Observations, Pics, and Video on 9 players from the Kane County Game

Observations, Pics, and Video on 9 players from the Kane County Game

I'm not going to write up a formal scouting report but I do have some informal observations and video on some of the players

Kyle Schwarber

When I was in Miami many years back, I went to see the college regionals and I remember watching Pat Burrell walking up to the plate for the first time.  My thought was that he exuded a presence our there that was simply different than everyone else,  He looked like a man among boys.

I got that same feeling from Kyle Schwarber.  He oozes confidence yet it's not arrogance.  He doesn't show up the pitcher or the ump for that matter.  I remember him having a discreet discussion with the ump on a questionable call that was framed around gathering information rather than questioning the ump's judgement.  Sure enough, he got the benefit of the doubt on a a borderline call that would have struck him out later in the count.  He gives respect and he seems to get it back.

As for what he looks like at the plate, he starts in a deep crouch, reminiscent of former Astro Jeff Bagwell.  He has a rolling load, as Kevin mentioned in his report, pulling his hands back fluidly rather than cocking them back as some hitters do.  He tracks the ball well, a slight leg kick before dropping the bat head as he collapses his back leg and drives through the ball. He made loud contact all day, even when he made an out. The "different sound" description definitely applies.

Trey Martin

Test

My colleague Mauricio wrote this for Baseball Prospectus,

Aesthetics are a tricky thing. They’ve compelled me to appreciate and perhaps even love fringe-type prospects with long odds who can still do that special something out on the field that endears them to me. Trey Martin is a tall lanky center fielder with speed and quickness who is just not hitting well this year. Martin keeps his hands high and takes a weird path through the strike zone. The barrel does not stay in there very long. I question the hit tool quite a bit but the man can play a mean center field. He makes good reads and he covers a ton of ground. The arm is solid, as he’s shown good strength and accuracy from left and center. I don’t know if Martin ever makes it but I really enjoy watching him.

I can relate here as a I feel the same way. If you were to start off by watching Trey Martin in CF, you would see him use those long legs to eat up ground with a graceful gait in center, the smooth athleticism, the confidence. He looks like an MLB player out there.

But the same lanky, athletic build that makes him look like a gazelle in CF sometimes makes him look gangly at the plate. He had trouble finding a rhythm and getting those arms and legs working together, sometimes over-striding and sometimes getting tied up inside. He needs a lot of reps before he resembles a major league hitter, but the skills -- the quick hands and an improving approach, are there. I'm a big fan of Martin and want to see him put it all together.

Pierce Johnson

Schwarber dugout finger

 

Schwarber dugout finger

Johnson has a nearly effortless, balanced delivery.  He tilts his right shoulder back, creating leverage and leg drive with his delivery that I think would be difficult to repeat for a less athletic pitcher.  Even Johnson struggled to do it at times, though that might have something to do with the long layoff as he comes back from his leg injury.

He threw a fastball that clocked in at 92-94 on the scouts guns and it had some arm side run.  He would also cut his fastball at times, sacrificing some velo (high 80s) but creating some tailing movement, making it a nice compliment to the fastball.  The breaking ball lacked the bite I had seen from it in the past, showing a short of slurvy, sweeping break that he used to try and get hitters to chase low and away.  He struggled with command, which has been an issue this year and especially so after the time off.

I still see a #3 starter ceiling here because of the good velo and movement with his fastball and cutter, and I think his breaking pitch will be an asset once he tightens it back to where it was earlier in the year.  The change-up will be at least average, but better command is going to be the key for him.  Wasn't at his best, but not hard to see the positives.

Jacob Hannemann

Test

Hannemann has a classic upright stance with quiet hands and solid approach at the plate.  He shows some surprising bat speed, taking an outside pitch just foul over the LF wall and then later turning on one and ripping it down the line -- again just foul.  But I didn't like his approach with two strikes, when Hannemann seemed to slow things down rather than shortening up, perhaps looking to make contact, but losing the bat speed and sort of sweeping the bat through the zone at times.

I think Hannemann is still feeling his way through and developing a consistent approach at the plate, understandable because he has had some time off, but you can definitely see glimpses of what the Cubs saw in him when they gave him $1M as a 3rd round overslot.

