Barons @ Smokies, 5/10/13 - In Living Color

FutureSox' s local guest writer in Tennessee, Brian Balta, got to watch some of the organizations top prospects in person when the Birmingham Barons visited the Tennessee Smokies.  His report includes some video and analysis from the 5/10 game specifically.  For those who aren't able to check out these prospects in person, here is your chance to get an up-close look.  This is just a one day view of these players, and is not intended to be an overarching analysis of the prospects in general...

This year I was fortunate to see the 11th game in what turned out to be an 11 game winning streak by the Birmingham Barons. The Barons won 5-4 (box score). The team is on fire and at the top of the Southern League this year, despite a couple guys struggling at the top of their order.

Pitchers:

Scott Snodgress was on the mound today. He was one of the reasons I came to this game, wanted to see him pitch. Lefty, wears number 47, pretty good looking motion overall. Mostly over the top, good easy-looking delivery:

The radar gun in the outfield of Smokies park is notoriously slow. The fastest pitch I saw Snodgress throw on the day registered at ~88, and he was consistently 85-88 with the fastball. A good conversion to fix that radar gun is to add 4 mph, so I think Snodgress was 88-92 with the fastball most of the day.

Snodgress lasted 7 innings and only gave up 2 runs, 1 on a home run by Rubi Silva that at the time tied the game up. His velocity held up well and he did a good job of retiring most of the Smokies in several innings.

If I had a complaint about Snodgress, it was that his control suffered significantly when people got on base. He walked 4 in this game and I definitely feel like there was a significant difference in his control from when he had people on base versus bases empty. If I had to judge what he needs to work on, it’s control out of the stretch.

That said, good mix of pitches, wide velocities; there was definitely a slow curve in his repertoire along with something else, either a change or a slider that sat in the low 80’s. Between a curve in the 70’s, that pitch, and an upper 80’s fastball, he’s got a good mix of pitches and I didn’t see an obvious velocity dip or control dip late in the game...

 

Jake Petricka was the first guy out of the bullpen. The line score isn’t going down well for Jake today, 2 runs, 3 hits, 2 walks in 1.2 innings, but I did feel like he pitched better than that. His fastball was slightly better than Snodgress, and during his first inning he was really good. Gave up 1 bloop single that the runner was thrown out trying to stretch into a double, then struck out the next couple guys:

He got into trouble more in the 9th, during his second inning, when the manager was clearly trying to let him finish the game. You could readily see his control deteriorating, and at the same time his fastball velocity ticked up. It looked like he was just getting it and throwing it as hard as he could with all he had left in his arm:

He’s got good stuff as well. Couldn’t recognize the offspeed stuff as well, definitely threw something but didn’t see it enough to tell you what it was. Jake is another reliever on his way up who throws in the low to mid 90’s, with plenty of promise there.

The real fun was Daniel Webb. Webb came in with 2 outs in the 9th and the bases loaded, so he wasn’t given any favors. Saw him warming up in the bullpen and thought “this guy can throw”:

 

Like I said, the OF gun usually runs at around 4 mph slow. The fastest pitch I’ve ever seen in this park was a pitch that registered 94 last year by Simon Castro. Daniel Webb came in and threw 95, 95, and 96. If I’m right and the stadium gun is down 4 mph from reality, Webb was hitting triple digits right out of the pen (Forgive my gawking at his velocity in this video):

There was also a curve ball thrown in his repertoire as well, so it’s a legit 100 combined with a low 80’s curveball. Yeah, he walked the first guy he faced to walk in a run; the batter did a good job of working the count to make it a full count before that walk happened.

The mixture of stuff is legit in Webb to the point of being scary impressive. If his arm stays on and he can throw the occasional strike he’s on his way to the big leagues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s there sooner rather than later. Webb is legitimately going to overpower people.

 

Batters:

Got my first look at both Keenyn Walker and Trayce Thompson. Trayce has an excellent figure, you can tell that body can generate some power, and Walker does get down to first very well. Aside from that, both of them had bad games with the bat, and both finished the game hitting below .200.

Not going to say they can’t improve, but definitely got the feeling that both were in-between and both were frustrated. Never like seeing the “post strikeout bat toss”, but sometimes guys do get to that point. What I could really see, particularly with Thompson, was that he’s very in-between. He wasn’t squaring up the fastball well but also was way out in front on the offspeed stuff. I bet he’s seeing better offspeed stuff at AA than he’s seen before on his way up and it’s taking him some time to get adapted to that mix of pitches.

 

Saladino was at AA last year but on the bench every game I saw. He definitely did a good job of working the count on the pitchers; drew three walks in this game and was on base 4 times. Unfortunately, did get picked off on one of those; pitcher caught him leaning, and even I could say “He’s out” before the pitcher had even thrown the ball to first, very clear. There was also a ball bouncing off the glove of one guy in the OF that helped set up that 9th inning where the game got close; that might have been Saladino or Daniel Wagner (2b), I can’t tell for sure.

Andy Wilkins had a stellar day. Hit the ball to both fields, hit the ball over the RF fence with no help from the wind, 3 for 4 with a HR. He legitimately pounded the ball.

The big blow of the day was a 3 run HR by C Mike Blanke. Pulled to LF, legitimately pounded. The HR Snodgress gave up was a little cheap, barely got over the fence; the ones hit by the Barons were pounded. Never easy to tell from a single outing how these guys will translate, but the middle of the Barons order, including Wilkins, Dan Black, and Mike Blanke are pounding the ball right now. They’ve probably been big parts of this 11 game win streak.

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