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Las Vegas 51s Scouting Report

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Las Vegas against Omaha, August 5th and August 6th, 2009

   Omaha won the first game 14-1. The second game was an 11-inning affair, eventually won by Las Vegas 2-0. Here some notes about interesting players for Las Vegas. I'll do Omaha tomorrow.

Las Vegas 51s  (Triple-A Toronto Blue Jays)

J.P. Arencibia, C
     Hitting .228/.277/.415, went 2-for-9 in the two games I saw. Strength and raw power are obvious, and he seems to handle fastballs reasonably well, but looks much weaker against breaking stuff. As feared pre-season, his high strikeout rate and problems with plate discipline are inhibiting his production against more advanced pitching. He still has a chance to fix this at age 23, but it may be uphill. Mobility and arm strength looked very good.

Bubby Buzachero, RHP
     Short right-hander, picked up the save on August 6th. 4.05 ERA with 20/6 K/BB in 29 innings, 19 hits allowed for Vegas, very credible numbers given the environment. Sinking fastball at 87-89 MPH, and a decent slider. As a short (5-11, looks shorter) RHP without plus velocity, he faces skepticism. He does throw strikes, and it wouldn't surprise me if he had a good year or two sneaking into a middle relief role at some point.

Fabio Castro, LHP
    Tiny 5-8 lefty, fastball at 84-88 MPH, mixes in a variety of breaking balls and throws strikes. 4.15 ERA with 58/47 K/BB in 113 innings, 112 hits, again very credible performance for Las Vegas. He looks like he can be tough on lefties when his command is on, but he has to be perfect to survive. Like Buzachero, it wouldn't surprise me if Castro had a good year in someone's bullpen eventually, but his lack of velocity means he'll always have a short leash.

Brian Dopirak, 1B
    He's huge. In the two games I saw, he actually made an effort to work the count, though he had trouble making contact with breaking balls when he did pull the trigger on them, going 0-for-6 with three strikeouts in the second game for example. He was hitting .308/.374/.576 in 87 games for Double-A New Hampshire, and is hitting .333/.351/.559 for Las Vegas. However, that's deceptive: he's at .444/.447/.778 at home, but just .229/.280/.354 on the road. Basically, after seeing him in person, my opinion about him is the same as it was based just on the numbers and his history: terrific raw power, problems against breaking stuff, open question if he can hit for sufficient average and OBP in the majors.   

Dick Hayhurst, RHP
    4.20 ERA with 38/11 K/BB in 45 innings for Vegas, pitched one third of an inning on the sixth, walking one and allowing a hit. He posted a 1.72 ERA in 12 games for the Blue Jays earlier this year, though with weaker component marks. Showed fastball at 88-91 MPH in this game, though had problems locating his breaking ball. He has a good track record of success in the minors, but looks like an 11th man in the majors. Which isn't a bad thing actually; worse pitchers have had long careers.

Kevin Howard, 3B
     Hitting .333/.394/.543 for Vegas, with an even home/road split (.937 OPS at home, .935 on the road). Left-handed line drive hitter, fundamentally sound, good plate discipline, versatile with the glove. Didn't show much power in these two games, but looks like he can knock stuff into the gaps. Tools are average across the board, but he "knows how to play the game right" to use some traditionspeak, and worse players have had major league careers as bench assets.

Casey Janssen, RHP
    Threw a scoreless relief inning on the fifth, throwing a sinking 88-91 MPH fastball with an effective slider. He was ineffective at the major league level this year, used as a starter, but he's looked good in relief over the last two weeks for Las Vegas, throwing five scoreless innings in his last five outings, with five strikeouts and no walks. Perhaps relief is his long-term destination.

Rommie Lewis, LHP
    Former prospect in the Orioles system, looks like he's figured some things out this year, has a 1.38 ERA with a 12/5 K/BB in 13 innings for Vegas, had a 2.57 ERA with a 45/22 K/BB in 42 innings in Double-A. Big at 6-5, 230, bleach-blonde hair stands out under his hat. Good stuff, 90-93 MPH with a sharp slider, through he's inconsistent with the location of the breaking ball. He still needs to improve his command, but I think he can be a bullpen asset, and his stuff is good enough that he won't necessarily be confined to the LOOGY role if the command is there.

Aaron Matthews, OF
    He had a great two days in Omaha, going 6-for-9, though he's hitting just .280/.323/.375 overall this year. Short and stocky at 5-10, 215. He looks physically strong but his swing is very level and he doesn't loft the ball. Outfield range and arm strength looked good, but I just don't think there is enough bat here and at age 27 that's not likely to change.

David Purcey, LHP
    I've seen Purcey several times dating back to his college days at Oklahoma, and I've always kind of liked him, but he looked terrible Wednesday. His best fastball was 88 MPH, most of them were 85-86, and elevated in the zone to boot. He couldn't do anything with the breaking ball...struggling with location. He threw two of them about 55 feet. He walked four and gave up four hits and five runs, being removed after one inning of work. He looked like an injured pitcher, to be frank. . .there was something clearly wrong with him.

Randy Ruiz, DH
    Veteran minor league slugger, 31 years old, hitting .324/.396/.593 with 25 homers, 43 doubles, 105 RBI. A lot of this is PCL stat inflation, and scouts aren't going to say good things about his 6-1, 240 body. He hit .320/.366/.536 last year for Triple-A Rochester, a much more difficult environment, but with a 23/116 BB/K ratio. This year he's at 47/96. In these two games his approach looked good, working the count effectively, laying off junk he couldn't handle. His age and lack of tools will keep him from having a significant major league career, but if you need someone to hit 20 homers for your Triple-A team, give him a call.

Travis Snider, OF
    Hitting .313/.407/.618 in 40 games for Vegas. He looked just like you'd expect Travis Snider to look: short, stocky, strong, not much speed but plenty of juice in the bat. He fanned three times in nine at-bats, twice on breaking stuff and once on an inside fastball, but overall he had the best bat speed of anyone on the field. He'll hit just fine in the majors, he just needs more experience. The glove looked awful. His arm was just fine for left field, but his range was below average, he ran a couple of bad routes, and botched a routine fly ball. Those things can be corrected with more experience, and I remain very confident in his bat.

Zach Stewart, RHP
    Made his Triple-A debut on the fifth, throwing 92-94 MPH, with sinking action. Slider also looked good to me. The two best arms I saw on the trip were Stewart and Carlos Rosa. I don't want to make a real judgment based on just one game, but given how well he was pitching in the Reds system before the trade, I think he can help in the Blue Jays pen as soon as 2010.