Evaluating Andrew Stevenson

Andrew Stevenson           OF          Syracuse Chiefs                 L/L

Future Grades     Hit (50+)   Power (30)   Arm (35)   Defense (55)   Run (60+)   

Stevenson was Washington’s top selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, 58th overall and quickly agreed to a $750,000 bonus after three years at Louisiana State University.  Listed at 6-0 185lbs, Stevenson has noticeably filled out since college, especially his upper body, and looks closer to 195-200lbs.  He is a tremendous athlete, with good first-step quickness and outstanding speed, easily clocking in the 4.05 second range home to first from the left side.  He plays with outstanding hustle and a grinder mentality, which contributes to his excellent makeup, although I have seen him frustrated by questionable calls – this is a result of his passion but something to reign in going forward.

Defensively Stevenson utilizes his excellent quickness and speed to cover significant ground in center field.  He shows solid instincts and takes quality routes to the baseball.  He possesses a below-average arm, although it has improved with the additional muscle mass.  His athleticism and instincts allow him to play all three outfield positions, but he profiles best in center or left field.  The arm strength is a concern, but Stevenson profiles as an above-average defender in center and plus in left field.

At the plate Stevenson has refined his swing since being drafted, eliminating some pre-swing movement and shortening his swing to combat velocity on the inner half.  Even with his improved strength, he does not project to hit more than a handful of home runs annually.  Stevenson understands his role as a table-setter who works the count, gets on-base and capitalizes on his speed to score runs.  There is swing-and-miss in his game, but this could decrease in the future as his swing changes become more natural.  Stevenson projects as a .270+ hitter who hits a couple home runs and provides a reasonable on-base percentage.

Stevenson is a high-floor, medium ceiling outfield prospect with the potential for three average or better tools.  In the field Stevenson looks at home in center field, where his impressive skills allow him to overcome his mediocre arm to project as above-average.  Offensively there are concerns within the profile, as his difficulties with velocity and lack of power could leave him vulnerable to major league pitching.  These issues will keep him from being an impact hitter, making his ability to make contact and reach base vital to his major league future.  If he improves these flaws, Stevenson has a ceiling as a 2nd division starter, with his likely outcome being a valuable reserve outfielder.

* Editor’s Note – Early Sunday Stevenson was promoted to Washington to replace Chris Heisey, who went on the disabled list.  He appears to be in line for a 2-week big-league cameo before Heisey, Michael A. Taylor or Jayson Werth returns from injury.*

Evaluating Blake Perkins

Blake Perkins      CF           Hagerstown Suns

Future Grades     Hit (50-) / Power (30+) / Run (60) / Defense (60) / Arm (50+)

Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2nd round (69th overall) in 2015 from an Arizona high school, Perkins agreed to an $800,000 signing bonus.  Born in September 1996, Perkins is a switch-hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder.  Perkins is a lean 6-1 165lbs who projects to add both strength and muscle mass as he matures.  An impressive athlete, Perkins has plus speed, consistently running 4.06-4.11 seconds home to first from the left side.  Finally, he also seemingly possesses quality makeup, consistently hustling, cheering his teammates and often with a smile on his face.

In the field Perkins appears to be born to play center field, as he utilizes his speed and lengthy strides to effortless track the baseball.  Perkins shows solid instincts in the outfield and takes quality routes to the baseball.  Perhaps the only knock is his current arm strength, which flashes more fringe-average to average at present.  I expect this to improve in future seasons as he adds strength.  As with any 20-year-old he needs additional game experience, but Perkins profiles as a plus defender in center field.

Offensively Perkins is a natural right-handed hitter who committed to switch-hitting full-time as a professional.  The ball carries well off his bat and he will show some eye-raising pull power in batting practice.  Perkins has better than average bat speed and recognizes spin fairly well for this level.  His swing, both lefty and righty, is longer than it should be for a table setter and will need to be reduced in order to make more contact.  In addition, his balance at the plate can waver and he does not always stay balanced through his swing.  Pure speculation, but I wonder if his lack of present strength contributes to these flaws.  I envision Perkins needing another 1,000+ minor league at-bats to refine his swing mechanics and approach, but I project a future fringe-average hitter who hits the occasional home run.

When drafted Perkins was known to have impressive physical tools but his baseball skills, particularly offensively, were raw and would need to be refined.  Through this lens, Perkins has developed quicker than expected, serving as Hagerstown’s leadoff hitter and center fielder two years after being selected.  Defensively he is a natural in center field and his offensive skills, particularly his left-handed swing, have blossomed more quickly than the organization could have anticipated.

