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The Fringe: Kane County Prospects

We’ve talked about the top prospects a lot at Cubs Den, but what does the fringe look like? Let’s peek in at 3 guys in Kane County who are existing in the gray area between prospect and non prospect.

 Tyler Skulina – He’s a commanding presence on the mound at 6’5 and 255 lbs. A bit of an athlete, Skulina works out of a ¾ arm slot that differentiates from high to low depending on what pitch he’s throwing. That’s the major issue I have with Skulina as he stays in a high ¾ for his fastball and drop down for his curve. The release point is consistent but the arm action is slow and exaggerated, it takes a long time for the arm to come around and I don’t think there’s a lot of velo projection left here. Skulina operates in the 89-91 range. I had heard reports that he could touch 94 but I didn’t see that. The stuff is pedestrian with a curve that flashes every so often but given the mechanical issues he has to sort out I don’t see much room for improvement concerning that offering. The fastball location comes and goes with Skulina as well. There’s a lot of things to repair here regarding Skulina.

Carlos Penalver – 6’ nothing skinny shortstop with smooth fielding actions and a flat swing. Penalver’s future will be completely determined by whether he can hit at a fringe average level as he has a utility player profile. The glove can play, he has good instincts, a nice glove to hand transfer and an above average arm at short. He gets a little casual out there at times. At the plate Penalver has a below average hit tool and poor power. When he squared up the ball it went for line drives in the gap, loft and backspin doesn’t inspire much confidence that he’s going to develop power either. He’s a fun player to watch at the lower levels and he has some tools that translate to the next level, whether he’s a .240 hitter or not will determine if he makes the show.

Yasiel Balaguert – Listed at 6’2 and 215 Balaguert is a big body that looks high maintenance. Balaguert has major league bat speed and swings hard at just about everything. I saw him barrel up a few balls here and there and they went for deep line drives. It’s weird as there wasn’t much lift in the balls but the swing plane seemed conducive to it. Balaguert lacks any sort of approach so while he has great bat speed the utility isn’t there at present. I saw Balaguert swing at three straight changeups and come up empty every time. Afield Balaguert is slow footed with a strong arm, with a destination at 1st likely the approach will have to improve or he will wash out.

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  • Not a believer in Balaguert. Even if the bat comes around (and I doubt it does), I don't think he will be able to play the OF once he makes it to the majors. Actually outside of Hanneman, there really isn't much upside among the KC position players. Some nice defensive players in Penalver and Martin that might become utility/5th OF types. Lockhart is a Wes Darvill type where maybe he can also become a utility guy. Maybe one of the catchers comes through, I haven't seen enough of those guys yet to form an opinion though.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Not a big hanneman fan to be honest. Didn't jump out at me.

  • When I saw the title the first three I thought of were Remilard, Brockmeyer, and Hanneman. :) Guess I can wait till the next one though, but these are the three that have my attention right now. Amlung? and Underwood are not doing too badly either. I've kind of gotten burnt out on Balageurt since he went cold.

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Yeah those guys are up next. Blackburn in the mix too.

  • I said this the other day, but Skulina losing velocity is very depressing...

  • In reply to JLynch2247:

    Yea that is so. He may well recover that velocity. Starling Peralta seems to have done so after an off year last year. Here's to that possibility.

  • I had a lot of hope for Skulina when he was drafted..any chance it is dead arm?

  • In reply to NathanE:

    I was wondering the same thing since this is Skulina's first full pro season. He's only at 52.1 IP so far this season so he shouldn't be too fatigued yet, but maybe it's a matter of adapting to being in a pro rotation? It actually reminded me of how Paul Blackburn had some dead-arm last season at Boise (if I'm remembering that right) and now Blackburn is looking great this year, so maybe there's still some hope for Skulina. Hearing about the change in his arm slot between pitches is a little disheartening though.

  • In reply to NathanE:

    Possible but I just don't think he's very refined and the stuff isn't special. Ceiling a lot lower than I thought.

  • Going from pitching every seven days to every five days is a huge change mentally and physically.

  • Hey, Yasiel...fanning on three straight change ups is a tough trick to pull off. Thanks for coming to the yard, Meat.

  • I saw Skulina pitch earlier in the year and I wasn't entirely impressed. He had a 'meh' outing and struggled with command. If the fastball is only around 88-90 it might be tough for him to even be a bullpen guy

  • I'm a sentimental guy, so I'd like to see Shawon Dunston Jr. on the big club someday. What is the likelihood of that happening? Haven't seen his name much in the recaps, so I'm guessing that he is struggling quite a bit. Is 4th/5th outfielder what we are looking at with him?

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Not very good. He's a fringe profile at best.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    I'm a little surprised at this. Klaw had some nice things to say about him last year. Ie. Loved the approach, made good contact. He said he'd need to get stronger before he made an impact. I'd been hoping to see some improvement this year and next if he started to fill out.

  • Thank goodness for the Cubs drafting Kris Bryant aka Thor - God of Thunder (& smashing baseballs) as the rest of the 2013 draft, at least the top rounds, is off to a rough start...

    2nd round pick - Rob Zastryzny has an ERA of 7+ in A ball, throws high 80's, and has control problems

    3rd round pick - Jacob Hannemann was a college pick at 23 years old now but he has the experience of an advanced prep player, hitting .230 in A ball, has potential but maybe not enough time to reach it.

    4th round pick - Tyler Skulina - Throws high 80's, undeveloped breaking stuff, old for his development

    5th round pick - Trey Masek was a college pitcher that was decent at short season low A ball last year, in 16 innings out of the bullpen...unfortunately he went down with a dreaded shoulder injury early this year and is in EXT. Spring training, although he's pitching their and making his way back.

    6th round pick - Scott Frazier could not throw strikes this year..a true case of the Yips. Entered 2 games in Kane County and was able to throw strikes giving up 2 hits, 5 walks, and 8 runs (6 earned) for a cartoonish 162.00 ERA, he's also in Extended spring in AZ, trying t figure it out.

    I know it's WAY early, and if Bryant becomes a mega-star than the draft was already a giant success, but you would hope somebody in the next 5 picks could be a bit better.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Egads. That's rough. Maybe we can hope for one of those 32nd round miracles.

  • Going to the game Sunday. Excited to see some of the pitching and, well, Hannemann!

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