Date Scouted: 5/17/15
7-Word Scouting Report: Raw Righty, Plus-Plus Fastball, Potential Above-Average Secondaries
On what must have been the most humid day in recent years, Sunday afternoon I drove up I-270 to Frederick to watch the Keys host the Potomac Nationals. In particular I was eager to watch Washington Nationals top prospect Reynaldo Lopez in his third start of the 2015 season for Potomac. And Lopez was worth the drive, as he threw six innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks against four strikeouts; unfortunately this effort went for naught as the Keys rallied late in the game to win 3-2.
Immediately one notices the physicality of Lopez, who appears bigger than his listed 6-0 185lbs., with muscular, thick legs and a well-developed upper body. Lopez has elite arm speed and an athletic, projectable body with room to add some additional muscle as he matures. He releases the baseball from a high three-quarters release point and while he does not have an arm stab in the back, he does have a long arm motion. His delivery has some excess activity throughout and he throws off a stiff front leg, but his athleticism allows him to repeat his delivery fairly consistently for a raw 21-year-old in High-A. Aside from gaining game experience, Lopez needs to work on his refining his fastball command and smoothing out the extraneous movement in his delivery the summer in Potomac.
On Sunday Lopez’s fastball consistently sat at 96-97mph, touching 98mph three times, with late life and heavy punishing action. It almost sounds like he is angry with his catcher when the ball strikes the mitt, as it makes such a violent sound upon impact. His command was loose in this appearance, especially down in the strike zone, although one could also criticize the umpire’s small strike zone.
In addition Lopez showed an above-average to plus, but inconsistent, 77-79mph curveball with harsh 10-4 action on the offering. He struggled to throw his curveball for a strike, burying it low in the strike zone. Finally, he threw an 81-85mph changeup with solid arm action and some arm-side fading action – the changeup is inconsistent but is a present average pitch and could play to above-average in the future due to his upper-90s velocity. His curveball and changeup currently lag behind his monster fastball, but both secondary offerings have the potential to be above-average to plus with refinement.
Overall I was extremely impressed by Reynaldo Lopez, as he has the most effortless 96mph fastball one will ever see, along with two potentially above-average off-speed pitches in his curveball and changeup. Certainly Lopez needs development time in the minors to build up his arm strength, improve his ability to field his position and hold base runners, and refining his delivery. Also, his past shoulder injury warrants mention, as this combined with his average build could in a worst case scenario force him to a career as a reliever.
That said Lopez has a solid floor as a high-leverage 8th or 9th inning reliever and if he can overcome concerns about his size, his shoulder, and polish his motion, he has a ceiling as a legitimate #2 starter. While he has flaws, Lopez possesses a special arm and could arrive in the major leagues sometime in 2016.
Date Scouted: 5/15/15 in-person
7-Word Scouting Report: Workhorse, Plus Fastball, Potential Three Above-Average Secondaries
On a flawless spring evening for baseball, this past Friday I drove up Route 50 to watch the Bowie Baysox, the Double-A team for the Orioles, hosted the Richmond Flying Squirrels, San Francisco’s affiliate. In particular I wanted to seize the opportunity to watch Baltimore’s consensus top prospect, right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy, in action against the experienced Richmond lineup. Unfortunately it was a difficult night for both the home team and Bundy, as they were defeated 8-4.
In this viewing Bundy completed two innings and pitched to two batters in the third, throwing 57 total pitches, 36 for strikes and 21 balls. In his two innings Bundy allowed eight hits and six runs (five earned) against no walks and two strikeouts. Bundy featured a 92-95mph fastball, touching 96mph three times, and showed powerful late life. Throughout this outing Bundy was focusing on repeatedly pounding the inside of the strike zone, especially to righties, to the detriment of fooling the opposing hitters.
In addition Bundy flashed a nasty 81-84mph slider with late, hard biting action that easily graded as a plus offering. He did not throw his slider often after inducing a few whiffs in the first inning, seemingly shelving the offering after getting the early desired results. Furthermore, Bundy threw two 73mph curveballs with true 12-6 movement that he buried low in the strike zone. Finally he tossed three 83-84mph changeups with true splitter-type action that induced a flailing whiff and was easily an above-average offering.
Physically Bundy has a prototypical major league pitchers frame, as he has tree trunks for legs and well-formed musculature throughout his upper body. His delivery has mild effort and he throws from a high three-quarters arm slot through his drop-and-drive motion. He has a small arm stab in the back along with a deep arm movement but nothing of major concern. Bundy does a nice job of staying in balance during the delivery and repeats his motion well, though there is a small spine tilt during release. Overall Bundy has a solid, repeatable delivery and the frame to pitch 200+ innings annually.
Although the results were lackluster on this evening, it is easily apparent why Bundy is one of the top pitching prospects in the minors. Bundy has a repeatable delivery, a well-built, durable pitcher’s body, along with the potential for a plus-plus fastball and three above-average secondary offerings. Certainly there is risk involved with his future potential due to his past Tommy John surgery and current mediocre command of the strike zone, but Bundy has the ceiling of a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
Expect the Orioles to continue to patiently develop him this summer at Double-A, with the possibility of unleashing him against major league hitters in September during a potential playoff run. I am dubious he develops into a true major league “Ace” during his career, but barring injury, I expect Bundy to pitch as a solid #2/#3 starter for many seasons.
* Special Thank You to Matt Wilson and the Bowie Baysox for their much-appreciated hospitality on Friday and the past few seasons. *
For Episode #37 we welcome back to the program Baseball Prospectus Prospect Team member and friend of the site, C.J. Wittmann Jr..
On this show, C.J. and I discuss Nationals prospects Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Nick Pivetta and Wilmer Difo, then we break down Orioles prospects Dylan Bundy and Jomar Reyes. Then if that is not enough for you, Witt and I discuss scouting both hitters and pitchers, amongst many other topics. This is truly a special interview with a shrewd evaluator and friend of the show, so make sure to download this “80” conversation. #Want