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Prospect Pitcher Review: April 18th-24th

South of the border deja vu; Padres' Victor Lizarraga wins week 3

Welcome to a roll-up-your-sleeves weekly video review of prospect pitchers. These aren’t the “best outings” of the week per say, but rather an attempt to keep abreast of prospects’ development, getting a leg up on our dynasty opponents. There was a rank this offseason after a massive video review (link to offseason review series and rank list), but ranks aren’t our main focus now. Watching, reporting, keeping tabs on investments, and catching new names.

(Note: If you are on your phone, turn it horizontal to view the entirety of the game line tables.)

 

Tuesday 4/19

 

Brandon Pfaadt, Double-A Amarillo (Arz)

 

 

Prospecting friends know I’ve been critical of Pfaadt, whose gaudy strikeout numbers caught attention in 2021. With the strikeouts came the propensity to surrender hard contact, including 11 home runs allowed in his last three 2021 starts. Pfaadt kept the ball in the park up to today (8.1 IP). Of course, Amarillo and the parks in his division are home run friendly, but parks don’t put pitches over the heart of the plate or barrels on baseballs. Taking a look at those 11 mentioned 2021 home runs, we see plenty of hitter-friendly pitch locations:

Here are the four hardest-hit balls today’s outing:

And the eight strikeout pitches:

I have wondered out loud if Pfaadt’s fastball might be a bit of the wrong shaped tool for the job it’s trying to do, but I just don’t know enough about it to say with certainty. My prospecting friends tell me it is. At the end of the day, missing over the heart of the plate isn’t ideal nor lending itself to prolonged MLB success. Pfaadt’s ability to overwhelm with the fastball, mixing in occasional sliders and changeups to keep hitters guessing, impressed this day. While I’m still skeptical of the heavier dynasty value placed on Pfaadt by some, this was an alright outing and a small win for you Pfaadt truthers.

 

Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, Single-A Down East (Tex)

 

 

Columbia’s broadcaster gave up trying to pronounce his full name, settling on “Anthony.” Hoopii served up a heavy dose of his riding fastball sitting 94 mph. You’ll see an occasional slider, curveball, and changeup from Hoopii as well. Here’s the whole outing:


(1st inning)


(2nd inning)


(3rd inning)

The 21-year-old had been coming out of the bullpen, typically working an inning. I wonder how he’d fare going longer? Arsenal looks impressive, and if he executes it this well…things get exciting. Hoopii’s landed on our watch list with this dominant outing.

 

Wednesday 4/20

 

Simeon Woods Richardson, Double-A Wichita (Min)

 

 

Woods Richardson clung to the last spot on our list (#108) after command issues almost lost interest completely. SWR has forever been lauded for a changeup with big potential. Last year he struggled to spot it. On this day, the same struggle seemed there, but only two(?) may have been offered. That’s quite a change in usage from what we’ve seen in the past. Today’s killer weapon was the following breaking ball:


(Curveball for K #6 vs. Chase Calabuig)

Above was the nastiest one of the day. After a brief calibration to find feel early, SWR executed this pitch very well. There were a few hangers and some hard contact, including a few warning track fly-outs, but without damage. A stretch of five strikeouts sandwiched between balls hit to defenders highlighted the day. SWR faced the minimum after being able to induce two double plays; a ground ball and a fortunate, laced line-drive double-up. Here’s the fifth strikeout of said run (and one of the longest at-bats of the outing):


(vs. Zack Gelof)

I wonder what pitch usage was the previous two outings? Are we looking at a made-over SWR or was this simply today’s recipe for success? Six shutout innings on 65 pitches is extremely efficient, but good fortune also played a role. Not caring much for last year’s SWR, perhaps a fundamental shift in attack is in play. If the breaking ball is now the best pitch, and he’s consistently executing it like this, a re-think of dynasty value may be in order. SWR is only 21 years old and arguably the hottest pitcher in Double-A to start the year.

Note: There have been quite a few dominant outings reviewed this young season, whereupon the pitcher was given a substantial early lead. SWR got a seven-run third from his offense this day.

 

Adrian Chaidez, High-A Asheville (Hou)

 

 

Is there a more fitting guy than Chaidez for @pitchingspecs to get into? The former UCLA Bruin reliever sports the dark specs and we’re here for it.

