Adam McInturff: Hey everyone! I'm excited for my first chat here at Prospectus. Maybe by my third chat I'll have conjured something witty to say in the introduction. Let's proceed...
Rob (Alaska): So, Monte Harrison was getting a lot of love on Twitter over the weekend. Star-level tools, fantastic spring, feel for hitting coming....say some words about this dude.
Adam McInturff: 'Some words'. I kid.
Harrison is an absolute freak. I'm not sure I've scouted a blend of a guy this physical while also possessing his speed in the last few years. To that end, though, it is worth noting that his 2015 ended with an especially gnarly leg injury--and it will be interesting to see how his 6'3/220 frame holds the speed that drew consensus 60 grades and CF profiles from the scouting community. It's also important to mention that the best 'athlete' isn't always the best 'baseball player.' Or even necessarily a big leaguer, for that matter. Even so, for some additional context, I was having a conversation with a pro scout in Phoenix about Monte Harrison being the closest thing he'd seen to Carl Crawford. Similarly to Crawford, coincidentally, readers might remember that Harrison was also bought out of a commitment to Nebraska that would have allowed him to play quarterback as well as baseball.
I didn't include Harrison in the Brewers piece I did here...:
...because I only caught a few rounds of BP; he didn't play in the prospect showcase. BP here:
Harrison really struggled in an aggressive assignment to full-season ball to start 2015. He righted the ship in Helena, but a literally 42% strikeout rate in Low-A Wisconsin should give insight to the degree his hit tool is still in the works. The movement in his swing is calming down, though, and watching him take swings at Brewers camp I could see they're trying to get him to stay shorter to the ball.
His supplementary tools are great insofar as his throwing arm and glove are concerned, but all things considered--especially if the power he's flashed in BP translates into games--I think this is a RF at the end of the day. He'll go as far as the bat, and a repeat assignment to full-season ball will be telling RE: how much of his progress in Helena is for real. He's another high ceiling, low floor guy in the Brewers system. I don't think the hit tool will ever be enough for this type of guy that it's a real all-star profile, but the ceiling is that of a solid regular.
Thomas G (Raleigh, NC): I saw you were recently at the NHSI down here in the Durham area. Who were some standouts? Who didn't perform well?
Adam McInturff: Thanks for the question, Thomas. The NHSI was very organized and top-notch, as always. USA Baseball and the fellers at BA do an A+ job. For fans of baseball--and fans of America--I would recommend going to the USA Complex in Cary. It's a fantastic experience for any baseball fan.
Standouts, to varying degrees: I'll go Braxton Garrett (LHP, Florence (AL) HS), Josh Stephen (OF, Mater Dei (CA) HS), and JC Flowers (OF/RHP, Trinity Catholic (FL) HS).
Duds: Daniel Bakst (Poly Prep (NY) HS)--and this one was a no-brainer.
Back to the first list of three: Garrett was both a very known man on the national level heading into the event, but he was a standout in that he's a guy who probably jumped himself 5-10 picks or so in the Draft with his performance. Or--because there's a lot of spring left--if he stays on this course leading up to the Draft, he jumped himself from that 20-30 range to probably the 11-20 range. Unless he shows more fastball, I don't think he's a top 10 pick. If he's grabbing 93s, 94s, and 95s by the end of the spring, he could crack that next echelon.
On a different level, Stephen and Flowers more put themselves on the chance top 50-75 pick map than they probably were entering the event. Stephen made raking look effortless, going 7-8 with a HR and plenty XBHs his first two games of the event, and didn't stop hitting from there. He has a beautiful left-handed swing that's really simple, really quiet. It has the look of a 'hit tool > power' swing, mechanically, but it was enthusing to see him drive the baseball with the authority that he did.
Flowers had more scouting directors in to see him pitch than any other arm aside from Garrett. It was a rough outing, but he was the best two-way pro prospect there. Even though he got hit hard by a Huntington Beach (CA) HS club that wound up winning the whole tournament, I think the national-level decision-makers all walked away far more aware of the dual-threat projection and athleticism Flowers has on both sides of the ball.
I'm not going to go so far as to pin the exact pick range I expect Stephen and Flowers to go, but in the words of a crosschecker I spoke with: 'both guys made themselves some money this week--especially Stephen.'
Just a heads up, in the name of shameless promotion: my scouting pieces on the NHSI prospects will be available Wednesday and through the end of the week.
Drafty Dude (New York): Who is a high school player for this year's draft that you're high on that isn't in the draft book?
Adam McInturff: Drafty Dude! My dude!
It is important to note that I didn't have initial insight into who got into the Draftbook and who didn't. What's so fun about scouting is the degree we all can see the same player differently--and/or the degree personal philosophies might favor or knock a player, when someone else sees something inversely.
As such, both of these guys would have been in my draft book, and I think, frankly, they're more on teams respective radars than our book would give credence to. I'll start with Carter Kieboom, who, frankly, really should be in the book. He's been a known man from a hotbed state
for some time, he has a brother in pro ball and another one at a major D1 conference, and made an All-American appearance this year in the Under Armour game. He was one of the guys that plenty of Directors and XCs were in to see at NHSI last week. He's got a very tapered, athletic frame--he's a little taller, but he holds his features pretty similarly to Dansby Swanson. Imagine that type of frame. I think because he's a little taller than Dansby, he ultimately moves off of SS, but it's a quality glove at other infield positions. He's got surprisingly fluid actions for a guy at 6'2. The selling point, though, are really great hitting tools--even though you have to project on the over-the-fence power. His swing will lengthen at times, and I think there's a little bit of a hitch in his hand-load he could live to smoothen out when he starts facing more velocity. But as the scouting phrase goes: 'this kid has it in the hands.' It's fluidity and looseness to the stroke that you just can't teach, and when he's at this best, it's a terrific consistent point of contact that's extended and out in front of the body. I really like this kid. Bloodlines, warm-weather prep hitter, track record of hitting and success on the showcase circuit. Look out for him.
Quickly, another guy is Taylor Trammell, also from a GA high school. I've seen this kid for a few years now. He's got the greyhound build, and the hit tool can come and go, but the more you watch him he's a weird mix of an 'athlete' with the traditionally-developing hit tool...but one that has a unique feel for the game and ability to take pitches. It's weird. Usually you don't say both of those things about the same player. I'm sold on him in CF, and I believe the bat can keep getting better. He's an animal on the bases; he lives to create havoc and is always stealing bases and pushing the limit to take the extra base. I've been really impressed with him. He was a late addition to the Under Armour All-American game, and I'm glad: he belonged in one of the two AA games this summer.
Trammell likely won't go as high as Kieboom, at least not for me, but I like both guys.
Ed (Los Angeles): If you are AJ Preller do you take a bat like Rutherford, Benson at 8 then the two best arms at 24,25?
With all the HS arms in this draft San Diego can really restock their system in those first 6 picks.
Adam McInturff: This is a great question from Ed in Los Angeles. For those that don't know, the Padres have three picks in the top 30 (numbers 8, 24, and 25)--not to mention a whopping SIX picks in the top 100. That's huge for a team that is continuing to develop their farm system, especially under the eyes of their top-flight scouting staff. Say what you will about some aspects of their 2015; I think there was always a part of 'the plan' that was gunning to stock up on draft picks like this.
A quick secondary point about having this many picks: aside from the ability to just select six of the top 100 talents in the draft, readers should also remember that the new CBA rules will allow them to 'mix and match' some of the slot money assigned to each pick. With six picks in the top 100, they'll have a very large bonus pool--and could go a ton of ways with it.
Back to Ed's question: I think you raise a good point about the 'mix and match' that teams with numerous early picks usually tend to do. By 'mix and match' I mean acquiring a combination of a wide variety of toolsets. With extra picks, a club can take a few risks--and also mitigate the risks they're taking on risk/reward type of guys by throwing in some 'safe' high-floor players.
