Scouting the Carolina League – Carolina Mudcats against the Frederick Keys

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Although Mother Nature did her best to rain the game out, luckily the skies cleared and the Frederick Keys, the High-A franchise of the Baltimore Orioles, were able to host the Carolina Mudcats, the Cleveland Indians High-A affiliate, Friday evening.  With my radar gun and stopwatch in tow, I drove to Harry Grove stadium and enjoyed one of the most comfortable nights for baseball this summer. 

After taking my seat behind home plate, my first impression was I was surprised by the number of scouts in attendance, especially the number that had clothing or paraphernalia connected to American League teams.  It was apparent the trade deadline is rapidly approaching.  Second, while I eagerly anticipated watching phenom Francisco Lindor, I was surprised by some other quality prospects for both teams.  These are some of my scouting notes from the game, a 1-0 victory for the Frederick Keys. 

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Francisco Lindor SS Carolina Mudcats

Francisco Lindor 7/12/13
Francisco Lindor 7/12/13

7-Word Scouting Report:    Above-Average 2-Way Major League Shortstop, Future All-Star

A switch-hitter with noticeable bat speed from either side of the plate, Lindor shows a short, compact swing and a mature approach at the plate.  Lindor is an excellent athlete, showing great speed as I timed him at 4.24 seconds in a jog from the right side to first base and a hustling 4.08 seconds from the left side of the plate later in the game.  His speed, in addition to his soft hands and strong throwing arm, should allow him to stay at shortstop defensively, and with some further repetition and experience, could eventually become a gold-glove caliber defender in the major leagues. 

The major question with Lindor is how much power will he hit for when he physically matures; some scouts project he will hit 15-20 home runs at his peak, while others (like myself) see him hitting closer to 5-10 home runs with plenty of doubles.  Only 19-years-old, with a few more seasons of refinement Lindor projects as a .280-.300 hitter annually with 15-20 stolen bases and above-average defense at shortstop in the big leagues.  These stats would make him one of the better middle infielders in baseball.  However, if his power develops and he also hits 15+ home runs a season, Lindor is a future all-star with the potential to be one of the better players in baseball.  To quote Eminem, “The hype is real, he is no joke”.    

Cody Anderson RHSP Carolina Mudcats

Cody Anderson Carolina Mudcats July 2013
Cody Anderson Carolina Mudcats July 2013

7-Word Scouting Report:    Durable Workhorse, Big Fastball Needs Off-speed Refinement

The Mudcats’ starting pitcher, Anderson was extremely impressive in his seven innings pitched, scattering three hits and two walks against four strikeouts against the Keys’ lineup.  Anderson features a four pitch repertoire with a heavy 91-93mph fastball, touching 95mph, with some sink and arm-side movement, an inconsistent 80-83mph curveball, a 78-81mph changeup with some downward movement, and a late-breaking 85-86mph slider he flashed only later in the game.  Built like a linebacker at 6-4 220lbs. with some projection remaining in his lower body, Anderson physically looks the part of a starting pitcher.

On the other hand, if he wants to realize his potential ceiling as a #4 starting pitcher, in my opinion Anderson needs to scrap his curveball and gain confidence in his biting, potentially above-average slider.  Although he needs refinement and significant improvement to one of his breaking pitches and further polish to his delivery, Anderson has a major league arm and should be a popular name in trade discussions this month.

Christian Walker 1B Frederick Keys

7-Word Scouting Report:    Bat-First Right-Handed First Baseman, Potential Major Leaguer

I wrote about Walker in a previous article in late May, stating I was impressed by his mature approach at the plate and pretty right-handed swing, but expected him to be a liability defensively at first base.  Upon another view almost two months later, Walker has noticeably trimmed his physique, especially his midsection, which has made him more agile and given him more range at first base. If he continues to work on his body and skills at first base, I believe he can eventually become an average defender in the big leagues.

That said Walker’s major league future is tied to his right-handed bat, which has been impressive in 2013 as evidenced by his .311/.370/.477 batting line and 11 home runs across two levels.  Walker has made improvements over the course of this season, something he will need to continue to do as he faces the difficult challenge of reaching the majors as a pure first base prospect.  I am curious to watch his progress against more difficult pitching in Double-A and Triple-A, but I expect Walker to hit his way to the Baltimore in a few seasons.   

Michael Ohlman Catcher Frederick Keys

7-Word Scouting Report:    Intriguing Right-Handed Bat, Future Versatile Bench Player

A large man listed at 6-4 205lbs., Ohlman is a bat-first prospect who has broken out offensively in 2013,  hitting .328/.424/.587 with 10 home runs.  Normally the designated hitter, Ohlman, 22-years-old, was behind the plate Friday and the results were mixed, as he provides a solid target and seemed to have soft hands receiving the ball, but looked stiff in his actions and his catch and throw skills were well below-average.  Ohlman likely cannot handle the responsibility of being a starting catcher defensively in the majors, but his powerful right-handed bat and potential position flexibility gives him a chance to be a valuable asset off the bench in a few years. 

Miguel Chalas RHP Frederick Keys

7-Word Scouting Report:    Interesting Fastball Changeup Combination, Future Middle Reliever

Chalas entered the game in the 6th inning in relief of Howard and impressed, featuring a lively 90-93mph fastball that topped out at 94mph, an 81-83mph changeup with split-finger type downward movement, and an inconsistent, fringy slider.  Only 21-years-old, Chalas has plenty of effort in his delivery, likely keeping him in relief in the future, but his above-average fastball and plus changeup gives him a chance to carve out a career in Baltimore as a middle reliever.

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