Deep Keepers: Perfect Game Part All-American Class Part III
RHP Robert Tyler is bound to catch a ton of flak for his delivery, but I took a shine to him anyway. He’s birdlike in build — almost a bit gawky — and has a very long arm action, like hand the ball to second base long. That said, side views didn’t look all that bad, and I’m interested to see what tweaks he can make. You don’t want to fool with him too much, because the fastball ranges from 89-93 with sink and he features a beautiful change (a theme of several pitchers in the game’s last third). The arm is loose and whippy, and aside from the qirky delivery the other drawback is the lack of a reliable breaking pitch. He threw a couple in the inning that had a frisbee-like action and somehow broke back in to right-handed hitters. He surprised one batter with a hard up and down number that back-footed him. It’s an odd pitch, and may be a function of an arm angle that works very well for the FB and curve but not conventional breaking balls. FB command was a plus in this look and he’s certainly interesting. He’ll be easy to overlook thanks to the funk, but different isn’t always bad. Could benefit from some time in college.
Jeremy Martinez showed his mature hitting approach again, staying back on a grooved FB on the inner half before turning on it perfectly. He’s definitely not afraid to hit it on the ground as he has an innate ability to find holes in the defense.
I’m not sure if was planned or happenstance, but after a run of lefties in the first half of the game it was all righties the rest of the way, and Casey Shane took the mound for the bottom of the 7th. Shane has a prototypical starter’s build and is well-conditioned, with some projection remaining. The action is a bit long, but his arm is loose and reasonably fast. I haven’t heard his name mentioned much among the top starters in the class but this very good inning should start the process of remedying that. The FB ranged from 88-93 with heavy sink and looked to be very hard to lift. He threw one high in the zone to Demeritte that was weakly bounced back toward the mound despite a full swing. He threw a slurve around 84, but the best secondary was a mid-80s change with excellent downer fade. Despite facing some of the better opposing hitters, like Demeritte and Zack Collins, Shane had a 1-2-3 inning with two ground outs and a whiff (Collins). This was one of the strongest performances of the game and Shane could be one to watch.
One of the groundouts was a bouncer to J.P. Crawford which he fielded cleanly, showing off a plus arm on the throw to first. There seems to be some belief out there that Crawford is a center fielder because he often plays that position at events and tournaments, but he’s played shortstop for Lakewood since his freshman year and that’s where he should be drafted as his offensive skills (speed, contact, solid power potential) play as clearly above avg to plus there.
RHP Jared Brasher is a broad-shouldered athlete with surfer locks spilling out from under his cap. He has a strong lower half and should be interesting to see in a couple of years. He doesn’t have the smoothest delivery as he jerks his leg on the lift, cocks his arm, and then fires the ball. The arm action was long and he’s extremely slow to the plate, allowing an easy stolen base to Nick Banks. The FB was mainly 88-91 but up in the zone a lot, living dangerously, and he didn’t show much in the way of secondaries. It might be my shortcoming, but I found them hard to categorize. At best I saw what appeared to be two different pitches around 81-82 mph that had no recognizable shape. Brasher is another player who’d benefit from some time in college to see if he can refine his arsenal. Just an arm strength guy based on this look.
Cavan Biggio hadn’t done much until this point, walking twice, but he showed off his above avg pop with a loud out, taking a 90 mph FB to the right field warning track. He gets dinged by some for his unorthodox hitting mechanics such as starting his hands high and rotating slightly away from the pitcher on his load, but he has some of the best barrel ability in the class. I’ll leave the diagnoses to the swing doctors, but all I’ve seen him do is square up balls.
Dom Smith gets high marks from evaluators, and I want to like him, but he looks like a first basemen and the prospect bar is high for that position. His swing isn’t bad, but it can get a bit long. He’s got a major league body already, but there are other guys who fit that bill (Willie Abreu, Joey Martarano) who seem to offer a bit more with the bat and in the field. I need more looks before I buy. I had an initially tepid reaction to David Dahl last summer that I (fortunately) overcame with additional looks.