I would be incorrect to postulate the exact players the team is considering. However, yes, I agree with you, Ed, that I think there exists a high likelihood they will go with 'impact' up at the top of the draft, and play some interesting mix and match the rest of the way. I haven't seen Benson live yet this spring, though I got plenty of summer looks at him. I love the upside he has, but I'm not sold the hit tool is firmly 'there' enough for a team to take him at 8. That said, I just got done talking about all the picks the Padres had--so maybe they're more willing to take a chance with him at that spot, especially if he takes a discount relative to what the 8th slot is worth. With that extra money, they could perhaps pool the excess with the full slot value of one of their later picks for a shot down the field.
I don't feel like I answered your question fully adequately, so here's just a bit on Benson versus Rutherford for me--independent of anything Padres related:
I think they're quintessentially the inverse of one another, despite playing side by side in USA's outfield this past summer and fall. Rutherford's detractors question his CEILING--IE, how much room he has to get better. He's older for the class, and I've seen a ton of him--he is very polished already. It isn't that people doubt what he can do--I don't think you could find a scout who legitimately doesn't like the kid at all--it's that people wonder how much better he's going to get. He's probably the 'highest floor' prep bat in the class, but if you're low on him, you could probably say 'he's a very polished kid now who probably is more 'regular' than 'above-average regular or better.' Benson is the total opposite. See him on the right day, and yeah, some Heyward comps aren't massively out of place (though I don't think he's as great an athlete at the end of the day; not comp-ing the ceiling to Mayberry, Jr...but I think the body and defensive profile are more Mayberry than Heyward). But the Heyward isn't out of place. On the wrong day the kid's swing is just an absolute mess, so much so that the floor is undeniably a burned out prospect. Both players represent a certain polarity. Which polarity you want to go with likely depends on a multitude of factors.
Jon (San Diego): Can you let me know what you think of the group of HS arms in this draft? It seems like the top college arms are recovering from TJ or are disappointing this spring so far.
Beyond Groome and Pint, what do you think of Speas, I.Anderson, B.Garrett, Gowdy,Berger, R.Lawson, etc.?
Are these guys going to go higher because of the college arms faltering or do you still see them going between 15-50?
Adam McInturff: Great question Jon--really appreciate all the Draft questions from the readers today. Staying in my wheelhouse.
I'll try and touch on most of the guys you mentioned in your question.
Speas--I LOVE this guy's ceiling. Granted, I've heard from sources the control/command I said to myself 'I'm not giving up on until I ABSOLUTELY have to'...sounds like I might absolutely have to give up on it making him the top prep RHP in the class not named Pint. However, I think this is without a doubt, in my mind, the best RAW stuff of any prep righty in the class (again, not named Pint). The athleticism, the arm-speed and easy operation, and the filthy mid-90s fastball with heavy life and at-times wipeout breaking ball had some veteran crosscheckers saying 'this is what Doc Gooden looked like.' The lack of control is scary, though, and as such, I bet it is Pint and fill-in-the-blank(s) that go off the board before Speas does this June. The best recent comparison I have for Speas is Touki Toussaint. In my heart, I want to say I like Speas more. I wasn't as gung-ho about Touki as some others at the time--though I wasn't as low on him as La Russa and Dave Stewart! Zing!
Ian Anderson--This kid has a lot of athleticism and quick twitch, too. I like that. I also like that it's a fresh arm, a cold-weather kid, and I think that's going to allow more projection and room for development. When I've seen him--mostly over the showcase circuit last summer--the strikes would come and go at times, like plenty of prep arms from cold areas. Another concern is the amount of time it might take him to build up the stamina to both hold his stuff later into outings, but likely more than that, hold his stuff throughout a professional season (remember what happened to Mike Nikorak last summer?). These kids from cold-weather areas only make like 3-7 starts a spring, and those can be once a week, if not even less. Third concern: His arm action is pretty long in the back and does expose the arm a little bit in my opinion. It's a very twitchy frame, though, and the arm is fast and can catch up. There just is some cause for pause insofar as durability and injury flags are concerned. Pure stuff is good--I would say it's behind Speas, but ahead of Lawson, actually--insofar as velocity and best-executed breaking balls are concerned. A lot to like, though he has some of the typical prep arm questions, too.
Gowdy--Probably the opposite of Speas and Anderson, in that he's very polished and I don't think there's much question in terms of the 'safety' of his delivery or his ability to stay around the zone. I've heard very good things about Gowdy this spring--heard that he's making progress from where he was by summer's end and for USA--and I think if there's a prep righty that makes a jump because of the injuries/disappointing starts you mentioned, it could be this guy (or Lawson). My concerns with him relate to how much better he's going to get, and/or how much of what he's got has been developed 'in the baseball academy' versus being a byproduct of natural tools. Furthermore, I've seen him hold velocity and stuff in two-inning showcase stints, but when I saw him go later in games for USA, the stuff started to fall back later in the outing--though that's not massively uncommon for any prep arm. I don't want to harp on the negative, though. This is a kid with some physical projection left who has been up to 94 and showed a balanced mix of 50+ grade secondaries--all of which he can keep around the zone.
Braxton Garrett--Okay, so THIS is a guy who will be moving up, I think. I just saw him live last week at NHSI. He's going to be the headliner of one of my scouting pieces about the event, but to just quickly touch on him: he's got solid-average stuff, but it's all tied together with great polish, poise, and feel to pitch. Great delivery, great ability to repeat, really knows and studies the craft. Good athlete--#3 hitter and team's CF when not on the mound. Son of a coach. Ceiling to me is a reliable middle-rotation lefty starter who really competes, really can keep his club in the game. The body, body control, and delivery's posture gave me a CJ Wilson vibe. I think he has every chance to go in the top 20 picks--it's probably the most usable prep lefty changeup and curveball this side of Groome. In fact, his change is ahead of Groome's. Very high on this one. Chris Crawford totally nailed his eval of him in the Draft Book.
Austin Bergner--RHP from Windermere (FL) HS. We all like Jesus Luzardo, but we are seeing with Luzardo what can happen to these warm-weather arms who have been showcasing all year-round and have been known for years. Bergner fits that description--he actually fits it more than Luzardo. I'm not comping AJ Cole to Austin Bergner, I'm just pointing out AJ Cole was very similarly touted for years from the Orlando area same as Bergner is. I played against AJ Cole. He actually threw harder at 16-17 than he does now. While grim, that's a reminder about Florida prep arms sometimes. Bergner throws a lot of consistent strikes, and he can get a curveball that's more 5 than 6 to me in the zone, too. I worry about the wear-and-tear on the arm, I worry about how much better he's actually going to get. I don't like the plungy arm in the back, and I don't like that he drops-and-drives at 6'4 in order to pound the zone. Yes, he throws strikes because of the aggressive back-leg drive, but it kills his angle--it's more 'control' than actual 'command' in the zone. Wouldn't be holding your breath for this kid to go top 15, but I like him for what he is if he's available at the right spot.
Reggie Lawson--Great athlete, great projection, great mechanics. Can't stress enough how clean the mechanics are here, and how much that--paired with the athleticism--allows you to project heavy on some aspects. I'm not sure where the velo has been this spring, he's on the leaner side, and I saw him more a 88-91 type of guy at present when I saw him over the summer. Lawson is probably the best blend of athleticism, stuff, delivery, and projection of any of the prep righties in the class, though, and that combination gives him the chance to really step forward.
I've been massively verbose, but prep high school arms are my 'ish.' You bring up a good point about some of the college arms faltering at times or having injury concerns. I think teams are going to shy away from the risk of prep arms for the most part early in the draft (Pint, Groome being chance exceptions--because they really are different than the rest of these guys). That said, if I'm trying to take shots down the field at which of the guys you mentioned has a chance to really slide into that 10-15 range, I would go...
