September 25, 2013
Notes from the Field
AZL Scouting Notes, Part Two
After covering top Arizona League prospect Clint Frazier in part one of my AZL scouting notes series, I profile another batch of intriguing players today, including an athletic power arm in Brewers second-round pick Devin Williams. The complex leagues make for a fun scouting environment, but it’s often a difficult one with so much youth and projection involved. In addition to Williams, part two features some of the circuit’s youngest talents, including Diamondbacks shortstop Sergio Alcantara and his July 1996 birthdate.
Devin Williams | RHP | AZL Brewers
Notes: Williams has the highest ceiling of the AZL arms I saw this summer, and he was my personal favorite from the circuit. Very good athlete with standout arm speed and a projectable 6’3”, 165 lbs. frame; long and lanky with room to add muscle, though he may always be on the lean side; extremely long legs; arm slot slightly above 3/4; drops and drives a bit and stuff lacks plane; some present repeatability issues in his delivery lead to iffy control, but given the athleticism, he should be able to repeat with continued refinement; plus present fastball with 70-grade projection; fastball could be a monster pitch; sat 92-94 mph, reaching up to 95-96 a handful of times in the four-inning start; pounded lower half of strike zone; some late wiggle and natural weight to offering; hitters didn’t square it; he clearly loves the pitch; finished the start by throwing 44 consecutive fastballs, retiring last 10 hitters he faced.
Lively 83-85 mph changeup with solid-average to plus potential; thrown with good arm speed; dropped arm slot when throwing it occasionally; used to both left- and right-handed hitters; clear second pitch at present; will have to figure out his breaking ball; just two low-80s sliders in four innings, and both well below-average, lacking ideal shape; I’d like to peek him at instructs to see if he’s putting an effort into developing the breaker; much more thrower than pitcher at present, but showed an ability to make adjustments this summer; refined delivery to reduce overall effort, including violent head jerk; threw more strikes and maintained better direction to plate as a result; still lots of work to be done mechanically, but he made promising steps in the right direction. Overall, Williams is a projection guy with a potentially dominant fastball, arm speed, athleticism, and some aptitude. It’s hard not to like that combination, even if he’s not particularly refined yet.
Sergio Alcantara | SS | AZL Diamondbacks
Notes: Signed in 2012 for a reported $700,000 bonus; youngest player in the AZL this season and opened the campaign at age 16; jumped past the DSL and fit in, showing impressive all-around instincts and feel; thin frame, as height and weight listing suggest; lacks present strength; smallish guy who knows his game well, using a compact swing and up-the-middle approach; quick hands; should be able to sting balls a bit better as he adds strength over the next few years; overall approach was very promising given his age; ability to pick up breaking balls and track them into the glove stood out; little power potential but intriguing hit tool from both sides of the plate; biggest drawback is his lack of speed, as he’s a below-average runner; I could see him getting to fringe-average or average, but either way it’s never going to be an asset, which you’d like to see from a hit tool/glove shortstop profile; does show quick feet defensively; highly instinctual player at shortstop with smooth actions and good hands; borderline plus-plus arm; plus glove potential and should stick at short; lack of speed is an issue, but the tools and instincts made him one of the league’s better up-the-middle prospects.
Notes: As a left-handed bat with upside, Cordero was perhaps the AZL’s most intriguing position-player prospect not named Clint Frazier. I got just a very brief look at him this summer and want to see more in spring training next season. Projectable 6’3”, 175 lbs. frame with room to add upper-body muscle as he matures; turned 19 in early September; not a muscular body right now but clearly has present strength and should add more; easy raw power and the ball jumps off his bat; took a fastball to center field for a home run; later mishit a ball 390 feet to center; big leg kick with loose wrists and plus bat speed; short, quick stroke and stung it with authority; aggressive approach limits present game power slightly; moves around well at shortstop but appears to be a good candidate to ultimately outgrow the position; should be able to handle third base or corner outfield at physical maturity; plus arm strength; I wasn’t in love with his actions and overall feel at short, though again, I saw just one game there; athleticism/power combination makes him one of the more impressive prospects in the AZL this summer.