Perkins is an intriguing prospect with the potential for three above-average tools in his defense, speed and throwing arm.  There are questions surrounding his offensive future and if he can make the necessary adjustments to make more contact and capitalize on his speed.  Plus, his distance from the majors is an obvious concern as well.  That said his defensive aptitude, speed and base stealing potential give him a floor as a 5th outfielder/ Quad-A player.  However, if his offensive skills continue to blossom, his ceiling is a 2nd division, defensive-first center fielder.  There is plenty of risk, but Perkins should be a coveted name during trade discussions this month.

Evaluating Baltimore Orioles Prospect Keegan Akin

Keegan Akin        LHP        Frederick Keys

DOB: 4/1/95    Height: 6-0       Weight: 225lbs           Bats: Left          Throws: Left

Fastball (50/55)    Slider (45/50)     Changeup (40/45)   Command (50/50+)

2nd round pick, 54th overall, by Baltimore in 2016, signed for $1,177,200 – 22y/o who is listed as 6-0 225lbs, well-built and stocky physique with little to no projection remaining.  Akin throws from a high 3/4s arm slot and utilizes a waist-high or slightly above leg-lift; possesses a simple one-step movement into leg-lift and drives toward home, repeats mechanics well.  Will occasionally lose balance toward second base, causing his arm to lag behind his lower half.  Akin keeps his body slightly closed to lefties, allowing him to hide the baseball and deceive hitters.  A very polished pitcher for High-A, Akin pounds the bottom of the strike zone, changes the batters’ eye level and sets up hitters.

3-pitch repertoire:  Fastball (89-92mph, T93) shows good life at the upper velocity bands and can sink the pitch at lower velocities.  Akin keeps the ball down in the zone, can both cut or sink it and locates it well inside to righties.  Akin commands his fastball to all four quadrants and the pitch consistently shows some type of wiggle.  Changeup (80-83mph) was inconsistent, as the pitch was rather mediocre early, but flashed good sink and arm-side fading action later in the outing.  He will slow his arm speed on the poor offerings, but when he replicates the arm action, the pitch can be a fringe-average to average.  The slider (81-83mph) was thrown only a few times but showed average potential.  Akin threw his slider both in the zone for a strike and in the dirt as a chase pitch; can look slurvy at worst, needs repetitions to refine the offering.

Akin is an impressive and polished collegiate pitcher who looks advanced for High-A.  He possesses a future above-average fastball, an easily repeatable delivery and the chance for average to above-average command.  Unfortunately Akin lacks a plus offering or the projection remaining in his frame to believe his stuff could significantly improve.  This leaves him with a relatively similar ceiling and floor, as Akin profiles as a major league arm, with the ceiling of a #5 back-end starting pitcher and the likely outcome being a long reliever and occasional spot starter.  He is a low-to-medium risk prospect with a low-to-medium ceiling.  Akin could see a promotion to Double-A later this summer and projects to be major league ready late in 2018 or 2019.

Scouting Hector Silvestre

Hector Silvestre                 LHP        Evaluated 6/4 & 4/19/17

Fastball (40/45)   Slider (40/40)   Changeup (40/45)   Command (50/50)

International free agent signee in January 2011 by the Washington Nationals; Born in December 1992, Silvestre will spend this entire season at 24 y/o.  Silvestre is a well-built and wiry strong 6-3 180lbs with little projection remaining.  He utilizes a relatively simple, 1-step and rock delivery with few moving parts and he repeats his mechanics fairly well both from windup and stretch.  Silvestre throws from a medium 3/4s arm slot and pitches from the extreme third base side of the rubber.  There is some deception in the delivery, especially for lefties, as he hides ball well with his body through his pitching motion.

3-pitch repertoire – Fastball (89-91mph, T92) has natural cutting action in toward righties, especially at lower velocities – Silvestre locates the fastball well low in the zone, but struggles to command above the belt; pitch generates swings-and-misses.  His slider (79mph-83mph) is rather inconsistent both in shape and quality, some flash late bite into the strike zone and others are rather loopy.  The changeup (82-84mph) replicates arm speed well and shows quality arm-side fade, but he struggles to throw it for strikes as it tends to drift outside the zone.

Silvestre is a well-built and polished left-handed pitcher with three decent but inconsistent offerings.  He is somewhat old for the High-A level and his lack of an above-average future pitch limits his ceiling.  Silvestre is a crafty lefty who competes and knows how to pitch.  Unless his offspeed stuff improves, Silvestre possesses the ceiling as a quality Triple-A starter who unfortunately stagnates in the upper minors.