Duane Underwood

Underwood has an easy, athletic delivery and the best arm speed of any pitcher I saw that day.  He had trouble maintaining that velocity at the end of his outing so it may just be a matter of him building strength and stamina.  He is still young and there is still some maturing, both physically and mentally as Underwood was visibly upset with himself when he hung a curveball that got deposited over the LF wall.  His curveball was hit or miss and he slows his arm speed noticeably when he throws it, perhaps tipping it off to some of the hitters.  As far as physical gifts are concerned, Underwood may have more than anyone out there, but he also needs the most development.  Right now I see a reliever, but remember that Underwood has not yet turned 20.  It's way too early for me to make that kind of projection.  There is plenty of time for him to refine his game.

Jeimer Candelario

Schwarber dugout finger

It appeared to me that Candelario was inconsistent with his hand placement, sometimes holding them lower than I've seen him in the past as in the picture above, but sometimes even lower than that.  I wonder if he is trying to hard to generate power and in the process has gotten his normally sound swing out of whack.

On defense, Candelario made an athletic play on a slow roller and showed plenty of arm on an off-balance throw.   He can play 3B, now let's see if he can find his smooth stroke again.  The good approach is still there and he's a better hitter than he has shown so far this year.

Shawon Dunston

Test

Dunston hold his hands up high in his stance and then brings them down as he starts his load.  The hands are more quiet than the last time I saw him but there is still some movement, so what we end up seeing is that there is too much going on before the pitch gets there.  Dunston has the hand speed to get away with it against lower level pitching but I think as pitchers become more experienced, they'll exploit that extra time he needs to set up and throw off his timing.

In the outfield, Dunston has a good arm and plus athleticism but didn't always read the ball well off the bat, which means he has to use his good speed to make up ground.  Very different feel with him in the OF than with Martin, who tracks the ball early, takes good routes and makes difficult plays look routine.

I want to believe in Dunston, but he remains a raw talent at this point.  He has the good work ethic and makeup to put the needed time and effort to turn that talent into skills, so there is still hope.

Ben Carhart

Test

I was impressed by Carhart's improvement on defense.  With the bases empty, he sits very low in his crouch, setting a nice low target so that Cubs pitching prospects can pound the lower part of the zone, as they are taught to do.

He also gunned down a runner trying to steal 3rd by a good country mile.  He looked like he could stick there long term from what I saw yesterday.

Jen-Ho Tseng

Johnson had the most movement on his fastball and Underwood had the best velocity, but Tseng (90-92) had the best command of it and was able to locate it far better than either, allowing him to set hitters up for his sometimes devastating curveball .  The curveball was the best breaking pitch I saw that day.  It had more bite and depth than I saw early in the season.  It is a legit out pitch that he sets up well with his solid fastball.  The command of his fastball and curve make him one of the top 4 pitching prospects in this system along with CJ Edwards, Johnson, and Paul Blackburn.  Right now I think he ends up being the best of the bunch.

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  • A lot of players to watch in kane county. Got to get there soon before they promote Schwarber again. :)

  • In reply to John57:

    Some interesting talent, Schwarber, Tseng, and Johnson (on rehab) are the big 3, but definitely some interesting guys with some talent.

  • Question: Wouldn't Jen-Ho be the first Taiwan player to make it to the bigs, or am I forgetting someone?

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    There's been a few, the best of which has been Chien Ming Wang.

  • Geez this is great stuff, John!! Like John57 said... I'm really excited by the number of prospects and what appears to be the quality. It's going to be quite exciting as the years go on and we see them develop.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Thanks MB!

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    I'm glad you mentioned Candelario's defensive ability. We only stayed for the first game, but we saw him make some nice plays down at 3rd (which follows a pretty positive trend of what I saw from him last year as well).

    I just hope his bat gets going, because he has some good ability at 3rd.

    Underwood was very underwhelming yesterday, but has been fairly solid this season. Good to see Johnson again at KC, but he struggled a bit out there similar to his opening day start last year with the Cougars. Still, I think these two are going to do some positive things in the Cubs organization.

  • In reply to Cubs 27:

    I think Underwood showed the kind of talent he has but also the amount of work he still needs to do.

    Johnson's lack of command made for a shaky outing but the stuff was solid.

  • Good stuff, John, thanks.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Thanks Tulane.

  • John, nice scouting report but I missed u doing the normal recap of the games. FWIW? I realize it probably gets old and you do this for a change of pace.

