This past weekend I had the great opportunity to ignore some term projects and head to a couple of minor league games. Kane County threw Duane Underwood on Saturday and Jen-Ho Tseng on Sunday (which is practically must-see baseball in the Midwest League) and I got to see both from right behind home plate.
I'll have more specifics on the two starters in a separate post later this week, because I'll be using this space more to discuss what I saw from the game - general notes, ramblings, etc. I usually like to see players a few times before forming an opinion on them, so look for more developed thoughts on guys later a little later in the season.
Five Things I Liked
- Carlos Penalver's Defense - Penalver was my favorite Kane County positional prospect to watch this weekend, almost entirely due to his play in the field. On Saturday, Penalver made three excellent defensive plays, the last of which required him to range deep to his left, spin, and fire to nab the runner. It was a play that I really do not expect to see made by shortstops at this level. Beyond his great range, Penalver has a strong enough arm, soft hands, and a truly impressive feeling of comfort to his game. I've only seen a bit of him at short, but for me he's easily a better defender than last year's defensive "wizard" Marco Hernandez was.
- Yasiel Balaguert's Bat Speed - Balaguert wasn't too impressive this weekend (more on that in a bit) but his bat speed is legit. I like where his hands are in his swing, and he requires almost no load before coming forward with the bat.
- Will Remillard - Remillard is off to one of the quietly great starts to the season in the Cubs system, and I came away from the weekend impressed with his overall game. He had a good approach at the plate on Sunday, smacking the ball into right for an RBI early in the game before crushing a line drive HR later on. He also showed off his athleticism, making a nice play on a ball in no-mans land infront of the mound. I need to see him a bunch more, but its always nice to see a guy with good numbers not look like a total fluke.
- Offensive Adjustments - There were a few instances this weekend where you could pretty much see the developmental process taking place. One was Jacob Hanneman swinging through two breaking balls in the same at bat before lining the third (on a 1-2 count) into right-center for a double. The other was Yasiel Balaguert, after struggling mightily with breaking stuff all weekend, staying back on a slurvy breaking ball and lining it into center for a single.
- Jen-Ho Tseng's Changeup - Tseng has been dominant this season, and watching him in person quickly reveals why - his changeup was very good on Sunday, sitting in the low 80s with good sinking action. MWL hitters have no chance against a pitch like that, and he generated a lot of whiffs with it on Sunday.
Five Things I Didn't Like
- Duane Underwood's Fastball (After 1st inning) - I'll get into more detail about Underwood's start later this week, but seeing his fastball deteriorate with each passing inning wasn't very encouraging. He went from 93-95 in the first to 91-92 in the second, 90-91 in the third, and 88-90 in his final inning of work.
- Yasiel Balaguert's Defense - Balaguert made a diving catch in Saturday's game that was about as ungraceful as any diving catch in history. He had trouble reading the wind, changed routes twice, before falling forward and somehow coming up with the ball. In Sunday's game, his poor footspeed cost Tseng an out, as he was incapable of getting to a very high popup in foul territory down the right field line.
- Yasiel Balaguert vs. Off Speed Stuff - It feels weird to pick on him like this, cause he did have an OK weekend and I don't think he's bad, but Balaguert had some noticeable issues with spin. He was consistently fooled by it and out on his front foot, hips bailing out, and generally in no position to make contact. This is an issue for most hitters at the level, though, and hopefully Balaguert can figure it out.
- Gerardo Concepcion - Some of you may remember Concepcion from when the Cubs gave him $6 million a few years ago. Since then, the Cuban lefty has been extraordinarily disappointing. If any of you were hoping, hey, maybe he'll figure it out? No. No he wont. The stuff was incredibly soft, sitting 85 after his first inning. Doesn't even matter what the rest of his stuff looked like at that kind of velocity.
- Trey Martin - Martin generated some buzz out of the Northwest League in 2012, and then missed most of 2013. It's looking increasingly unlikely that Martin is going to amount to anything. He took one of the ugliest swings I've ever seen, and made two horrific plays in left field, one of which prevented Underwood from going farther into the game.
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Filed under: Minor League News