The minor league season is in full swing, although I’m tired of wearing my knit hat to games. Maybe I should pull a Maddon and wear my ski cap over my baseball hat.
Enjoy this week’s scouting reports…
Manuel Margot (Bos, OF)
In my Top 10 write-up of Manuel Margot, I suggested Margot could “get on the Mookie Betts train” and move quickly through the minors. After seeing him first hand in the second week of the season, I stand by that statement whole heartedly.
The natural bat-to-ball skills are clearly evident when Margot steps into the box. He covers middle-in exceptional well with the only hole that I saw being sliders down and away. While better pitching could eventually expose this, for now, it’s all systems go as is evidence by him going 16 games before striking out.
Margot has gotten noticeably stronger since I saw him last year. At 5-foot-11 and a listed 170 pounds, he’s developing enough strength to project to average future power. That said, the swing is more line drive oriented, but with his premium bat speed, the power should come.
I was unable to get Margot on a good time to first, but reports still have him with well above, if not plus speed. That speed is clearly evident in the field as he’s able to use that in addition to excellent routes to track down most anything hit near him.
While only 20-years-old, Margot has an excellent chance to finish the season in Double-A which will likely lead to an invite to the Arizona Fall League. The larger question might be will those promotions come in a Red Sox uniform? Margot has the talent to be a first division regular in center field, but center as well as left and right are blocked for the foreseeable future in Boston. Couple that with Boston’s clear need for starting pitcher and Margot seems to be the perfect piece to build a trade around that would land a premier pitcher such as Cole Hamels. While the Phillies might have asked for Betts over the winter, I think they will quickly turn their attention to Margot, who could be as good if not better than the Sox current center fielder.
Dylan Bundy (Bal, RHP)
It seems like another lifetime that Dylan Bundy was the best pitching prospect in the game. In fact, it’s been two years since Bundy hit the minor league DL with arm trouble that eventually led to Tommy John Surgery.
I’ve now seen Bundy twice since he has returned from surgery and he is nearly back to the form he was pre-surgery. The arm strength has almost fully returned as his fastball is sitting 93-94 MPH and topping out at 96. His secondary pitches also look sharp with his cutter in particularly showing a lot of swing and miss.
The Orioles still have Bundy on a very strict pitch count and innings limit but I expect as the weather improves, the Orioles will start to stretch him out during the month of May. Assuming he’s healthy, he could join the Orioles rotation in June.
Jose De Leon (LAD, RHP)
I had a chance to catch Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jose De Leon in his second outing of the season, a cold affair against the Inland Empire 66er’s in San Bernardino California.
It was my first time seeing the 6-foot-2 righty and I came away incredibly impressed. While he’s not an imposing presence on the mound, he pitches very aggressively and is not afraid to pound batters inside with a fastball that he can run up to 96 MPH. Through his four innings, his fastball sat 92-94 MPH with hard sinking downward movement. He seemed to lose his mechanics in the fourth inning and his pitches starting catching too much of the plate which led to a couple of runs.
His out pitch is a hard slurve that sat 81-82 MPH, showing more slider than curve. While in general, I’m not a fan of the hybrid slurvy pitch, it’s a good offering for De Leon and got plenty of swings and misses. He also threw several changeups that I would grade out as average at best. While the arm speed was good, there wasn’t a lot of movement on any of the pitches. Since the changeup is a feel pitch, De Leon just needs more time with it.
All in all, it was an impressive performance and illustrates that the Dodgers clearly have something in the 22-year-old right-hander. He throws really hard with impressive arm speed and is able to control his arsenal. Given what I saw, I expect he will make short work of the California League. Double-A should be a greater challenge as it will highlight the deficiency in his changeup. That said, all the elements are there for De Leon to be a solid mid-rotation starter if not more.
Roman Quinn (Phil, OF)
I’ve been bullish on Roman Quinn since the Phillies selected him in the second round of the 2011 first year player draft. In fact, if you read back through older articles, while I waivered through Quinn’s struggles and injuries, I never lost confidence that he could become an effective big league player. With his blistering start to 2015, it looks like it’s finally coming together for the 22-year-old switch hitter.
Quinn is a premium athlete that can best seen as he patrols center field. While his routes aren’t great, his speed and reaction times allow him to catch almost everything hit near him. The speed is still 70 plus and this is after rupturing his Achilles tendon last year. Quinn’s speed is his carrying tool and what will ultimately be his meal ticket to the big leagues.
While many will compare Quinn to Ben Revere, I think Quinn is a more complete player. Despite his lack of superb route-running ability, Quinn has the athleticism to be a plus defender with a far better arm than Revere. While it would be fun to see a foot-race between the two, it’s safe to say that Quinn has the speed to steal 30 plus stolen bases at the highest level. The real difference in the two is their approach at the plate. Quinn has a lot more natural strength than Revere and ultimately should be a better hitter. Yes, I know that Revere batted .306, but it came with an .055 ISO. Quinn will have more natural doubles power and should be able to tag a handful of home runs annually.
For now though, Quinn and Revere are linked as Revere is blocking Quinn’s ascension to the big leagues. I believe that will change in the second half of year as Ruben J. Amaro should trade Revere along with Hamels and start the rebuilding process. Once that happens, the door will be open for Quinn.