SoxProspects News

October 12, 2015 at 7:30 AM

Scouting Scratch: Luis Ysla, Victor Diaz and Gerson Bautista


Recently, SoxProspects Director of Scouting Ian Cundall and Assistant Director of Scouting Chaz Fiorino traveled to the Fall Instructional League to report on the goings-on in Fort Myers. This is the first of six reports from the trip.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The standout pitching performance from the first day in Fort Myers came from left-hander Luis Ysla. The 23-year-old Venezuelan was acquired from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Alejandro De Aza in Dave Dombrowski’s first trade with the Red Sox. Ysla entered the year as one of the top 30 prospects in the Giants’ system following a strong season as a starter in the South Atlantic League in 2014 (121.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 104 H, 45 BB, 115 K), but he struggled in the hitter-friendly California League, giving up 22 earned runs in his first five appearances before moving to the bullpen and seeing only moderate improvement. But after the trade to the Red Sox, he pitched five scoreless innings in Salem, allowing no hits and striking out six with two walks.

Ysla is listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, but looks much heavier than that. He has a large lower half and soft body with little to no projection remaining. Ysla throws from a three-quarters arm slot slinging the ball with a live, loose arm. He has some effort in his delivery and gets deception from a high, exaggerated leg kick. In his inning of work, Ysla struck out the side, sitting 93-96 mph with a fastball that really seemed to jump on hitters. He was able to locate the pitch within the strike zone, and it showed late life and bat-missing potential. He got two of his strikeouts on his fastball, both swinging when he blew the hitter away.

Ysla complemented his fastball with slider and a changeup. Ysla threw two variations on his slider, a harder one in the low-80s and one at 77 mph. The low-80s variation showed two-plane movement with late bite. He got his first strikeout with the pitch and with continued refinement, it looks like a potential plus-to-better offering. The 77-mph version showed more depth and looked like he took something off it to get it over. Ysla’s changeup did not show as much potential as his slider, but he showed solid feel for the offering and the confidence to throw it early in the count. He threw it with the same arm speed as his fastball and the pitch showed late drop and fade. Though it is clearly his third pitch, I still think it has solid-average-to-better potential.

One reason why the changeup might not reach that potential, however, is that Ysla could be best suited for the bullpen long-term. Ysla has starter’s stuff, but does not have a typical starting pitcher’s frame and with his arm slot and effort in his delivery, it could be difficult to repeat his delivery deeper into games. In a bullpen role, Ysla’s stuff could really shine, and he has the potential to be a late-inning arm capable of getting both lefties and righties out in high-leverage situations.

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Each year during Instructs, there seems to be a pop-up pitcher who surprises who either had yet to debut stateside or was under-the-radar having been held back in extended and the Gulf Coast League. This fall, there were a few candidates who fit that description and the one who showed the best fastball was right-hander Victor Diaz. Diaz, a 21-year old Dominican who only signed last December spent this year in the Dominican Summer League working as the closer for the DSL Red Sox 2. After seeing Diaz’s stuff, it was easy to see why he featured in that role, as he has one of the best arms in the system.

Diaz is listed at 6-foot-3, 189 pounds, but looks a little bigger than that. He has a solid pitcher’s frame, and even though he is only 21, he does not have much physical projection left. Diaz starts on the third base side of the rubber, with his hands set at the belt and no wind up. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with effort in his delivery, including a head whip. Diaz’s calling card is his fastball, and in his inning of work he sat 96-98 mph with life and arm side run. That gives Diaz one of the strongest arms in the system and the type of fastball that will play at any level if he can harness the pitch and show command and control.

Diaz also showed a slider, throwing it 77-82 mph, but without much feel or success. He threw one at 77 that seemed like it slipped out of his hand early, as he left it way up and out of the zone; in the higher velocity band it showed short tilt, but flattened out up in the zone and he hung one that was hit hard. At this point, Diaz is a lottery ticket with an elite fastball, well below-average breaking ball, and well below-average control. With the premium on late-inning relievers with velocity, Diaz is an intriguing prospect, especially if he can take strides with his secondary offerings and become a more complete pitcher. 

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Another prospect with a big fastball, right-hander Gerson Bautista, has shown an uptick in velocity each time we’ve seen him. At Fall Instructs last year, Bautista sat 91-93 mph, and at Spring Training this year, he sat 93-95 mph. Though he struggled during the outing scouted recently, he sat 95-97 mph, and during the GCL season he reportedly touched 100 mph (http://www.baseballamerica.com/minors/11-pitchers-throwing-100-mph/). Bautista has a tall, thin frame with some projection, but he does not have the build of someone who could support significant weight gain. He likely will always be on the slender side, but even with his build, he has a very live arm. He works from the middle of the rubber, utilizing a high three-quarters arm slot and with long arm action behind.

Bautista generates easy velocity, but in this outing gave up a lot of hard contact as he was consistently up in the zone. His fastball is very straight, and when he leaves it up he does not miss bats, even with plus-plus velocity. The pitch is a potential plus-plus offering, but he has a long way to go with his command, which is well-below average right now. Bautista also threw a slider in the low-80s that showed decent shape and rotation when he snapped it off, but it was very inconsistent. He has thrown better sliders in other outings scouted, but based on this outing alone the pitch showed below-average potential. Bautista profiles as a bullpen arm because of his frame, delivery and lack of a third pitch, but with his fastball he is intriguing prospect, especially if he can develop a secondary pitch.

Photo credit: Luis Ysla by milb.com

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

 
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