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March 17, 2014

Notes from the Field

Backfield Scouting Notes, 3/17

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff

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Rangers (Jason Parks, Mark Anderson)

IF Travis Demeritte: Incredibly fast hands at the plate; quick trigger; uses hands to hit but has good hip rotation and generates torque; attacks the ball; shows plus bat speed; contact is all hard/loud; can backspin the ball and leave the yard; pitchers won’t beat him with velocity; willing to wait for his pitch; fast-twitch athlete; not a straight-line plus runner to first but has second gear; lacks ideal range for shortstop but excellent actions and plus arm at third/weapon arm at 2B; coordinated around the bag; will make plays; most likely a role 5 player with offensive ceiling for a little more. –Jason Parks

RHP Akeem Bostick: When you hear people talk about projection, Bostick is the prototype; 6-foot-4 with long limbs and a frame to hold good weight; athletic and lean but not frail; high ¾ slot; mechanics are deliberate, with some noise in the front side; struggled with consistency in the delivery; arm action was good but wasn’t finishing out in front; fastball was 88-92 and touched 93; tendency to work up and get flat; sharp pitch when he worked lower in the zone, creating steep plane and late arm-side run; perhaps a result of his release (and not deliberate), pitch would show some cut at 90-91; flashed a promising slider at 81 mph; some tilt but more sweep; pitch ran away from right-handed bats; good feel for a 82-83 mph changeup; below-average overall command at present but has some control and pitchability; raw arm with potential; loved the physical promise and athleticism; delivery needs work; could take a few years but profile could offer impact. –Jason Parks

LHP Yohander Mendez: Handed $1.5 million coming out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old, Mendez remains an underappreciated prospect who could burst onto the national scene in 2014. A solid athlete who stands 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Mendez's arm action is clean and he repeats his entire delivery and high-3/4 arm slot well. Across three innings on Saturday Mendez demonstrated an ability to move the fastball around the zone while sitting 89-91. Even when he ramped up to 92-93, Mendez still worked low and to the edges. He used his height to his advantage and worked with good leverage on the fastball, slicing through the strike zone with good angle. The changeup is well ahead of the curveball, and could be a legitimate plus big-league offering with excellent arm-speed deception and some wiggle. Mendez's curveball improved throughout the outing but still lags as a distant third pitch that has average potential and should be able to induce weak contact, if not miss bats consistently. On top of quality raw stuff that has projection remaining, Mendez showed a surprising feel for sequence at a young age, setting up his changeup well and keeping hitters off balance. The entire package, including the projectable frame that could allow the fastball to bump into the 92-94 range consistently, is enticing and should allow Mendez to become more of a household name over the next six to 12 months. –Mark Anderson

OF Jairo Beras: One day of batting practice and a handful of back-field at-bats are hardly enough to draw any significant conclusions about a player, but Beras did make an impression. As a player, Beras remains extremely raw, a lottery ticket that is highly unlikely to manifest between the lines. That said, he demonstrated better athleticism and coordination than I expected given prior conversations with scouts. The swing is long and the feel for the barrel certainly looked questionable in an abbreviated viewing, but he did show occasional ability to shorten up and get the bat into the zone quicker when he was behind in the count. He has the natural bat speed to handle velocity and wait out secondary pitches, but the maturity required to take this approach rather than selling out to show off the raw power has yet to arrive. These are small things that aren't suddenly going to put a shine on Beras' prospect stock, but they are worth noting in the context of a player who was surprisingly crude for the hype and money he received. –Mark Anderson

Cubs/Unsigned (Mark Anderson, Mauricio Rubio)

