Here is a report on some of the stars from the first home game for the Mesa Solar Sox, who lost to the Glendale Desert Dogs 7-6. (Box Score)
Sean Manaea (Athletics)
The lefty Manaea was 93-95 mph with this fastball and threw several good sliders from a 3/4 arm slot that is a bit toward the lower side. He comes across his body a bit, which adds some deception but also may make him a bit of an injury risk. After giving up a leadoff triple to CF Adam Frazier, Manaea settled down and pitched well, throwing a high percentage of strikes and working efficiently. He was mostly fastballs and sliders, both plus pitches, but did work in a couple of change-ups which were in the 79 mph range with some fade.
Jharel Cotton (Dodgers) didn't fare as well. He's a rather short, thick pitcher who uses a drop and drive delivery, so there isn't a lot of downward plane.. He started out throwing 92-95 mph from a a higher 3/4 arm slot, showing a solid change and an average curve. The velocity dropped a tick or two in the next inning and was more in the 90-93 range. Hitters were squaring him up pretty well. He's an arm strength guy with good arm speed and some effort. He strikes me as a bullpen type but the Dodgers seem to want to try to develop him as a starter -- and it did appear that Cotton was trying to throw quite a few curves, which is his least effective pitch. It's important to note that some pitchers come into this league to work on something specific and so we should sometimes take results with a grain of salt.
- Robinson Leyer (White Sox) is a lean RHP with an athletic build and tremendous arm strength. The arm action is short and quick. He regularly hit 97 and touched 98. He was almost all fastballs, especially early on, but he didn't miss many bats despite the velocity. Jeimer Candelario pulled a 97 mph pitch for a line drive single into RF. There is promise here but he needs to improve his secondaries to keep hitters from timing his fastball. At this stage he looks like a power reliever but, of course, he is just now coming into his own and has room to grow.
- The wild-haired Ralston Cash (Dodgers) is an average sized, 24 yr old RHP with a long history of injuries. He has a solid FB (92-94) and threw a lot of sliders -- but it is a good offering and he was effective in his two innings of work.
- David Garner (Cubs) is an undersized RHP but he has very good arm speed, hitting as high as 96 and sitting 94 while also showing a sharp slider that drew some oohs on a strike 3 call. He struggled with command for the first two hitters, but after a visit to the mound he was back on track. He retired the last 3 hitters he faced, two via strikeout. His arm action is a bit long in the back and he lacks natural plane, so his success may ultimately depend on his command/location with the fastball to set up that good slider.
The Position Players
Jeimer Candelario (Cubs) is a 3B who has evolved from a patient (perhaps passive?) hitter with questions about his defense to a solid defender who is selectively aggressive at the plate. The good eye and the quick hands are still there (as evidence by him turning on Leyer's 97 mph heat). Candelario squared up all day, with his best hit hit being a ringing double in the gap that nearly left the yard. He went 3-4 and also walked and reached on an error. Candelario has worked hard to stay in shape and has transformed his physique into a leaner, more athletic build, which has no doubt helped his mobility at 3B. His arm strength is well above average. At the plate, he has good strength in his hands but his swing plane may be more conducive to doubles power with around 15-20 HRs per season. Solid all-around player whose only below average tool is speed.
Reese McGuire (Pirates) is a catcher more known for his defense and indeed he showed well in his catch and throw skills, including cutting down Candelario trying to steal late in the game. The arm strength is good back there and that is enhanced by a quick release and the kind of short arm action you want to see from your catchers. He also showed well at the plate, displaying good plate discipline (2 walks) and ripping a double into the gap. One scout I talked to raved about his work ethic and believes he will hit for more power in time to go with his already good contact skills.
McGuire throws out Candelario
- Caleb Adams (Angels) isn't physically imposing but he has quick hands and solid bat speed -- he made some hard contact. The rest of his tools (lack of power, average speed) suggest he'll be more of a 4th OFer. He did hit a HR on this day and went 2 for 4 overall. Two other Angels prospects fared well. C Stephen McGee went 2 for 4 with a HR and a double and threw out two baserunners trying to steal. 1B Eric Aguilera went 2 for 4 and had 2 RBI...and was pretty friendly to a somewhat nervous guy who had never taken photos from this close on the field before. So yeah, I am going to root for him!
- Adam Frazier (Pirates) went 3 for 4, including two triples, but he's a guy you'd probably describe more as a grinder than a toolsy guy. He isn't going to wow you with any particular skill, but in the end he's just a good baseball player who should find himself in the majors as a utility player. He played CF in this game but he can also play SS and probably anywhere else on the diamond.
- The White Sox had 3 players in the starting lineup but it was the least heralded of the three, 1B Nicky Delmonico, who made an impact, hitting a HR deep into RF. DH Trey Michalczewski is a good athlete whose skills at the plate are still a bit raw. That was evident today as his timing appeared off. He swung through some good fastballs and was also the victim of that Garner slider. 3B Jake Peters has a tremendous arm and shows an advanced hit tool despite his 0 for 4 day.