This week I’ve been in Altoona, watching a very loaded prospect team. I’ve been spending a lot of time talking with players for features that will hit the site next week.
One of the best parts of seeing a player live is that you can pick up on things you don’t necessarily notice while watching on MiLB.tv. You can see what players are doing before each pitch, how they react after the play is over, and all of those small things that happen that make the production crew decide to switch the shot and follow the action.
The Altoona coverage is going to be for our subscribers, since they paid to make this coverage possible — and for me to eat every type of Pennsylvania potato chip sold at Sheetz.
When I’m watching games, I’m taking the scouting approach and writing down observations of what I’m seeing — mostly what I might not see otherwise. To kick the Altoona coverage off, and to give the non-subscribers a look at this team, I wrote about some of what I saw over the last few days.
I love the hustle and heads-up play I’ve seen from Fraizer this series. He constantly is taking an extra base, or keeping an inning alive. Beating out a double play at first with his speed. Sliding hard into second to force a bad throw for a slower runner behind him. Even playing shallow in the outfield, he gets back to the wall in a hurry. His offense has struggled this year, limiting how often he gets on base. When he does get on base, he maximizes his impact.
Gonzales has one of the quickest swings I’ve ever seen, and he’s developing a tendency to hit the ball out in front of the zone. This also leaves him open to low breaking pitches that drop out of the zone at the last second. He had a great series at the plate, even though he did swing over a few breaking pitches. I talked with Gonzales about the things he was working on with his swing, and will have a feature on him next week.
Yesterday was my first time seeing Mlodzinski pitch in person. He came out of the bullpen, and struggled the first inning, before a mound visit seemed to settle him down. That lasted for over an inning before he ran into issues again. Mlodzinski has a very short and quick delivery, which he doesn’t do a great job of keeping consistent. He has a tendency to power through with added effort at the end of the delivery, and the result is his pitches being jerked across and out of the zone. He doesn’t seem to need that effort for velocity, and his pitches are effective when he’s not outwardly displaying effort.
There’s something I noticed about Peguero in the field: He’s consistently late to get set. I was watching him between Nick Gonzales and Jared Triolo — the latter being a Gold Glove third baseman who is always moving and active on the field. Peguero was constantly the last to get set of the three. There were a lot of times where his feet hit the set position after the ball made contact with the bat or the glove. Peguero is so fast and reacts well, so he can still make plays, despite starting late. He’s had issues this year with errors, and it wouldn’t surprise me if those are related to this issue. There are going to be some plays where his tremendous talent can’t make up for the split-second delay of landing in the set position after contact is made.
Next week I’m going to be writing about why Endy Rodriguez is my number one prospect in the Pirates’ system. This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, and this trip confirmed it. I’ll say this: He tracks the ball better than anyone on the field, on both sides of the game. He’s following the ball from the pitcher’s hand to the catcher’s mitt with his eyes at the plate. When he’s behind the plate, he often doesn’t even need to be looking at the ball to know exactly where it is. Rodriguez will scoop balls out of the dirt while looking at the runner at first, and his transition for throwing out runners is lightning fast. There are so many things that he does well on the field, and chief among them is his ability as one of the best contact hitters in the system. Based on reputation, Termarr Johnson might be the only player who could challenge him.
Sanchez has a lot of defensive range, and moves well in the outfield. He showed a lack of arm strength needed for center, with a few extra bases taken on his throws. His arm grades as below-average at best. That gives him a left-field profile, which puts a lot of pressure on his bat. Sanchez works best at the plate with a leadoff hitting profile, geared toward contact and speed. It’s difficult to make it as a starter in the majors with that overall profile.
What I noticed about Scott is that he has a tendency to pull the ball, even when the pitch is outside. That’s very difficult, and this ability would play well in PNC Park for the left-handed hitter. I have to think he would benefit from going the opposite way with some of those pitches, especially the outside ones.
Here was a sequence I liked: Shackelford made an error at first that led to a run and the Curve losing the lead. That was despite him staying with the play and going home immediately for the runner. It was a heads-up reaction, displaying great awareness. What I liked was that he came up the next inning with runners on base and got the lead right back by dropping a hit into left field. Sometimes it’s less about the error and more about what a player does following the error.
Pirates Prospects Spotlight
Yesterday: Double No-Hitter!
Daily Video Rundown
Today: Wreck-It Reynolds
Yesterday: Trying to Avoid Second Straight Sweep
Pirates Prospects Daily Articles
- Prospect Roundtable: Which Pirates Prospects Would You Protect From the Rule 5 Draft?
- Ji-hwan Bae Returns to Action
- New Farm System Rankings from Baseball America
- New Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects List from MLB Pipeline
- P2Daily: Travis Swaggerty Coming Up Clutch For Indianapolis This Season
Song of the Day
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.