Angelo Gumbs’ Elite Bat Speed

On a Charleston team featuring what may be the deepest roster in minor league baseball, New York Yankees Angelo Gumbs stood out as having the best bat speed of the bunch. Now 19, the former second round pick originally signed for $750,000 as a centerfielder considered to be strong on tools, but short on actual baseball skills. Two years later, Gumbs is more than holding his own in full season baseball offensively and has made a move on defense to the keystone position. And while a .274/.322/.444 line including 22/25 in stolen base attempts doesn’t jump off the stat page, age-versus-level considerations make it all the more impressive – especially considering his lack of polish.

Video after the jump

In seeing Gumbs play twice against the Rome Braves including a batting practice session earlier in the season, it quickly became obvious the right-handed hitter would become a polarizing prospect in scouting circles. To his credit, the bat speed is elite and amongst the best I’ve seen at the minor league level. Having seen both Bryce Harper and Mike Stanton as minor leaguers, Gumbs holds his own with either of them in terms of his sheer ability to get his bat head through the strike zone. However, a swing is much more than bat speed alone which is where Gumbs will lose believers.

Prior to his swing, Gumbs’ load and timing mechanism features excess waggle and a moderately high leg kick which makes pitches awfully difficult to time correctly. Over the course of ten plate appearances, he barreled only a single baseball (line drive double to right-centerfield) and had a tendency to flail wildly at breaking pitches low-and-away. This, combined with a general lack of plate discipline led to a number of swings which were truly cringe worthy. The combination of elite bat speed, lack of polish and impressive stat line forces one to really consider whether the dots between the Single-A version of Gumbs and future major leaguer connect. Due to having to rely on so much projection with Gumbs, the possible outcomes include everything from Double-A wash out to above average major league hitter from an offensive standpoint.

On defense, Gumbs is even more of a work in progress. In game action, he made the routine plays, but Gumbs’ actions were stiff and slightly delayed. Additionally, his hands were hard and fielding ground balls appeared unnatural. However, Gumbs is a converted outfielder still learning second base. Plus, his athleticism fits the perceived requirements of the position so he’ll be given a long leash. The Yankees are smart for challenging Gumbs defensively and it has the potential to really pay off for the organization. But once again, quite a bit of projection is needed to envision Gumbs as a middle infielder at the major league level.

As an athlete, Gumbs is more above average than plus with an excellent frame to add additional size and strength at full physical maturity. However, his present size and development through the lower half and shoulders does leave him with the appearance of being a bit stiff in his baseball movements. For me, the sign of truly plus athleticism is the ability to combine agility and explosion, so Gumbs falls a little short. Still, every organization would love to have an Angelo Gumbs in its system to develop and take a chance on the end result.

In terms of speed, the only home-to-first time pulled from video was a 4.35 which is a 45 on the 20/80 scouting scale. In fairness to Gumbs, he had a bit of a slow start out of the batter’s box as he watched to see if the ball had eyes instead of simply putting his head down and running through the bag. On a routine 6-3, I’d expect Gumbs’ speed to grade out a touch higher.

On the baseball diamond, it’s hard to not think Rickie Weeks when watching Angelo Gumbs play. People may want to call it a lazy comp for their height, position and ethnicity, but some statistical similarities exist. Even though Weeks was a college draft pick and made his professional full season debut in Double-A at 21, his .773 OPS is a mark Gumbs could match in two years if he continues to develop at his present pace and advances a level per season. With a .766 OPS in the South Atlantic League, one can definitely envision a scenario where the tools and elite bat speed turn into skills and Gumbs is able to maintain, if not increase his production at higher levels. However, the faith needed to trust the pieces come together for Gumbs makes it difficult for me buy in without hesitation.




Print This Post



Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


30 Responses to “Angelo Gumbs’ Elite Bat Speed”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. brentdaily says:

    Right-handed 2B with some wheels, quick bat and high leg kick who flails wildly at breaking stuff low and away with bad plate discipline sounds like early Alfonso Soriano (or current version if you hacked off his legs and planted him in the OF).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joncarlos says:

      I agree completely. Especially if he’s not a particularly *good* 2B, just like Soriano back when he played there.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      Brent,

      Be careful when throwing out comparisons that you are at the appropriate time period on a player’s career arc. Comping Gumbs to Soriano also means Gumbs has the ability to post a 40-40 season, as well as three other 30-30 seasons. I know the Soriano contract is more running joke at this point, but it’s important to not forget Soriano was once argued as the best power/speed player in baseball.

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Eric says:

    NIce work MIke, a great read. Where would you slot Gumbs in the Yankee system? It’s definitely worth noting that Gumbs was very young for his draft class, so there could be room for more development.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      Good point Eric. I do like that he was a young draft and is playing full season ball at 19. He’s posting better numbers than I expected and it’s pretty safe to say his bat is advancing faster than many had expected. Gumbs is off to a great start, but tempered enthusiasm is key.

      This winter, I expect Gumbs to be a top-10 player in the organization – especially for prospect people who rank for ceiling.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. PiratesHurdles says:

    How does Gumbs compare to guys like Gregory Polanco or Willy Garcia who have similar stats and age in the Sally?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      I haven’t had the chance to catch up with West Virginia this season. Hanson is a good get, but without a healthy Josh Bell, the team is too thin to warrant a longer overnight trip.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Robby says:

    I think the biggest difference between Gumbs and Weeks is Rickie tends to be much more compact in his swing. He relies heavily on his forearms and wrists (which has probably lent to his wrist issues) to get the bat through the zone, whereas Gumbs’ bat speed seems to generate more from his body/shoulders.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • A says:

      And the plate discipline issue. Weeks has great plate discipline and was always finding the line between too patient and aggressive with hittable pitches. And the fact that Weeks was supposed to be much, much better as a #2 overall pick. Wasn’t Weeks supposed to be a 30/30 threat with a great batting average?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike Newman says:

        Weeks wasn’t a huge plate discipline guy in AA and for his first 800-1,000 or so plate appearances in MLB. It wasn’t until his age-24 season that his walk numbers really spiked.

