Scouting Report: Beloit Snappers
I was in Burlington, Iowa, this past weekend, taking in a pair of games between the Burlington Bees and the Beloit Snappers, then a single contest between the Bees and the Quad City River Bandits. Here is a scouting report on what I saw, beginning with Beloit.
BELOIT SNAPPERS (Low-A Midwest League, Minnesota Twins)
Steve Gruver, LHP: Seventh round pick in 2011 from University of Tennessee. Threw six shutout innings in this game. 22-year-old lefty, listed at 6-2, 205. Fastball nothing special in terms of velocity at 85-87 MPH, but he locates it well. Mixed in a decent changeup and non-descript breaking ball. He's a fine A-ball pitcher and he throws strikes, but his chances at higher levels are an open question. 5-4, 2.90 ERA, 38/15 K/BB in 59 innings, 64 hits.
Matthew Koch, C: Drafted in the 12th round in 2011 from Loyola Marymount. Well-built at 6-0, 210, slow but strong. Adequate mobility behind the plate, also shows a strong throwing arm with a reasonably fast release and has thrown out 48% of runners this year. Right-handed hitter. Swing has a slight uppercut and he has enough bat speed to hit for considerable power. Plate discipline looked OK in these two games although it was an issue in college and his strikeout rate is rather high. Currently hitting .291/.413/.544 (excellent numbers in the Midwest League) with 16 walks and 37 strikeouts in 103 at-bats. Age 23.
Drew Leachman, OF: 23 year old right-handed hitting outfielder, drafted in the 37th round in 2011 from Birmingham Southern University. Listed at 6-3, 200, but looks shorter and thinner than that. Possesses a short, compact, level, technically sound swing but he isn't likely to hit for a lot of home run power. Speed and arm strength non-descript. Hitting well so far this year, .308/.384/.436 with 17 walks, 21 strikeouts in 133 at-bats. Seems like an organization player due to mediocre tools and lack of corner power, but he should hit for average and could hang around in the system for awhile.
Nate Roberts, OF: 23-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder, went to high school in Illinois, drafted in the fifth round out of High Point University in 2010. Hitting .244/.367/.366 so far but just 12 games, 41 at-bats after starting the year on the DL. Left-handed hitter, listed at 6-1, 200. Average running speed, but aggressive at taking extra bases and seems an alert and active runner. I liked his swing: good bat speed, handles fastballs well and wasn't fooled by breaking stuff or changeups. In 115 career games in rookie ball and Low-A, he's hitting .307/.436/.471 with 10 homers, 15 steals, 55 walks, and 83 strikeouts in 485 PA. We need to see him at higher levels, but I was impressed by what I saw.
Eddie Rosario, 2B-OF: 20 year old from Puerto Rico, drafted in the fourth round in 2010. Listed at 6-0, 170, which looks about right. Left-handed hitter, very quick bat, stings the ball, good pop to the gaps, controls the strike zone very well, makes adjustments within at-bats. Handles both breaking stuff and fastballs effectively. Running speed a little above average, but he is a very aggressive, skilled, and alert baserunner who will take the extra base and pressures the defense. He played second base in one game and center field in the other. He wasn't challenged defensively so I didn't get a good in-game read on how his defense will work at second base, but he appears to have the athleticism for the position and didn't have any obvious problems. He plays with some intensity and looks like he is having fun out there, which isn't always true for A-ball players.
Miguel Sano, 3B: Age 19, still officially listed at 6-3, 195 but looks more like 6-5, 230. Despite his size, he moves with some grace on the field. Arm strength and range look just fine for third base and he handled a couple of difficult plays without any problems. He's made 21 errors already, but I didn't see any reason (based on these two games) why he can't improve defensively and be an average defender, at least. Hitting-wise, Sano has tremendous bat speed, among the best I've ever seen, with huge raw power, at least 70. He also swings and misses a lot. He actually did a decent job working counts and laying off breaking pitches and changeups, but he swung and missed on outside fastballs that he was trying too hard to pull. The Burlington pitchers didn't give him any sort of hittable fastball, pitching to the outside corner and past it, refusing to throw stuff on the inner half to him. He's hitting .240/.350/.507 with 14 homers, 33 walks, and 74 strikeouts in 225 at-bats. Given his youth, I think Sano will make the proper adjustments. If things work out: Miguel Cabrera. If they don't: Joel Guzman.
Matt Summers, RHP: Fourth round pick in 2011 from UC Irvine, gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in six innings of work. Age 23, listed at 6-1, 205. Fastball 88-91 in this game, mixed in a decent curveball. He looked pretty hittable and I wasn't especially impressed. On the season, is 5-3, 4.01 ERA with a 43/25 K/BB in 67 innings, 65 hits. I think he might do better in the pen.
Michael Tonkin, RHP: Big 6-7, 220 pound right-hander, age 22, drafted in the 30th round from a California high school in 2008, but got an overslot bonus of $230,000. He's been stuck at the lower levels of the system, but he looked really good Thursday, striking out all four of the hitters he faced. Fastball 93-94 MPH, with movement. Also used a vicious breaking ball, and his stats this season (1.50 ERA, 44/9 K/BB in 36 innings, 29 hits) don't look like a fluke to me. Negatives: he has a high-effort delivery, and this is his third run around the Midwest League. He is definitely a prospect to watch however.
Corey Williams, LHP: Listed at 6-1, 190, drafted from Vanderbilt in the third round in 2011, age 21. Lively fastball at 92-94 MPH, with good movement. Also has a slider which isn't as good as the fastball, but has potential. All his pitches move well, to the point that he had problems controlling them and walked three men in three innings of relief work, though he still picked up the save. 3.25 ERA thus far with a 29/14 K/BB in 28 innings, 1.94 GO/AO. I think he can fit quite nicely in a major league pen, with good enough stuff that he doesn't have to be a LOOGY if he can sharpen his command a bit.
JaDamion (J.D.) Williams, OF: 21-year-old switch-hitter, listed at 5-11, 183, but looks more like 6-0, 200. Above-average speed, good throwing arm, looks like a really good athlete. However, his swing looks cramped and he has problems making contact. Hitting .228/.307/.316 with 16 walks, 54 strikeouts in 158 at-bats. The tools for success are here, but he needs more work at the plate.