And we’re back! There was so much to see on Friday at the Carpenter Complex (the Phillies’ minor league facility) that I probably didn’t nearly get all of it but I saw some things I had been hoping to see.
I’ll start with the older team, what I’ll call Group 3 (mainly because that’s how the Phillies had organized their minor league teams, into five groups). This group had Kendall Graveman starting on the mound and a lineup that featured a lot of faces from Lansing last year including Dalton Pompey, Dwight Smith, Jr., Jordan Leyland, Kellen Sweeney and Jorge Flores. I actually spent less time here than at the other diamond but I was going back and forth a bit.
The one player in this group that really stuck out a bit was Dickie Thon. Thon was a fifth round pick in 2010 who signed a big contract with the Jays and has some good bloodlines, as the son of former big leaguer (also named) Dickie Thon. Dickie the Younger has had all kinds of maladies holding him back as a professional including a kidney problem in his first professional year and an ankle injury last year. In fact, Thon, now 22, is probably going to be fast-tracked a bit if he does well, especially after a strong season (until his injury) in Vancouver last year. What I saw out of Thon was excellent. He was putting the bat on the ball solidly getting at least one hit and running well.
For a report on Graveman, unfortunately, I was at the other diamond while he was pitching but if I see a bullpen of his in a couple of days, I’ll report what I’ve seen, but in the meantime, here’s a photo.
Jordan Leyland hit the ball hard in one at bat, flying out to deep right field (the other way) and he struck out in the other at bat that I saw, swinging and missing on a pitch that painted the outside corner. At this point, I’m seeing the same things from Leyland that I saw last year in that he has trouble with the outside pitch.
Javier Avendano took to the mound and seemed to be a little on the low side of his velocity. His fastball appeared to be coming in the 85-87 mph range but he was throwing a nice curveball at around 74.
Lefty Kyle Anderson (who I’ve scouted before in Lansing) threw in the 85-86 mph range, mostly with what was probably a sinker or two-seamer and added a curve at around 74 although the one that I noted had more of frisbee-ish type of movement and lacked a lot of drop. The best pitch I saw from him was likely a two-seamer at 82 mph (unless it was a changeup that was only a few mph slower than the fastball). This pitch had very nice arm-side tail to it as well as a heavy sink.
The last pitcher I saw in that group was Jimmy Cordero, a hard-throwing Dominican who will probably be moving up quicker (now that he’s 22). While he struggled with control a lot, the radar gun I was looking at had him at 92-93 mph at the beginning of his outing and up to 96 on one pitch. His curveball was pretty decent at 77 mph but his changeup just wasn’t anywhere near the strike zone.
In the other game, much of the roster was filled by guys who were in Bluefield last year. There seemed to be a lot of hitting the other way. Mitch Nay dropped a double in from of the right fielder while Rowdy Tellez seemed committed to seeing just how close he could hit the ball to the left field line (as a left-handed hitter). Tellez had the best day by far with a walk, a single and a double. He didn’t really crush the ball but he shows some great maturity using the whole field. It’s too bad that Tellez is so gosh darn awkward in the field and on the bases. Somehow he gets the job done but he’s definitely never going to be a premiere defender.
I didn’t see too many hitters do all that much. Josh Almonte, who was in the GCL last year had a nice RBI single but was caught stealing and Boomer Collins hit a ball into the gap between short and third but the shortstop got to it and made a killer throw to get a hustling Collins at first base. Personally, I think the ump missed it but there’s no replay in A-ball spring training games. Justin Atkinson, who had a rough season last year as the youngest player to start the year in Vancouver, had a very solid base hit up the middle today in the late innings. Atkinson is a lot bigger than I thought he is and there is a possibility that his bat could play at a corner infield position if he can start hitting for some more power. In one at bat that I really saw of Anthony Alford‘s, he struck out, chasing a couple of breaking balls out of the zone. Franklin Barreto didn’t have much to do and didn’t particularly jump out and impress me either. Again, it’s easy for players to have unexciting games; it doesn’t mean that he’s not worth watching. He just didn’t do much today.
And now the pitchers. The first guy that got my attention was Alberto Tirado. Thankfully a couple of scouts let me look on to their radar guns so I could get some readings at the back diamond (on the front one, I could look on to the Blue Jays’ radar gun to get velocities).
Tirado is a guy that I missed seeing in Bluefield but he definitely wasn’t on his game yet. Once again, it’s still very early in the minor league season and the pitchers are still shaking the rust off. Tirado was throwing in the 91-93 range with his fastball but wasn’t all that in command. He seemed to experimenting with the changeup a bit as it was very inconsistent in terms of quality, velocity and location. He left a couple up and got hit hard. His slider, at 83-84 mph had some nice bite and is a better developed pitch than the changeup. He seemed to rush his delivery and lost his control when that happened. He’s a very athletic guy and has a very quick move to first base.
The next pitchers were guys that I had seen in Bluefield last year, Mark Biggs, Adaric Kelly and Brady Dragmire. I left when they were pitching to go take a look at the other diamond although I did catch a quick inning of Kelly’s. He’s actually looking even better than last year, throwing in the 90-91 mph range (as opposed to the 88-89 range that I saw in July) with the same outstanding changeup that I saw last year. Both scouts that I was watching with at the time were impressed: Kelly threw strikes and has that devastating change.
The last pitcher of the day, I really focused on: Jake Brentz. If you recall, the tall lefty was drafted by the Jays in the 11th round last year and they signed him for $700,000. Brentz is a very raw young pitcher who’s gangly with long arms and legs. While I had heard reports that he hit 97 mph in high school, he was sitting between 89-91 on the radar gun today, touching 92. He was throwing two breaking balls. The slider was the less used of the two and really isn’t worth talking about at this point. The curveball was in the 72-73 mph range and was actually pretty decent. Catcher Jorge Saez was really working well with Brentz to change speeds on the hitters and helped him induce some weak contact. Brentz is very much a work in progress and he’s going to need a while to develop.
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