The 2021 15th-rounder feels like a good fit for the Astros developmental system, as they’ve done a few things with college relievers. This was Chaidez’s longest pro outing, and the lack of command he was knocked for during draft season, wasn’t a problem this day. Chaidez’s fastball has been up to mid-90s in the past, but today it was sitting high-80s with a few touching 93 mph. (Watching the Mick Abel start a few days later, the broadcast stated their radar gun was four mphs slow, and “has been”, so perhaps the fastball had more velo than stated here.) The fastball was getting swing and miss in and a few out of the zone, while also inducing plenty of pop-ups. Early, the breaking ball was the secondary of choice. Here’s perhaps his best one:

(Breaking ball for the K vs. Casey Martin)

Just 62 pitches to get through six, there was a stretch Jersey Shore was trying to jump on first-pitch fastballs, sending them high into the air. Five outs in a six-pitch stretch. After said stretch, the changeup came out:

(vs. Baron Radcliff)


(K vs. Nicolas Torres)

As crazy efficient Chaidez was, there were still a few moments he’d lose a grip or feel, sending a ball egregiously off the mark, high arm side. These moments would only last a pitch and never hurt him. Is sacrificing some velocity helping? Being my first look, I want to see more against better competition, but what a great first impression.

 

Michael Morales, Single-A Modesto (Sea)

 

 

The 2021 third-round prep’s debut on April 8th went five scoreless with nine strikeouts. The archive didn’t load, so this was our first chance to catch him. A second outing at Stockton had rougher results, but Morales started this outing with five scoreless again. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this was a bit underwhelming. The fastball was sitting 90/91 and the breaking ball often missed glove side. Perhaps a nice sign the misses were consistent, but nothing was missing bats. The least used of the three offerings, the changeup, was the most aesthetically pleasing from our view. Jose Ramos was the victim of both strikeouts, here is the second one (apologies as the feed got a little choppy here):

There was a lot of loud contact in the first couple of innings. Per the broadcast, there were four 100+ mph EVs the first time through the order. But they were all outs. Morales induced more soft contact as the outing progressed, but the Quakes had little problem putting the bat on the ball. In the sixth, of course with some lesser contact, the hits started coming:

This was followed by a bases-loaded walk and a fielding error ending Morales’ day. Not going to be crazy judgemental from one viewing of a 19-year-old in full-season ball, as there seemed to be a nice foundation to grow from. A third-round pick gets paid for a reason, but from a dynasty standpoint, the needle didn’t move today.

 

Thursday 4/21

 

Alex Santos II, Single-A Fayatteville (Hou)

 

 

The strides Santos took in 2021, particularly the development of his breaking ball, inspired some aggressive dynasty value. The then 19-year-old, drafted because of a lively low-90s fastball, appeared to be benefiting from the Astros’ spin factory. An impressive changeup took a back seat as Santos pushed to hone in a more horizontal breaker. And now he’s incorporating a new, more vertical breaker. Three fingers called for the old breaking ball, two fingers for the new:

Early in this outing, the fastball led the way, as Santos struggled to find feel for the breaking balls, as the above look at the new pitch illustrates. It’s fair to question how strong a lineup he was facing, a lineup who struckout 17 times the night prior, but the execution of the fastball was fantastic and enough. There was still some inconsistency in the original breaking ball as this old breaker/old breaker/fastball strikeout shows:


(K vs. Kadon Morton)

Things started tightening up with the breaking balls, especially his last inning of work. Here’s the new pitch finishing off a strikeout:


(New breaking ball for the K vs. Cal Conley)

The changeup only showed itself a few times, if that, but I did catch this one for a swinging strike on an 0-1 count:


(vs. Gerlado Quintero)

Santos’ first choice, early in the game, in terms of secondaries, was the new breaking ball, despite it not going so well. Yet, he was far too much for this lineup. Santos’ ability to ride the great execution of his bread and butter fastball is going to give him ample opportunities to polish secondaries, which he’s proven to take advantage of. Santos remains one of the most exciting young arms in the minors to me, and his work expanding the repertoire, adding the potential for more dimensions excites.

