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September 29, 2020 at 9:00 AM

Scouting Report Updates: A trio of Top-40 prospects


As the 2020 regular season comes to a close, the SoxProspects.com team continues to maintain current and accurate scouting reports for players throughout the organization. Today's update features three players rated in the Top-40 of our latest rankings. Nick Decker (drafted in 2018) and Cameron Cannon (drafted in 2019) are two recent second-round picks that offer the team valuable depth. Antoni Flores is a player that was recently considered a top-10 prospect in the system, but a lackluster 2019 has clouded his future outlook.

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

Nick Decker, Outfielder

Physical Description: Strong, athletic build. Strong lower half. Some remaining projection, but already physically developed for his age.

Hit: Starts crouched with an open stance. Long, uppercut swing. Quick hands, above-average 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. Had a heavy platoon split in 2019, striking out 45 percent of the time against LHP, albeit in just 31 plate appearances. 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.

Power: Plus raw power. Shows easy power during batting practice. Swing has loft and can drive the ball with backspin. Power is most notable to the pull side. Potential to develop above-average game power at his peak.

Run: Fringe-average speed. Aggressive on the basepaths. Gets good jumps and reads.

Field: 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, suffered a small fracture in his left wrist during batting practice before his pro debut, and was limited to playing in the season's final two games. Participated in the 2018 Fall Instructional League. Had short IL stints in 2019 for a right ankle contusion and a right hamstring strain.

Summation: Potential bat-first, bench corner outfielder. 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 will be exposed by more advanced pitching. Still early in development having not faced much advanced pitching as a high schooler in the Northeast.

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Cameron Cannon, Infielder

Physical Description: Undersized, compact frame. Average athlete. Has some room to add additional strength, but close to maxed out physically.

Hit: Starts square and utilizes a toe-tap timing device. Average bat speed. Short, direct swing path. Approach is raw at present. Very aggressive in the early stages of his career. Looks to attack fastballs early in the count and rarely works deep counts. Pull-heavy approach at present. Has shown the tendency to expand the zone against breaking balls early in his career. Organization is tweaking his mechanics slightly from college. Will need to show improved discipline, especially as he faces more advanced pitching. Potential fringe-average hit tool.

Power: Average raw power. Below-average game power. Swing lacks lift and is designed more for hard gap to gap contact than over the fence power. Has shown the ability to drive the ball to the pull side during batting practice.

Run: Below-average speed. Speed plays up on the base paths due to above-average instincts. Stolen bases will not be a big part of his game.

Arm: Fringe-average arm strength. More than adequate for second base, but a little light for the left side of the infield.

Defense: Profiles best as a second baseman. Has played some shortstop early in his career, but he lacks fluidity and feel there. Average range and hands are also on the rough side for shortstop. Not the most instinctual defender, has shown the tendency to let ground balls play him rather than attack the ball.

Career Notes: Struggled significantly at the plate after being drafted, but may have been working on significant changes to swing. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2019.

Summation: Potential up-and-down depth player. Ceiling of a bat-first utility player. Bat will have to carry him; does not project to add significant value defensively. Needs to improve defensively and refine plate approach. Likely will add other positions as he moves up the ladder, but currently looks best suited for second base.

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Antoni Flores
, Shortstop

Physical Description: Already physically developed for his age. Was noticeably thicker during the 2019 season, to the point that it limited his mobility and quick-twitch athleticism. Will have to watch his body as he gets older to ensure he does not lose any more athleticism. Lacks definition, needs to get stronger.

Hit: Starts square and utilizes a leg kick. Loose at the plate. Will shorten up with two strikes. Good bat angle. Average bat speed. Bat will take some time to develop. Approach needs work. Needs to improve pitch recognition. Struggled against more advanced pitching in an aggressive assignment to the New York-Penn League in 2019. Was unable to catch up to velocity, especially up in the zone, and was overly aggressive early in counts, leading to a lot of weak contact. Potential fringe-average hit tool.

Power: Will show average raw power in batting practice. Could take some time to translate into game action. Power is primarily to the pull side at present, but could develop all-fields power in the future. Could stand to add some loft to his swing.

Run: Below-average speed. Will not be a huge threat to steal bases, but could grab a few due to strong baserunning instincts. Speed dropped a half grade in 2019. Will need to put work into taking care of his body to prevent further decrease.

Field: Soft hands, fluid actions in the field. Strong instincts for his age. Reads the game well; rarely lets the ball play him. Plays the game with some flair in the field. Range decreased in 2019 as he lost some of his athleticism, raising questions about whether he will stick at shortstop long-term. Potential to develop into an above-average defender.

Arm: Plus arm strength. Capable of making all the throws necessary from the left side of the infield. Solid carry.

Career Notes: Had trouble staying healthy in 2018, missing six weeks with what the team called "general soreness" that may have been a strained left shoulder after being promoted stateside from the DSL, then pulling his hamstring in his second game after returning, leading to a second absence. A very small minority of scouts considered him the system's top prospect entering 2019, but he struggled in an aggressive assignment to Lowell. Appeared to be pressing later in the 2019 season, compounding his initial struggles, and was replaced in the lineup by GCL call-ups during the Spinners' playoff run. Participated in the Fall Instructional League in 2018, when he was one of the most impressive players in camp, and 2019.

Summation: Potential emergency up-and-down infielder. Ceiling of a second-division regular. Wide gap between what he is now and what he could be in the future. Best present tool is his arm. Has a chance for three or more average tools in hit, defense, and arm if he reaches his potential. Strong instincts for his age have allowed tools to play up in the past, but tools played down as he struggled through a difficult 2019 season. Entered 2019 as one of the most intriguing prospects in the system, but his body regressed, and he really struggled at the plate. Odds of reaching his ceiling are lower now, but it is still possible he could return to the form he showed in 2018 and quickly re-establish himself as one of the top 10-15 prospects in the system.

Photo Credit: Nick Decker, Cameron Cannon, and Antoni Flores by Kelly O'Connor.

Mark Hanoian is the Scouting Report Manager for SoxProspects.com.

 
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