November 18, 2016
Notes from the Field
Arizona Fall League
Arguably the best prospect left in the minor leagues, Moncada absolutely looked the part of a future star early on in the AFL. On Opening Day, he went 3-5 with a home run and a double, both to the opposite field (batting left-handed), and an RBI single he laced up the middle. He played through a thumb injury for a few games, depressing his stat line, but offensively, Moncada’s upside was clear as day. There are question marks regarding his defense, at both second and third base. He seems to have the arm for third, but he may lack the instinctual reflexes necessary to not be a liability. But then again, Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols both played third base at one point in their respective careers, and Moncada is a significantly better athlete than either.
Alford has shown some serious power in the AFL, launching a home run into the cactus-laden batter’s eye at Salt River Fields during the first week. The former college football player has a potent combo of potentially average power and double-plus wheels, but he still struggles with pitch recognition. He has a noisy, deep load with a high leg kick, and a lot of moving parts to his swing.
Allen looks the part of your prototypical top-of-the-order center fielder. He has plus-plus speed which translates on the basepaths and in the outfield, and he’s a switch-hitter with a short stroke from both sides. He has an above-average eye at the plate, a capable arm from center, and even flashed some home run power, hitting two dingers in one game. I don’t expect the long ball to ever be a core facet of his game, but his speed will definitely pump up his slugging percentage. His realistic role is probably a solid fourth outfielder or a low-ceiling starter on a second-division team.
A 16th-rounder out of an Oklahoma JuCo in 2014, Laureano is a compact center fielder with deceptive strength and plus-plus speed. His has the hit tool to bat .260+, and he’ll earn additional hits with his wheels. He has a selective approach at the plate, a quick bat, and a short stroke with mild loft. He’s a strong kid, and looks like he’s probably a gym rat, but right now it’s more gap-to-gap power. I could definitely see that short porch in Houston enticing him to utilize more of his pull power.
Yu-Cheng Chang, SS, Cleveland Indians
Chang is a Taiwanese shortstop who is on the taller side for the position, but has pretty close to a prototypical build. He’s lean and athletic, has quick feet and good range, an above-average arm, excellent hands, and fluid motions. He stands tall at the plate, creates solid leverage, and swings with a fairly pronounced uppercut at times. It translates to interesting pop, particularly for a 21-year-old shortstop, but he will have to make major strides for the hit tool to come around. All things considered, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee targeted him in the nixed Jonathan Lucroy deal.
It’s not hard to see why Lugo was converted from shortstop, but it’s equally as easy to see why he lasted at shortstop so long. He’s displayed impressive glovework, making a diving play down the line and popping up to make a very strong throw across the diamond, and he instinctively charges ground balls to cut out the short hop. However, he has a pretty thick build all around, and it looks like he’ll only continue to get bigger. He has plus bat-to-ball skills and an extremely aggressive lack of plate discipline. The profile will hinge on just how good his contact rates will play against big-league arms and their accompanying defenses, and whether or not he can hone that aggressiveness and become more selective at the plate.
Similar to Lugo in many ways, Munoz is also a free-swinging converted shortstop. His bat-to-ball doesn’t seem to be quite as good as Lugo’s, but it’s above-average; the problem being he makes contact on bad pitches too frequently to be anything better than a reserve infielder right now. His glove plays well at third base, and he’s flashed some impressive range to both sides, but without average or better work ethic, he stands a chance to grow off the hot corner sooner than later. His arm is also plus, so I think he’s capable of adding value defensively, but without some serious development in the patience department, Munoz does not project as a major-league regular.
Half-brother of Dee, and full-son of Flash, Nick is a natural shortstop with an interesting left-handed swing. I’m not sold on the arm being any better than fringe-average at the moment, which could relegate him to being a premium defender at second base. He’s skinny and he displays impressive body control, instinctively sliding on one knee to make plays when necessary. He has explosive hips, quick hands, and the ability to spray the ball around the field. He’s also shown more leverage and loft than I expected, but I’m not sure it’s beneficial to his game. He has plus speed, and with additional development, could profile as a future big-league leadoff man. Regardless of how the bat plays, the speed/defense combo should carry him to a lengthy career.
Brian Anderson, 3B/OF, Miami Marlins
Tall and strong, Anderson has hit some of the furthest home runs of anyone this fall. I’m not completely sold on his glove sticking at third long-ter —it isn’t like he’s been out here making errors, I just haven’t seen the lateral quickness that makes me confident he’ll be any better than an average defender in the short-term. He certainly has the arm strength for third, but with a long, over-the-top release, his throwing motion is better suited in the outfield, where it would play as average or better in right field.
Athletic infielder with a slight frame but outstanding bat speed. He’s made some really impressive plays while I was in attendance; flashing plus glovework, plus range, and general baseball instincts to make plays. His arm is more than enough at second, and looks about league-average at third. What makes him really fun is the raw power. He has holes all over his swing, but more plate discipline than I expected.