RHP Jen-Ho Tseng (Cubs): Tseng surprised over the weekend with an extremely impressive three-inning stint against the International Prospect League squad in Mesa. Tseng came out pumping 91-92 mph fastballs with precision, touching 94 in his first inning of work. He moved the ball from side to side with ease, elevated when he wanted to, and generally worked the knees against overmatched young hitters. His changeup was firm on the couple of occasions he mixed it in, thrown in the 81-83 mph range, all the while showing late sink reminiscent of a quality splitter. The arm speed and slot are identical to the fastball and you can see at least a plus future for the pitch. Tseng's curveball stole the show as the outing extended, transforming from a loopier breaking ball that was easily spotted out of the hand to a tight hammer breaker that looked the part of yet another future plus secondary pitch. Tseng has a broad-shouldered six-foot-one frame that should wear more strength as he matures, giving him the basic ingredients of a durable innings eater. With a very deliberate drop-and-drive delivery, Tseng seemingly lulls you to sleep with a slow lower half before exploding his upper body toward the plate and showing off a clean, ultra quick arm. Despite the drop-and-drive delivery, Tseng had good plane to the plate, making him even more difficult to square. Just 19, Tseng is extremely polished for his age and should handle a full-season assignment this year. –Mark Anderson

LHP Rob Zastryzny (Cubs): Zastryzny showed a good feel for pitching in a three-inning stint against the International Prospect League showcase team. Zastryzny sat 90-91 and showed a good changeup (80-82) and flashed a solid breaking pitch (78-79). He was above the competition but Zastryzny sequenced very well as he moved the ball around. He showed a good feel for the changeup and utilized it well. The breaker only flashed but there's room to grow there. The breaker had two breaks, one that was more over the top and one that was a two planer with better bite to it. He has starter potential if the breaking ball comes along. His delivery sits in between a true over-the-top and high three-quarters plane so I think the arm slot is right for him to develop that pitch even further. –Mauricio Rubio

RHP Huascar Ynoa (unsigned): Easily the most impressive International Prospect League arm on display at the Cubs complex in Mesa, Ynoa looked the part of the top arm available in this year's international crop. The younger brother of A's right-hander Michael Ynoa, Huascar has a lean 6-foot-2 frame with long legs and broad enough shoulders to suggest there is some growth potential remaining. Still just 15 years old, Ynoa was sitting 89-91 across the first two innings, reaching 92 a couple of times before fading a bit in the third frame and sitting 88-89. With the anticipated physical growth, Ynoa has more fastball in the tank, and with his arm speed and clean action he has the potential to throw very hard down the line. Ynoa's curveball worked in the mid-70s and was thrown frequently. Though the pitch lacked consistency, he showed the confidence to throw it in any count, and the pitch should miss bats in the future. As one would expect from a 15-year-old prospect, the package is raw, but there is plenty to dream on and he should receive a healthy bonus once the 2014 signing period opens. –Mark Anderson

Marlins/Mets (Jeff Moore)

RHP Jorgan Cavanerio (Marlins): A 19-year-old Venezuelan, Cavanerio appeared to have grown since he was measured at the 6-foot-1 that current listings put him at. He featured a smooth, loose, long arm action that he repeated well, largely because he appeared to be a plus athlete, especially for a taller pitcher who has not yet filled out. His four-seam fastball sat 91-92 and hit 93 while his two-seamer hit 89-90 and hit 91 with solid arm-side run. Like most two-seamers, it flattened out when he left it up in the zone, but he didn’t do this often. His breaking pitch,—call it a slurve at the moment—is a work in progress, and featured more downward break than side-to-side movement. It’s below average at the moment but it has a chance to be an average pitch. What separated Cavanerio on this day was his changeup, which is already a slightly above-average pitch (I’d put a high 5 on it) and has the potential to get even better. It doesn’t have much fade just yet, but it has enough downward movement to keep hitters honest and he commanded it extremely well for a 19-year-old. His long, fast arm action on the pitch was enough to keep hitters off balance—even major-league hitters Lucas Duda and Ike Davis, who were on a rehab assignment and failed to square him up. There is some real projectability with Cavanerio, who showed good command of two pitches already. If he adds a few ticks of velo as he fills out and gets to the 94-95 range, paired with that changeup, he could really take off. –Jeff Moore

