Scouting Notes: Wilmington, Kinston Wrap-Up
Over the course of the series I scouted in Wilmington, I got a look at highly touted bats like Eric Hosmer (right), and much-talked-about arms like Chris Dwyer, Tim Melville, and Alex White.
Some of them stood out and others were disappointing, while some other sleepers or lesser-known names emerged as prospects we should be talking about. Here is what I saw from these talented Indians and Royals affiliates in Wilmington:
Tim Melville, RHP, Wilmington
There are a number of words that could be applied to how Tim Melville looked this week in Wilmington. Something along the lines of erratic probably fits best. Melville allowed things to unravel on him in a hurry, and that's been part of his problem in many of his worst outings. As far as raw stuff, Melville has it and it's going to be a matter of harnessing it. He worked at 90-92 mph in his most recent outing, bumping 93 a handful of times. But, location and continually falling behind plagued him.
He works from a full wind up, and when he's rolling the mechanics look relatively clean. When things begin to go wrong, however, he falls off drastically to the first base side and yanks the fastball across the plate. Melville also struggled with his secondary pitches, mixing in some flat changeups up in the zone at 78-80 mph and some loopy curveballs at 71-75 mph. His secondary pitches can be better than he showed in this particular outing, but this just indicates how big of an issue consistency is for him right now. The talent is in there, but gaining some form of consistency and not allowing the game to get away from him are things he'll have to work on.
Chris Dwyer, LHP, Wilmington
If you are looking for a sleeper, look no further than Chris Dwyer. This is a prospect that is about ready to put it all together. Dwyer looked outstanding on Thursday evening in Wilmington, flashing plus stuff, a simple and smooth delivery and a solid feel for turning over a lineup.
Working at 90-93 mph with the fastball, the solidly built left-hander reached 94 mph a couple times in his outing against Kinston, and for the most part worked in the lower quadrants of the strike zone. His fastball has some nice late life, and good two-seam tailing action. He likes to go inside to righty hitters and tail the fastball back over the inside corner. In the early part of the game, he worked primarily off his fastball, pounding the zone effectively and getting some quick outs. By the middle innings, he started to break out his changeup and curveball. Both have the makings of being above average pitches.
The book on Dwyer out of college was that his changeup was a bit of an issue. In this game, the changeup may have been his greatest strength. If he continues to throw it the way he did on this night, it's a plus pitch or a 6 on the 2-8 scouting scale. He throws it at 80-82 mph, doubled up on it at times, and produced a number of very awkward swings and misses. For a guy that reportedly relied in his curveball, the changeup was an outstanding revelation.
Then, of course there is his very good curveball. It's a 12-6 hook which he throws at 74-77 mph with excellent downward bite. But, quite frankly he hardly had to use it until late in his outing. Once he worked it into his repertoire, he crossed the line from tough on the Kinston lineup to close to unhittable. If the lack of curveballs is planned by the Royals in order to get him to use his changeup, it has certainly worked out beautifully.
Dwyer, right now, has three 6 pitches in repertoire, he's a lefty who pitches in the low-90s and he does it with a nice, easy delivery. He tends to nibble around the zone at times, and his control went in spurts on Thursday, but the raw stuff, the ease in which he produces it, his athletic frame, and ability to change his patterns and turn over the lineup give him front-of-the-rotation type potential. Dwyer won't be a sleeper for long; this is a fantastic left-handed pitching prospect.
Alex White, RHP, Kinston
As surprisingly impressive as Dwyer was this week, White was nearly as disappointing. The velocity ranged anywhere from 87-93 mph in his Thursday night outing, but he mostly lived around 88-90 mph. That is not the Alex White that was drafted 15th overall in last year's draft. Velocity was not the only issue for White, however. He struggled mightily with his command, and actually his lack of command and velocity go hand in hand. They both stem from a constant struggle with his mechanics.
White works from a funky delivery, and he showed on this particular night that it's a difficult one to repeat. His delivery is somewhat similar to Jake Peavy's, and the White Sox starter is actually experiencing some similar issues with his mechanics right now at the big league level. White's front side tends to swing open, and if the timing is not right that front side tends to open too quickly, and his arm lags behind. That was very evident against Wilmington. White continued to miss high and away to his arm side, making his two-seam fastball completely flatten out. He's losing both velocity and command with this mechanical issue, as he's not able to effectively finish his pitches.
When he did manage to get his mechanics in order, White got his fastball up to 93 mph with some nasty two-seam life down in the zone. If he can work with that consistently, and he can when his mechanics are in check, he can be very effective. White also has a plus breaking ball, which he hardly got to use on Thursday because he was continually behind in counts. When he did throw it, he worked at 77-80 with sharp, 11-5 action. He flashed a changeup also but it was more of a show pitch than anything else.
Given his two-pitch approach, his complex mechanics and the difficulty he's going to have repeating the intensity of those mechanics, Alex White looks like a future bullpen arm. He's going to have a very difficult time keeping those mechanics in check over the course of a long game and producing plus velocity. In the bullpen, that heavy, moving fastball coupled with his breaking ball and deceptive delivery could be very interesting.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Wilmington
After a very rough 2009 season, Eric Hosmer looks like he's back in top form here in 2010. Pitchers on the Kinston staff challenged him on the inner half of the plate all week, and for the most part the lefty hitting first baseman responded very well. He also looks to be an outstanding physical condition and is hitting with a plan in each at-bat. Royals fans should expect to see the Eric Hosmer they expected to see last year back hitting the ball with authority.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Kinston
As impressive as Eric Hosmer was in the series between Wilmington and Kinston, the hitter that stood out to me the most was Jason Kipnis. Kipnis was Cleveland's second-round draft selection from a year ago, and so far it's looking like a steal. The term professional hitter is overused, but it really does apply to Kipnis. He does not have explosive raw power, but he's a guy that's described in the scouting world as a hitter with a good feel for the bat head.
Kipnis sprays lines drives to all fields, and proved he could turn around plus fastballs from left-handed pitchers like Mike Montgomery and Chris Dwyer. You don't get much better tests at the minor league level for lefty on lefty matchups and Kipnis was more than up to the task. He has the look of a .300 contact hitter at the big league level with 15-20 home run power. Right now, he's not a guy that works the count a lot but his pitch selection is solid and he's able to recognize offspeed pitches and do some damage.
Frankie Piliere spent the last three seasons working as a scout, most recently in the professional scouting department for the Texas Rangers in 2009. He now serves as the National Baseball Analyst here at FanHouse.