 

Will Bednar, Single-A San Jose (SF)

 

 

With hardly anything to go off of pro-wise in 2021, the impressive college looks induced a, perhaps aggressive, dynasty value. Visalia has a new centerfield camera, and a talented lineup, making for PPL&R must-watch.

Bednar had to work around some traffic early, some that was his fault, some that wasn’t. Striking out the last two hitters with runners on the corners was nice to see. Bednar’s attack was fastball/breaking ball, with one or two unremarkable changeups tossed in. Bednar didn’t allow much hard contact, with the following the only damage done:


(HR Juan Batista)

Command of the two pitch attack was alright, getting tighter as the outing moved along. Here’s how he ended his outing:

The breaker showed its teeth and will likely be Bednar’s carrying tool. It did seem a tad inconsistent in shape, but when a sharp one came, it devastated. All and all, just kind of check-in, ok, there you are kind of outing. Keeping tabs on how things progress, doubting racking up single-A strikeouts is going to do much in way of changing an aggressive dynasty value.

 

Friday 4/22

 

Jared Kelley, Single-A Kannapolis (CWS)

 

 

This was our oddest and ugliest review of the season. The first batter got on via error. Kelley then proceeded to strike out the next two batters. Here’s the second of the two:


(K vs. Brady House)

Kelley wasn’t paying attention to the runner on second who stole third the first pitch to House. After Branden Boissiere laced a triple and Leandro Emiliani crushed a home run, the wheels seemed to come off upstairs. Kelley walked the next batter:


(BB vs. Geraldi Diaz)

A screamer hit right at the second baseman next at-bat ended the inning. Second inning, after a long battle, he walked T.J. White who was thrown out stealing a few pitches later. Another good battle ended in a walk, followed by another mental lapse whereupon Kelley tossed an unwanted ball aside, advancing the runner to second, who was then thrown out trying to steal third. A hard single, another walk, and a single by Brady House ended the rough outing.

All that being said, Kelley’s upper-90s four-seamer and lively two-seamer were on display. The slider and changeup came out a good amount as well. The arsenal looked good, but all the contact was hard. Mentally, the plane crashed into the mountain. Eeek.

 

Kyle Bradish, Triple-A Norfolk (Bal)

 

 

Bradish seems to impress more and more every time. This go around, it was his ability to battle back when getting behind in the count and locating the more immature of his two breaking balls. Bradish’s well-located curveball is just unfair to most lefties:


(K vs. Tristan Gray)

There were a few fastballs up, catching too much plate, getting hit hard, but other than that, a good Durham lineup struggled to put the bat on the ball.  Jacob Nottingham called for a few changeups, but there was zero feel for it tonight, landing well short of the plate. Bradish’s chance is coming soon, and despite the lack of name recognition, the mid-90s+ fastball/breaking ball combos could induce the swing and miss appealing to fantasy owners.

 

Eury Perez, Double-A Pensacola (Mia)

 

 

It was a tough inning, dominant inning, tough inning, dominant inning for the youngest player in the league. The fastball was hitting high-90s, but middle of the plate finding hard contact as well. The fastball command came and went, while the secondary command was a bit of a struggle, yet all of his pitches induced swing and miss. This angle was tough to discern between breaking balls, but it (or both of them), the fastball, and the changeup all finished off strikeouts. The game started with a fantastic battle with B-Side favorite Brett Wisely, ending in a single:


(Single Brett Wisely)

Greg Jones homered the next at-bat with Kameron Misner singling to start the game with three straight hits allowed. Perez settled, retiring the next six. Then Wisely/Perez part 2:

 


(First-pitch fastball double by Wisely)

Things got a little wild, including Perez’ command. Wisely was thrown out on an attempted double-steal, while Perez gave up a walk, hit a batter, and gave up a laced single. Perez finished his outing strong, striking out the final four batters using a healthy mix of all his offerings. Last batter of the day, Wisely part 3:


(Fastball (96)/Changeup/Fastball K vs. Wisely)

There’s no questioning the stuff. It was nice to see a teenager able to settle after some rough patches against a good double-A lineup. Perez landed #15 this offseason, but many are valuing him more. Getting to double-A as an 18-year-old is quite the accomplishment, now if we can just polish the whole thing up? It’s hard to watch Perez and not be impressed by something.

