All posts by Ryan Sullivan

Friday Scouting Chatter – Jorge Alfaro and Manuel Margot

In this debut edition, Friday’s during the summer I will be highlighting numerous top baseball prospects I have personally scouted in a segment named Friday Scouting Chatter. I observe numerous elite prospects during the 50+ minor league games I watch each summer, yet for various reasons I have been previously unable to write a proper scouting report for them. This week I feature top prospects Jorge Alfaro of the Texas Rangers and Manuel Margot from the Boston Red Sox.

Jorge Alfaro Catcher Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers)

Jorge Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro

Often referred to as simply #TheLegend on Twitter, like a tween girl at a 5 Seconds of Summer concert, I was actually salivating to see Alfaro in person. Alfaro is one of, if not THE, most physically impressive catchers I have ever seen, with obvious athleticism and above-average speed. A powerfully built athlete at 6-2 185lbs, Alfaro resembles a high school nose guard yet runs like a college cornerback – it is almost difficult to comprehend until you see him in person.

Only 21-years-old Alfaro struggles defensively with his footwork and blocking wayward pitches in the dirt. However, his tremendous physical skills, along with a cannon-like throwing arm, give Alfaro a chance with refinement to be a future gold glove defender behind the dish.

Jorge Alfaro #TheLegend
Jorge Alfaro #TheLegend

Offensively Alfaro has apparent plus bat speed and obvious raw home run power, but like many young hitters, he is overanxious at the plate and racks up plenty of whiffs without many walks. His eagerness to swing the bat will hinder his future on-base percentage numbers, but the thunder in his bat should more than compensate with quality slugging percentages. Alfaro is still quite raw and needs another 500+ at-bats in the minors to refine his game, but he has the ceiling of a multiple all-star game type talent. Bottom line, Smarty Jones thinks Alfaro is a stud.

Manuel Margot CF Salem Red Sox (Boston Red Sox)

Salem Red Sox Manuel Margot
Manuel Margot

Two weekends ago while attending SaberSeminar, a fellow audience member asked Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington to name a sleeper prospect in their farm system – after debating who would be considered a sleeper, Cherington and the other Boston representatives in attendance unanimously mentioned Manuel Margot.

One look at Margot and it is immediately evident why Boston’s front office is enamored with him, as he is an elite athlete with prototypical size and speed for a centerfielder. Armed with plus (or better) speed and a solid arm, the still 19-year-old projects as a potential gold-glove talent defensively, with game-changing ability on the bases. Margot’s energy for the game is simply contagious.

Manny Margot
Boston Red Sox Prospect Manuel Margot

At the plate this right-handed batter shows apparent above-average bat speed, impressive balance through his swing, and a keen batting eye. The only obvious flaw in his game is his likely below-average power, though his wiry strength could allow him to hit 10+ home runs each year while peppering the gaps with doubles. Like any 19-year-old recently promoted to High-A, Margot needs further game experience to polish his rough edges and help translate his monster tools to game production.

Margot may have entered this season somewhat overlooked, but I expect him to be well represented on prospect lists this offseason. He is an easy top-100 prospect in baseball to me.

Scouting the Frederick Keys

Labor Day weekend arrives tomorrow, which means barbeques, adult beverages, college football, and the end of the minor league baseball season. Therefore like a rotund man at a Mexican buffet, I am trying to consume as many local minor league contests as possible before Monday unfortunately arrives.

Wednesday night was a beautiful, picturesque summer evening and I found myself watching a doubleheader between the visiting Salem Red Sox and host Frederick Keys. Due to several midseason promotions and skill improvements during the year, the Frederick roster has some prospects with major league potential. These are a few players that particularly caught my attention during these games.

Steven Brault LHP Frederick

photo 1(40)An athletic and wiry left-handed pitcher, Brault was Baltimore’s 14th round pick last summer out of small Division 2 school. This 22-year-old is rather raw for a collegiate pitcher, but he has significant projection remaining in his lean body, and appears taller than his listed 6-1 175lbs. Brault throws across his body during his delivery, which provides some deception to the batters but causes him to struggle to keep his release point. He impressively pounds the strike zone, but this mechanical issue could hinder his velocity potential. Brault reminds me of a young Ross Detwiler, both physically and with his pitching motion.

LHP Steven Brault
LHP Steven Brault

Brault features a quality 4-pitch arsenal, consisting of an 87-91mph fastball with some sinking action, a late-breaking 82-84mph slider, an intriguing but inconsistent low-80s changeup with some natural arm-side fading movement, and a rare mid-70s overhand curveball. In this viewing Brault used his fastball well to get ahead of opposing batters, but his current below-average off-speed offerings cause him to struggle to put away hitters.  His youth and athleticism give me some hope that he can polish his delivery and improve his arsenal. Brault is an intriguing, talented young arm and is a quality sleeper prospect in the Orioles’ system.

Jason Esposito 3B Frederick

A long-time personal favorite since watching him a few summers ago for Orleans in the Cape Cod League, Esposito has struggled since being drafted in the 2nd round in 2011. Defensively Esposito projects as an above-average or better third baseman, with a very strong arm, soft hands, and quality footwork for the position. Additionally, Esposito has fringy speed and good athleticism for a big 6-2 200lbs player. His defense has always outpaced his offense, where he struggles with large strikeout totals and a near allergy to drawing walks. These weaknesses have caused him to fail to turn his average or better strength and bat speed into power production at High-A the past two years. Now 24-years-old Esposito will need an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League and a breakout season in 2015 if he wishes to reach the majors. The talent and physical tools are there for a major league third baseman, if the “light bulb” should turn on for Esposito.

Adrian Marin Shortstop Frederick

Adrian Marin
Adrian Marin

Ranked as my #12 Orioles prospect earlier this month, Marin has shown obvious improvement over the course of the 2014 season. Marin possesses solid-average speed, especially once he is underway, soft hands, and Wednesday evening he flashed a stronger throwing arm that I can ever recollect, making a strong throw from deep shortstop to throw out a speedy runner. His reasonable athleticism and average arm make him profile better at second base in the future, but I believe he could play shortstop as a utility player in a backup role.

The 20-year-old still struggles offensively with off-speed pitches away, and his non-overly massive physique does not have him project to hit for much power in the future. However, he has made progress this season making harder contact and flashes gap power, portending a possible offensive breakout in 2015. While his profile is not sexy, his excellent baseball IQ should allow Marin to outplay his fringy tools and carve out a major league career.

THE NatsGM Show Episode #11 – Guest Dave Cameron from Fangraphs

THE NatsGM Show
THE NatsGM Show

Episode #11 of THE NatsGM Show is particularly special as we are LIVE from Saber Seminar 2014. This week I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dave Cameron, Managing Editor of Fangraphs.com.

Dave and I discussed Saber Seminar, the state of the Seattle Mariners, and his recent article about the Baltimore Orioles.  Thank you to Dave for sharing a few moments with me during our lunch hour at the conference.