Welcome to week two of the prospect notes! Last week we had videos and updates on Anthony Solometo, Jase Bowen, Brendt Citta, and Solomon Maguire. This week, we will look at catchers Wyatt Hendrie and Abrahan Gutierrez, outfielder Matt Fraizer, and pitcher J.C. Flowers.
— Cody Potanko (The Murphanko Experience) (@Murphanko) January 18, 2022
BREAKDOWN: Hendrie may be referred to as “the other catcher,” to some Pirate fans, but you can’t forget what he did for San Diego State. Hendrie slashed a .379/.464/.633 in 169 plate appearances while striking out just 25 times. With very limited experience in 2021 at the FCL, Hendrie most likely had a laundry list of things to work on prior to the 2022 season.
HENDRIE: “I’ve been working hard to make a few adjustments in the swing. The main focus has been on the spine angle being stacked during rotation. In terms of overall game, I’ve been really focused on my pitch calling and thinking critically when it comes to different situations.
“In college, I wasn’t able to call my own game, so it has been a big area of focus for me. Visually I use a program called vizualedge and incorporate it in my daily routine to train my eyes.”
ANALYSIS: There are several programs that Hendrie will use at night, but before his BP sessions, he will use the “game day” sessions to activate his eyes. For someone who hasn’t called a game in college, it’s nice to see Hendrie take the initiative and work on what could be a weak point in his game.
With automated strike zones coming, framing won’t be an issue but calling pitches and managing the game is still one of the most critical things a catcher can do.
I connected with Pirates’ prospect Abraham Gutierrez early today. Got a good sense of where he’s at this off-season and look forward to sharing it with you on Tuesday for @pirateprospects pic.twitter.com/3Aby3wvwHD
— Cody Potanko (The Murphanko Experience) (@Murphanko) January 15, 2022
BREAKDOWN: Since coming over from the Phillies farm system, Gutierrez has fit right into the “Pirate culture.” When you ask the guys in Bradenton, they will tell you how much they love the guy. Maybe it was the epic bat flip on a walk-off walk; either way, let’s get to some quotes!
GUTIERREZ: “I’m working on changing the look of my body. I’m trying to lose a little bit more fat and get as flexible as possible. I’m fairly comfortable with my swing as it stands. The only things I’m looking to work on is my direction and stability in my low half.”
JASE BOWEN: “Guti is awesome! He’s a quieter guy but in a new clubhouse that’s to be expected. Really came out of his shell at the end of the year And was huge for us in the playoffs. Works hard too. I like him.”
ANALYSIS: After the video was posted, there was some digging done, and the reasoning for the pad he’s standing on is to help him with his stride pre-contact. Can we all just agree that him calling himself fat at 214 lbs is insane! Makes me want to take a long, long look in the mirror.
Death, taxes, and me falling in love with Matt Fraizer and his swing! Can’t go wrong with the shades either eh lol.
🎥: Fraizer’s IG pic.twitter.com/Lkyh2sJoWL
— Cody Potanko (The Murphanko Experience) (@Murphanko) December 15, 2021
BREAKDOWN: After a wrist injury in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020, Fraizer had time to get healthy and get to where he needed to be. In an interview done with Fraizer, all he did was stay consistent in the cages and “slept at the gym,” as he put it during the 2020 no season. It clearly paid dividends for 2021 because he went OFF!
FRAIZER: “As of right now, I haven’t changed anything in my swing. I’m just working on building what I established in 2021. I’m working on the same drill packages that helped me out tremendously during the 2021 campaign.”
ANALYSIS: Fraizer came on to the scene in 2021 and showed that he had some pop to his swing. Even though Greensboro is the hitter’s haven, Fraizer still had pop when he moved up to Altoona, just not as much. You can call it exposed; I call it fatigue.
Either way, watching Fraizer this season will be a treat; one interesting thing to look at is where he starts the 2022 season. He did just turn 24, so the internal clock for prospect watchers is starting to buzz. Ben Cherington, your move, sir.
Was really excited to catch up with Pirates’ prospect J.C. Flowers today. He gave me a good update recently and I can’t wait to discuss it with you Tuesday on @pirateprospects
🎥: Flowers’ IG pic.twitter.com/CQ6lndiDNp
— Cody Potanko (The Murphanko Experience) (@Murphanko) January 13, 2022
BREAKDOWN: Although Flowers is highly regarded in some circles, the vast majority of Pirate’s fans have probably skimmed over Flowers when looking at potential breakout candidates.
The right-hander showed dominant stuff in Bradenton to start the year, and he continued success in Greensboro, but like Fraizer, not as much success as the previous level. He showed control issues, which is why Flowers is being brought up in the first place.
FLOWERS: “I haven’t tweaked much in terms of my mechanics. I feel like I had a pretty successful year. The main focus is continuing to hone in on my command of all my pitches.”
“As of right now, I’d say my comfort level is a 9/10 with my pitches, and I really like how all of my pitches are coming out of the same slot.”
ANALYSIS: With the way baseball is trending now, there would be no shock if a guy like Flowers finds himself in a bullpen/swingman type role. Looking at his splits, he is a much better reliever, but in a pinch, he could also fill a hole in the rotation if need be.