I decided to forgo the classic 20-80 scouting scale and make more general observations about the players for two reasons, 1) many of these players are in their first year of professional baseball, which can be a difficult adjustment for some, and 2) because these players are so young, and inexperienced professionally, a lot can change from one year to the next.
This is the second, and shortest, of five posts breaking down the State College roster. Today we focus on the Spikes’ outfielders. Nick Thompson headlines the group, but Jhohan Acevedo and Collin Radack have tools to make some noise in 2015.
*Only current players with more than 25 games played will be covered in this post. Players who have been promoted or have played fewer than 25 games will be discussed in the final installment of Scouting the Spikes.
** Stat summaries from MiLB.com and defensive stats from Baseball Reference. All stats are through Monday, August 25.
|Acevedo, Jhohan||CF||R/R||6-1||173||3/28/93||Caracas, Venezuela||Int. FA 2/6/10|
|Radack, Collin||CF||R/R||6-3||205||3/30/92||Austin, TX||20th Round, 2014|
|Raffield, Chase||LF||L/R||6-1||196||8/27/91||Cochran, GA||37th Rd, 2014|
|Thompson, Nick||LF||R/R||6-1||210||12/12/91||Fort Worth, TX||8th Round, 2014|
Jhohan Acevedo – CF
Jhohan Acevedo was The Cardinal Nation’s top Gulf Coast League player of 2012, and it is easy to see why. The 21-year old Venezuelan has the defensive tools to play center field, but finding consistency at the plate will make or break his status as a center field prospect.
In six games with Palm Beach this year, Acevedo batted .263 (5-for-19) but had as many strikeouts as hits. While his strikeout rate is a little better in State College, his abysmal .133 average against lefties has tanked his overall batting average. Acevedo’s numbers against lefties are concerning, but his .275/.329/.342 slash line against right-handers is promising.
Acevedo’s biggest asset is his athleticism, which shows in the field and on the base paths. He takes good routes in the outfield, and has made some spectacular diving plays this year, but also knows his range, and knows when to lay up and keep the ball in front of him.
Acevedo is also a serious threat on the bases. The 6-foot-1 outfielder has stolen 11 bases in 15 attempts, but has room for improvement as a base stealer as well.
Acevedo needs to up his average and on-base percentage in order to become a legitimate center field prospect, but he has the tools to do it and is worth keeping an eye on.
Collin Radack – CF
Collin Radack, the Cardinals’ 20th-round selection in June, joined the Spikes without much fanfare but has improved with each passing month.
In his first eight games with the Spikes, Radack batted just .207. But the Hendrix College product turned things around in July, batting .327, and has carried that momentum into August, with a .333 average this month.
Radack, unlike Acevedo, is doing most of his damage against southpaws, batting .440 and slugging .640 against lefties, while batting just .258 against righties. Among active Spikes that have played more than 25 games, Radack has the second-best average on the team, but has walked just three times on the year.
The 6-foot-3 outfielder is not much of a threat on the basepaths, but has the agility and speed to play all three outfield positions. Radack has started 23 games in center field, but he seems to be an outfielder without a home, as he doesn’t have the power of the corner outfielders equal to or ahead of him in the system, and doesn’t have the top-end speed that most teams are looking for in a center fielder.
Radack likely won’t push his way to Palm Beach next year, but a strong year in Peoria would not surprise me.
Chase Raffield – LF
Chase Raffield has played in 43 games for State College this year, and may be repeating the New York-Penn League next season.
The 37th-round pick of the Cardinals this year, Raffield has looked out of sorts at the plate and does not have a standout tool to set him apart from other players in the system.
The Georgia State product is batting just .188 on the year, and has not batted above .197 in any month this season. And, much like Radack, Raffield does not have the speed to play center field, but lacks the offensive upside of the corner outfielders ahead of him. Raffield does have four home runs on the year, but he lacks the raw power to overcome his overall struggles at the dish.
Raffield may stick around for another year or so, but I don’t expect him to become anything more than an organizational roster player.
Nick Thompson – LF/RF
Last, but certainly not least, is State College corner outfielder Nick Thompson. Thompson was the 8th-round pick of the Cardinals this year and has proved worthy of that selection. The William and Mary product batted just .157 in June, but has adjusted to life as a professional ball player and is batting .327 over July and August.
Thompson is the Spikes’ active leader in runs scored (42), RBI (39), walks (33), OBP (.392) and OPS (.808). The 6-foot-1 outfielder is batting .364 against lefties, and just .269 against righties, but he is still productive against right-handers with an on-base percentage of .365.
What impresses me most about Thompson is his approach at the plate. When he was struggling at the beginning of the year he put in extra work with the Spikes’ hitting coach, Ramon “Smokey” Ortiz, and that work has paid off. Thompson uses a gap-to-gap approach, and keeps his barrel in the zone for a long time, allowing him to drive off-speed pitches to the opposite field, but can speed things up to turn on the inside fastball.
While Alex De Leon and Rowan Wick did most of the offensive damage for the Spikes at the beginning of the season, Thompson has been right there with them since July and is a key cog in the Spikes’ hitting machine right now.
In the outfield, Thompson is more than effective, and should only improve with time. In 31 games in right field, Thompson has made two errors in 44 chances, but also has three outfield assists. In left field, he has yet to make an error in 25 chances in 23 games.
Thompson is not slow, but certainly not fast, which is why he has primarily played right field since Wick was called up to Peoria. State College has a shorter porch and an 18-foot wall in right, which is a better defensive environment for Thompson than the Spikes’ expansive left field.
I would not be surprised to see Thompson playing in Palm Beach sometime next year, and I expect him to push or surpass a few players who are currently ahead of him in the system.
TCN members should look for the final three installments of this series coming this next week. They will cover Starting Pitchers, Relief Pitchers and finally, the others – those who were promoted or do not have a qualifying number of at-bats or innings pitched.
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter @robo_tweets.
© 2014 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.