 

Saturday 4/23

 

Mason Montgomery, High-A Bowling Green (TB)

 

 

The former Texas Tech Red Raider’s short-armed low-90s fastball has led the way during an impressive start to Montgomery’s first full-season assignment. Bowling Green offers a horrible angle to get the sense of a lefties stuff, but watching the hitters gives us an idea. The fastball gets on hitters quick. The changeup was the most used secondary. A few breaking balls came out (perhaps even two different ones), but they weren’t commanded particularly well. There were a few cheap hits, but all in all, Montgomery dominated this lineup, especially the lefties. Here are his eight strikeout pitches on the day:

Montgomery also has nine walks on the season, which is something to watch. Those fastballs fly off sometimes:


(BB Vaughn Grissom)

Death, taxes, and the Rays with an interesting pitching prospect. We’ll have to get a little more acquainted with Montgomery, but the impressive numbers don’t seem flukey to me.

 

Luis De Avila, High-A Rome (Atl)

 

 

The 20-year-old Columbian is with his third organization since signing as an international free agent with the Rockies in 2017. Wonder what the story is, as he’s been let go twice. This was his day though. Bowling Green couldn’t square him up. The two hits, and only base runners, were from a chopper off home plate and this bloop double:


(Bloop double Abiezel Ramirez)

Becasue of our angle, how quickly he induced weak contact early, and the darkness of the broadcast making sign reading difficult, inventorying the arsenal was hard. There was a fastball (and maybe a variant like a cutter?) coming in at 86-93 mph. There was a breaking ball coming in around 80 mph, and a changeup up in the low-80s, but it also seemed to creep up to the upper 80s. The first three innings, it seemed like any attempt to throw a secondary hit the ground well before the plate. But later in the outing, feel came:


(Three 81 mph breakers for the K vs. Matthew Dwyer)

De Avila may have been a great example of being effectively wild. Stuff was around the plate, but not spotted with great intent. Speeds and breaks varied, keeping hitters, and myself, plenty off-balanced. It was a great outing to take in, but I need to understand what’s going on here more.

 

Mick Abel, High-A Jersey Shore (Phi)

 

 

Last year included shoulder issues, and the only archived looks illustrated a raw talent. There was no question Abel’s stuff looked promising, but an inability to execute sharply and throw strikes kept the popular Abel at a cautious #43. Secondaries weren’t really needed to dominate Asheville’s hitters, as a riding fastball sitting 95ish took care of things. Here are the first two strikeouts of a five consecutive strikeout run:


(K vs. J.C. Correa)


(K vs. Luis Santana)

Above was essentially the pitch mix. A changeup was not spotted. Typically not aggressive with prep arms until they show me what I want to see. Abel’s potential oozes, but command and consistent execution of secondaries are required before I go as crazy as some. This outing did eliminate some trepidation, leaving me feeling much better than the brief 2021 looks.

 

Ken Waldichuk, Double-A Somerset (NYY)

 

 

Admitedly, Waldichuk’s stuff may have been under-appreciated during the offseason review. He was off to a fantastic ten scoreless innings with 16 strikeouts start. He gave up a few home runs today, which was fitting, as these two teams have been hitting the ball out of the park all week.


(HR Michael Toglia)


(HR Willie MacIver)

The nastiness was still there though:

There were a couple of walks and some non-competitive pitches deflating some momentum. This perspective got me more excited about the stuff’s MLB strikeout upside, but still skeptical he executes well enough to be a long term starter. If he can execute his best pitch at a higher rate, I love the potential, but I’m not making that bet until more consistency comes.

 

Sunday 4/24

 

Victor Lizarraga, Single-A Lake Elsinore (SD)

 

 

A doubleheader ruined our chance to have a matchup between two advanced 18-year-old Mexican pitchers, as Victor Juarez pitched in the other game. The Padres signed Lizarraga during the 2020/21 international signing period for roughly a million dollars. He’s already finding success against talented California League lineups. Only allowed three runs over his first three starts. As best we can tell from the Fresno angle, Lizarraga executed all three of his pitches well. The fastball is said to sit around 91/92, and looks to have some armside run to it. The changeup was utilized more than the breaking ball, and other than a few that got away or hung arm-side, he seemed to be putting it where he wanted.


