After every game covered, our writers submit player reports with observations from that game. The best reports are collected each week for this feature, where we usually feature about four or five players per level and the progress they’ve been making in the last week. This time around we have reports from three full-season levels (Altoona was on the road for a long stretch), plus a report on a prep pitcher from extended Spring Training. Below are the reports from our writers who covered games this week.
Ryan Palencer – Indianapolis
Casey Sadler (5/26 – 7.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR) – Had good two-seam movement. Was up in the zone early, but still got ahead in the count. Worked quickly and got several ground balls. Picked up 11 ground balls to one fly out. Was pitch efficient and threw strikes. Had some hard hit ground balls, but not much hard contact in the air. Threw mostly fastballs, while attacking hitters. Allowed a home run on a middle in two seamer that leaked over the plate. Allowed a double on the same pitch later on, both to lefties. Got the ball down better in the middle innings. Fell behind in the count in the fifth, his only tough inning.
Chris Volstad (5/27 – 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – First six pitches of the game were balls. Picked up a double play to get out of the first. Was down in the zone most of the night. Worked the corners, but was not afraid to attack hitters when needed. Got hit hard when he got middle in. Missed in the dirt with the breaking ball on a few occasions. Had good downward movement though. Got ahead in the count later as the game went along. Had a 2:1 ground out to fly out ratio. Worked with mostly fastballs.
Blake Wood (5/27 – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR) – Attacked the hitters and threw downhill to pound the bottom part of the zone. Threw mostly fastballs. Got ahead in the count to all hitters. Was not afraid to get up in the zone and over the plate, trusting the velocity and life. Worked on back-to-back days.
Adrian Sampson (5/28 – 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) – Fastball was in the 89-91 range. Was down with the fastball much of the night, but got into trouble when he got the ball out over the plate. Was wild early in the outing, but settled down later. Allowed a scorched single on an elevated fastball in the first, but picked up a double play to get out of it and leave the bases loaded. Stuff was just not as sharp as usual. The movement on the breaking ball was limited. Had a solid changeup, in the 85 range. Allowed more fly balls that usual as well.
Keon Broxton (5/29 – 2-for-4, HR) – Hit the third pitch he saw at the Triple-A level for a home run to straightaway centerfield on an elevated fastball. Ranged in to grab a short fly ball. Also ranged well to his right on a play later in the game. Couldn’t hold up on a breaking ball down for a four-pitch strikeout. Had a 2-1 pitch down in the zone and flew out to right field. Got a thigh-high fastball and lined it back up the middle with a 2-1 count.
Tim Williams – Bradenton
Cody Dickson (5/28 – 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 HR) – Had a strong stat line, although the actual results weren’t so good. Dickson was a bit wild, although he was getting opposing hitters to swing and miss a lot, sometimes at bad pitches. He did walk three batters in five innings, but limited the damage by allowing just one hit. He’s got some good velocity, sitting in the low 90s, and good movement on his fastball, so he’ll be able to get away with some mistakes at times, like he did tonight.
Harold Ramirez (5/26-5/30 – 6-for-13, 3 BB, 2 SB) – Defensively he showed some nice range in right field, and a solid arm, with not many runners trying to test him. He showed off some impressive speed, putting up a 4.07 time down to first during one hit on Saturday. His hit tool has been fantastic, with a quick swing and solid contact through the zone. He hasn’t had any extra base hits yet, but he’s hitting the ball hard, and the power will eventually come, with the speed also helping to get a few extra bases. Despite being one of the youngest players at the level, he looks like one of the most advanced hitters at the plate.
JaCoby Jones (5/29-5/30 – 3-for-9, HR) – Showed off some impressive power on Saturday, taking a 97 MPH fastball to the opposite field for a home run on the boardwalk. He had some issues on Friday night defensively, with two plays where he converged with Wyatt Mathisen on a ball that both could reach. Jones didn’t step up and take control of either play, which led to both players attempting to field the ball, and neither making the plays. He showed some strong range to field a grounder deep up the middle, although this put him off-balance, and he made an ill-advised throw to first, leading to an error.