    Today's story makes me worry about our future pitching staff though. I was hoping one of Johnson, Tseng, Underwood, Maples, etc. might make a TOR pitcher. Just reminds me we really don't really have one in our system right now. Kind of depressing and makes me hope we can somehow get one for Smardzija. As much of a long shot as it may be . . . ?

  • In reply to ddbennett34:

    I did the recap for the other games earlier today. Did you get a chance to see it because it may have gotten buried on a busy day here at the blog.

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    John,
    Kind of off topic here, but what have you heard about the Cubs' relationship with Daytona? I'm curious if the Cubs are considering a different Single A-Advanced league because of all the rain outs or if they're planning on sticking around in Daytona for a while. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.

  • In reply to Tim McCann:

    I don't think they have any plans on leaving Florida. Many teams in the same boat and probably rains a bit in Carolina League too. Other advantages outweigh missing the half dozen games or so, the professional parks and facilities, since many are used in ST, the ballpark plays more like an MLB stadium than the ones in the California League, which tend to be hitters havens and make for misleading numbers from pitchers and hitters. I think all in all the FSL is the place to be for the advanced Class A league.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, I enjoy seeing the Daytona Cubs when they're playing teams on the Gulf Coast so I do hope they stay with Daytona. I read one publication that said the Cubs recently agreed to a 10-year deal with Daytona; another blog said the agreement ends soon. So no idea! But I hope you're right! Thanks and keep up the great work with this blog. I'm never hurting for Cub news as long as there's the Den!

  • In reply to Tim McCann:

    Thanks Tim!

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    In reply to Tim McCann:

    I think you're in luck, Tim. Either way, the Cubs will have an affiliation in the FSL.

  • John, This kind of analysis is what reading cubs den such a pleasure. Thanks,

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    Thanks PW.

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    not sure what I'm more excited about - Bryant with HR #4, or Baez 2-4 tonight. If bryant keeps driving in runs, and the Cubs offense remains as pathetic as it was tonight, I'm not sure the FO will be able to withstand the withering criticism they'll get for not bringing him up. Right now the offense is Castro and Rizzo and that's about it, this is tough to watch. I'll be so glad not to have to look at another feeble Coghlan/Ruggiano/Olt/Barney/Baker/Kalish/Sweeney at bat with RISP.

  • Great stuff as always John. Thank you for what you, Felzz, Mauricio and Mike do.

    It sure seems like this KCC squad will make its way up the system together which is great. Success breeds success. Aside from Schwarber does Tseng get fast tracked at all?

  • In reply to Gator:

    I'm guessing Tseng will be brought along slowly from a yearly inning count standpoint, just because he is a really young pitcher (19!). But he's definitely the most exciting pitching prospect in the system, so the waiting will seem like ages.

    Schwarber is probably on a timeline similar to Bryant, but may spend more time in AA. Just because, you know, not everyone is going to put up a 1.160 OPS.

  • I went to the Cubs game last night, my son scored tickets. Great seats up the right field line near the bullpen. Watching Aroldis Chapman warm up became more compelling than the game in the eighth/ninth inning. It's odd to me how long it takes the Cubs pen to start warming up when a reliever is on the ropes. Great to see Rizzo slam one. Took the train back out to Glen Ellyn, the Cub fans I rode in with were there, I went and stood in the part where the stairs down are (what do call it???) and looked back and there is Kyle Schwarber, talking to these guys. I couldn't believe it. Then he said, "I'm from Cincinnati," and "We had the day off today, so I went to the game." "You're Kyle Schwarber?" "Yes." Shook his hand. We got off the train, walked up to the corner, I headed down past the high school and he started up the prairie path to the condos where my friend Kurt used to live.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    very cool story

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Very cool!

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    Hey Wastrel I grew up in Glen Ellyn.Very Cool that Schwabs lives in GE. I hope to see him around. I knew of him for around a year and was hoping to get him in the second round but he had a great season. I think he is a future hitting star.

  • Why is there no love for Daury Torrez?

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    He didn't pitch that day. I was only observing and commenting on what I saw on that particular day.

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    Great pieces John. I have the exactly same comment about Tseng's curve ball. It has added a lot of downward movement and bite compared to early season. As for the command, he personally told me he tried not to overthrow and walk anyone. This probably explains why he hasn't had his best fastball velocity yet, which was consistently at 92-95 in 2012 IBAF.

    Several videos from the Beloit game on 6/14.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuvlbLoPszLB8X8lSYdRuLg/videos

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