-Braxton Garrett, LHP
-Alex Speas--only if the strikes somehow really come on strong leading up to the Draft.
I would go in that order. Thanks, Jon, for a great question.
Travis (Milwaukee): Cody Ponce or Jorge Lopez. Who has the higher ceiling?
Adam McInturff: Ceiling is Lopez, and it's not very close. Lopez legitimately could be a #2 starter. When I saw him about two weeks ago in Phoenix, it was pretty clearly three plus pitches from a good athlete with electric arm-speed. The control/command/delivery are the factors that could hold it back from being that #2 ceiling, but it's a #2 ceiling.
Ponce has improved since I saw him as an amateur at Cal Poly Pomona, but none of his individual pitches are ahead of Lopez. The strikes probably are, though, and his frame is more 'broad and durable' than 'twitchy, lithe, and athletic' like Lopez. Can't say Ponce has the higher ceiling, though, when he doesn't have an above-average non-fastball. His cutter is good, but that's still an iteration of a fastball.
Aaron T (WI): Zach Hess pitched well in the first game of the NHSI and looked like he had a very good slider that he could move around the plate. What are your thoughts on him? Is he a guy who could be drafted or more likely to honor his LSU commit?
Adam McInturff: I'm not on Zach Hess, I never have been. I won't belabor this point because he seems like a nice kid and he's going to be a feature in one of my NHSI scouting articles. He's big, he throws hard, that's great. I didn't really like the slider and I never have. It's slurvy, it's 76-81--that's not where I want to see the velocity at for a close-to-mature frame who can run the fastball to 93-95 at best. Past that, though, his armslot will drop around the ball a lot and push it. It's a better pitch with more 'true slider' action when it is at the higher velocity band, but I still see it as an average-at-best pitch, and that average ceiling is fairly 'deep down.'
Beyond that, it's a pretty god awful arm action. Pretty terrible operation from a command and injury standpoint. The arm just flails wildly behind the body, and there's a pretty nasty head-jerk upon release. When he goes from the stretch, he loses his stuff and what command he *does* have in the first place.
If he's asking for slot money in the top 50-75 picks, I'll let him walk if I'm a scouting director. I don't think I'm very far off the consensus with this one, either. I think he'll be a good get for LSU. If this guy makes more than 10 starts at the big league level, I'll buy you dinner Aaron. I'm not saying he isn't a big leaguer, I'm just saying I see this all coming together more in a 'bullpen' kind of way.
He's a lesson in: being big and throwing hard doesn't always make you a top pro prospect.
How much of a beast is Will Benson? LH Stanton?
Adam McInturff: He is most definitely a beast. However, I wouldn't want to put Stanton on any kid. That's a lot to live up to.
Furthermore, Benson's hit tool is really in the nascent stages--and some scouts feel as though it has actually gone BACKWARDS this Spring relative to where it was last summer. He almost brings two swings to the ballpark: his BP swing (where you hear the stories that made you cite Stanton) and his game swing. His game swing, mechanically-speaking, can kind of look like he's 5'10. It is completely without leverage, and he's almost working down on the ball. There's a pretty nasty hitch in the load, and he looks almost scared when he's facing good off-speed pitches and has two strikes on him.
Is he a beast? Absolutely he's a beast. The raw power is for real, and the kid has a body that wouldn't raise eyebrows if you said 'this is Heyward-esque.' So yes, he's a beast.
But beasts aren't always the best baseball players.
Glen (Alexandria, VA): What's in the Yankees future? Any hope, or too old?
Adam McInturff: I think the Yankees actually are going to move to something we haven't seen in years now that 'da Cash-man' is more firmly holding the reins. For one, we've seen them invest way more in their scouting and player development. Secondly, we're seeing the club value pitching and defense from team-controlled players than I can remember in recent years.
After seeing Boston and the Cubs have success as major-market clubs who still utilized resources into scouting and homegrown players, I do think the Yankees will ultimately follow suit. Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, James Kaprelian and others give them a stronger and more potentially-impactful core of prospects than they've had before.
It might not be totally evident this year, specifically, but I think by 2020 we're going to see a Yankees team that will be a far cry from the 'buy 'em all' clubs we've seen in the past.
Who's Your Daddy (Washington DC): Who are you voting for in this upcoming election?
Adam McInturff: Dansby Swanson. Anchor Down, baby!
Jackson (New Jersey): How do you like Isan Diaz? Potential t100 guy?
Adam McInturff: Absolutely. I'm very high on Diaz. In my mind, he will be a top 100 guy if and when he just shows his toolset at a higher level of the minors.
I'm not at all comparing his statistical outputs to Roughned Odor, but I'll say this: When I see a left-handed-hitting second baseman who has a strong hit tool, more thump than you're expecting from more strength in his lower-half and more batspeed than I generally see in this body type/positional profile, and a high-energy style of play? I do see some Odor similarities, if only in his toolset and the 'style' of player that he is.
Again, to be clear, I am not saying Isan Diaz is exactly Roogie.
However, that should show you what I think of him, and how high I am on his performance in the Pioneer League last year-not to mention my looks at him in Spring Training this year. The guy has a natural feel to hit that you just can't teach. He hits, and hits, and hits some more. Some Brewers personnel have him penciled in sticking at shortstop, but I'm fairly convicted he's manning the keystone. I'm undeterred, however.
Dave (Panama): What kind of an impact do you foresee Jorge Lopez having this year and beyond?
Adam McInturff: This year I see him being held down in the minors at least until the Super Two stuff is out of the way. Then, it will be a matter of how well he's pitched--and probably more than that, how well he's met the developmental goals the organization sets for him internally. I don't think he has a ton to prove in Biloxi, but by the same token, I'm never a fan of sending a top pitching prospect to a hitter-haven like CoSprings. We'll see what happens in actuality.
Down the road, I think this is a guy who is...:
Best case: #2 starter, major part of the team's rebuild, potential front of their rotation of all homegrown arms in system right now.
(likely) middle ground: middle-rotation starter with great stuff, who flashes tremendous starts at times early in his career, and who leaves fans confused why the stuff is so much above the overall stats through a course of a full season. Who then, when he starts to really figure it all out at 26-27-28, puts the Brewers in a crunch to re-sign him when he's nearing the open market. Ah, to be a small-budget club.
Floor: High-leverage reliever.
When your floor is a contributory high-leverage reliever...that's a sterling endorsement. I don't toss #2 labels around much, either.
I really like this guy. It was a great scouting job by the Brewers through and through. Brewers fans should be really happy with their scouting department insofar as the potential impact they've put in the system the last few years.
Kevin (KC): Will Bubba Starling ever figure it out or will he be tantalizing and frustrating to watch?
Adam McInturff: Eh...honestly, I'm going to lean towards the ladder, with a best-case ceiling of Alex Rios.
I think he's an example of what happens in this neo-prospect age. Amateurs are oftentimes given billings that aren't fair for them to try and live up to. Starling was great, yes, but Starling also was a home-state kid who had the football/baseball intrigue. He also goes by Bubba, so, that's probably a big thing in Kansas.
Inn actuality, though, a scout would tell you that despite the hype, Bubbsy Starling was really just a 'type' of player. The same 'type' of player that say, Monte Harrison is, another guy that I'm asked about frequently. These 'types' of players are freak athletes that have all the raw power and supplementary tools in the world, but ultimately it falls down to how much they're able to bring out of the hit tool. Even if they figure it out (more or less), they often remain very slump-prone and streaky (again, Alex Rios). One factor is Starling's size. He's 6'5--a big dude. How many batting champs have that type of size? And if they do, how many hit for power? It can be hard to consistently generate hard game contact and control longer levers to bring about consistent batting average.