3B Jhoan Urena (Mets): This is the second time I’ve seen Urena, a player the Mets gave $425,000 to in 2011, and both times I’ve come away impressed. Urena is already well built for a 19-year-old and his power comes with from easy bat speed, for which he does not need to sell out. He has easy gap power and the home run power should come with time. Urena has a slight loop in his bat path, but it’s not dramatic and he can get away with it because of his ability to barrel up the ball and his willingness to use the entire field. It should be noted that this is all from the left side of the plate, but Urena is a switch-hitter. In two appearances, I still have yet to see him face a lefty, but even from one side of the plate he’s a standout hitter. At third base, he moves well for a player of his size (listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, but could be slightly heavier) and should be able to stay at the position. His plus arm will play anywhere on the field. Once he hits full-season ball, perhaps in 2014, Urena is going to be a well-known name among the prospect ranks. –Jeff Moore

RHP Casey Meisner (Mets): Meisner, who was one of our On the Rise selections for the Mets this winter, can be described in no way other than tall and lanky. That’s good when it comes to pitcher projectability, but with young pitchers it typically leads to inconsistent mechanics. That’s not the case with Meisner, who repeats his mechanics well despite being an awkward athlete. His fastball sits at 91-92 and is relatively straight, though you could see the makings of a two-seamer with enough movement to keep hitters honest. His curveball came in at 75-76 and featured a pronounced downward break that had a tendency to get loopy, especially when left up in the zone. Meisner’s changeup was his best pitch, which he threw consistently for strikes and kept down in the zone. It featured solid downward movement and with his over-the-top mechanics and 6-foot-7 frame, it has enough deception to be a plus pitch even if it never progresses any side-to-side fade. The key for Meisner will be to add weight. He already holds his mechanics well for such a slight pitcher, but if he gets stronger and creeps up into the mid-90s with his fastball, he could be a solid mid-rotation starter. –Jeff Moore

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Spring Training,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Minor Leagues

12 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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ethanwitte

The thing I like about these are they are mostly players who will, most likely, be role players down the road. There are plenty of scouting reports on the Buxtons and Taillons of the world, but these give us info on the guys are going to have to show lots of #want to make it. Well done

Mar 17, 2014 04:31 AM
rating: 7
 
Matthew Trueblood

If it's true that Tseng will pitch in Kane County this year, that's impressive, indeed, and it could make that rotation a really intriguing one. Tseng, Underwood, Blackburn... Will Zastyzny start there, or higher? Do any of you gurus know where Erick Leal stands? You're probably lucky if two of those guys make the Majors, but the lottery tickets are starting to pile up there.

Mar 17, 2014 05:41 AM
rating: 1
 
Nojsztat

I had been wondering after the last "Notes from the Field"s if you would be hitting the backfields at all, or were just sticking with the MLB spring training camps. I'm glad to see the (currently) lesser known names still have the Professor's eyes on them.

Mar 17, 2014 08:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I only hit the backfields once the MiLB games start.

Mar 17, 2014 08:53 AM
 
Nojsztat

Makes sense.

Mar 17, 2014 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
melotticus

Excellent stuff, as always. One of my favorite features of Spring Training.

Mar 17, 2014 10:27 AM
rating: 0
 
JPinPhilly

Are the MiLB Spring Training games actual games or are they simulated games? Are there box scores and official scorers and all that jazz?

Mar 17, 2014 10:36 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

They aren't official, but they aren't simulated either. Real umps; 9 innings.

Mar 17, 2014 10:42 AM
 
JPinPhilly

Thanks. I've been trying to find box scores but no-go. The teams seem to put out quick little recaps on their sites but nothing that gives you an actual line which made me wonder whether or not they're considered "real" games.

I see that AAA teams and AA teams are playing games now. Didn't realize they actually broke them down by level like that. Is everyone below AA playing in games against one another?

Mar 17, 2014 11:27 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

They get broken into High A and Low A, generally.

Mar 17, 2014 16:58 PM
 
JPinPhilly

Thanks! Good to know. I'm always curious about the lower level guys this time of year. I know they're in camps but I would imagine that most of them are not going to be playing in any actual "games". They do a lot of simulated stuff this time of year right?

Mar 17, 2014 18:22 PM
rating: 0
 
JPinPhilly

I don't really feel good about that last sentence.

Mar 17, 2014 18:34 PM
rating: 1
 
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