Scouting Notebook: Week 1

With so much attention given to breaking down prospects piece by piece, looking at their strengths and weaknesses with great detail, we present Scouting Notebook here at Using the valuable input of professional scouts, we take an advanced look at '07 and '08 draft prospects' Bobby Bramhall, Michael Taylor, and Jeremy Bleich.

Bobby Bramhall - LHP, Rice University (Jr.)

Draft Class: 2007
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Position: Pitcher
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 180

Present/Future Scouting Grades

Fastball - 4/4
Curveball - 3/3
Changeup - 5/6
Overall Future Potential - 43
Adjusted Overall Future Potential - 45

Physical Description: Bramhall is a strong, firmly built left-hander who does make up for his lack of height with his strong, long legs and high waist. Physically, he resembles young Jarrod Washburn. He has room to fill out his upper body, but he already has a thick, strong lower half. Overall, he is physically mature.

Mechanical Distinctives: The Rice lefty holds his hands high throughout his delivery and does very little to hide the ball from the batter. He's straight up and down from the windup and the set position and comes from a high three-quarter delivery. His delivery is without any true, serious mechanical flaws; his arm works well and he has a clean, fluid arm action. He tends to fall off the mound to the third base side, causing him to get under some of his pitches. He also throws across his body, but it is not an extreme case. This can be corrected by keeping his front side closed longer through his delivery. There are still concerns that he sometimes looks like a pie-thrower, which is an obvious concern. Bramhall shows very little effort in his delivery; the ball comes out of his hand nicely.

Abilities: Bobby Bramhall knows how to pitch; he mixes his pitches and changes speeds well enough to have success at the professional level. His biggest weapon is a changeup and he utilizes it to perfection. It has classic circle-changeup action and parachutes right before home plate. He works down in the zone with his offspeed pitches and rarely misses with any of his pitches in the zone. He makes you chase his pitch and when he goes inside he misses off the plate, not over it. His fastball also has some natural cut action. That, coupled with his changeup that dives down and away to his throwing arm side, gives him a very formidable attack against right-handed hitters. His breaking ball lacks any true snap and he uses it as his third pitch. He goes after his opponent and isn't afraid of contact, although his changeup could be a swing and miss pitch at the next level. It appears that he may sacrifice velocity to keep his command and he appears to use little energy.

Summation: He's not gifted with an abundance of raw ability, but he makes up for it in pitching aptitude and command. There is also the potential for one plus pitch, but he profiles best as a middle reliever in the future. Bramhall does not try to overpower the hitters but works aggressively enough inside to make his offspeed attack on the outer-half effective at any level.

Michael Taylor - RF, Stanford University (Jr.)

Draft Class: 2007
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Position: Right Field
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 260

Present/Future Scouting Grades

Hitting - 4/5
Power - 5/7
Speed - 5/4
Arm - 5/5
Fielding - 4/4
Overall Future Potential - 50
Adjusted Overall Future Potential - 55

Physical Description: Quite simply, Michael Taylor is built more like an NFL player than a Major League prospect. He's one of the most physically imposing players you'll see and is solid muscle. Physically, he closely resembles Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. Taylor has long legs and a high waist and is as physically mature as they come for a college players. Despite his size, he is still very athletic and mobile.

Mechanical Distinctives: Taylor bats from a very slight crouch in the box and holds his hands loose and low about his shoulder. He looks comfortable and relaxed in the box. He gets excellent extension and has fast hands. Occasionally there is some length to his swing but it doesn't look like a consistent problem. Taylor tends to hit off his front foot but shows the ability to keep his hands back enough to make consistent contact with breaking balls. His hand/eye coordination is quite apparent. His trouble with inside pitches following breaking balls could be helped by a more open stance.

Abilities: Still a very raw product, Taylor shows flashes of brilliance with the bat. He can also be easily exploited at this point in his career by a good mix of pitches. His game power has not totally blossomed yet because he is often fooled by the variety of pitches he sees but he is strong enough to still gets his hits. Overall, he shows decent plate discipline but is not nearly selective enough when ahead in the count. He shows a willingness to go to the opposite field and his best power is actually to right-center field. Taylor likes to extend his long arms but can be beaten on the inner half if he's set up well. He should make consistent contact as a pro but needs to wait for his pitch to drive. Taylor also shows adequate outfield skills and has Major league arm strength. His instincts and reads are still raw. He also runs very well for his size.

Summation: He has a big league, athletic body and he's equipped with the raw tools needed to be a big league player. He'll need to learn to recognize pitches when he's ahead in the count and learn how to drive the ball, using his large frame to supply power. Taylor has what it takes to be a Major League regular but each area of his game needs its share of work.

Jeremy Bleich - LHP, Stanford University (So.)

Draft Class: 2008
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Position: Pitcher
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 185

Present/Future Scouting Grades

Fastball - 5/6
Curveball - 5/6
Changeup - 6/6
Overall Future Potential - 60
Adjusted Overall Future Potential - 60

Physical Description: Bleich has a solid, strong physique and well as proportioned upper and lower halves. He also has a lot of room for added muscle on his 185-pound frame. He's built similar to Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Bleich has broad, sloped shoulders and a tapered frame. Right now, he has wiry strength and it gives him easy, natural torque but some extra bulk and natural physical maturing will serve him well. He is a superb athlete.

Mechanical Distinctives: Jeremy Bleich is very polished mechanically and has no major problems in his delivery. His arm action is long and loose, but he also hides the ball exceptionally well. He has a short stride and gets on top of the ball very well. Bleich delivers from a three-quarter's arm angle and the ball appears to come out of his hand cleanly. His high leg kick and slight lean backwards makes him very deceptive against lefty hitters.

Abilities: Bleich is the total package, everything you'd want from a reliable lefty starter and more. He works at a rapid pace, can be a prolific ground ball pitcher, has a pick-off move that could be likened to Andy Pettitte's, and he is an excellent fielder. Everything Bleich does starts with his boring two-seam fastball. It has a lot of natural life and he likes to run it in on lefties and away from righties. He's fearless and is not afraid to work on the inner-half of the plate with any of his three pitches. The Stanford lefty can be virtually unhittable against lefties when he has his class lefty breaking ball working to go along with his tailing fastball. He easily sits at average big league velocity and could add a tick or two as he gets stronger. Bleich has command of each side of the plate, mostly because of how well he repeats his delivery. He's a highly polished product. He doesn't feature his changeup all the time, but the extreme differential makes it a plus pitch. But he loves to pound the zone with his fastball. His body language exudes confidence and swagger; he knows what he's doing and has a plan on the mound.

Summation: Even as a sophomore, Jeremy Bleich is very close to being a finished product. He's confident in all three of his pitches, two of which could be plus pitches with time. He commands the zone and always has the look of having the game under control. Bleich has proven to be very durable and while he won't be overpowering, his moxie and advanced approach lend themselves well to a strong professional career. He's a pitcher who always wants to take the ball.

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