SoxProspects News

March 18, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Notes from the Field: Espinoza, Chavis, and more from Day Two


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Both members of the SoxProspects.com Scouting Department, Ian Cundall and Chaz Fiorino, took in the High A and Low A games on the backfields of JetBlue Park. Here are their Notes from the Field. 

- Anderson Espinoza (pictured) just turned 18 years old this March and is the top pitching prospect in the system. Espinoza threw two innings in his first start of minor league camp on Thursday. His fastball sat 95-98 mph with late life that elicited many late swings from Orioles minor league hitters. Espinoza totaled five swing-and-misses in total during his two innings of work. Espinoza also mixed in a projectable future above-average curveball and future above-average changeup. The curveball was 73-74 mph with 12/6 shape and late, tight break. The changeup was 79 mph, yet inconsistent, as Espinoza struggled with control of it and hit a right-handed hitter with the pitch when it sailed up and in. Espinoza struggled with his command and release points throughout the outing. However, given his age, low effort delivery, and clean, quick arm action, it's easy to project big things in the future for Espinoza given his ability to dial it up in the 95-98 mph range, spin an above-average breaking ball, and flash an above-average changeup at just 18 years old. - Chaz

- In his third plate appearance of the day, Michael Chavis stayed on a 1-2 hanging curveball and squared it up for a line drive to left field. His swing appeared to be shorter and more controlled with two strikes than previously seen in 2015. Defensive concerns with Chavis at third base remain for me, and were further on display today on three different occasions. In one instance, Chavis fielded a grounder cleanly and rushed his throw with choppy footwork and a max effort release that resulted in an overthrow past the first baseman. In a second instance, Chavis ranged to his left on a groundball before bobbling the transfer causing him to rush the throw and sail it up and over the first baseman's left shoulder. In the third instance, Chavis received the cutoff throw from the outfield on the infield grass in an attempt to throw out a runner at the plate. A good throw would have had the runner out with ease, but Chavis made another inaccurate, high throw to the catcher's right shoulder, causing him to reach across his body for the ball and then have to turn back to try and tag the runner, ultimately too late. - Chaz

Yoan Moncada totaled three plate appearances and for the second day in a row, demonstrated well-disciplined at-bats and an advanced approach. In Moncada's first plate appearance from the left side, he laid off a few off-speed pitches off the plate and battled to a 3-2 count. With the count full, Moncada took at 3-2 fastball up and away for a walk. After reaching first, Moncada put his speed on display by stealing second. In Moncada's second at-bat he was quickly down 0-2 before swinging through a breaking ball. In Moncada's final plate appearance from the right side, he was quickly down 0-2 once again. However, this time he once again laid off some tough breaking balls off the plate to work a full count and eventually another walk. - Chaz

- Catcher Austin Rei (pictured) has made a noticeable change in his swing mechanics, switching from a leg kick to toe tap. With the toe tap, Rei is much quicker to get into a hitting position, something that was an issue last year. This was on display today during one of his at-bats when after falling behind 0-2, Rei got a fastball up in the zone that he was able to get on top of a fastball, grounding at hard up the middle for a single. More importantly for Rei, he looked much more comfortable behind the plate with his receiving, blocking balls in the dirt, and throwing. Last year, Rei struggled at various points in all those areas, but today he was getting down quick and smothering the ball in what was a difficult situation when Gerson Bautista was erratic with his mid-90s fastball. Rei also seemed much more confident with his arm, attempting to back-pick base runners at first base and second base. - Ian

- After hitting a home run yesterday’s Low-A game, Luis Alexander Basabe showed the makings of a solid approach today, laying off close pitches and making the pitchers work. He walked in two at-bats—one from each side of the plate—and showed a solid understanding of the strike zone and better pitch recognition, staying back and tracking breaking balls. - Ian

- Right-handed pitcher Yankory Pimental continues to impress over my three separate looks in the last year. The 22-year-old threw one inning of work today and the fastball sat 95-97 mph showing two-seam and cut action on separate occasions. Pimental generated four swing-and-misses with his overpowering fastball during this inning. He also threw two hard sliders, ranging 88-90 mph with hard, sharp tilt. The first slider at 90 mph was a well above-average pitch that sliced in on a left-handed hitter. The second slider was flat and up in the zone. - Chaz

- Right-handed pitcher Gerson Bautista (pictured) has an electric arm, but his delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Bautista sat 93-96 mph with his fastball in his two innings of work, mixing in a slider at 83-86 mph. He really struggled to control his fastball though, hitting the first batter he faced and walking the next two. His delivery was very erratic with a lot of moving parts including long arm action behind and a head whip. Bautista also hasn’t added much weight to his very thin and lanky frame. Even though he’s skinny, Bautista has arm strength, but has a long way to go developmentally both physically and with his delivery. - Ian

- Right-hander Junior Espinoza (no relation to Anderson), a 2014 international free agent signee out of Venezuela, has a projectable frame and showed off feel for a breaking ball in his inning of work. Espinoza, listed 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, is tall and lanky at present with room to add size as he matures and gets stronger. His mechanics are on the rough side with a high leg kick and trunk twist then a slight rock back before coming forward. Espinoza sat 89-91 mph with his fastball and showed strong feel for his curveball at 74-78 mph. He snapped the pitch off with late depth and long 12-6 break. He also showed confidence in the pitch, throwing it often and in any count. - Ian

- 2015 13th-round draft selection Matt Kent out of Texas A&M threw one inning Thursday. The left-hander's fastball ranged 86-88 mph with a fringe curveball at 78-79 mph and solid changeup with fade at 79-80 mph. Kent elicited four swing-and-misses with his changeup alone this inning. - Chaz

- A 22nd-round selection in last years draft, right-hander Max Watt has great size, listed at 6-foot-7, 250 pounds. He has short arm action and hides the ball well by keeping his arm directly behind his body until he releases it. As a result, even though his fastball worked only in the high-80s, topping out at 91 mph, he missed bats especially against right-handed hitters who have a tough time picking up the ball out of his hand. His fastball also showed natural cut and he mixed in a slurvey breaking ball in the mid-70s as well as a changeup. - Ian

- Right-handed pitcher Pat Goetze has changed his arm slot, dropping down from over the top to sidearm. Though his velocity has not ticked up, still sitting in the high-80s, the pitch jumped on hitters and was much harder to pick up, especially for right-handed hitters. Goetze also threw one changeup at 83 mph that showed late drop, as well as a slider at 84 mph. - Ian

- In the morning batting practice session featuring potential short-season league prospects, outfielder Juan Barriento impressed, showing off intriguing raw power. Barriento is bigger and more physically developed than most of the other prospects at the same stage of development, already listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. He starts with on open stance and does a good job clearing his hips, showing a clear preference to drive the ball to the pull side. - Ian

Photo Credit: Kelly O'Connor.

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

Chaz Fiorino is Assistant Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @cbfiorino.


 
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