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Notes from the Sally: a look at the 2015 Asheville Tourists

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Greetings, this is the second of many articles I will write as I work my way through the Sally team by team. I'll be checking in on the players I was excited to see at the beginning of the season and reporting their progress while also highlighting some breakout performers.

Meet Mr. Moon, the Asheville Tourists logo
Meet Mr. Moon, the Asheville Tourists logo

First up in the "Notes From the Sally" series was the Augusta Green Jackets, the San Francisco Giants affiliate in the South Atlantic League. Today we'll take a look at the Asheville Tourists, the Low A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. First though, lets get a little background on the unique home park in the mountains of North Carolina.

The Tourists call McCormick field their home, and one of the most unique features of this park is that it is carved out of the side of a mountain. It is extremely friendly to left handed hitters with it being only 290 feet down the right field line and just 320 feet to right center. The park does feature a 36 foot wall in right, just one foot shorter than the Green Monster in Fenway. Left field is much less forgiving however as the left center gap is 370 feet.

I consider McCormick Field my home park as I live a mile away and my wife Jean and I walk there frequently. I suspect I've seen them about 15 times this season. Coming into the season I was most excited to see Forrest Wall, Dom Nunez, Wes Rogers and Kevin Padlo. Then Omar Carrizales went and had a break out season, with Luis Jean, Jairo Rosario and Roberto Ramos all at least being interesting players.

2B Forrest Wall - Bats left, throws right. Wall is listed at 6' 176 lbs, and that looks accurate. He has great tools it's easy to see why he was a first round pick in the 2014 draft. He has a fast bat and makes a decent amount of contact but the swing gets a little long and he swings with an uppercut. I saw a few shots from him but I've also seen a lot of weak contact rollers to the left side and a lot of pop ups to SS or shallow fly balls to left center. Just an opinion but I would love to see him level the swing and get more direct to the ball and start peppering both gaps so he can better utilize that plus speed. If he keeps his current approach he'll probably hit 18-22 HR's but it will come at the expense of his BA. Defensively he can make all of the plays at second base, he just needs more focus on the routine plays.

C Dom Nunez - Bats Left, throws right. Nunez is listed at 6' 175 lbs, I think he's ten or fifteen pounds heavier than that. Had I wrote this a month ago I would have said Nunez has a level swing and primarily hits a lot of sharp grounders and low line drives to his pull side. He's since slightly opened his stance and incorporated some lift in his swing. As a result, he's putting a lot more balls in the air and all seven of his home runs have come in the last 30 days. When he pulls the ball it can go a long way (I saw him hit one over the bullpen in Greenville, 400 + feet). I've also seen four or five lazy fly balls to left with the new swing so I'm not sure he has the strength to hit the ball out the other way especially at 370'. He's hitting .366/.489/.732 over the last 30 days so it's undeniably been effective. Worth keeping an eye on, that's for sure. Defensively, he switched to catcher at the start of the 2014 season so he's still learning the position. He looks smooth back there but he's caught just 18% of runners trying to steal a base and most of his 16 errors this season has been on wild throws attempting to catch base stealers. I still think he has the tools to stay behind the plate though.

CF Wes Rogers - Bats right, throws right. Rogers is listed at 6'3" 180 lbs, that looks accurate, he's on the thin side, he may fill out some.  He shows good bat speed but his swing gets a little long. He has mostly gap power right now, I watched him hit two line drive doubles to left center in Greenville. Speed wise he's ridiculous, I would love to see a race between Jorge Mateo and Wes Rogers. My wife calls him seven steps because that's how many steps he takes to steal second base. Normally the tall lanky guys aren't great base stealers because it takes them a few strides to get to full speed, Rogers doesn't have that problem. As you might expect he covers a ton of ground in center. He has a good glove and a decent arm.

3B Kevin Padlo - Bats and throws right. Padlo is listed at 6'2" 200 lbs that looks accurate. He's a pretty well put together young man. I had great luck with Padlo, I think I saw 7 of his 12 hits in roughly 20 at bats during his time in Asheville (he was demoted to extended on May 15th). He's got a long swing and average bat speed. Everything was to the pull side when I saw him but looking at the spray chart he's been going the other way more since his demotion. I think he put too much pressure on himself while in Asheville, I'm glad to see he's doing much better in Boise. He's extremely aggressive on the bases. Twice I saw him take too wide of a turn rounding a base and ended up in a pickle. I saw him picked off of first once, but looking at the stats in Boise and he's 17-19 in SB's. At best he's an average runner maybe a 45, so that's pretty impressive, repeatable? Defensively he plays a solid third base with plenty of arm for the position.

CF Omar Carrizales - Bats and throws left.  Carrizalez is listed at 6' 175 lbs and that might be a tad light. I was not familiar with Carrizales before the start of the season.  I love to watch him hit, his swing is a little long but he has great barrel control. He's an aggressive hitter, he swings at everything but he hits nearly everything he swings at, hard. A typical Carrizales at bat is five straight fouls and then he ropes one somewhere.  And he hits from pole to pole, he recently started to show more over the fence power, hitting six home runs the last month or so after not hitting any his first 100 at bats. All of his power is to the pull side. Speed is more above average than plus and he's struggled stealing bases. Defensively he's got a good arm and a good first step. Very solid in center field.

2B-SS-3B Luis Jean - Bats and throws right. At 6'1" 150 lbs Jean handles the bat well, has plus speed and it's a treat to watch him in the field. It's a utility infield profile for me but I think he makes it.

A couple of new thumpers on the Tourists are worthy of mention, the first being Jairo Rosario. He's listed at 5'10" and 175 lbs and I laugh every time I see that. I'd venture a guess he's more like 5'10" 230. He's a tree trunk. I watched his BP and he hit nearly every ball over the wall at 370' most went well past it. During that same BP he took ground balls at third and he's listed as a catcher. So far all he's done is DH. Certainly someone worth tracking.

The second thumper is first baseman Roberto Ramos, bats left throws right, he's listed at 6'5" 220 lbs I suspect he's ten pounds heavier than that. He's got a long swing and he frequently hits long fly balls to center and left center. He has shown the ability to hit the ball out the other way and when he pulls them they're no doubters. Just a couple of names to think about for the end of your dynasty team roster.  You never know.

The 2015 Tourists are an exciting team.  Not as talented as the 2014 team, but they were loaded then and you can't always field a monster squad. I'll be back next weekend with a look at the Mets affiliate, the Savannah Sand Gnats.