        Whatever Weeks WAS supposed to be, he IS a lesser player than that. Prospect hype is just that until that talent is actually realized. The comp fits more because of what Weeks actually did, not what he was supposed to be.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • A says:

        Didn’t realize that about plate discipline further along. As a plus, I’ve heard Weeks also has very good bat speed in addition to the other similarities.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Robby says:

        Indeed Weeks does have great bat speed (which is all I meant by my original post, looking at it purely from a mechanical standpoint).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      Robby,

      You are right that Weeks is much more compact. At this time, he’s a decade Gumbs’ senior. I prefaced the comp by somewhat adjusting for age, but I don’t think any of us actually saw Weeks at 19 since he was playing at a small college to know if Weeks was a mechanical mess as well who underwent changes prior to being drafted. If my memory is correct, Weeks was a relative unknown out of HS.

      Gumbs has great bat speed, but really needs to quiet down the extra movement in his swing. If it doesn’t help to generate bat speed, it really doesn’t need to be there.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. RobM says:

    The Yankees approach toward up-the-middle positions has pretty much been bat-first, defense-second. They want the player to provide above-average offense, and in return they’ll accept average to even below average defense if the bat can carry it. Think of the Posada, Jeter, Williams model (and the collection of whomevers they’ve had at second before Cano). Gumbs might just be their cup of tea. Hard to argue with their approach.

    There is a balance, though. When I heard the Yankees traded away Jesus Montero (granted, for a fine young pitcher before injury), that to me was the clearest indication that the Yankees concluded that Montero could not even provide an acceptable level of below-average defense behind the plate. They were right.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • 300ZXNA says:

      And what do you base your opinion of Montero’s catching ability on? So far he has looked quite adequate behind the plate.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • walt526 says:

      When he first came to the majors, Williams was an above-average defender in center. It didn’t last for very long. By the late 1990s, he was below average and throughout the 2000′s he was absolutely terrible and had no business playing everyday in CF. But when he first arrived he wasn’t a young Andruw Jones, but he was above average.

      Jeter and Posada were mediocre (at best) in their first few years and continued to be below average throughout most of their careers (absent the year or two when Jeter was above average by UZR in his mid-30s).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. dborghardt6 says:

    Saw him last year in Staten Island. I like him a lot especially when people were looking at Sanchez and WIlliams more. Also Rickie’s brother has very good bat speed as well

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. fergie348 says:

    What good is bat speed without pitch recognition? I watched the whole clip and (admittedly it’s a small sample) saw only a couple balanced swings and a whole lot of hacking at stuff no one should swing at. I like the Soriano reference, that’s kind of who he reminds me of a little. Lots of moving around before the actual swing, so more power but less control. Because he has speed in his body and in his swing, he should get more quiet so he can be more consistent.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      It’s pretty simple actually… Plate discipline is more of a learned skill which can be improved upon with time. Bat speed is either there or it isn’t. There’s only so much a player can do to increase bat speed.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rob says:

      If you like the Soriano reference, then I’m sure the Yankees even more so would love if he turned into Soriano. Few players ever achieve the level of success of Soriano.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. dave g. says:

    Based on those numbers, maybe it’s time to get excited again about what 20-year old Wilmer Flores has been doing in Hi-A (and now at AA).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      For Flores, it has never been about his actual hitting ability. The kid can hit. My concern has always been with his maturity and professionalism. Once Flores learns how to approach the field, gym, meals, etc. like a professional, he’ll be fine.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. ttnorm says:

    Thanks for this Mike. Always good to see a scout mix it up with the readers. Does bat speed allow the hitter to wait longer in his swing decision? Seems like it should but it does not seem to correlate IRL.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      If the conversation in the comments section is strong, I’m always happy to be a part of it. It’s an honor that people would be compelled to comment in the first place.

      To your comment, the difference in swing decision would be milliseconds so I’m not sure how one would really collect data on that. Maybe bat head velocity through the strike zone-versus-pitch velocity? I don’t know.

      For me, the bat speed does allow a batter to let pitches travel deeper into the batter’s box and still make hard contact. Gumbs has good enough bat speed that he can trust it and not have to lunge. That’s the advantage to take from elite bat speed.Letting the ball travel deeper allows for harder contact and more power.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. “People may want to call it a lazy comp for their height, position and ethnicity,”

    In your defense Gumbs is actually Puerto Rican so the comp wouldn’t be as lazy as origanally thought. If you truly want a lazy comp you can go with Robbie Alomar.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Jack Weiland says:

    I feel like Angelo Gumbs sounds like a Simpsons character, and I have no idea why that is.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. El Guapo says:

    Wondering how Gumbs stacks up against 2B Jose Pirela, currently playing very well for Trenton. Hitting over .400 last time we checked.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Newman says:

      I liked Pirela as a sleeper when I saw him in Charleston, but didn’t really write much about him. He was more fluid than Gumbs, but didn’t have nearly the explosion or strength. I was surprised that Pirela struggled so much in A+ and AA and am glad to see him playing so well right now. I had him pegged as a utility type back then and it still appears to be in the realm of possibility.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *