Baez was signed by Washington in April 2014 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic for only $7,500. Born in December 1994, the 22-year-old Baez is a projectable athlete listed at 6-3 190lbs, with room to add another 10-15lbs of muscle. Baez starts from the extreme left side of the rubber and utilizes a simple sidestep into a letter-high leg lift before going home. There is extraneous movement in his windup, which hinders his ability to repeat his delivery. Baez throws from a traditional 3/4s arm slot and is closed at foot strike, causing some natural deception to the hitter. However, this also hampers his control and command, which are presently below-average or worse. His arm swing is relatively smooth and there is little to medium effort involved in his motion.
Presently Baez possesses a 3-pitch repertoire, featuring a 91-93mph (touching 95mph) fastball, a mid-80s changeup and a 78-82mph curveball. He prioritizes keeping the fastball down in the zone and it has natural cutting movement. It also creates plenty of whiffs and could be a future “55” offering. His curveball is loopy and he struggles with both feel and commanding the pitch. He noticeably slows his body and arm to assist the torque of the pitch, which is easily seen by the hitter. At best the pitch is a “30” and there is little reason to think it improves without significant tinkering – He might benefit going to a slider. Finally his changeup is firm but thrown with reasonable arm speed. He uses it well against left-handed hitters to keep them honest, but he needs better control and feel for the changeup before it grades better than below-average.
Baez is a bit of a scouting conundrum, as his projectable body and impressive fastball make him an interesting prospect, yet his off-speed stuff makes steak tartare look well-done. His age and athleticism give some reason for optimism, but I worry Baez is a loose athlete with a good fastball and not enough else. Baez might be a “change of scenery” prospect who needs an organization that specializes teaching the curveball. If he can develop an off-speed offering to compliment his fastball, he projects as a 7th inning reliever, with his likely outcome being a long-term minor league starter.
Hit (40+) Power (20) Arm (50+) Defense (50) Run (50+)
Signed by Washington in April 2012 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic, Osvaldo Abreu is a right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing middle infielder. Born in June 1994, the 23-year-old Abreu is listed at 6-0 170lbs with a lean, wiry frame and projects to add future muscle mass. Abreu is a slightly above-average runner, clocking 4.18 – 4.2 seconds home to first. In addition, he has quality first-step quickness and solid athleticism.
Offensively Abreu possesses loose wrists and impressive bat speed, whipping the barrel through the strike zone with a compact swing. Abreu has a mature approach, works the count and will draw his share of walks while aggressively hunting fastballs. He has feel for the barrel, obvious hand-eye coordination and utilizes the whole field. Unfortunately his lack of strength and linear swing limits his overall home run power. Abreu struggles with spin moving away from him, causing an elevated strikeout rate. This could improve with experience, but the lack of power limits his offensive profile. Abreu projects as a future .230 – .240 hitter who hits a handful of home runs annually.
In the field Abreu has an average or slightly better arm with good accuracy and soft hands. He has good athleticism, a solid first-step and quality actions at shortstop. He has solid range for the position and moves fluidly in each direction. Abreu struggles making the play deep at shortstop due to his lack of arm strength and will make the occasional unforced error. Abreu has the tools to be an average major league defender but his lack of plus athleticism or arm strength limits him; he profiles better at second base.
Abreu is an intriguing middle infield prospect who possesses three average or better tools, yet his lack of power or a plus tool limits his overall ceiling. Unless he can transform his physique to add strength, Abreu’s ceiling is a utility infielder, with his likely outcome being a Triple-A middle infielder who perhaps sees the majors if injuries arise.
Hit (55) Power (40) Arm (35) Defense (35 LF / 50 1B) Run (35)
Jose Marmolejos was signed by Washington for $55,000 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in June 2011. The 24-year-old Marmolejos is listed at a stocky 6-1 185lbs, with thick legs and little physical projection remaining. An ordinary athlete, he has below-average speed, routinely posting 4.32-4.35 seconds home to first.
Marmolejos has a short, compact and repeatable left-handed swing, along with a consistent approach at the plate and a feel for the strike zone. Further, he shows a feel for the barrel and a natural ability to hit. His underwhelming physicality and linear swing hinder his ability to produce home run power, but he consistently hits line drives and uses the entire field. Like most hitters, he can be susceptible to off-speed pitches away and in the dirt, but Marmolejos impressively seeks fastballs and works the count in his favor. I like the bat but I worry if he will produce consistently against upper-level breaking pitches and premium velocity. That said Marmolejos projects as a “55” hitter with “40” power at the major league level.
Defensively Marmolejos has split time between first base and left field this season – in the outfield his below-average speed and mediocre left-handed throwing arm are exposed. Despite his lack of experience, Marmolejos seems to track fly balls reasonably well and consistently hustles in an attempt to overcome his deficiencies. Nevertheless, his weaknesses are unlikely to improve with age, so he projects as a passable but below-average defensive left fielder. At first base, these weaknesses are shielded and his soft hands allow him to receive errant throws well. Again his athleticism and size hurts him at first, but he projects as an average defender at the cold corner.
Marmolejos is an interesting prospect because of his innate ability to put the barrel on the baseball and make hard contact. His linear swing produces more line drives than home runs, but in this era of non-contact and strikeouts, his hitting ability cannot be ignored. Unfortunately his other tools project as below-average, which makes it difficult to profile him as a major league first baseman or left fielder. He should hit his way to the majors, but his other tools will limit his time there. Marmolejos has the ceiling of a major league backup at first base and left field, with the likely outcome being a Quad-A player who occasionally sees major league time.
Washington’s 27th round selection in 2015 from Sam Houston State, Brinley is a 24-year-old right-handed relief prospect. Brinley is listed at 6-1 200lbs, with a well-formed lower half and little physical projection remaining. Brinley throws from a traditional high 3/4s arm slot and repeats his very simple delivery well, utilizing a letter-high leg lift into good extension toward home plate. He stays slightly closed during his motion, providing some subtle deception. Brinley pounds his fastball toward the lower-third of the strike zone, then uses his off-speed offerings to get hitters to chase.
Brinley features a 3-pitch arsenal, highlighted by a 91-94mph fastball, a mid-80s slider and a low-80s changeup. His fastball shows 2-seam action, with movement down-and-in to right-handed hitters and heavy natural sink. The slider is new this season, as he appears to have scraped his curveball this winter – the offering is inconsistent but shows late-bite and darting movement away from righties. He needs to gain more confidence and feel for the pitch, but this was a smart adjustment to his repertoire. Finally his changeup is thrown with good arm speed and shows fading action away from lefties. The offering is mediocre and can float away from the strike zone, but keeps lefties from cheating on his fastball. Coupled with above-average command, Brinley projects as having a future “50” fastball, “45” slider and “40” changeup.
Brinley is a polished right-handed reliever with impressive command of the strike zone and an aggressive approach to attacking hitters. His fastball is an average offering and his above-average command and control allows his entire arsenal to “play up”. Brinley projects as a “Quad-A” relief pitch, with a ceiling of a 7th inning reliever if his slider improves. He may have a low ceiling, but is a valuable player to have stashed in the minors when injuries occur to the major league bullpen.