(K vs. Yanquiel Fernandez)


(K vs. Braxton Fulford)

There wasn’t much in the way of hard contact allowed. Three semi-hard hit balls to the outfield was basically it. The first inning he got out of trouble via strikeouts and didn’t allow a run until his last batter faced:


(RBI single Warming Bernabel)

Lizarraga started many at-bats against aggressive Fresno hitters with secondaries, keeping the lineup guessing all day, riding on his ability to throw them for first pitch strikes. Stare at the same spot on the green wall near his release, and you’ll see similar arm action and release points regardless of the pitch. The body-type suggests you can plan on strength coming. Who knows what kind of velocity we are talking down the road? I want to say you don’t see 18-year-olds with this kind of feel and confidence in the whole arsenal often, but at our pace, we’ll find one every week. Who will be next week’s Victor?

 

Bobby Miller, Double-A Tulsa (LAD)

 

 

Miller started the opener of this series Tuesday, reaching his inning pitch limit before getting three outs. Some of the same inefficiency struck again. First pitch of the game, first observation, the delivery felt more violent and head-whacky from what I recall. I don’t like this one bit.

Triple-digit fastball, fading changeup, late-breaking slider…all of it was here and fine in a vacuum, but Miller was literally a loose cannon. A good Cardinals lineup took advantage of poorly located, hitable pitches:

 

The pitch execution wasn’t major league starter caliber. This has been Miller’s concern since draft day. Undoubtedly capable of dominating at times, but is the requisite consistency going to be there to start for the Dodgers? Like we stated this winter, the dynasty value currently placed on Miller is real flakey if these outings become the norm. Hopefully, this was just a rough week, but Miller is feeling more and more like the profile I’m trying to steer away from.

 

Jhony Brito, Double-A Somerset (NYY)

 

 

Randy Vasquez had a family emergency, Brito made his second start of the series, proving tougher on Hartford hitters this day. The reputation is great command with lesser stuff, but he sure gave a good Yard Goats lineup fits. The fastball ticked up to 98 mph (per the broadcast), the breaking ball had a lot of sweep, and the changeup was dotted, inducing whiffs. There aren’t many hitters who are going to fare better than Schunk did here:


(K vs. Aaron Schunk)

Per his reputation, the command was great, spotting all three of his offerings all around the zone. Even the few mistakes had good results:


(K vs. Michael Toglia)

And the lone walk was even pretty:


(BB vs. Willie MacIver)

I’m not buying this lesser stuff business with Brito. Hartford found more contact the second time through, but it was mostly weak contact. Brito very much intrigued.

 

PPL&R 2022 Top 10 Outings

(This season’s outings that WOW’d us or got us thinking about a player in a different, positive manner.)

Link to google doc housing lines of all minor league starts and extended relief appearances this past week. 

 

Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)

Nate Handy

Nate is an advocate of drafting more pitchers. Originally from the planet Eternia, he aspires to become the Master of the Prospect Universe....or just watch baseball, share observations, and have an enjoyable dialogue about this great game, particularly the young players trying to make the major leagues.

  • Thomas says:

    I mean, Pfaadt had one of the highest strike %s in MiLB last year while posting crazy K #s. Going right at guys while playing in a bandbox will lead to some HRs but they came in a tough 2 game stretch at the end of first full season. Something to monitor, but seems like a lot more good than bad in his profile.

    • Nate Handy says:

      For sure. He’s an interesting watch, thus keeping some tabs. And the reality is, no matter what minor league numbers come out, we won’t know until he gets there. DeMarcus Evans comes to mind as a recent guy whose gaudy K and swing percentages and all that just haven’t translated. For us dynasty folks though, we have to make some bets before they get there. Will he, won’t he, planting your flag…that’s probably just a matter of preference, what kinda profiles have given you success and you’ll revisit that well. My only real goal with prospects as a dynasty player is not “right” or “wrong”, but making sure I’m making informed mistakes. I stole that sentiment from, I think, the old GM of the Nuggets, but I think it’s really the best any of us can do. Meanwhile, Pfaadt is a fun guy to go back and forth on with some friends. I have a built in Pfaadt K alarm, notifying me of all the gaudy numbers :), and I try n keep them informed of those long balls :). Appreciate the read and dialogue. Talking baseball is my favorite part!

  • txsock says:

    When is the next one of these coming? Best article on the site!

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