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April 24, 2020 at 11:28 AM

Scouting Report Updates: Ward, Decker, Aybar, Fitzgerald, Bazardo

Our latest scouting report update includes five players on our current Top 60 list. This set of reports is led by 2019 SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Year Thaddeus Ward. Ward was consistently excellent last year, splitting his time between Greenville and Salem, and adding a cutter to his pitch mix.

SoxProspects.com scouting reports are written by our scouting report team, led by Director of Scouting Ian Cundall.

Thaddeus Ward, Right-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Thin, athletic right-hander with some projection in his upper body.

Mechanics: Throws from a three-quarters arm slot from the first base side. Easy, athletic mechanics. Starts in the stretch but then steps like he is throwing from the wind-up. Loose arm action. Stab behind during delivery. Comes across body. Arm gets out of sync with the rest of his delivery at times. Gets good extension. Maintains delivery deep into games.

Fastball: 91-94 mph. Tops out at 96 mph. Primarily, will sink the pitch with late movement down and in on right-handed hitters. Could add velocity as he matures. Typically has good control of the pitch; control appeared to have taken a small step back after promotion to High A in 2019, but that may have been caused by the after-effects of a comebacker off his pitching hand in mid-July. Potential above-average offering more likely to settle in the solid-average range.

Cutter: 86-89 mph. Added the pitch in 2019 and it has already become a go-to pitch. Two-seam grip similar to Rick Porcello. Late horizontal movement. Able to generate swinging strikes with the pitch already. Potential plus offering.

Slider: 81-83 mph. Horizontal shape. Ideal sidespin. Pitch shows bite. Has strong feel for the pitch, able to throw it for strikes in the zone or bury it down and out of the zone when ahead in the count. Potential plus offering.

87-89 mph. Pitch has mostly been shelved in favor of the cutter at this point and has firmed up from 84-86 mph range he once threw it at. Throws with deceptive arm speed. Pitch shows fade and looks like a fastball until late. Can be on the firm side, but flashed average potential in 2018.

Curveball: 76-79 mph. Vertical, 12-to-6 shape. Pitch is more of a show-me offering at this point and is rarely used.

Career Notes: A Ft. Myers native, served as a Red Sox batboy in the spring of 2004 at City of Palms Park. Also had scholarship offers to play basketball. Pitched largely in the bullpen during college, but Red Sox amateur scouts including signing scout Stephen Hargett and pitching crosschecker Chris Mears identified Ward as a candidate to move into the rotation and excel. Participated in the 2018 Fall Instructional League. Came out early in two 2019 starts (July 14 and August 27) after trying to barehand comebackers. Did not miss time, but relative issues with walks following the first incident (21 walks in 30 innings versus 36 in previous 95 2/3 innings) raise question of whether his control was affected.

Summation: Ceiling of a back-end starter if his development continues on an upward trajectory. Should at least be able to pitch in a long relief role, and could perhaps even fit in the back of a bullpen. Has three pitches that project as at least average that he tunnels well in his sinker, cutter, and slider. Latter two pitches show plus potential. Able to generate swinging strikes, but also uses repertoire to generate bad contact, allowing him to work deeper into outings. Ability to stick as a starter will depend on continued improvement of fastball command and refinement of secondary pitches.


Nick Decker, Outfielder

Physical Description: Strong, athletic build. Some remaining projection, but already physically developed for his age. Looks listed height and weight.

Starts crouched with an open stance. Long, uppercut swing. Quick hands, plus bat speed. Does a good job utilizing his lower half. Will take what the pitcher gives him and use all fields. Needs to improve pitch recognition and cut down on swing-and-miss. Has a lot of trouble picking up breaking balls, particularly from left-handers. Needs more reps against left-handers--had just 31 plate appearances against southpaws in 2019 and had a heavy platoon split, striking out 45 percent of the time. Has an idea of what he wants to do at the plate, but over-aggressiveness and swing-and-miss issues hold him back. Potential below-average hit tool.

Plus raw power. Shows easy power during batting practice. Power is most notable to the pull side. Potential to develop above-average game power at his peak.

Average speed. Aggressive on the basepaths. Gets good jumps and reads.

Reads and first step need some development. Won't be a standout defender, but should develop into an average outfielder at least. Drafted as a center fielder, but moved to right field full-time in 2019 with Lowell.

Arm: Above-average arm strength. Plenty of arm for right field. Arm is accurate, but lacks carry at times.

Career Notes:
Was committed to the University of Maryland. After being drafted, was limited to just two games after a small fracture in his left wrist suffered during batting practice before his pro debut. Participated in the 2018 Fall Instructional League. Had short IL stints in 2019 for a right ankle contusion and a right hamstring strain.

Potential second-division regular. If bat continues to develop, ceiling of an everyday player. Bat-first profile, with enough power to carry him in a corner outfield spot if his hit tool develops. Has shown strong instincts and plays hard, getting the most out of his tools. Approach and hit tool will determine his future potential, as he really has to cut down on his swing-and-miss or else will be exposed by more advanced pitching. Still early in development having not faced much advanced pitching in the Northeast.


Yoan Aybar, Left-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Lean, tall frame. Minimal projection remaining. Very athletic.

