I spent my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings of last week watching prospects of the Inland Empire 66ers, who are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Angels, and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes play against one another. Below are my own scouting notes on some of the notable prospects between the two teams, for your reading pleasure.
- Eric Stamets, SS, Inland Empire (Angels): Of all the positional players I saw on Inland Empire, I believe Stamets has the best chance of contributing at the major league level, because of how tremendous he is defensively at shortstop. Stamets displayed his plus arm and plus defense in a ridiculous play I saw him make, snaring a fairly hard hit ball hit up-the-middle, spinning and firing to first. Stamets is also a plus-plus runner (I timed him at 4.10 from home-to-first on a few instances, but one scout said he clocked Stamets at 4.07 before). But, it's the hit tool that Stamets lacks that would prevent him from reaching his potential. I'm not a fan of the swing, but there is an approach at the plate and he's a competitor. I wouldn't bet against him.
- Alex Yarbrough, 2B, Inland Empire (Angels): Yarbrough is a 5'11'', 180 pound second baseman that can hit. The approach, especially in two-strike counts, and excellent hands at the plate is what Yarbrough has going for him. However, he's a fringe player in my eyes, because he's not a burner, doesn't show good range or an average arm. If he can continue to hit, he could make it to the big leagues, because he doesn't profile well at any position besides second base.
- Zach Borenstein, LF, Inland Empire (Angels): There's a lot to like about Borenstein when it comes to hitting. At the plate, he can go to all fields with ease and shows good bat speed in his leverage swing. He's got a nice build to him and seems to have plenty of strength, which could mean some power may develop in his bat instead of only gap power. But, as one scout told me, he's a bit too far off the plate and that will need to change for him to have success at the next level. Combine that with pitch recognition that needs work, Borenstein was left flailing at any pitch with vertical break thrown down and away to him. If it all comes together, you could see an up-and-down outfielder at the big league level. The former 23rd round selection of the 2011 draft is a nice little sleeper to watch.
- Lindsey Caughel, RHP, Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers): I've written about Caughel before, but he looked much better in the second outing I saw him in than the first. Caughel seemed to have his better stuff this time, throwing 91 MPH with his fastball consistently for the first few innings. But it was the changeup that stood out to me, as Caughel relied on the pitch to get him deep into the game. While he did show a feel for it, there isn't a large enough velocity difference between the offering and his fastball.
- Duke von Schamann, RHP, Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers): Von Schamann had the sinker working, keeping it down and sitting 89-91 with the offering while touching 92 and 93 for strikes on several instances. The command is there for von Schamann, who can move the sinker vertically and horizontally with consistency. While I can see the righty reaching the big leagues, he will first need to improve one of his secondary offerings. The changeup is a fringe offering he can get away with at the lower levels, as he uses it to keep hitters off balance right now. The curveball is thrown anywhere from 75-77 MPH while the slider comes in at 84-86. The curveball wasn't thrown much, but the loopy offering either hanged or broke right into the middle of the zone. I thought von Schamann showed decent feel for the slider, which currently has early break. It was my first look at von Schamann and perhaps my last, as the righty was promoted to Class Double-A Chattanooga after surviving the California League. He had a pretty good outing there, too, I'd say.
Please remember the notes for the Inland Empire prospects are only derived from a sample size of three games, as this was my first look at their team. Of course, it's also from my eye of evaluation, and everyone doesn't always agree.