Angel Baez Scouting Report
My thanks go out to Shawn Touney and the Kane County Cougars for the access they have provided me, which made the writing of this piece possible.
Signed as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2008, Angel Baez has burst onto the legitimate prospect scene this year with a strong full-season debut for Kane County in the Midwest League.
Good pitcher’s body with ideal height and lithe yet relatively mature build. Shows decent athleticism and flexibility in his movements. Some thickness in lower body suggests he may add a couple of pounds on top, but this is close to what he is.
Arm slot varies between low 3/4 and 3/4, tough with deception on RH batters. Fastball plays better with lower slot, secondaries better with higher slot. Big leg kick and LONG arm action in back. Typically high effort all the way, with severe arm drag being a notable red flag. Sweeps heavily across the mound. Rotation on backside of windup can shift from pitch to pitch; in warmups he’ll flash a more pronounced windup and show his number to the plate, but this rarely carries over to game situation. I suspect he recognizes he does not have the upper body strength to handle that much stress as a SP, but may work in shorter stints. Body control is solid given what he’s working with, does a fair job of maintaining his balance. Lands on a stiff front leg.
Pumps consistent premium velocity as his calling card. Works anywhere between 90 and 96 mph, topping out at 97 mph. Plus-plus raw arm strength. Fastball often stays up in the zone, but hard for batters to catch up to it. Baez does show the ability to vary the horizontal movement on the pitch to give batters a different look, although he’ll occasionally alter his mechanics in doing so. He’s better at getting cut than getting run on his fastball at this point; more consistent movement should come with experience.
Primary secondary pitch, mostly thrown in the mid-70s with some slightly higher and lower. Throws many with little break at all, flattening out up and often out of the zone. At higher velocities he shows a little more effort and it gets a little slurvy, and this is typically when it looks the best. May eventually be average with work but feel more comfortable projecting it as below average; will occasionally spin a good one so I do believe there is a very solid breaking ball in him. Would advise that he scraps this pitch for a true slider.
Straight, undeveloped change. Maintains velocity on it acceptably well in the low 80s, but rudimentary otherwise. At times it is tipped through release point and/or arm speed, and like his fastball it is prone to being left up in the zone. Comparable to what might be seen out of a first year prep player. Not entirely without potential and used effectively to put batters off balance, but lack of refinement urges caution.
Control & Command:
Doesn’t pitch or locate consistently in the bottom half of the strike zone. Shows intent to pitch to both sides of the plate regardless of handedness. Not afraid to pitch inside to left-handed batters, although fine control is still a work in progress. Visibly struggles at times with locating on the outer half of the plate, particularly to right-handed batters. Will overthrow to get the ball to where he wants it; vulnerable to hitters who are willing and able to take the ball to the opposite field. Unclear at this point as to whether he uses his secondaries as any more than changes of pace to keep batters off his fastball. Should eventually develop enough strike-throwing ability to get by, but it is hard to see his command progressing much beyond “effectively wild”.
Raw power arm whose fastball far outpaces the rest of his game. Much more a thrower than a pitcher at this point, but there is room for moderate growth here. Likely to top out as a starter at Double A – not an issue as delivery and lack of depth in repertoire indicate he is best suited for the bullpen. Has the raw stuff to be a passable MLB late inning option if he can develop a usable secondary. Fastball should play up in relief and give him his share of chances to make it.
Projection: MLB middle reliever, possible setup man