I'm not going to say he's a Bret Eibner in KC's system. But I don't think he's going to be the super-athlete face of the franchise, either. I'll hold to my Alex Rios best case.
That said, it's risky to fully bet against this type of athlete and raw toolset. These guys can really prove you wrong, and make unforeseen adjustments right when you're starting to pat yourself on the back as a scout. Whoops.
Steve (Philly): Not asking for the best prospect in baseball, but what current prospect do you believe will sell the most jerseys in their career?
There are a lot of things to consider, so choose wisely.
Adam McInturff: This is an 80-grade question.
I will say Dansby Swanson. He's got charisma all over him, the dude is just a stud, and, not to mention, he's a Georgia boy (Southeast--woot!). I also totally buy in insofar as his ability to stay at SS and the bat playing above-average there. He was head-and-shoulders my #1 guy entering last year's draft. The Diamondbacks did the Braves PR department a huge service by sending him there.
Dan (San Diego):
You're picking 8, do you go Rutherford, D.Perez, Moniak or Benson if given the choice of those 4?
Adam McInturff: My heart wants to say Moniak, but it's tough to prioritize a guy who won't hit for power that early with some of the other options around. Rutherford would be the safest, though I think his ceiling is lower than Perez and Benson's. Benson I don't think I can touch there, as much as I do love these types of impact athletes.
Gosh...this is a great question. I'll chicken out and say Rutherford, but I kind of have a gut feeling if it came down to Rutherford and Perez, San Diego would go Perez. This is totally postulation on my part--postulation that is somewhat predicated around AJ's stated affinity for Latin American toolsets and his success in the DR and VZ.
Cascada (Bama): % Chance a mets pitcher finishes top 3 in NL Cy young voting this year?
Adam McInturff: 75%.
Matt (Albuquerque): As a scout what are the top 5 things that you look for?
Adam McInturff: This is a great question, though it has a lot of nuance to it. It's probably best for a podcast.
However, I didn't want to let it go. Let's simplify it: 'what are you looking for in a PITCHING prospect.'
I'm always hoping that a prospect can be a starting pitcher. The types of relievers that I'll look at currently at the amateur level are almost always from the college ranks. It's bad business to pick high school relievers. So let's presume we're looking for a starting pitcher. In order for that to happen, I will look first at:
1. Body Type--does this guy have the durability to maintain his stuff and delivery every fifth day? Throughout a season? Throughout an outing?
2. Delivery--Does the delivery add or subtract from the aforementioned durability? Is it low-effort? Does it have injury red flags? Does it allow control and command--especially with non-fastballs?
3. Ability to throw secondary pitches for strikes--This is CRITICAL for me to really like a guy as a starter. At the MLB level, you have to (have to have to have to) be able to alter your sequences to big league hitters the second and third times through a lineup. Regardless of how hard you throw, one of the first scouts who really took me under their wing when I was 19 once told me: 'Big league hitters could time a bullet if they saw a gun shot over the heart of the plate enough times.' That stuck with me. You can't just be a fastball guy and expect to have top-rotation success at the big league level, ESPECIALLY as a right-handed starter.
4. Velocity--It isn't that it's not important, but I do think it's LESS important than feel to pitch, change speeds, and move different pitches around the zone. I will say that this order (control of secondaries ahead of velocity) is more for a STARTING pitcher than a reliever. If you're a reliever, part of the reason why is you don't have to face hitters more than once. As such, you CAN go at them aggressively with raw arm-strength. Not so much so if you're a starter and you want to make it past the 6th every fifth day.
5. Competitive fire--Yeah, this is a little 'scouty' of me. I know. I know. However, I'm a DC native and I've seen Stephen Strasburg for years. I think Stephen Strasburg is more TALENTED than almost any pitcher in baseball. However, you know why I think he's more of a first-division #2 starter than at true #1 ace on any team? That fire isn't there. There is VERY limited difference in terms of stuff and execution between a #1 and a #2 these days. Both of those ceilings immediately make you a tippy-top prospect everywhere you go. However, I really think the difference, therefore, lies much more in the ability to really go out there to BEAT the other club singlehandedly. Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Bob Gibson--these guys went out there to beat your ass like it was a 0-0 ballgame, regardless of score. A true #1 starter has an attribute that can't be quantified.
Steve (MD): Have you seen the GUI for Fangraphs' chats? That would be great for thses.
Adam McInturff: "I'm not your buddy, GUI."
"I'm not your GUI, fwiend."
"I'm not your fwiend, budd-ay!"
Good suggestion, all South Park references aside. Would be happy to continue this conversation about ways we could make everything better for our beloved readers. Get at me on Twitter.
Ed (Phoenix): Is Jesus Lazardo worth a shot at end of first or Sandwich round for a team with multiple pick? Heard he was 92-95 up to 97 before injury with good control and secondary stuff
Adam McInturff: I've heard the same things RE: improved velo than he showed over the summer in the early goings. Luzardo was the most polished prep lefty in the class insofar as control/command/ability to change speeds is concerned, though with him down for the count, I think that's now a title Braxton Garrett holds.
That said, some decision-maker types I've spoken with seem undeterred--and I don't blame them. Especially if you have extra picks and/or a big bonus pool to play with, yes, I definitely think this guy is worth a shot.
I would be less gung ho about ignoring the injury history if it weren't a TJ. If it were a shoulder, I might pad the brakes a little more. The track record is getting so consistent for TJs, though, that I think this is a guy to take a shot on.
I've heard he's not going to be taking much of a discount--but everyone is more confident a few months out of June. Especially if someone can talk him down into taking a haircut the earlier he's selected, I think this is a good get. There's been plenty of track record in this day and age of pitchers being down with TJ when the draft rolls around and making out just fine.
Wesley (Ny): Scouts seem torn on Dom Smith. What do you think? Is he the mets best position playing prospect?
Adam McInturff: I hate to be a downer, but I've never been a Smith guy. I think the Mets have done a fantastic job building their team overall--as much of a scout and prospect guy as I am, it's important to remember the guys with the rings on their fingers are the ones who win at the MLB level, not have the best farm system.
So I want to first say I love the way the team has been built overall, I love how good they are at scouting pitching (and it shows), and I think that front office and scouting staff is absolutely a championship-caliber group.
However, just my opinion here, I don't think having the title of 'best Mets position prospect' is immensely meaningful when you're competing with Gavin Ceech, Brandon Nimmo, and Desmond Lindsay--I like Lindsay, but he's a prep kid who hasn't played a full pro season, and he's way up there for them. I like Ceech and Nimmo, too, for what they are, but I think in a different system they're probably ranked a little differently, too.
So yes, I will say that Dom is likely their best positional prospect. And yes, he had a better 2015 than I was anticipating. I really didn't like the pick when he was drafted, the makeup (on field makeup) has always kind of bothered me, it's just a real low-energy guy, a dumpy body, a frame I can't see hitting for requisite 1st division power at the position. I do respect the hit tool, I do respect the smooth stroke and the barrel time in the hitting zone. Hell, I'm wrong about plenty--maybe I'm wrong about this one. But count me on the side of 'scouts who lean 'meh' towards Dom' until I see him actually hitting over .300 and taking walks (which he has never done in spades) enough as a 1B only to compensate for a type of power he's never really had.
Oh, and he's hitting at Citi Field.
Justin (NY): Any draft-able players I should look out for from usually barren states like Alaska?
Adam McInturff: No Brandon Nimmo's this year, unfortunately. However, the best I got for ya is good ol' Zach Muckenhirn ('Muckenhirn...Muckenhirn...Buehler...Muckenhirn...')-- a left-handed starter from The University of North Dakota.
He's made five starts on the year, posting very strong lines against both USC and Alabama.
Water break everyone! I'm going to hang with these questions past 2pm EST, though. Thanks for coming on strong and supporting my first chat here! Sit tight!
