Here's 3 more player reports from my travels around and about the Texas League. As I've become increasingly aware, there's quite the interest in what I have to offer here, and so I've created an e-mail account for people to contact me privately. While I'd encourage everybody to post baseball-related comments in this thread, I do recognize that there are some people who would rather their presence not be known for whatever reason, and so I'll try to cover my bases and hopefully make everybody happy in the process. So if you have questions, comments, words of appreciation or whatnot, feel free to send them onwards to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin Perez, LHP, Frisco Roughriders
Date of Game Scouted: June 28, 2010
Much hyped Rangers top prospect, 19 year old southpaw aggressively promoted to AA. Looks his age, yet to reach full physical maturation. Upper body is behind lower body in development at present, thin with slight shoulders. Lower body is noticeably more developed since last year, as he has put on some good weight in his thighs. Deceptively strong core given his age, will be very important for him in the future. Legitimate 6'0”, size and delivery will inevitably lead to LH Tim Lincecum comparisons. Delivery begins with front leg kick and rotation until leg is past first base, compacts his body and then explodes towards the plate. Delivery not violent but creates exceptional centrifugal force. Consistently delivers the ball from 11 o'clock arm slot. Body not yet totally ready to handle the raw power he's capable of generating, will struggle at times to hold his delivery together as he comes through. In this outing, fastball sat 91-95 MPH, touching 96 in the first inning. Velocity remarkably consistent, displayed some signs of fatigue in fourth and fifth innings as he threw two fastballs at 87 and 88 but showed good composure and recovered to end his outing throwing 92-94 MPH. Fastball not especially lively, gets tracked relatively well and can get drilled if he's not careful. Needs to get more comfortable pitching inside, sometimes overly conscious of leaving the ball out over the plate. Favors the outside half of the plate. Occasionally loses his release point in his delivery, leading to him missing his spots up or just outright leaving the ball over the plate. Seemed aware of this, overcompensated at times by releasing the ball too late and thus missing low. Would benefit immensely from the addition of a 2 seamer to get himself through ABs. Obviously wants to pitch off his fastball, good sign for the future. Perez' best secondary pitch is his 83-84 MPH changeup, which projects to be a truly outstanding plus-plus pitch. Changeup occasionally comes in a little hard, but it stays down and at its best it shows terrific fade. Perez hides his changeup exceptionally well, leading to some truly awful swings-and-misses by opposing batters, and the muscle memory he shows in using his changeup is rarely seen in major league pitchers, let alone minor leaguers. His third pitch is a curveball, which is inconsistent but very promising. Seems to struggle with getting under it as he delivers the ball, which causes it to miss up and well out of the zone. When he does get under his curveball, however, the result is an absolute hammer with sharp break in the 79-80 MPH range, and so there is no problem projecting it to be another excellent pitch at the major league level as he develops the physical strength to command it. Not afraid to throw his secondaries in any count, another sign of a feel for pitching that is uncommon at this level.
Martin Perez is not a finished product by any means. He's going to have to get stronger, which should improve his command, and he's going to have to work on becoming more consistent with his release point. Above all else, he needs to develop a more effective approach to RH batters. Nonetheless, all of these things seem well within his reach without too much projection. Of course, most prospects at his age are going to attract attention more for their upside than their present ability, and Perez has elite upside that is very rarely seen. He has well above-average velocity from the left side, a changeup that (and I say this in total seriousness) has a chance to be one of the best pitches in all of baseball, and the makings of an excellent breaking ball. Despite the ugly season statistics at AA, Perez has the ceiling of a true No. 1 major league starter.
James Darnell, 3B, San Antonio Missions
2008 secound round pick in his first season of AA. Tremendous physical specimen who stands out among his peers. Oozes athleticism. Narrow waist, huge thighs and defined calves. Lower body strength is apparent. Upper body is more wiry than solid at this point, could probably add 10-15 pounds of muscle in his shoulders and arms if he wants to, has the physical projection that scouts crave. Very intelligent player at the plate, really works counts and rarely swings at bad pitches. Composure is impressive, refuses to press at the plate even when things aren't going his way. Bat speed is solid, has those “quick twitch” reflexes that scouts love to talk about these days, gets his bat into the zone quickly once he commits. Very level swing, geared for line drives rather than home runs. Hits the ball to all fields. Fastball hitter, especially if they're left up in the zone. Squares up fastballs beautifully. Makes a lot of very weak contact against off-speed pitches, as he doesn't adjust his swing well and gets on top of them. Texas League pitchers beating him right now with low fastballs for early strikes followed by off-speed to get him out. Considerable room for improvement if he'll add some more loft to his swing, no reason he can't be an above-average hitter. Solid runner, average speed and maybe a tick above-average, projected solid average as he fills out. Defense at 3B is questionable. Solid hands, solid arm, just doesn't have the instincts that you'd want to see. Range effectively plays as fringe-average at best at present, too willing to let SS try to make the play. Better defender when he doesn't think about the play and lets his athleticism do the work, would make me skeptical of a potential move to 2B. I think he would project best in RF, where his mobility and arm would give him a chance to be a good defender. Darnell continues to project as an solid major league regular who should provide value through a high on-base percentage and major league average or better grades in most facets of the game. He doesn't have a truly elite ceiling due to his lack of top-shelf power and defensive issues, but he's got a better bat than he's shown this year. Based on what I've seen, he's just a few minor adjustments from turning on the switch and could break out at any time.
Adrian Cardenas, 3B, Midland Rockhounds
2006 Phillies supplemental pick who was traded to Oakland in 2008, in his third go-around at Midland after demotion from AAA Sacramento. Built like second baseman from waist up, third baseman from waist down. Upper body looks mature but lacks strength and definition, close to maxed out physically if he isn't already. Medium hips, thick legs, a little bit stocky in his lower body. Doesn't look like much of an athlete but has more than you might initially think. Skilled batter, doesn't chase much and perfectly willing to work a walk. Can get beat by good off-speed stuff low and away, that's about it. Good feel for hitting, looks to all fields. Hitting technique is less impressive, with a very armsy swing that generates next to no power. Frustrating as he obviously has some lower body strength to tap into, just doesn't do it. Okay with getting the ball into the gaps. Smart pitchers will just pound him inside, although he shows some aptitude for turning on inside pitches. Not even a line drive hitter, usually soft contact off the bat, typically only shows enough loft to get the ball past the infield. Surprisingly fast runner, above-average speed even if he doesn't take advantage of it that much. Oakland has decided to put him at 3B which is puzzling. Not built for 3B, doesn't project to hit like a 3B. Range at 3B is average, gives good effort but still developing the quick reactions needed for the position. Does have good hands, should field what he can get to. Very impressive arm strength, gets plenty of carry on his throws without max effort, nice even by 3B standards. Got to see several innings of play at 2B, looks more comfortable there. Solid athletic defensive actions at 2B, better there than at 3B even if it wastes his arm. Young enough to improve, but needs to work on driving the ball. Will never be a big power hitter, but he's not playing anywhere close to his power potential currently and it's why he's not in AAA right now. Still has the potential to be a regular at 2B, hard to see him profiling very well anywhere else without some major developments. If he keeps up his conditioning, best future role might be as a super-sub type, as his speed and arm should let him play both corner OF positions. Needs to be in AAA, where the pitchers and defenses are much less forgiving.