This is a joint effort here by Mauricio and me — and my wife, who took the photos for this piece. My wife and I were at the game Sunday and Mauricio was there both Saturday and Sunday. I added the photo gallery with about 40 pictures some of the new players and a few more familiar faces. Scroll to the bottom for the photo gallery.
This is a supplemental piece to the recaps. Your Daily Minor League Recaps will appear sometime in the wee hours of the morning as usual.
Notes: I’ll be writing up Duane Underwood for Baseball Prospectus. My write up will appear on Monday. I also saw what Jacob Hannemann did at Daytona last night. It’s a positive sign and I will need to see more of that from him before I change my mind on the player. The only tool I saw with Hannemann during his time at Kane County was his speed. The hit tool was not impressive.
Shawon Dunston Jr. – Dunston has put together a string of solid performances and his game against West Michigan was no different. Dunston lined three balls with solid contact against quality competition. Dunston keeps his hands high in his set up and he has a small leg kick for his timing mechanism. Dunston did a good job of keeping his weight back and driving through the ball yesterday and he’s slowly changing my previous evaluation of him. He doesn’t have a good arm so he profiles as a LFer only.
Carlos Penalver – He’s still likely the only position player on Kane County that has a realistic shot at making the major leagues. Penalver made a terrific defensive play on a soft liner over the pitchers mound. He showed good instincts on charging the ball and spearing it with his bare hand. He made an accurate and strong off balance throw to get the runner just in time. It was aesthetically pleasing. The bat will have to come around in a major way, however. I thought he could hit .240 at the major league level. Now I’m not so sure.
Paul Blackburn – Athletic frame, average legs, square shoulders, rocks back with a high leg kick and follows through with a ¾ delivery. Falls off to first as momentum from rear leg swing carries him through. 90-93 with a touch of arm side run. When he’s right he can locate it. Gets into a lot of trouble when he can’t. Curveball has only flashed, tonight it was loopy and uninspiring. The change falls off nicely but it’s also an inconsistent offering. Best case scenario: Blackburn is a 4th starter who can turn in the occasional good outing as he works primarily off command. A lot of things are going to have to break right for him to get there. He’s likely a 5th/spot starter who bounces up and down between the majors and the minors.
Trey Martin – He’s my guy, but with the defense slipping in centerfield coupled with a bat that never had much projection in it to begin with and it’s looking like Trey’s stock is dropping in a big way. Earlier in the year Martin played MLB caliber defense with good instincts, strong awareness and proper decision-making. He looked like a mess last night as he straight up lost a ball in the high sky and didn’t have the crisp first step I’ve seen from him in the past. He’s young and there’s definitely time to get it back but in this snapshot of time it’s not looking real good.
I won’t do the arrow up, arrow down categories like Mauricio did, but I will provide my analysis and let you decide.
Chesny Young – Sometimes you don’t know much about a player and he jumps out at you. I know Young has put up some good numbers so far but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Young has a slender build and he doesn’t exactly look intimidating at the plate, but this kid can hit. He is still up at the plate with a patient approach. Appears to recognize pitches early. Tracks the ball well. Shows a quick, short stroke that should allow him to hit for average. He is going to be an OBP type plaeyr but probably not a whole lot of power. Nice find in the 14th round.
Jeffrey Baez – This is a big kid. You hear about the speed and athleticism and you think he is going to be built like Shawon Dunston but he is built more like Yasiel Balaguert. He has a thick lower half and quite a bit of baby fat still present. He is going to have to work hard to keep that body in shape. Right now he shows some good speed, running down a fly ball down the RF line early in the game. I didn’t get to see the arm that has gunned down 2 base runners in a game twice in the past week or so. Stance is relatively quiet then hands explode through the zone when he gets a pitch he can drive to his pull side. Good bat speed. I didn’t like his opposite field swing as, like many young hitters learning this skill, he slows his bat speed down and drags it through the zone, causing him to pop-up to short RF. I am glad he had the mindset to go that way, but that stroke needs some work. I like him. I think there is some talent even if he didn’t have a great game overall.
Shawon Dunston – No player has improved more since the first time I saw him than Dunston. He looks like he has really smoothed out the hitch in his swing. It’s still there at times but it isn’t nearly as pronounced as I had seen it in the past. I’m much less worried because he has the quick hands to get away with a hitch as long as it is a minor one. He hit the ball on the screws all day long. Good swing plane, bat stays in the zone a long time. He is going to make contact. I don’t have much question there. The question for me is whether he will develop enough power to be an MLB regular. He certainly has the hands to hit for average power so I won’t rule it out, even if he does have a slender frame and probably won’t get much bigger. The other thing that will help him is to improve on defense, if he hasn’t already. I didn’t see him challenged in the OF today but I think that if I were him, I’d work on refining reads and routes this offseason. The ability to play CF will take a lot of pressure off the need to develop more power.
Kevin Brown – I admittedly didn’t watch Brown so much as I was focused on the two new players above. Brown showed a solid approach. Stance is crouched, though not as pronounced as Kyle Schwarber. Good plane on his swing, more conducive to line drives than big power. Physically mature body, not a lot of projection. I think he can be a good hitter in the minors. We’ll have to see how far that bat can take him.
Jeimer Candelario – I mention Candelario because it look to me like he has lowered his hands. I noticed it the first time I saw him but he was inconsistent with it. After watching him the last 2 games. now it appears it is an adjustment he is consciously trying to make. The purpose is for him to try to generate a bit more lift to his swing and add some power to his game. He is a different hitter now. He doesn’t have the same quick, stroke to the ball that he has shown in the past. This swing has been re-tooled to generate more power, dropping the bat head a bit more than I have seen in the past. He looks more comfortable the last two games but the swing looks just a bit longer and thathas likely thrown off his timing this year. It will take some time for him to adjust.