Burke Granger (Columbus, OH): As the two highest unsigned college draftees from 2015, it's certainly not looking good for the Kentucky Kyles (Funkhouser, Cody) to better their previous draft position. While it's still early, where do you see them coming off the board if this pace continues?
Adam McInturff: What's up dude? Pondering your first question.
You're right, it isn't looking great for the Kyles. Funkhouser's stuff has taken a step in the wrong direction--a continuation of the same guy who limped into the Draft last year, too--and Cody has been Cody. Damn Kyle Cody...
However, if we presume these guys are who they've shown to be THIS year only, I would go with Kyle Cody over Kyle Funkhouser for reasons of physical size and raw tools alone. Though both are pushing through some grueling outings at times, I feel it's easier to make the argument in the Draft room for the bigger, more physical, harder-throwing dude. You can maybe make the argument that because of the Wisconsin upbringing (love of cheese aside, I'm more talking about the cold-weather state factor) and physical size, Cody has more room to grow with pro coaching than Funkhouser does. I do continue to like how easy Cody is out in front of his delivery, but I remember thinking the back-leg alterations to his drive (got shorter, drove longer, lost angle) that Henderson and co. implemented made him worse. I wonder if that could be taken out--and if it would have any impact. Using the 'oh, we'll help him with pro coaching' argument is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it's right, sometimes it fools you into taking a tools guy who can't really play.
I kind of went head-to-head between Cody and Funkhouser--which I realize wasn't exactly your question--because my answer is: I have no idea where these guys are going to go. There's so much going on with both of them insofar as their fallen-from-grace ex-prospect status, very rough JR/SR campaigns on the whole, and senior-moneysaver tags that I expect massive variance team-to-team in terms of where they are on everyone's board.
Frank (San Diego):
Is Buddy Reed going to "hit" at the next level or his just going to be a great athlete? Would you prefer Stenzel, Ray or the HS Rutherford, Moniak, SS from PR?
Adam McInturff: I do think Buddy is going to hit, actually, though I think he'll always be better from one side of the plate than the other. I see him as a loose Dexter Fowler comp in the best-case. And, like Fowler, I think there's offense he will grow into as he goes into his mid-and-later 20s.
If I want safety, I'll go Senzel. If I want upside, I'll go Ray or Delvin Perez, the Puerto Rican SS. Which one I want has to do with my current farm system and how much pool I'm playing with.
Steve (Philly): Going back to the jersey-sales question, I feel like Dansby Swanson may be hurt by his market. I would imagine the favorite would be a player from a team with a larger fanbase?
But, if the question was strictly limited to pink replica jerseys, Dansby would probably be at least top 3...
Adam McInturff: He is a stud...
I hear you on the size of the market, though. I am certainly no business whiz. Who would you say? I'm genuinely curious, I think this is a very fun question.
Ian (NYC): Have you made hires to the prospect team? Is it too late to apply?
Adam McInturff: We have made some hires, but I think if someone has confidence in their ability to evaluate--or has a demonstrated track record of scouting/working for a team in the past--it is never too late to add talent.
However, while I'm one of our three senior evaluators (and shout out to Wilson here, just cuz Wilson is my dude and he's good at what he does), it is important to mention this is not something I have imminent control over. I could be speaking out of line, and I don't mean to.
Ultimately, any additions that are made are decisions by those above myself. If you or anyone else is interested in joining up, I know I'm always happy to email and talk on the phone if that's the best step. Get at me on Twitter if you'd like to continue to talk.
Steve (PHI): Since Brendan said you saw everyone, what are your thoughts on Dylan Cease? Saw Mr. Crawford had some nice things to sayin the Ten Pack earlier today.
Adam McInturff: Ha. I didn't see quite everyone, but Cease is going to be a really fun guy to follow. There's not a prayer that his talent was synonymous with the sixth round--his arm injury at the time had something to do with it.
Additionally, I just want to use Cease as an example of the Cubs masterful job in the 2014 draft. They shocked everyone with Schwarber at #4--firmly (and rightfully) knowing how he could hit, position be damned. That alone was good, but what's more: they took the money saved from Schwarber--as well as Maryland's Jake Stinnett (who was a top SR sign in that draft, I believe) and Mark Zangunis from Virginia Tech (though I'm not sure how much of a haircut Zangunis took) to pool together money for Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Dylan Cease. That's pwn-age right there.
I have seen Cease as a HS junior, a HS senior, and as a professional as well. The armstrength is for real, as we all know. As a result of that arm-speed, the spin is also for real. It's two plus pitches, definitely a guy who is capable of generating loads of strikeouts.
I won't put him in the bullpen absolutely, especially not right now, and especially because some aspects of his delivery I think aren't massively effort-filled. However, mechanically, there isn't a ton of cohesion between his upper and lower halves; he's never been much of a natural strike-thrower. He'll be really fascinating to monitor. Can't teach this type of raw stuff.
Mokajige (Sheboygan): Deep cut: Any thoughts on Troy Stokes. I never hear anything about him. But from what I understand he has fringe average power, plus speed, and the potential to stick in center field.
Adam McInturff: Hey, it's Sheboygan!
That is a deep cut, but I dig it. Great in-depth follow of the Brewers system. Though I was assisting in coverage of Kentucky, Ohio, and Northern Tennessee in 2014, I'm a Mid-Atlantic native, so Stokes was a guy that I saw and followed as a Baltimore-area kid.
He's a classic Brewers athlete, with speed, a chance for some pop, and questions to the hit tool. He's generously listed some places at 5'10. Really, this is a 5'8 guy who just is much stronger than you think. His hitting tools and twitchy, natural strength and batspeed indicate a chance for power--if there's one deterrent, it's simply the amount of leverage one can generate from a short frame.
The speed is definitely plus. He ran sub 6.5 60s in high school. The ability to stay in CF is there--not having seen his routes of late--it will more be a matter of how much the bat is for real on this guy insofar as whether he's an athletic ORG player, or the type of guy that's a 4th outfielder/pinch runner/defensive-value type of prospect.
I'm expecting him to get his first full-season assignment this year after two years in Helena, I believe (is that right?)...that should give some insight into his bat 2.5 years into his career and with pro coaching.
Steve (PHI): This chat is turning into the two of us on a lunch-date. What are you having to eat this afternoon?
Adam McInturff: Just your delicious questions.
Sean99 (Chicago): Does Mike Clevinger make an impact with the Indians this year?
Adam McInturff: I'm very happy that someone mentioned Mike Clevinger in this chat. Similarly happy that Brendan Gawlowski wrote him up in today's Monday Morning 10 Pack.
Clevinger left scout sections abuzz in big league Cactus games before being sent back to minor league camp--more than one scout called him the 'step-forward' prospect of the Spring.
I wrote him up here:
Today, as I mentioned, Brendan wrote him up here:
So I won't belabor this question. However, I really like Clevinger, I see a chance power-oriented #4 starter for a contender (which is really saying he's a #3 in most cases, I'm nit-picking)...and the only reason I can't see him really being a part of Cleveland's rotation at some point this year is because their rotation is already so deep. The other reason would be if Clevinger's past issues with health and durability rear their heads.
Really great question, a great 'hideout' prospect, a guy that Indians fans should really appreciate--great work by the Pro Scouting staff in Cleveland to get this guy for Vinnie Pestano. Vinnie Pestano? Man.
Phil (Bend, OR): Have you heard anything about Krook? Is having two TJ surgeries going to scare away most teams?
Adam McInturff: From what I've heard, Krook has been throwing the ball well and more or less, I think the velo is back. It's a dynamic two pitches from the left-hand side in a draft that's not super heavy on college lefties.
The injury history will be and is certainly being monitored very closely. I don't know how available (or not available) the Krook camp is making the medicals, but if they really have nothing to hide, they will get him the most money by being very open with teams releasing medical reports current and past.
