As a result of their second half performance it looks like the Cougars will be able to make the playoffs as second-half champions of the Eastern division of the Midwest League. This team has some very intriguing prospects and recently I was able to see many of them in person. Here are my observations on four young Cougars.
Wei-Chieh Huang (Starting Pitcher): Huang was born in Taiwan on September 26, 1993. He was signed by the Diamondbacks for $450,000 last July during the international signing period. Many people have recently become more aware of him because of his futures game appearance last month.
Huang is listed at 6’1", 170 and that appears pretty accurate right now. It’s a small frame and I can definitely see some physical projection remaining in Huang. Huang throws from a higher ¾ arm slot and there is some good deception in his delivery. He showed good ability to be able to repeat his delivery and has good arm speed. It's an easy delivery with barely any effort exerted. He typically delivers the ball to home in about 1.15-1.19 seconds, so he is pretty good at limiting the running game.
Huang has a traditional four-pitch mix of a fastball, curve, change-up and slider. The fastball was typically in the 88-90 mph range, touching 91 with good movement. He showed very good command of his fastball. His curveball was in the 71-77 mph range. This pitch had good 11/5 movement, but he was very inconsistent with it and occasionally struggled with his command on it. He rarely threw his slider, but when he did it was in the 85-86 mph range with decent movement. Finally is his change-up, which was typically 80-82 mph with good movement and fade. He has good deception on his change-up as he is able to maintain his arm speed well. Huang shows very good control on all his pitches. He looks like he could possibly become a back-end fourth or fifth starter.
Jose Martinez (Relief Pitcher): Martinez was becoming a very highly thought of prospect before he suffered a stress fracture in his right elbow last year. He was born on April 14th, 1994 in the Dominican Republic. He was signed by the Diamondbacks in June of 2011. Martinez is listed at 6’1" 160, however he looks a little bigger than that right now. His delivery features a big leg-kick which adds some deception, but other than that the delivery features very little deception.
Martinez throws a fastball, curve ball and a change-up. The fastball is 92-94 mph, topping out at 95 and it looked like he had absolutely no idea where it was going. As the stress fracture in his elbow gets further in the rear-view mirror and if he is able to add a little strength, I don’t think it’s crazy to think he could be consistently up into the mid-90’s more consistently sometime down the line. His curve ball is also a pretty good pitch. It was typically thrown right around 80 mph and featured good 11/4 type movement. His change-up lags pretty far behind right now. It was thrown in the high 80’s with limited deception because the velocity difference between this and his fastball isn’t enough.
I didn’t see enough of him to put a projection on him right now, but with Martinez’ fastball/curveball mix it looks like he could find a home as a high leverage reliever in the back-end of a major league bullpen.
Victor Reyes (Outfielder): Reyes was born in Reyes was signed by the Braves as an International Free Agent back on July 2nd, 2011. He was dealt by the Braves to the Diamondbacks for a competitive balance pick in April of this year. He is currently listed at 6’3" 170 and that appears fairly accurate. He has a ton of physical projection left in his frame. Combine that with his good bat speed, and Reyes should start hitting for more home run type power despite the fact he has zero career home runs in over 1,000 career minor league plate appearances.
Reyes has a wide, slightly open stance at the plate with his front shoulder turned inwards. As mentioned earlier, he has some very good bat speed, and he showed a very good approach in my brief viewings. I’m optimistic that he could potentially develop an above average hit tool. He has very limited home run power right now, but some will develop and I could see him hitting 10 a year at some point in his major league career. Certainly not middle of the order power, but enough to keep pitchers honest. He isn’t really that fast and that does affect his range in the outfield, but he takes good routes to the ball. I see an average defender in the outfield that will be limited to a corner because of his limited range. Haven’t really seen enough to project, but I’d say he is potentially a second-division regular with a realistic role as a fourth outfielder.
Dawel Lugo (Shortstop): Another guy who is relatively new to the Diamondbacks organization after being the return for Arizona in the deal that sent Cliff Pennington to Toronto. He was born on December 31st, 1994 and signed with Toronto as an International Free Agent on July 3rd, 2011. He is listed at an even six feet while tipping the scales at 190 pounds, and that appears pretty accurate. It’s a small frame and there’s some physical projection remaining, but it remains to be seen whether he can stick at shortstop long term or if he might end up moving to third.
Lugo has an open-stance and he keeps his hands very low. He showed good bat speed and good natural bat to ball ability. He has a very aggressive approach that will definitely affect his hit tool though. The line-drive approach he appplies will limit the amount of home runs he will hit, it’s below average power potential. He lacks athleticism at short which limits how much he can do there and with added size that won’t really improve long term. He showed a very good arm at shortstop that will play at both short and third if he ends up moving there. Lugo is another guy that could potentially become a second-division regular, but more realistically looks like a utility guy that can handle a number of infield positions.