MWL Scouting Notes: Lake County (Indians) vs. West Michigan (Tigers) Part 2
The early season weather has wreaked havoc on the Midwest League making it difficult for me to get out and see some live action. I finally got that opportunity on Monday, April 22nd and then part of Tuesday, April 23rd in Grand Rapids, MI to check out the Tigers and Indians low A ball affiliates. While neither club carries a particularly strong farm system, there was enough interesting talent on the two teams to warrant a report on my trip.
Please keep in mind that this is hardly enough of a look to make definitive judgments on these guys, but rather just a snapshot over a two day period.
Here are some scouting notes from that trip.
West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers):
Danry Vasquez (OF)- Vasquez is a 19 year old outfielder who played LF the two days I was in Grand Rapids. He does have right field potential down the road, given his arm strength, which he showed off throwing a runner out at the plate on a base hit.Athletically, Vasquez looks a bit awkward at this stage because of a long limbed skinny frame which should be able to pack on quite a bit of muscle over the next couple years, slowing his decent running speed down in the future. Offensively, Vasquez ended up showing a good amount of versatility, bunting twice, once for a hit, as well as performing against both right and left handed pitching. For a young kid, he shows strong pitch recognition skills and enough discipline to project a guy that should hit for average. His next step will be attacking balls in the zone and driving them with authority, but that should come over time given the projection in his frame.
Devon Travis (2B)- Travis was easily the best player on the field for both teams right now. That doesn’t mean he has the highest ceiling, but his current skills suggest he should be in for a quick promotion to high A ball. Travis barreled up everything while I was there. Breaking balls, fastballs, it didn’t matter. I believe he only swung through on pitch. While he was aggressive in the batters box, he really only swung at balls in the zone, and did a good amount of damage with a double and a couple home runs, one of them the inside-the-park variety. Travis seems to have an understanding of how pitchers are going to attack him and uses the whole field. Defensively, he looked real solid as well. He showed off tremendous hands, a strong ability around the bag on the double play turn, but just a solid arm. Travis runs well now, but his short, thick lower half suggests a guy that will slow down in the future, and likely be a bit slow for a second baseman.
Jake Stewart (OF)- Stewart is an enigma of a baseball player. Physically, he is ideal. He has an athletic frame and flashes enough ability to get you interested, but in the end, you wonder if it’s enough to put a future major league projection on him. Offensively, he hit several balls hard, however his set up is what has me concerned. He has a lot of hand movement, and drops his hands significantly right before the delivery which adds some loop to his swing. Stewart did show off some quick hands, but ultimately as he begins to face better pitching, I think he is going to struggle. Defensively, he has enough speed and arm strength to play anywhere in the outfield, making a bench profile likely for Stewart.
Austin Schotts (OF)- Offensively, Schotts is over matched right now. He takes an aggressive hack, but it looks a bit long right now, and he had trouble with breaking pitches. Schotts does ooze athleticism, and his speed is off the charts, as I got to see him take off on a steal attempt where the batter made contact. Defensively, he is new to the CF position, but looked smooth handling the position in my limited look.
Endrys Briceno (SP)- Briceno is a tall, skinny right hander that is easy to dream on. His fastball sits in the low 90′s right now and touched 95. He generates the power from a quick arm action, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him add velocity as his frame fills out. There was some movement to his fastball as well, and for most of the appearance he moved it in and out pretty well. His slider wasn’t very effective. It lacked tightness, and looks to be his third best offering. Briceno’s change looks to be a potential above average future offering, as he threw it with good arm speed, and it had some late fade. Mechanically, Briceno is erratic. His performance was like two different pitchers. For four of the five innings, he looked in command, but completely lost it for an inning and struggled to get it back. I also didn’t like the body language during the inning he struggled either. Still, the arm works, but Briceno will have to tighten his breaking ball and mechanics if he is going to live out his mid rotation projection.
Jose Valdez (RP)- Valdez is the Whitecaps closer, and I could see a future in a big league bullpen here. Valdez is a fastball/slider guy who sits low to mid 90′s with his heater. I saw him hit 96 once, but he was more 93/94. His fastball is straight, but he generated good downward plane on it with an over the top delivery. His slider showed good sharp break, and if he continues to refine it, Valdez could easily have two above average pitches in the future. Command could be an issue as there is some effort in his delivery, but he threw enough strikes to be effective.