch up to the heat. In his second at-bat, Margot flied out to right field on the first pitch he saw, a fastball again. The swing looked nice and balanced, as he got the barrel to the ball. However, he got under it just a little bit, resulting in the routine fly ball.

His third at-bat was the most impressive. Facing former Red Sox minor leaguer Nefi Ogando, who sat at 97-98 mph with his fastball all night, Margot took a fastball for strike one. He then was able to hold off a swing on a sharp breaking ball in the dirt. On the 1-1 pitch, he took another tough pitch, a 97 mph fastball low and just off the plate. The 2-1 pitch was a fastball at 97 mph, and Margot ripped a solid line drive, but right at the second baseman for an out. He grounded out to second in his final at-bat, swinging at an 0-2 fastball on the outer half of the plate for a groundout to second. Overall, he showed good discipline for a hitter typically viewed as being aggressive, as he did not chase any bad pitches and was able to catch up to fastballs that reached 97 mph.

Margot made some terrific plays in center field as well. His jumps and routes were great all night. His paths to the ball were smooth and without hesitation or bad angles. He made a great running grab in the right-center field gap on a sinking line drive. He also made a nice catch on a sinking line drive that was straight in. A line drive directly at a center fielder is considered the toughest ball for an outfielder to make a play on, and Margot made it with ease, catching the ball on the run with two hands about belt high. He almost made a highlight reel play against the wall in right-center. He took a great route to the high fly ball, had the ball in his glove on the track, but failed to make the catch when he ball popped out as he hit the wall.

- Heri Quevedo got the start for Portland and showed flashes of a guy who could make an impact. His fastball sat around 92-94 mph and touched 95 on a couple pitches. He was a little inconsistent with his fastball command, with a major theme being that he missed down in the zone a lot with it. He seemed to be around 92 with his fastball early in counts, but again, missed around the ankles on multiple occasions. I counted at least 11 times where he missed down and well-below the knees with his fastball. He fell behind a lot, throwing a first-pitch strike to just eight of the 22 batters he faced. Later in the count, he was able to bump up his velocity to 94 and 95, using that to try and generate swings and misses. One of his three strikeouts came on a 94 mph fastball to a right-handed batter for a swinging strikeout.

Quevedo's slider was his most impressive pitch that I saw on this night. He used it against batters from both sides, but more to left-handed hitters. By my count, he produced eight swing-and-misses, with four of them coming on a slider to a lefty, two of those resulting in strikeouts. He used his slider later in the count to try and get swing-and-misses, but he also used it as a get-me-over pitch early in the count. He threw a first-pitch slider to a left-hander a couple times, once for a called strike and once for a ball that barely missed. He also threw it on 1-1 to a lefty for a called strike. In one at-bat facing a right-handed hitter, he threw a first-pitch slider for a ball, but came right back with another for a called strike. I thought the use of his slider was very effective in this start.

Quevedo's changeup flashed potential but was fairly inconsistent. He generated a couple swing-and-misses with it to righties, and for the most part, did not use it that much against lefties, although he threw two to Phillies top prospect J.P. Crawford. Both were good pitches, as one produced a weak groundball to the shortstop on which Crawford was out in front, and the other was low and may have been off the plate away, but Crawford was able to hook it into right for a single. The changeup sat around 86-88 mph, which seemed too fast for a guy who throws 92-94 with his fastball. Overall, he went 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs. He was solid in the first four innings, but in the fifth he seemed to run out of gas and left everything up in the zone and in the middle of the plate. He allowed three hits, including two doubles in the fifth inning, all of which were hit hard.

- Left-handed pitcher Robby Scott threw two very impressive innings in relief. He allowed no hits and one walk while lowering his ERA with Portland to 1.78 in 18 games. He sat around 86-88 mph with his fastball and 72-75 mph with his breaking ball. Scott used two distinctly different arm angles in this game, one being straight over the top and one in which he dropped down and threw sidearm. From the side, his breaking ball was more of a slider, and when he went over-the-top, it was more of a curveball. Scott was around the zone, throwing 17 of his 22 pitches for strikes. Nine of his 22 pitches were from his sidearm angle and 13 were over the top. He faced two righties and threw four pitches to them, all of which were over the top. He dropped down to the side more against lefties, throwing four sidearm fastballs and five sidearm sliders to lefties. Both of his strikeouts came on a sidearm slider to a lefty that broke down and away. The contact produced off Scott consisted of weak pop-ups and ground balls.

- Simon Mercedes also showed off his electric arm. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-handed pitcher went 1 2/3 innings, struck out two, and surrendered an unearned run. He struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches, getting ahead with two 94 mph fastballs and catching the left-handed batter looking with a nasty slider. His other strikeout also came on a slider, this time to a right-handed batter swinging. The only poor pitch he threw was an 0-2 slider to a left-handed hitter that caught way too much of the plate and was driven on a line for a single. He was let down by left fielder Keury De La Cruz, who missed a fly ball that led to the unearned run. Mercedes topped out at 98 mph, but sat around 94 most of the night. His slider was consistently around 84 mph. He also threw a couple changeups that registered at 89 and 90 mph. 

- Marco Hernandez, a 22-year old shortstop acquired as the player to be named later in the Felix Doubront deal, continued his impressive season with Portland. After the game against Reading, Hernandez raised his batting line to .309/.337/.459 in 203 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter singled on a hard groundball to left field to open up the game. His approach in this at-bat was very good, as he fouled off a couple tough pitches with two strikes before poking a 92 mph fastball through the hole. In his next at bat, he struck out and chased a bad pitch in the dirt on an 0-2 count. Hernandez utilized his speed in his third at-bat, as he laid down a beautiful bunt down the third base line for a single. The bunt was fielded cleanly by the third baseman, but he was unable to make a throw because the bunt was placed so well and Hernandez was already to first. He also walked on five pitches after running the count to 3-0 later in the game. At shortstop, Hernandez was fairly busy, making four assists and one putout. On one play, there was a slowly hit groundball to his right that Hernandez rounded perfectly as he charged in, throwing a strike to first on the run. He also had a 6-3 double play and had a hand in a 6-4-3 double play in which he showed good hands, getting the ball out of his glove and to the second baseman quickly and smoothly.

- Third baseman Oscar Tejeda showed that he has some talent, but had a rough night until the top of the ninth. Tejeda has some speed, but needs to show a more plate discipline in order to use that speed better. He had a couple good takes in his first at bat, taking a 1-2 changeup that missed down and a 2-2 fastball just off the black. He ended up flying out to right. He then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play in his second at-bat and was jammed on a 97 mph fastball that resulted in another groundball to second. In his final at-bat, he stepped up with runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth with the Sea Dogs down by three. On the first pitch, he chased a bad slider in the dirt for strike one. However, he got another slider, but this time it hung over the middle of the plate and Tejeda roped it up the middle for a two-run single. He is now batting .268/.301/.371 with 10 walks and 44 strikeouts this season.

Photo Credit: Manuel Margot by Kelly O'Connor