RHP Derik Beauprez, who also acquitted himself well at the late at manning first, was up in the bottom of the 8th. Despite being a fairly recent convert to pitching, Beauprez was a pleasant surprise. He got good downhill plane from an over the top delivery, sitting 90 at the knees for most of the inning, touching 91 a time or two. The surprise was just how advanced his changeup was; a nasty offering at 73-75 that danced all over the zone. I couldn’t get a clear look but it appeared he might be using a circle grip or a variation of it. It made Oscar Mercado looked downright overwhelmed as he took a first pitch FB at the knees before swinging through two changes, one well out of the zone. Austin Meadows didn’t fare much better, also striking out. I didn’t see a breaking ball, but these two pitches and Beauprez’s projectability are enough to make him a very intriguing prospect.
RHP Brett Morales, another recent pitching convert, isn’t as physically projectable as Beauprez, but showed an even hotter FB and two clear secondaries, and even a third if I’m not mistaken. Morales’ inning was also much more adventurous, as his command was erratic. While he got the FB up to the 93-94 mph range with relative ease, it was flying up and out of the zone early on. It appeared that he was trying to establish the FB, as he didn’t show his change until the second batter; or his curve until the third. This paid off in the end as once he did start finishing the FB off it was 93 with movement in the zone and ahead of hitters, but in the short term it contributed to two walks and a flare to right which loaded the bases with no outs. At its best the change comes in belt high at around 79-80 mph before dropping off the table. He really sells it with his delivery and arm speed and the separation from his FB velo is ideal. The curve is also thrown in the high 70s, and he threw some decent ones, but it’s a below average offering currently, which is no surprise considering his experience level. Morales wriggled off the hook in style, striking out the next three batters (Beauprez, Chris Rivera, Martarano). The Martarano at-bat is where I saw what thought was a cutter at 78 mph. If so, it was an excellent pitch, and worth looking for in future looks. Morales got great reviews at earlier events and I can see why. The build and repertoire are strong, he has a fresh arm and he showed a great deal of poise under difficult circumstances.
Collins had moved from first base to catcher by this point and did a credible job. He has a solid setup, strong hands and sound blocking technique. My instinct is that he moves to first long term, but he could be drafted as a catcher with plus hitting skills à la Justin Morneau.
I need to mention Joey Martarano, as he looks very interesting. He’s a huge, muscular kid with a good hitting stroke and some bat speed. While he eventually struck out, he hit foul balls to both fields, showing a consistent willingness to go with the pitch. I didn’t get to see him tested at third base, but if he can stick there then he’s a tremendous prospect.
RHP Kacy Clemens, son of Roger, closed out the affair and looked good doing it. The facial resemblance is unmistakable, and he’s got a great physical foundation. His delivery starts with an overhead takeaway and had a little herk and jerk to it. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but Clemens left me very impressed. The FB wasn’t as hot as most, sitting 87-89, but he located it well, mostly between the knees and belt but elevating it for a high strike after setting it up. It remains to be seen if he’ll inherit his father’s plus velocity, but the command already looked solid. The signature pitch is a dandy curve, most in the 73-75 mph range with excellent shape and break. He threw a change as well, but didn’t have great feel for it in this look. More than his father, the comparison that came to me a couple of times was Casey Kelly, and like Kelly, Clemens may have to be convinced to turn his back on hitting and first base by the team which drafts him. Once he got the curve going it was over, and he absolutely victimized Navaretto with it for a game-ending strikeout.
Josh Hart, who received Play of the Game honors for his impressive catch in foul ground, had the only good AB against Clemens. Staying back well on a FB, he pulled his hands in and lined a single to CF. I like the swing, and when you factor in the plus defense and game-changing speed he’s going to be a first day draftee.
The last note goes to Martinez, who looked phenomenal blocking three bounced Clemens curves in the Navaretto AB. There was a lot of solid catchign in the game, but no one showcased their chops at quite the same level.
Well, that wraps up the Perfect Game. Look for our Under Armour coverage next, where we’ll get a second look at many of these players.