Travis Demeritte | INF | AZL Rangers
Notes: First-round pick who posted impressive numbers in the AZL; solid athlete and wiry strong at 6’0”, 178 lbs.; line-drive stroke with good present gap-to-gap pop; could develop average power at maturity; showed some feel to hit with standout bat speed; used all fields well for a youngster; took fastballs on the other half to the opposite field; had timing issues when I saw him; hand load was long and toe tap was often late, causing him to be behind fastballs with consistency despite his bat speed; slightly open stance and didn’t always get his front foot back in, leaving a hole on the outer half; both issues are correctable but led to his strikeout issues this summer; given his bat speed and the nature of the problems, he could improve his strikeout rate down the line; can handle shortstop right now; hands and actions are just okay, and he’s a strong candidate for a move to third or second base down the line; average arm strength with solid-average projection; run is solid-average with average projection; Demeritte has some issues to work through, but overall it was a good look in his debut summer, and he should be able to handle the Low-A level in 2014; there’s a long way to go and it was a short look, but he looks like a potential role 5 player to me.
Justin Williams | OF | AZL Diamondbacks
Notes: Second-round pick best known for his plus raw power from the left side as an amateur; pop shows up more in batting practice than games at present, though his swing (particularly the hands/trigger) improved this summer; muscled an opposite-field home run vs. AZL Angels; lots of present strength in 6’2”, 215 lbs. frame; likely to get strong and thick; not a bad present athlete but speed and athleticism may limit him down the line; definite corner profile; high school infielder who began playing outfield full-time this summer; looked very raw in left, making poor reads and routes; should improve with experience; arm strength is improving but still below average; may get to average as he continues to refine and learn throwing mechanics from outfield; quick hands with a surprising feel for hitting given his background and reputation as an amateur; showed an ability to use all fields; was overaggressive at times and chased early-count offspeed stuff in the dirt; it’s a bat-heavy profile and the approach is underdeveloped, but his raw power and developing swing made him one of the league’s more interesting offensive prospects.
Other Names of Intrigue
Notes: It was nice to put a face and body to the names of Arroyo and Jones, two of the AZL’s most impressive performers this summer, but I got such a brief look that I’m going to wait until post-instructs to write much on either. For now, enjoy the video linked above. Arroyo showed a mature swing and approach but had a quiet overall game the day I saw him. In fact, I’m not sure one ball was hit to him at shortstop. Jones flashed an advanced feel for hitting with a big, strong frame and a quick bat. While he showed a strong arm and good hands at third base, I question whether he can stick there. He looked like a slow-twitch athlete with already limited range, leading me to think he may eventually end up at first base, but I’ll have a more confident answer on that after a longer look at instructs.
Notes: Young lefty from Mexico who signed in the same class as standout Dodgers prospect Julio Urias; pitched the entire season at age 17; I saw him at both extended spring training and in the Arizona League; AZL start was cut short due to a minor injury; 6’0”, 200 lbs. southpaw with a smooth arm action from 3/4 slot; sat 89-91 mph and touched 92 early in the first inning of his extended spring outing; dipped to 86-89 in second frame; mature body that’s likely to be on the thick side as he gets older; ease of arm action and youth could enable the velocity to jump a slight tick down the line; average to solid-average fastball projection; some armside life to the pitch; direction to plate and release point was inconsistent in both looks; balance in delivery was lacking and, though he generally threw strikes, led to some wild misses; very advanced 80-81 mph changeup with plus fade and some sink; definite plus projection; breaking ball lags well behind; mid-70s curve with loose rotation that made it easy for hitters to track; Gonzalez likely doesn’t have more than a back-end ceiling, but the arm works and his youth and fastball/change duo offer some intrigue.