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Tulsa Drillers Scouting Report

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Scouting Report: Tulsa Drillers

On my recent scouting foray into Oklahoma, I saw the Tulsa Drillers play two games, August 13th against Frisco, and August 17th against Midland. Here is a report on interesting Drillers players.

TULSA DRILLERS  (Double-A Colorado Rockies).

Alberto Albuquerque, RHP
    Originally in the Cubs system, traded to the Rockies in July for Jeff Baker. 23 years old, pitched an inning against Frisco on the 13th. I wasn't sitting where I could see a radar gun, but his fastball looked about 90 MPH to me, had some sinking action, and he mixed in a pretty good breaking ball. Smallish at 6-0, 160, but looks like he's a good athlete. 3.93 ERA with a 21/9 K/BB in 18 innings for the Drillers, with a 2.40 GO/AO ratio. I could see him being an effective short reliever but his stuff is not quite good enough for him to close unless his command improves significantly.

Sam Deduno, RHP
    12-2, 2.56 with a 107/58 K/BB in 116 innings, 84 hits allowed. Threw seven shutout innings against Midland in the 17th and looked great doing it. Fastball was 92-95 MPH, mixed in a slider which was a plus pitch at times. Only threw a couple of changeups but he didn't need it, as the fastball and slider was enough to keep most of the Midland hitters in check easily. His fastball has a lot of sinking action and this is reflected statistically in his 2.05 GO/AO ratio. I'm not wild about his mechanics, which look like they might put some stress on his shoulder and elbow, and indeed he is a Tommy John survivor. Stuff-wife it is all here, and he's made some improvements with his command, looking much more like a pitcher than the thrower he was a couple of years ago. 26 years old now, but someone to keep track of closely. Probably more of a reliever than a starter in the majors.

Brandon Durden, LHP
     25 year old lefty, a fourth round pick in 2005 out of Georgia College who has made slow progress through the system. 2.90 ERA with a 26/20 K/BB in 81 innings for Tulsa, 73 hits. Threw six strong innings against Frisco on the 13th, allowing just two hits. Velocity was mediocre at 86-88 MPH, but he mixed in a couple of different breaking balls, a changeup, and he threw strikes readily with a smooth, consistent delivery. Statistically his strikeout rate is way too low for him to project big success at higher levels, but he showed some pitching instincts in this game and has performed well enough in Double-A to move up. He'd held lefties to a .197 mark this year, and the LOOGY role may be his best bet. Scouts will be skeptical due to his lack of plus stuff, but it was fun to watch him pitch.

Edgmer Escalona, RHP
    22 year old Venezuelan, lanky at 6-4, 175, though he looks more like 190 or so on the mound. 3.00 ERA with 17/8 K/BB in 27 innings for Tulsa. He looked pretty terrible on the 13th, giving up two hits in a third of an inning by falling behind in the count and throwing 92 MPH fastballs high in the zone. On the 17th he threw a scoreless inning, though again his strategy was to throw 92 MPH fastballs high in the strike zone. His overall stats are actually pretty good (51/15 K/BB in 60 innings this year at two levels), but in these two games he showed spotty command of his fastball and a below average breaking ball. I did like his athleticism and he has some arm strength.

Cole Garner, OF
    Hitting .300/.348/.518 on the season with 16 homers, 13 steals, 19 walks, 69 strikeouts in 367 at-bats. Went 2-for-4 with a homer on the 13th, 1-for-4 with a double on the 17th. A 26th round pick from a California high school in 2003, Garner is a good athlete with above average speed and some power in a bat. He'll nail a fastball, and is particularly destructive against left-handed pitching, hitting .355/.402/.598 against lefties this year. On the other hand, he's impatient, and I suspect that major league pitchers would take advantage of his aggressiveness very readily. He's cut his strikeout rate sharply compared to where it was three years ago, and other than the low walk rate (just 19 in 367 at-bats this year) it is hard to pan his Double-A numbers. I was impressed with the quickness of his bat. I also thought he had a good arm for a left fielder.

Darin Holcomb, 3B
     23 years old, hitting .274/.349/.420, 48 walks, 44 strikeouts in 419 at-bats. Went 3-for-5 with a homer on the 13th, 0-for-3 with a walk on the 17th. He has a decent arm but not a lot of athleticism or quickness, and despite the home run I didn't think he projected a lot of power given his 5-11, 205 pound build. On the other hand, his bat is very polished, with excellent plate discipline and contact ability. He didn't have as much bat speed or raw power as Garner, but his approach at the plate was a lot more refined and he doesn't look like he has a problem with breaking balls or stuff outside the zone. If you could graft his hitting technique onto Garner's body, you'd have a star hitter. Was a 12th round pick in 2007 out of Gonzaga.

Anthony Jackson, OF
     25 years old, 16th round pick in 2006 out of the University of the Pacific. Undersized guy at 5-8, 175, but VERY fast, I'd say 70 speed. Has stolen 23 bases in 28 attempts this year, but hitting just .221/.303/.302. He worked the count well but seems to lack power. His speed was very apparent, especially in the outfield, where his range looked outstanding in center field. I doubt he'll hit enough to be useful. His approach was pretty good, but he just doesn't have enough pop.

Andrew Johnston, RHP
     Ninth round pick in 2005 from University of Missouri, 3.42 ERA with 34/18 K/BB in 47 innings, 53 hits, 1.81 GO/AO, 29 saves. Closed out the game on August 17th. He gave up two hits but both were cheapies, a bad hop grounder and a bloop single to right field.. Fastball velocity looked average but I didn't get an exact radar reading. Good sinking action, a decent slider, and a slingly delivery that looks like it would be tough for right-handed hitters to pick up. Indeed, he's held them to a .210 mark this year, but lefties have torched him at a .390 mark and he needs another weapon against them. Has a shot as a short reliever.

Dan Mayora, 2B
    Toolsy 24 year old Venezuelan, hitting .289/.354/.385 with 17 steals, 37 walks, 71 strikeouts in 384 at-bats. Went 1-for-4 on the 13th, 1-for-3 with a walk and a steal on the 17th. Looks like a fine athlete, with some wiry strength. I thought his approach varied a lot from at-bat to at-bat, patient sometimes but overaggressive and too power-conscious at others. Looks good with the glove, fine range afield and a strong arm for a second baseman. I'm doubt he'll hit enough to be a regular, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him have a long tenure as a utilityman.

Michael McKenry, C
    Hitting .275/.371/.453, 0-for-1 with two walks in the 13th, 1-for-3 with a walk on the 17th. Yes, he was very patient in both games and I was impressed with his offensive approach, not swinging at junk outside the zone and looking for something hittable to drive. Physically, I thought he looked like a "bad body" type player, in the sense of not looking like a chiseled athlete in uniform. Despite this, he showed good mobility behind the plate and a good arm. He hasn't fully lived up to offensive expectations this year, hitting .318/.405/.512 at home but just .230/.335/.391 on the road.

Mike Paulk, OF
    Hitting .289/.365/.414, went 0-for-3 with a walk on the 17th. Another Tulsa hitter with a polished approach, though his swing is level and he doesn't generate big power as a result. Was DHing in this game so I didn't get a read on his defense. Looked like a decent but not terrific athlete overall. 13th round pick in 2005 out of Cal State Northridge. 25 years old, might sneak into some bench time at some point but not someone who is going to play regularly in the majors unless his power suddenly spikes.

I'm short of time here and will do the Midland report tomorrow, followed by Frisco, Oklahoma City, and Salt Lake in that order.