Until the action picks up on the minor league side, I'll be posting notes from the younger players and prospects getting action in the major league games. One reminder: early-spring game reports should be taken with a grain of salt, as most players are just getting back into the swing of things. Some hitters will have a bit more trouble catching up to velocity this early in camp, and most pitchers will be inconsistent with their velocity right now.
First, some notes on Thursday's intrasquad game––the first live game action of the spring––before diving into a couple of 2012 MLB Draft notes.
After looking a bit more smooth during infield drills on Wednesday, Guzman went into the full splits––which is highly impressive given the length of his legs––to stretch out on a ball that shortstop Jurickson Profar had thrown from his knees. It was a great play on both sides, with Profar going deep into the hole to stop a ground ball before making a strong throw toward first. Guzman stretched to the ground and finished off the superb play. He's still quite raw at first base but appears to be a little more smooth.
The Dominican Republic native went hitless in his two late-game plate appearances but also showed his talent. While facing righty Roman Mendez, he turned on a 91 mph fastball on the inner half for a deep flyout to right field. It was a ball that, in two years, almost certainly leaves the yard. Guzman has a quick bat and an advanced feel for hitting given his age and body.
Mendonca is best known for his raw power, and he showed it on Thursday by going 2-for-2 with a double and a long home run over the 404-foot sign in right-center field. It was a pitch that any upper-level professional hitter should crush––a 91 mph fastball up and over the plate––but good to see that he hit it a long way nonetheless.
De los Santos' change has lots of life, which is part of what makes it such a devastating pitch. But he's also able to throw it with deception despite the big-time velocity separation from his fastball. Few pitchers can show a 13 mph differential between the fastball and changeup while also maintaining their arm/body speed and mechanics.
Miller improved his velocity, secondary stuff and overall command quite a bit last season. Although it's very early in camp, his slider and changeup both looked promising in the intrasquad game. Miller yielded a hit in an otherwise clean 13-pitch frame.
The Coca-Cola Classic kicked off in Surprise Stadium on Thursday, with four of Frankie Piliere's top 100 draft prospects for this summer in action.
The 20-year-old was particularly impressive in the early innings, featuring a 91-94 mph fastball with a sharp 82-84 mph slider. Both offerings showed the potential to miss bats, and his slider looked like a future plus pitch. Agosta's slider had long break at good velocity with late tilt. Though he's listed at only 6-foot-1 and his fastball doesn't have much life, Agosta––coming from over the top in his delivery––pitched from a downward plane and got nice angle on his fastball. He has clean, easy-to-repeat mechanics with a quick arm and an advanced feel for command of the two primary pitches. Agosta mixed in the occasional third pitch––an 82 mph changeup––though he tipped it by dropping his arm slot and slowing his mechanics.
After the first two innings, the California native looked like a future first-round pick with two potential plus offerings and impressive command. But his stuff began to soften as the game progressed. His arm slot dropped slightly––causing him to lose some of the angle on the fastball––and his velocity fell to the 89-92 mph range (sitting at 90-91). His previously sharp slider also became a little more slurvy between 79-80 mph. He began having more trouble putting hitters away.
There's no doubt that Agosta is a talented hurler, but he'll need to prove that he can hold the stuff and mechanics deeper into games (in addition to refining the changeup as his third pitch) if he's to remain a starting pitcher. His 6-foot-1, 178-pound frame is a bit lanky and has room to add muscle. It's also easy to look at the early-innings velocity and breaking ball and dream on him as a future late-inning relief prospect if he doesn't stick in the rotation. But whoever drafts Agosta will almost certainly give him the opportunity to develop as a starting pitcher first.
More known for his advanced pitchability than pure stuff, Rodgers did an excellent job of mixing and locating his deep four-pitch repertoire throughout the start. The Houston native flashed a fastball that sat mostly between 87-90 mph. He also showed a big-breaking 73-75 mph curveball with good depth, a 79-80 mph slider and the occasional changeup. The prospect was able to throw all four of his pitches for strikes when needed.
The knock on Rodgers is his lack of plus velocity, though he can touch the low-90s with more consistency than he did in Thursday's start. He's a polished pitcher in all aspects. Rodgers has clean mechanics, pitches well with his fastball (read: locating it to both sides of the plate and changing the hitters' eye levels by working it up and down effectively) and commanded two solid––though not wipeout––breaking balls.
Rodgers, who's listed at 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, entered the season with a career 2.52 ERA and only 20 walks (with 150 strikeouts) in 164 innings. He's a good athlete and a strike-thrower who can locate a deep arsenal but doesn't project to miss many bats. He looks to be a back-of-the-rotation prospect with the absolute ceiling of a number three starter.
At the plate, Wisdom mixes his strength with a quick bat to generate plus raw power––his best offensive tool. He socked a home run against Oregon State on Thursday. The prospect also displayed a patient approach with an advanced eye for the strike zone. He worked deep into counts and drew one walk after a long at-bat in which he fouled off a number of tough pitches close to the zone.
Wisdom is off to a bit of a slow start this season, but he has some intriguing tools (power and arm) and has the potential to create some draft helium this spring.