Throws from a three-quarters arm slot. Mechanics are a work in progress. Struggles to find a consistent release point and repeat arm slot. Starts standing tall on the third base side of the rubber. Utilizes a high leg kick and short arm action. Lot of moving parts in his delivery. Very quick arm. Arm tends to get out of sync from the rest of his delivery.

93-97 mph. Reportedly tops out at 100 mph. Pitch is straight. Plus-plus velocity, but needs to make significant strides with his command and control. Velocity varies greatly from outing to outing. Will sit 95-97 in one outing, but then only 91-93 in the next. Needs to improve consistency with his fastball as he moves up the ladder. Potential plus-to-better pitch.

84-88 mph. Inconsistent pitch. Will show two-plane shape on occasion. Still developing feel. At its best will flash plus potential, but on other occasions will be a below-average pitch.

83-85 mph. Slows arm. Will show drop. Has thrown less often over time, now rarely throws it.

Career Notes: Converted to pitching in 2018 after four seasons as an outfielder in which he showed no progress at the plate despite impressive tools. Athleticism showed on defense, but at time of conversion showed only a rudimentary offensive approach and could get over-aggressive. Struggled against velocity. Although he was a potential plus defender with plus speed, his plus arm won out in the end, leading to his conversion. Participated in 2018 Fall Instructional League. Participated in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Fall Instructional Leagues as an outfielder. Added to the 40-man roster following the 2019 season despite having pitched only a handful of games in High A.

Very raw at present, but an intriguing project with major league relief potential. Already shows premium velocity from the left side and athleticism that give him a chance. Needs a lot of work to become a pitcher; more of a thrower right now. Big gap between his ceiling and his floor at present. Very inconsistent; will dominate in one outing, then completely lose the zone and/or velocity in the next. Developing fastball command and control and refining his slider will be keys to his development.


Ryan Fitzgerald, Shortstop

Physical Description: Lean, athletic frame without much projection. Looks the part of a middle infielder.

Hit: Starts slightly open with his hands up. Utilizes a short leg lift timing device. Keeps his hands inside the ball. Uppercut swing. Has some feel to hit. Knows the strike zone. Makes hard contact. Has a tendency to pull and will get shifted by some teams. Potential fringe-average hit tool.

Power: Average raw power. Swing has some loft and can drive the ball, especially to the pull side. Swing is more geared towards hard line drives, but has potential for fringe-average in-game power.

Run: Fringe-average speed.

Field: Potential average defender at short. Average range and soft hands. Smart, heads-up defender; gets himself in position to make plays. Capable defender at second base. Saw time in the outfield in the 2019 Fall Instructional League in order to increase his defensive versatility.

Arm: Fringe-average arm. Can make the basic throws from short, but not a weapon. Would play better at second base and will probably play in left and center field, but would limit him from being able to play much third base or right field as he adapts to a utility role.

Career Notes: Undrafted out of Creighton and signed out of independent ball, was reportedly a launch angle adjustment success story. Has been old for his level since signing as a result. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2018 and 2019.

Summation: Projects as a reliable, steady organizational player who can stick around the high minors for a while. Ceiling of a bench player due to his defensive versatility if everything breaks right. No standout tools, but a smart player with good baseball sense who could make the most of his ability. Can field the position at shortstop, with the potential to add second base, left field, and center field to his resume if the organization wants to develop him as a utility player. Does not have much margin for error in his development given his age and will need to continue moving up the ladder steadily.


Eduard Bazardo, Right-handed pitcher

Physical Description: Small, undersized frame. Minimal projection even though he is on the thin side. Could stand to add upper body strength.

Throws from a high three-quarters arm slot. Starts on the third base side of the rubber with hands at his waist. Doesn't use a wind-up. Jerky, effortful delivery. High leg kick and slight trunk twist. Slight stab behind before whipping his arm forward. Head whack. Some deception as he keeps his arm hidden behind his body.

91-93 mph. Tops out at 95 mph. Pitch shows sink and cut on occasion when he drops his arm slot. Does a good job keeping the ball down and generates a lot of weak contact. Velocity tended to fall off in later innings as a starter. Control is ahead of command, which is below-average at present. Potential average pitch.

79-83 mph. Advanced feel. 11-to-5 break. Elite spin rate, among highest of players in the system. Pitch has tight rotation and depth when he snaps it off. Has feel and confidence in offering. Potential plus pitch.

Split-Finger Fastball: 87-88 mph. On the firm side and lacks separation from fastball. Will show drop on occasion. Clear third pitch that is still in development. Replaced changeup in repertoire.

Career Notes:
Older international signee at 18 years old then spent three years in the complex leagues before breaking out as a starter in 2018. Was Lowell's Opening Day starter in 2018. Participated in 2018 Fall Instructional League. Appeared to be a candidate to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2019 season, but was not added and was not selected in the Rule 5 Draft.

Projects as an up-and-down reliever. Ceiling of a solid middle reliever. Jerky, deceptive delivery and fastball/curveball combination could play in the majors. Needs to improve fastball command and control and improve consistency with his breaking ball in order to reach his ceiling.

Photo Credit: Thaddeus Ward and Yoan Aybar by Kelly O'Connor
Mark Hanoian is the Scouting Report Manager for SoxProspects.com.