Whoever takes him--presuming he goes in the range that we're discussing him--will definitely be comfortable with the medical reports they've seen. If he falls, it might be because there's something nasty on the medicals--or that the Krook camp/agent/Oregon didn't make it easy on scouts, which after surgeries plural, always makes teams concerned.
Franky (Queens): Noah Syndergaard/Matt Harvey will be a top _ pitcher over the next _ years.
Adam McInturff: Will be a top 8-10 pitcher for the next 3-5 years.
Really am all in on the Mets rotation. Clean deliveries, durable frames (yes I know they have suffered injuries too--Harvey and Matz--I think that's a byproduct of velocity and a sign of the times), great stuff, great makeup.
This homegrown rotation reminds me of the Braves of old, to some degree.
Howard (Nj): How good is Syndergaard?
Adam McInturff: Very good, and has the chance to continue getting better. He really made strides with his secondary pitches last year--even from the start of the season to the end of it.
cracker73 (Florida): Can you name some high upside prospects that are outside of the Top 100?
Adam McInturff: Because I still have a lot of questions on the docket I'm going to have to cop out here, sorry man...please get at me on Twitter if this is a substandard response. I hate giving those.
Jon (Phoenix): What kind of player is Blake Rutherford going to be? 20/20 CF?
Adam McInturff: Mayyyyybe a CF, likely see him as a corner guy.
Closer to average-solid regular than all-star all-star, if only because 'how much better will he get' is more the question than 'what's the floor?'
I see a guy who will have a solid big league career, though the prospect pedigree might outweigh the number of all-star games, so to speak.
Kyle (Wisconsin): Thoughts on Gilbert Lara? Do you think his swing could present problems for him in the future?
Adam McInturff: Well, he's not a total joke, which is legitimately a great starting point for some of these high-money guys. That's not a knock on the industry at all--it's just that hard to scout a 16 year old and have to 'pull the trigger' on a seven-figure bonus.
I wrote up Lara here, albeit in brief:
The frame really stands out when you consider how young he is. This guy is going to be a physical monster. I can see 1-2 more inches in height and 20-40 more pounds grown out. That sounds kind of nuts, but when you're standing next to him, the broadness of his upper-half and the way he carries his current frame makes it more believable.
There are some attributes of his swing that I think will cause him issue, but I don't think it's fair to assume an 18-year-old kid is going to hit like this forever. For one, his swing isn't a TOTAL wreck. Secondly, he actually does have standout hitting tools--there's a reason we have known this kid's name for a few years.
I'd like to see him get less 'drifty' in his swing and have a quieter launch position before he starts the hands, but I think I'm likely echoing what he's hearing in the cage and the video room every day.
He isn't a SS for me, though he does have the arm for third. He might be so big and rangy he has to move to an OF corner, but there's a chance for the bat to play there. If he stays in the infield, he'll need to soften his hands and probably get more natural ranging to his back-hand side.
There's a lot to like. There's also a lot to be mindful of relating to the amount of time it will take for him to put it together--or even be a palatable big league prospect such that we even really get a feel for who this guy is.
Crowdsourcing this to Brewers fans: if you were the director of PD, would you send him to full-season ball again? Or would you hold him back in Extended and send him to Helena? Playing entire season at age 18, remember.
Brian (Atlanta): If Kyle Lewis goes 3 to Atlanta -- do you think it's a reach?
Adam McInturff: Hey guys, there's actually been a few Kyle Lewis questions that I've really liked and am going to get to now. So, Brian, I'm not miffing you here so much as just using this question to let you guys know I'm getting to it now.
Jose G. (Bronx, NY): How big of a reach would Kyle Lewis be at #3 for the Braves? He offers a potential huge power bat for a system lacking in those.
Adam McInturff: Hey Jose, thanks for the questions today.
And Brain, too, we're just going to lump these into one.
I do think that Kyle Lewis would be a reach for Atlanta at #3, especially if we're just going to presume he's taking slot there and not pulling a Schwarber at #4 in 2014--where there was definitely a discount taken for pool money to be allocated elsewhere.
Atlanta has four picks in the top 100, though only one in the top 30--though it is the third pick, which will give them at least SIX million to play with up top (6.22 Mill was the slot value for #3 pick last year).
Unless they were taking a Kyle Lewis at a significant discount to make a run at...hey, let's just say Jesus Luzardo at 40-something, I think that Lewis is a reach. I do love the physicality, I do love the bat-speed, I do love the chance for power.
I've got recent looks at him though--and saw him plenty over the summer. Some scouts called him their favorite player on the Cape, and if he was maybe two years younger and didn't play at Mercer (I have a big school bias, bite me, it's historically-founded) I might agree. There's a poor man's Jorge Soler in here.
However, the hit tool is not where I want my hit tools to be if I'm paying a guy full slot that early in the draft. I think we're looking at the ceiling of a Role 55 RF who has 25+ HR potential, but will always come with lower averages and/or be slump-prone at the plate.
For more on these types of guys, scroll up for the Bubba Starling/Alex Rios answer.
Big O (Montreal ): Kind of disappointed with Robert Stephenson.He has yet to take it to the next level and chances are he maxes out as a closer.Would it be selling him low if i traded him for Nick Williams ? I like momentum and right now,it clearly is in Williams favor.
Adam McInturff: I'll say that I'm not a big Fantasy guy, so that needs to be kept in mind. I'm looking at this question from a more 'scouty' perspective, and/or a team-building one.
I agree that Robert Stephenson was billed in a way that made Reds fans anticipate more than what he's shown. Again--and I feel this has been a theme of this chat--we live in an era where 'prospect hype' has never been greater. Accordingly, certain 'player types'--that are the same types of players there have been and always will be--get billed in a way that only focuses on their ceiling, not their floors, too. Stephenson is one of those guys. As a pitcher, he's the equivalent of the tool'd up position player who has every tool there is aside from the actual ability to hit in games. Stephenson is a twitchy, athletic, hard-thrower with more stuff than command--and there's always going to be a wide variance in career outcomes for these types of guys, especially from the prep ranks.
When it comes to making that deal, first and foremost, team depth and team need are the ultimate determinants. If I'm just going head-to-head for these two guys, though, I'll probably give some nod to Williams--though I'll say it's in part because of the 'take the everyday bat over the arm' mantra, not to mention the fact I know Williams will contribute with SB totals even if the bat doesn't fully play.
I will say that, but I will add this: I think the Rangers did the right thing selling high on Williams last year. I've never seen a .300+ batting average that shouldn't have been .300 more than whatever he's doing. No doubt, he's a great athlete, and no doubt, there's a ton of tools. He's such a great athlete, actually, that he'll do some things that you've never seen on a field before--however, that's because most guys actually listen to their coaches and don't do them. This guy? Hm.
I think that he's going to need to continue to refine his offense. I wouldn't expect his statline last season to be par for the course. He's interesting in that he's an absolute toolbox with limited polish--yes, STILL limited polish--that isn't fully encountering the types of issues that guys without any polish generally tend to once they reach the high-minors.
Does that mean that he's just such a freak athlete he can get away with mechanics and an approach that shouldn't work for anyone? Time will tell.
Sean99 (Chicago): Can Jarred Cosart be a guy who makes a few adjustments tap more into the "swing and miss" stuff scouts thought he had?
Adam McInturff: In a relief role. That's where I think at his age we've seen more successful later-on-in-development transitions for these 'stuff guys.' I don't think the feel to pitch is there for this to click as a starter, and it's tough for me to say 'he's going to keep learning to pitch and improving his command as he gets older' because there's effort in the delivery.
Alex (Macon): The Braves have been pretty open about saying they'd prefer a college bat at 3. Is there one at 3 worth it? This seems like a bad draft to prefer that.
