Pierce Johnson, RHP, Cubs (AA)
- Age: 24
- 6'3", 175 lbs.
Johnson really struggled with his command early in this game, often falling behind and then having to throw fastballs, which were squared up often in the first inning or two. There were other times, however, when he pitched well, showing a 90-93 FB with some nice arm side run, a hard curveball (80-83), and a much improved change. With regard to the CB, I've heard some call it a slurve and some a power curveball. I prefer the latter description in Johnson's case.
The delivery starts with a leg kick in which his brings his knee up toward his chest and his shoulder is slightly turned in. He then drops his back shoulder to create leverage and the leg comes back down at about a 45 degree angle with his foot sometimes pointed toward the 3B side. The arm action looks relatively clean.
The key is the command because the fastball has good velocity and life, as he is able to run it on a RH hitters hands and away from lefties. The curveball showed good vertical break, and he can bury it in on a RH hitter, though he did have some trouble dropping them on the outside corner early on -- as it tended to flatten out. But he seemed to get a better feel as the game went on.
The stuff is there for Johnson to be a mid-rotation guy but the inconsistent command may knock him down to a 4/5. The curveball is a legitimate swing and miss pitch but he needs to consistently get ahead in the count to be able to use it.
Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Giants (AA)
- Age: 22
- 6'3", 195 lbs.
First of all, Mejia is no longer at his listed 195 lbs as he has clearly filled out -- but looks pretty soft. He'll likely have to be mindful of his conditioning throughout his career.
On the mound, Mejia is more athletic than he looks. He has a simple delivery that he repeats well, get decent extension, finishes upright, but the arm is loose and the arm action is clean.
Mejia was 91-93 mph with the FB and showed better command with it than Johnson early on, He added a good slider and a change-up that was average on this day. Mejia was rolling along for 3 innings but started to lose his rhythm and command in the 5th inning. He wasn't hit terribly hard, but he did put a couple of runners on, got behind counts, and generally labored before getting removed with 2 outs and the bases loaded. He allowed 2 runs in that inning, the only two he gave up all day. In fact, he did not give up a baserunner until the 4th and no-hit Mesa for 4 1/3 innings.
There is a lot to like about Mejia, who has the potential for 3 pitches that rate at average or better. He generally throws strikes and shows at least average command overall. Projects as a #4 type starter but he's a big-bodied guy and will have to work hard to maintain himself in good shape.
The Position Players
The pitching was what grabbed my attention on this day but there were some other noteworthy performances. Former Cubs and current Marlins SS prospect Elliot Soto showed range to both sides, completing a spectacular play to his left but not quite able to gun down the runner on a play deep in the hole.
Dominic Ficiciello, (OF/1B, Tigers) showed a very smooth stroke from the left side, though a slight build leaves you wondering how much power he'll have. Ficiciello plays corner OF now and may end up at 1B, so the lack of power is something of a concern given his ultimate position. He did show some pop the other way with a line drive double to the gap in left-center.
Red Sox 1B Sam Travis is a solidly built RH hitter with good raw power and a better feel for hitting than I expected. He's a good all-around hitter though his HR power has not shown in games either during the regular season or down here in Arizona. The doubles power is there, however, and it wouldn't be surprising to see more baseballs leave the yard as Travis gets reps and gains experience. He had 4 hits on the day and the one out he recorded was a line drive to the OF.
Austin Slater (2B, Giants) isn't a fluid athlete but he has a good feel for hitting and perhaps enough infield skills to stick at 2B. He showed good hitting instincts on his lone hit of the game, pulling his hands in and driving the ball into RF for a line drive single.
Daniel Robertson (IF, Rays) got off to a slow start but continues to improve at the plate as the fall goes on. The quality of contact the last two times I've seen him seems to indicate he's shaking off the rust. I'll have more on him later in the fall season.
Christian Arroyo, SS, GIants is a player I've already written on in the past and I like him for his all-around skill set -- even if there are no real loud tools. If there is one tool that stands out above the others, it's his hitting ability. Arroyo can get aggressive but once again, he is showing progress there as he displayed a solid approach at the plate (2 walks) as well as line drive contact with a triple the opposite way. He's solid defender who may be able to stick as an offense first SS, but the range may play better at 2B.