Steven Brault (5/30 – 6.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR) – Was much better than when I saw him earlier in the season. Worked quick and had efficient innings, commanding the strike zone and getting weak contact. He was getting a lot of swings and misses on his changeup, and his two-seamer was getting a lot of ground balls and weak contact. Brault’s two-seamer was sitting 88-89 MPH, and had good movement, running in on right-handers, then cutting at the last moment. He throws from a three-quarters arm slot with long arm action, extending toward first base, with the ball having horizontal and vertical movement, along with the late cut at the plate. Ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, although that was partially due to an error, and in part due to the manager admitting they left him out there too long.
John Dreker – West Virginia
Stephen Tarpley (5/25 – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 0 HR) – Stephen Tarpley made his first start of the season after returning from shoulder soreness that shut him down at the end of Spring Training. He threw five solid innings in his debut, using all of his pitches in any situation and his pitch count was at an efficient 64 pitches by the end of his outing. He hit 94 MPH, and sat 90-93 with his fastball and low 80’s with the change, showing good separation between the two pitches. His slider was tough to hit and got some praise from an opposing batter, who said he really had trouble with the couple he saw. Tarpley did show some rust, by missing his spots a few times and getting too much of the plate, but he was still able to limit the damage. Of the five hits he allowed, three never left the infield.
Cole Tucker (5/26 – 1-for-7) – Tucker at the plate reminded me a lot of Reese McGuire from last year. I only saw this one game, but luckily I was able to see him bat seven times due to extra innings. Tucker rarely missed a pitch, putting the ball in play, or fouling off tough pitches. He never looking bad on any pitch, but everything was hit soft. That was exactly what McGuire did the 5-6 times I saw him last year. Best hit ball by Tucker was a soft line to the right fielder to lead-off the game. He had a single, but it was just a well-placed grounder with the infield playing in with a man on third. He followed up the hit immediately with a bad base running blunder, rounding first base way too far with the right fielder a short distance away holding the ball. Tucker was easily thrown out trying to get back. The first play in the field the next inning was a routine grounder and he gunned it to first base. The throw was unnecessarily hard as he got the runner by a good 20 feet. There was obviously some anger behind it, but it showed he has impressive arm strength. It was good to see he has a strong arm, but you don’t like to see players take mistakes on offense out to defense. The rest of his plays in the field were routine.
Jordan Luplow (5/26 – 1-for-5, HR, BB) – Luplow hit a long homer in the 14th inning, but this game was more about all the chances he got in the field, most of them were not routine plays. He moved to third base this spring from the outfield, so he is still learning the position. He showed a strong glove, making some tough stops and handling the easy plays as well. What he doesn’t have is the quickness yet or the footwork. There isn’t much fluid about his game there, which I wouldn’t expect yet from someone who isn’t a natural infielder. I’m not sure about the arm, as he showed accuracy, but came up short on a few he tried to get rid of quick, one from a step into foul territory. Connor Joe saved a couple possible errors, blocking one and scooping another. It looks like there is potential for him to stick at third base, but he needs work and I’d have to see more from the arm to be sure.
Alex McRae (5/26 – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR) – McRae had a dominating performance, giving up one hard hit ball over six innings and it was the first batter he faced. He quickly settled down and allowed just two more hits, one a bunt and the other was the play mentioned above with Luplow in foul territory, which was just a slow grounder right down the line. There were no hard hit outs, or even foul balls. He was using all of his pitches effectively, hitting 93 MPH with his fastball. He got plenty of swing and misses in the game, including the last pitch on all six of his strikeouts. One of the better pitching performances I’ve seen from a Power pitcher in the long time.
Tim Williams – Extended Spring Training
Billy Roth – He was taken in the 16th round of the 2013 draft, and was viewed as one of the best late-round picks in that draft. When he came into pro ball, was throwing in the 88-91 MPH range, and displayed horrible control last year in his first pro season. Roth has seen a velocity increase, now throwing 93-96 MPH, and sitting comfortably in the 94-95 range, even beyond the first inning. He has easy arm action, although there are still some control issues. Specifically, when runners are on base, he tends to focus on them too much, to the point where he will start to deliver his pitch while still staring at the runner at second base, only to turn his head mid-delivery and fire to the plate. This results in his command being way off when runners are on base. That is something that is correctable, and the fastball, combined with a big breaking curveball that looks like an out pitch, are a good enough combo to make Roth a guy worth watching closely this year.