This is the second part of my conversation with Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus. In this part, we continued talking about Dodger prospects, this time talking about pitchers Chris Reed, Chris Anderson, Tom Windle and Victor Arano.
Parks said that scouts are "not usually impressed" when they watch left-hander Chris Reed, adding Reed "rarely shows a plus secondary pitch." Reed's grade on his breaking ball has gone down over the past few years, Reed's change up has graded better over that time. Parks thinks that because of the lack of plus off-speed pitch, Reed doesn't have the skill set to go through an order a second and third time. Reed profiles as a reliever in the end and maybe only as a situational left-hander in the majors.
Parks had 19 year old right-handed pitcher Victor Arano, pitching in his first full-season league for the Great Lakes Loons, was Baseball Prospectus No. 10 Dodger prospect. Arano has continued to show why he got ranked there. Parks saw him twice in spring training and was impressed. Parks noted that Arano has continued to show "advanced pitchability." Arano still has a tendency to leave the ball up and then he has given up a lot of runs in some starts. But Parks also said "Arano has missed a lot of bats" (currently has 41 strikeouts and only 6 walks in 36.1 innings). Parks thinks that he is a "good prospect" and someone to watch. Below is a video of Victor Arano from a game back in April.
The first two 2013 draft picks are in Rancho Cucamonga, Chris Anderson and Tom Windle, and were both in the top ten. Parks says that Anderson "has good stuff, but not blow you away stuff." Righthander batters have been able to sit back and "tee off" off Anderson (in 2014, right-handed batters are hitting .305/.389/.484 off Anderson). Parks says part of this could be Anderson working on things (note, one of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes radio play-by-play announcers told me that Matt Herges, Quakes pitching coach, has been working with Anderson to get his location down in the zone). Parks also said there are also a lot of talented hitters this year in the Cal League.
Anderson has showed the ability "to miss bats" (57 strikeouts in 47.1 innings) and has flashed two quality pitches.
Parks has not received any 2014 reports on left-hander Tom Windle, but Parks likes Windle, thinks Windle "has the pitchability to get out of jams," and thinks he doesn't have tremendous stuff but can develop two or three quality pitches. Windle profiles as a back of the rotation starter; however, some scouts have thought that if Windle were to pitch out of the bullpen, he could add some velocity and really be a good bullpen piece.
While Parks primarily focuses on minor league prospects, Baseball Prospectus partners with Perfect Game (note Perfect Game company organizes national level individual player showcases and team tournaments all over the United States) and will be publishing scouting reports on draft prospects up through the MLB draft which starts on Thursday June 5th.
Because of the relationship with Perfect Game (which focuses on high-school prospects), Baseball Prospectus will start identifying talent as early as their sophomore season. Baseball Prospectus also has some people in certain parts of the country looking at college talent, three in Southern California (one of them is former True Blue LA writer Ron Shah, an interview with Shah will be published next week).
Parks said that the major difference between scouting amateur (and even short-season Rookie) baseball is that pitching is still pitching at those levels, Parks noted "92 [mph] on the outside corner is still 92 whether on a Little League field or a major league stadium." Parks added you can look at the pitcher's body, how the arm looks, look at the arm action and feel comfortable with a certain amount of projection. Essentially, you can scout a pitcher in a vacuum regardless of level of competition.
Parks said that however, what a hitter is doing is completely predicated on what that hitter is facing. "When you are scouting a high school hitter, it doesn't tell you much when he [hits a home run] off a guy who is never going to pitch after high school."
High school hitters, Parks said, just are scary to project. Parks also said that even when you watch them top high school talent go against each other in showcases, you will hear from some that you should discount how the hitters are doing because they don't face really good pitching all the time. Parks reaction to that is: then how are you supposed to project a high school batter.
Parks said you end up writing scouting reports on their body, bat speed, feel for hitting, those are the attributes that you feel comfortable projecting. Also if the hitter plays a premium position, shortstop, center field, catcher, that could bump up his stock.
Parks said look for extensive coverage on the draft in the next few weeks.
As noted above, there will be an interview with Baseball Prospectus writer and scout Ron Shah, who has been focusing on probable 2014 draft picks, where we will talk about the upcoming draft.