After spending one week on the road, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes returned home on Thursday to host the Stockton Ports, the High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. I took in the first three games of the four game series. Below are my own scouting notes, with a few videos, on the notable performers and prospects of the series.
- Addison Russell, Shortstop, Stockton (Athletics): ''I'd take Russell over Correa,'' one scout said, noting his advanced tools at the plate and overall five-tool profile. In my first look at the A's top prospect, Russell displayed the talent I expected to see when getting to the ballpark and much more. At the plate, Russell possesses great bat speed due to his blazing fast hands. Russell couldn't be challenged on with any type of offering in the inner half of the plate when I saw him; in his first three plate appearances, Russell recorded three hits -- a double (which should have been a triple if he ran hard), home run (video) and single -- all came on pitches located inside. I didn't get enough looks of Russell's defense to see if my evaluations were concerns or derived from a small sample,but he seemed a little slower with the feet than other shortstops I have seen recently. But the strong arm and athleticism is impressive and should keep him at shortstop long-term. I think Russell could certainly become a 60 hitter at the highest level, and since I'm such a fan of his ability to turn on pitches with his incredibly quick hands, 60 power could be in play. However, Russell will first need to become more adept at being able to identify pitches he can pull on a more consistent basis. Russell is a very special talent and worth the price of admission to the ballpark.
- Max Muncy, First Baseman, Stockton (Athletics): Muncy leads the California League in home runs, and he smacked two more in the three games I saw him, including a game-tying solo blast (video). Despite Muncy's quick to the ball swing, I wonder how he'd do against better located and quality pitches, especially ones that test his plate coverage. Due to the first baseman rule -- a first baseman prospect better project to be a middle-of-the-order kind of bat -- Muncy will have his critics throughout his journey in the minor leagues. Right now, Muncy isn't much of a prospect, but I don't think he's a stiff either. There's some athleticism there that makes me wonder if he would be able to fake it at another position, which would obviously improve his stock.
- Jonathan Garcia, Right Fielder, Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers): The Quakes are pretty dry when it comes to prospects at the moment, with the Dodgers top prospects seemingly either a level above or below right now. However, Jonathan Garcia, could be a guy worth keeping an eye on. He's an average runner -- 4.31 from home to first -- that can play defense in right field and has the arm to go with it. I don't put too much stock into his numbers at the plate, though, being as he's repeating the league and still striking out a ton. But since the team is currently missing any potential impact positional player, Garcia is worth mentioning since he possesses some tools.
- Carlos Frias, RHP, Ranco Cucamonga (Dodgers): Frias was making his High-A debut when I saw his start against the Ports. The righty sat 91-93 and touched 94 quite a few times with his fastball for the first few innings. He held his velocity well into the later innings, as Frias was still able to sit 91 MPH with his fastball in the 5th. What made watching Frias pitch interesting was his secondary offerings, because how similar they were in velocity and break. Even the scouts I sat with had to ask each other what was being thrown at times. I felt his secondary offerings were better when thrown harder, because of the tilt on the harder offerings than the ones thrown 84-86. Frias also threw an occasional curveball at 75 MPH, but mostly is a FB/SL/CH pitcher.
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. You can follow me on Twitter @Rontrarian.