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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

7/24/21 : Surveying the System - Part Four - Clearwater

With the trade deadline fast approaching I thought it would be a good time to make a quick round about of the system from the perspective of one who watches every affiliate on a nightly basis and also spends days observing the complex league. It’s an ability to do so I don’t take for granted and while most won’t care or likely want to hear what I write or say here’s some notations for those that do 😳.

I don’t take part in the “Prospect vs Non-Prospect” discussions, I just look for good ballplayers with projectable skills that might someday help at the MLB level. Relying on statistics alone is misleading, this year in particular … after a year’s layoff and shortened spring camps it’s more prudent to look for trends or recent consistency, at least that’s my opinion. It’s also my opinion that it is most important to actually watch players play, still no better way to gage ability than actually seeing performance. I think we will see that also born out in trades that clubs make in the next few days, wouldn’t get caught up in the season stats for any minor leaguer.

So with that said here’s part four of five … the Low A level … if I were a scout with another team these are fellas I’d have interest in. 😎

Low A : Clearwater Threshers :

To date 25 different position players and 29 pitchers have appeared for the team. It’s a very young team, in fact the pitching staff has the youngest average age in all of full season minor league baseball and the position players are the ninth youngest group.

The Long View :

There’s plenty to speculate about the future on this roster. CF Johan Rojas is an excellent defensive center fielder, he gets to balls with ease and is perhaps the only player I’ve ever seen smile when he’s chasing down a fly ball, he just loves to play the game. The arm strength is plus as well, we first noted that in 2019 Fall Instructs when he threw out a runner at home attempting to score on a would be sac fly. Offensively he’s aggressive and quick, we’ve seen him turn singles into doubles repeatedly on balls where the opposing outfielder ( often times the center fielder 😳 ) has even the slightest hesitation. Johan has shown the ability to hit the ball out of the yard also, the 20 year old indeed can be special as skipper Joe Girardi stated this past spring.

SS Luis Garcia has an elite defensive skill set that’s evident to even the casual observer. His eye hand coordination and ability to get to ground balls is exceptional and while he’s made more errors than one might expect this season they have been ones that are correctable and we’re confident that with more experience that will be the case. Offensively the 20 year old has shown bat speed and power that some may have doubted to exist early in his career. As he grows more into his body that will become even more evident. Big league skills … we see an ability to be a regular in the show.

Three young outfielders that may not be on fan’s radar just yet certainly have shown skill sets in glimpses that scouts likely project as big league capable. 19 year old Yhoswar Garcia has elite speed, very quick hands and unencumbered enthusiasm for the game. We saw him in extended spring hammering baseballs off the outfield walls and in games with the Threshers where once he was on base it was an assumption that swiping second and third base was gonna happen. Unfortunately he suffered a leg injury on a foul ball off the shin and is now on the IL but hopefully he’s back soon.

Jadiel Sanchez is just 20 years old, we’ve seen both a strong throwing arm ( FCL game - threw out a runner going first to third from right field ) and a powerful swing from the left side. In recent action he’s turned on pitches for both a triple and home run. He played winter ball in his native Puerto Rico in 2020 and impressed against older more experienced pitchers. One to keep on eye on.

Marcus Lee Sang is also 20 years old and is a left handed hitter. Marcus showed us a glimpse of his power potential back in 2019 in the then Gulf Coast League. He began this season in extended spring and with the FCL Phillies and continued to improve offensively before being promoted to the Threshers on July 9th. In limited action with CW to date ( 6 games ) he’s had three multi hit performances. We think there’s a bright future ahead for this young man as well.

There are three catchers on this present squad who have the capabilities to be above average hitters … 21 year old Abrahan Gutierrez, 20 year old Juan Aparicio and 20 year old Micah Yonamine have all shown glimpses of offensive production. Gutierrez has been the Threshers most consistent hitter all season while Aparicio has flashed power potential and Yonamine just looks like he can develop into a very good hitter. Defensively they all have their challenges in different aspects but all are very young so there’s plenty of time for Coach Whitt to bring out their best potential 👍.

Rixon Wingrove ( 21 years old ) plays the game hard with an old school mentality of disliking the opposing team as his enemy. He’s shown a power bat, sometimes the swing gets long and therefore slower but we’ve seen him show the hand eye skills to drive pitches the other way ala Rhys Hoskins albeit Rixon hits from the left handers batters box … when Rixon is locked in he can take over a game with his bat. What’s not to like about that 🤷‍♂️.

Powerful swings come to mind when you watch 21 year old infielder Kendall Simmons and 22 year old Baron Radcliff. Kendall generates exceptional bat speed, he’s one of the few we’ve seen who is actually quick enough to get on top of high heaters that most swing thru. Baron is one of the most patient hitters we’ve witnessed this year but also one of the strongest … when he connects the ball flys 💪.

Versatility is the Ticket :

Twenty one year old Nicolas Torres has played all four infield positions plus all three outfield spots this year. He’s also swung the bat recently better than he has since GCL days in 2018. Nicolas has shown more ability to drive the baseball this year, likely aligned to added strength from just growing into his body. Seems to be on a path similar to others we’ve discussed at the upper levels who’ve used versatility and added offense to enhance their chances for advancement.

Arms :

While the youngest staff in minor league full season play it’s also a very talented one.

RH Mick Abel ( 19 years old ) pitches with the poise and makeup of a veteran, he’s blessed as well with an outstanding mix of pitches and a high octane heater. He’s a ways off yet but definitely projects to be a big leaguer.

LH Erik Miller ( 23 years old ) recently made his first appearance for the Threshers. He’s battled his way back from an early spring injury setback. The 2019 4th round draft choice from Stanford is a cerebral hurler who’s also capable of posting upper nineties registers with his fastball. Seems to me he’d be ideal for an Arizona Fall League assignment given the lost time. After he gets his footings likely moves up the ladder to face more seasoned competition.

RH Cristian Hernandez ( 20 yrs old ), RH Eduar Segovia ( 20 yrs old ) , LH Jordi Martinez ( 21 yrs old ) , RH Rodolfo Sanchez ( 21 yrs old ) , LH Rafael Marcano ( 21 yrs old ), RH Starlyn Castillo ( 19 yrs old ) & RH Gunner Mayer ( 20 yrs old ) are all young guns who presently approach the mid nineties while sitting a tick or so below. They’ve all had at least glimpses of success this season albeit Castillo is now on the long term IL. Each young pitcher is fun to watch, it’s an anticipation of what they might do when they take the hill. All draw the scouts attention.

RH Victor Vargas ( 20 yrs old ) & RH Fernando Lozano ( 21 yrs old ) aren’t “big arm” pitchers by today’s standards but each knows how to pitch and spin the baseball. The ability to change speeds, hit locations and keep the hitter off balance is just as dominant as an upper echelon fast ball especially when the hurler can make the ball move with tantalizing deception. These two fellas in the times we’ve seen them have shown the ability to shut down the opposition. They have the skills to climb high up the rung.

LH Samuel Aldegheri ( 19 yrs old ) generally sits in the 91-94 range but the Italian born hurler has a frame and capacity to surge higher. At present he’s a three mix pitcher with the changeup being a swing and miss out maker. Samuel started the season in extended spring and the FCL but he’s now made a couple of appearances for the Threshers, we’ve been impressed since first seeing him in 2019 Fall Instructs. He’s under the radar at present but that won’t last long as more scouts get eyes on him.

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