Adam McInturff: Brian from Atlanta, going to pool another one of your questions in here. Which is not a knock on your questions--I think if anything, it's a sign you're asking the right ones!
Guys, I think that it would have to be Ray or Nick Senzel. It's true, though, there's a part of me that's on the fence about either of these guys for different reasons at #3. Ray might be the guy, though, if he keeps hitting the way he's flashed at times this year. I worry about some of his pure feel to hit--and how long he's demonstrated a track record of hit tool--but by the same token, he's a great athlete. Athletes make adjustments quickly, and sometimes, you have to go with it.
It's hard for me to really feel good about saying Senzel here because it just doesn't fit the 'Braves athlete' mold. However, that could be me playing into rhetoric of old--I can't say I have any real insight into the current operation.
Alex (Tennessee): Where are you at on Corey Ray this year? Is his future in CF or a corner? Will his bat be a big enough impact in a corner? It seems like the power is coming on this year.
Adam McInturff: Just answered one about Corey Ray, so I'll stick with this theme.
There's no denying the athleticism and chance for impact power/speed toolset. He accelerates as well as any player I've ever scouted at the amateur level that has a loft-oriented, power-based stroke. It says a ton about his natural strength and the 'athlete' tool.
I worry about his pure hitting ability, though, both because of his profile and because there's not much track record of him really being a 'hitter hitter.' Mechanically, I don't care for the degree he doesn't really get quiet before the swing begins. I've seen him drift to the front foot routinely throughout this season and in years past, and I think that could be a larger deterrent to his ability to hit for average when he beings facing both better velocity and breaking stuff.
Now, it's important to mention that's a pretty easy fix, especially for someone with his athleticism and body control. I would give him the chance to stick in CF, and I think the bat plays better there because it could be WAY more impactful at a premium position given the degree I can see him being slump-prone.
Brian (Atlanta): I appreciate the answer about Lewis at 3. If he's not the guy at 3 and the Braves have said they'd prefer a college bat, do you see one at 3 which would make sense? I'm guessing Corey Ray is the only other one that would?
Adam McInturff: Just wrapping this up and reiterating: Ray or Senzel. Not sure if a college bat is really deserving of #3 pick this year--though it should be mentioned that if they're willing to take a discount, that changes a lot. The Braves could save 1, 2 million if they find the right guy at #3 who they like but also really just wants like...4 million. That's still a lot of money--but it also gives Atlanta another 2million to play with in this hypothetical.
John (Chicago): Do you see anything the O's are doing to cause their pitching prospects to fail?
Adam McInturff: I can't and shouldn't speak out a ton on this, but my gut says it is a player development staff that is a lot less progressive and regime-changed than some other aspects of the organization. I know Hunter Harvey has had some injury troubles, but we should give them credit. No one--seriously, no one but them--had him placed that high on their board. And there's a chance they were spot on about it.
Steve (philly): I'm sure this was in the BP job interview, but do you consider a hot dog a sandwich? And where do you draw the line?
Adam McInturff: Absolutely not, Steve. You get that garbage out of here. A hot dog is not a sandwich, not now, not ever. I appreciate it for what it is: an enigma that exists in a domain all its own--somewhere between steak and sandwich--filled gingerly to the brim with the proverbial excrement of other meats. I like the hot dog at the yard. I like the hot dog with mustard and ketchup (katsup? ketchup....?). But it's not a sandwich to me.
I draw the line at Philly Cheesesteak being the last domain of sandwich.
Jose (Bronx, NY): Is Kyle Lewis worthy of a top 3 pick?
Adam McInturff: Only if he's taking a discount so Atlanta can move some money around.
Steve (Philly): Okay, here's another guy you may have seen in the backfields: Pedro Gonzalez from the Rockies.
Have you gotten a look at him? I know he was DSL last year, but I've read too many articles with a Machado comp in there to not be intrigued about him as a prospect, even if it's just a remark about the body-type.
Adam McInturff: I have gotten a look at him, though I wouldn't say it is a Machado body type. It's a beanpole 6'5 body type that oozes athleticism, though he kind of looks like a baby deer right now. It's closer to a young Gregory Polanco.
The athleticism and raw power are massively interesting paired with his size. Similarly, he's eons away from the big leagues and I'm expecting at least another year of complex ball. He needs to get stronger and bring more 'now' offense into games.
He commands your attention, though, just in terms of his raw tools, the gait, and the frame. I can see why they paid him the way they did. Interesting note: I saw him in CF, not at SS.
Sean99 (Chicago): Can Rob Kaminsky surprise with more swing and miss stuff as he climbs the ladder? I know that's rare, but he was working on his changeup and loss his feel for that hammer curve he came out of HS with
Adam McInturff: Great question. I think Cleveland did a great job netting Kaminsky last year, in the same way I touched on their Pro Scouting Department's great work with Mike Clevinger earlier in the chat.
I do think he will bring out MORE swing/miss, but I don't know if it's like a 8.5-9+ K/9 type guy either--though that's more a byproduct of average fastball (albeit one with good movement) than lack of secondary stuff. I really liked his breaking ball as an amateur, and I thought that he was better than where he was selected. I think his size scared teams off at the time, though especially as a lefty, I'm not as concerned.
Jose (Bronx, NY): Do you see Nick Senzel staying at 3rd base? Can he be a middle of the order bat?
Adam McInturff: In truth, I don't have a 100% feel for this at this point, but I will come SEC Tournament time. However, I don't think it's an absolute move off, either. I do think he CAN be a middle-of-the-order bat if the power continues to stick and come on, simultaneously (that makes tons of sense when you think about it.....)
There are some guys out there that really love the bat--but moreso, love the SAFETY of the bat. I do think when you see his swing, you're looking at a right-handed hitter who can generate loft power from a relatively compact, linear path. That's a great and uncommon combination.
John (Atlanta, GA): Are you ever going to be able to get some live looks/reports in on college guys for BP's MLB Draft coverage? Thanks for your work.
Adam McInturff: Definitely, and while most of my experience scouting for big league clubs has been on the amateur side and/or in the front office itself, I'm probably going to be pretty firmly split between minors and amateur once this season starts.
We can only allocate so much to amateur-specific stuff at this time. However, I've seen a lot of these college guys both live and on video, this year and in previous years. I will also be doing a late 'sweep' of the major conferences come conference tournament time.
I never will say that a video look is AS GOOD as one live. However, especially with pitchers, I think that you can still see a lot. I'm a big believer in the power of video. Scouts can't be everywhere all the time. A video look beats no look--and it allows track records to be built for crosscheckers and directors with players that they would otherwise get only 1-2 spring looks at given their travel schedules.
JM (CT): High and low range for Andrew Benitendi as a major leaguer.
Adam McInturff: High range: broderline all-star who grinds his way to sticking in the middle of the field and carrying an above-average bat.
Low range: average regular on a corner.
Absolute hell range: 4th OF who has a wide array of overall contributions.
Wouldn't expect the absolute hell range to come about. I really have heard great things about his balanced game and championship-caliber makeup. This is a 'how high is the ceiling?' guy more than it's a 'is the floor dangerously low?'
Jake (Green Bay): Kodi Medeiros, why is he so frustrating?
Adam McInturff: Because he has such a complex delivery it is hard to repeat. He gets under the ball a ton, and his command and control show that. He might have more movement on his fastball than like--almost anyone in the minors--and sometimes that can be hard to keep going in one direction.
There's some Gio Gonzalez to this guy. Really tough angle, but he'll always be wild-ish, I think.
Bob (Cincy): Overall thoughts on the Reds farm system ? I know they took some criticism regarding recent trades but what's your take ? Thanks !
Adam McInturff: Given where their system was prior to these picks, I think they were in a mindset of 'we need to ensure (given our small-market capability) that we at least get guys in our system that we are sure are big leaguers in some capacity, even if it's with a lower ceiling.'
Larry (San Juan Capistrano):
Have you heard anything about the changes AJ Preller has made on the player development side? Obviously Logan White, Nomo, etc. are great for scouting but the Padres minor league development has been a mess for years.
Adam McInturff: Can't say a ton about this one either, but yes, I do think some changes have been made--at least some things have been shaken up.
I wouldn't expect those to be finished, either. Preller came from Texas--a PD machine--and I imagine plenty of the principles that have made the Rangers PD system what it is will continue to be implemented in San Diego.
wavid (the cmbl ): a lot of drafts in recent years have had a surefire #1 type guy get drafted (stras, harper, cole) and some not so much. where does this one rank in terms of top overall projected pick, and are there any future years that have a guy to look out for like that?
Adam McInturff: That's a great question. I think that Alex Lange and Tanner Houck are two big big 2017 names that come to mind for next year, but by the same token, I don't think either has Strasburg-ian hype. Also, this is amateur scouting. A ton can change.
As far as this year goes, I would say that we're running the risk of having a somewhat 'top of the draft is down' year--like last year, too--but the DEPTH in 2016 is head and shoulders better than 2015 in my opinion.
I'm not saying a #1 guy WON'T emerge...I just think the handful of players that came into the spring with a chance to go 1/1 haven't really nailed it down. No one has dominated with those few 'signature performances' that really cement at guy as 1/1. Last year, Dansby's SEC tournament, for instance, was that 'signature performance.'
Alex (Georgia): Can you give me your overall thoughts on the hitters in the Braves system? I obviously love the pitching, but I'm nervous about any future hitters besides Dansby and Albies.
Adam McInturff: Really respect the guys running the show and the scouting department there in Atlanta. They understand that especially in the NL, pitching wins you games.
There's a reason they're targeting a 'college bat'--so they say--in this year's draft. It makes sense. The system is VERY pitching heavy, though I agree, Dansby is a damn stud.
There just isn't even a ton of guys to talk about here in terms of their hitters. Austin Riley had a great debut, but they strayed so far from where others had him (a pitcher), you have to say to yourself 'I want to see this in a full-season league, and over time.'
That said, I really trust their scouts. I trust the guys pulling the trigger, and it wouldn't shock me if we were all wrong about Riley and they were right. He's certainly hit and hit and hit to date.
That said, yes, they definitely need to add offense--and it wouldn't shock me to see them go as 'bat heavy' as they were 'pitching heavy' last year.
Can I get a Kolby Allard, though? Love that kid. Hope he stays healthy.
Sean99 (Chicago): Would the Nats be better served keeping Joe Ross down until he gets a feel for his changeup? I see a big upside for him if he can throw an average changeup with confidence
Adam McInturff: If they weren't in a 'contend now' situation, yes. However, he's been up long enough the service time clock question (I think) isn't really in play. There is a TON of pressure on them this year. If they deem him one of their best five starters, it's 'all hands on deck' this year.
Jay (NYC): Jeff Passan, in an excerpt from The Arm in this week's SI, has a brutal takedown of Perfect Game, calling them "a running joke" and quoting others saying they're killing the sport. As an amateur scout and former team employee, your thoughts? Piece is here if you haven't caught it: http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/03/28/book-excerpt-the-arm-jeff-passan-tommy-john-surgery
Adam McInturff: I'm going to have to tread lightly on this one, though I encourage you to drop me a line on Twitter for a more in-depth conversation. There is a lot of pushback from real scouts in the industry, yes. There's also a reason why.
One thing that's true is they do a great job identifying the top players and getting them all in one place. We owe them for that.
This is my qualm with that, though I must say, this isn't PG's fault for just doing their job: I think it really waters down the role of the area scout to have a PG acting as essentially another scouting bureau. If the 'best' players are pre-determined and all showcasing in one place, all the crosscheckers and directors know who they are. In some cases, it is like our player pool as an industry is pre-determined.
If we were to take away PG--which I'm not advocating for--I think the role of the area scout 'beating the bushes' becomes vastly more important again. Scouting would go back to 'the grassroots.' Clint Eastwood would be at your son's high school games...
Let's just call them a 'reality' for now.
Steve (Philadelphia): You're coming up on the three hour point with some nice, thoughtful responses. Nice work.
What's your drink of choice when you're at a game scouting? And how common is it for scouts to have an adult beverage at a game?
Adam McInturff: My drink of choice is dip spit. Love it. Refreshing, invigorating, good for the soul.
Alcohol at games is a big no no. Very unprofessional.
DJ (Dallas): Thanks for the chat, Adam! It seems like most of you are pretty high on Rougned Odor and predict him putting up good numbers this year. I like your qualitative analysis, but don't understand how he generates much production from the bottom of the lineup. Thoughts?
Adam McInturff: I think you raise a very good point RE: Odor's numbers relative to his positioning in the lineup. While I do think he will be a bottom-third bat against lefties, remember how often he was hitting up in the lineup by season's end against opposite-handed pitchers.
That aside, I think you're right insofar as his RBI totals are concerned. Even so, especially with Desmond (hopefully) really bouncing back and lengthening the lineup, I think Odor will have much more protection than whoever hit bottom-third to start last year--and will see a lot more fastballs.
Roogie can hit a fastball. GO RANGERS!
Steve (PHI): Ruddy Giron went from subpar numbers in 2014 to outstanding numbers for his age in Fort Wayne last year. I've read a lot hyping his intangibles as a reason for that jump. What are your thoughts on his long-term future?
Adam McInturff: I don't have a great personal feel for him, though I have seen him twice. I see a hit over power bat--saw some good, hard, line-drive contact from a linear and short path in Arizona.
Would be grasping at straws, though, if I said more.
Marilyn (Boulder, CO): Who was the best "under the radar" player you saw last week?
Adam McInturff: Last week at NHSI? I'll say Landon Silver from Huntington Beach (CA) HS. Physical kid, some right-handed power. Right on the borderline between a pro guy now and a college guy. If he's willing to take fairly minimal money I could see him being a draft. If not, would be a solid 3-5th round type follow in three years.
For the 2017 class, keep an eye out for Kyle Jacobsen from Alatoona (spelling) high school. Outfielder, great instincts, has tools, really natural, effortless actions on both sides of the ball. More thump than you're expecting to the pull-side from a 6'0/180 listing, though he holds that frame a lot more impressively than you'd initially expect from a 6'0/180 height and weight. Long limbs, great taper.
Bobby DeMuro (Los Angeles): Having seen Zach Jemiola, Ryan Castellani, and Parker French in Rockies' camp this spring, is there one of those guys that stands out ahead of the others in terms of long-term predictability? Obviously all at different levels, but somewhat similar 2-seam/slider/change-up RHPs; is there one you'd give an edge to in terms of projectability to the ultimate level?
Adam McInturff: Well if it isn't young Robert DeMuro.
I would be lying to you if I said I have these guys pinned down hard in my gut. Is there a better way to say that? Maybe.
In terms of standard 'projection' I'll go with Castellani, probably just because of the frame and profile.
Nolan (Racine, WI): Michael Reed had an intriguing 2015 season. Showed a great approach, along with plus speed and arm. What are your thoughts on him? Can he be a starting MLB outfielder? Or he is just a solid 4th outfielder?
Adam McInturff: I get closer to a 'second division starter' or 4th OF/platoon type OF from him. I'll admit I don't have the best in-person feel, though. He's super physical and he's proven there's a chance average hit tool and some speed. I like the way he draws walks, though there just isn't a ton of power here.
It will be interesting to see how he comes into the fold during a rebuilding year, and with Liriano now out of the mix...
Adam McInturff: Thanks for so many questions, guys! I'm sorry that I couldn't get to each and every one. Loved spending these hours with you all.
Please give me a follow at @WAdam_McInturff, and I'll be sure to go into more detail about some of these great questions above!