Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Notes from Mesa vs. Scottsdale: Renato Nunez hits 3 bombs

I was interested to see just how far Clint Frazier had come since I saw him as a prep athlete, but it was a 21 year old Athletics prospect, Renato Nunez, that stole the show.

Frazier has bulked up quite a bit since I've seen him.  It seems he has chosen his path and it will be to utilize that bat speed as a corner outfielder who hits for power.  The forearms are huge.

Clint Frazier
Clint Frazier takes a big cut

He struggled today, however, looking tentative at times with his swing and not demonstrating that explosive bat speed we're so used to seeing.  We'll chalk it up to a bad day.

Renato Nunez, on the other hand, did show tremendous bat speed, launching 3 HRs with the last one being a monster shot that cleared the LF berm.  The LF'er did not even move as it sailed over his head.  Nunez is a physically mature corner infielder who is working hard to stay at 3B as his defense is not as advanced as his bat right now, though he can be a bit aggressive up there.  He makes pretty consistent contact, however, He has as much raw power as anyone I've seen down here and while all 3 HRs were pulled to LF, he certainly seems capable of taking it out to any part of any ballpark.

Renato Nunez HR'd on this swing...and 2 others
Renato Nunez

Christian Arroyo, SS, Giants

Arroyo doesn't really stand out in any one area.  He's not a toolsy type nor is he an explosive athlete.  Arroyo is just solid across the board.  In a way, he's a typical Giants player in that the whole may end up being better than the sum of his parts.  There are two things that he does especially well: hit for average and throw.  He's the type of player that just seems to be able to square up consistently.  He does have some pop and may develop average power, which is a potential asset at the SS position.  Defense is the biggest question as Arroyo probably has average range at best -- but his strong arm can certainly play at SS.  I think if he can at least make the routine play, you keep him at SS because that bat will provide value at a premium position.  His DP partner, Austin Slater, is cut out of the same mold, though he is a more physical player who hits line drives and shoots the gaps while providing solid defense at 2B.  He may have the raw strength to hit for some power down the road.

Christian Arroyo

Austin Slater

  • Adam Brett Walker, OF, Twins:  Walker is a player who just looks the part.  He's 6'5", 225 lbs with an athletic build, but he's more of a one-tool player, with that tool being raw power.  This particular game gave a pretty good glimpse of what Walker can be if he reaches his ceiling.  He hit a long HR but he also struck out 3 times.  There are some holes in his swing and it is likely he won't hit for average.  Defensively he's an average player at best and if all goes well, he profiles as a classic power hitting corner OF.
Adam Brett Walker

Sam Travis, 1B, Red Sox

A teammate of Kyle Schwarber's in college, Travis was one of the pleasant surprises for me.  Along with Arroyo, he probably had the best feel for hitting of all the players I saw today.  Travis doubled twice, both solid drives.  He's a first baseman, so he is going to have to keep hitting and add some HR power to his game -- the raw power is there and he has a solid approach at the plate, so I think that will come in time.

Willson Contreras, C, Cubs

I've already talked about Contreras' hitting, which has picked up where it left off in AA.  Yesterday he was the catcher so this was my first look.   He did show his strong arm and shortened arm action behind the plate, though he did not cut down the base stealer in his only try.  Contreras gets very low in his crouch and his quickness/athleticism makes him adept at blocking balls in the dirt.  He also put that athleticism on display when he made the defensive play of the game  on a pop up behind home plate.  If there was one negative, it's that he got a little bit upset at a close play at the plate -- which is fine, it appeared he had reason to question the call -- but he seemed to let it affect him on the next pitch, which was a passed ball up in the zone that he should have handled.

Sam Travis and Willson Contreras


Rob Zastryzny, LHP, Cubs

(From Cubs Den): You have to see Rob Zastryzny to appreciate him and it seems to me there are a lot of people watching him lately.  To me what stands out  about Zastryzny is the surprisingly easy  athleticism.  He has good arm action both in the back and front, gets good extension on his delivery, and generates solid arm speed without max effort.

What Zastryzny has lacked over the years is the ability to spin a good breaking ball.  The Cubs have been working on his grip this fall and so far the results are mixed.  In his start today, Zastryzny threw an inordinate amount of curveballs, some of which had a good tight spin and a quick, short break, but others sort of rolled in and lacked depth and bite.  It is a work in progress but the Cubs see some promise there.  You can't put too much into his results because it is obvious that Zastryzny is here for two reasons -- one is to make up for lost reps and the other is to develop that curve.

The change-up is his best pitch.  He throws it with good arm action and it features some late drop.  It is an above average pitch.  The fastball was often  at 92-93 today, though he sometimes cuts it, takes something off, and can create better sink and some occasional arm side run.  He's an intelligent pitcher who can run up good velo when needed -- and if he ever gets that curveball to be consistent, he can be a back of the rotation starter.  If not, he probably has enough to be in the bullpen.  Personally, i like the delivery and arm action, so I want to see him make it as a starter, but we'll see how that curve develops between now and 2016.

Rob Zastyzny

Austin Kubitza, RHP, Tigers

A sinker-slider pitcher with a heavy low 90s fastball (90-92) and a hard slider (86-88).  Kubitza has a nice starting kit but the command and the change-up lag well behind.  He had limited success on this day as well as some ups and downs during the regular season.  Despite the two above average pitches, I had some concerns.  The first is evident when you  look at the velocities of his two main pitches -- there isn't much separation there.  The fact that he lacks a strong change-up exacerbates the situation.  The second is his delivery.  Kubitza comes across his body and also lands rather stiffly on the front leg -- and I wonder if that combination might put a bit of strain on his shoulder.

Austin Kubitza

Trevor Hildenberger, RHP, Twins:

A 4 year senior with a high 80s FB, slider, and change, Hildenberger's effectiveness stems from his sidearm delivery.  He's a polished pitcher with excellent command, so he has a chance to move quickly and perhaps make it as a relief specialist.  Sidearmers seem to be coming back in vogue a little and Hildenberger hopes to ride that wave.


  1. Came here after the Cubs loss, this is really neat thank you John for this!

  2. As we saw last night. Blocking a ball in the dirt can make or break a game as far as the momentum is concerned. Looking forward to seeing Contreras sometime next season.