With the closest Midwest League stadium five hours away, my providing first hand scouting coverage of that league is difficult to say the least. Fortunately, a contact has been kind enough to provide me the scouting scoop on more than a handful of the league’s top prospects. These aren’t exact quotes, but summaries of conversations had over the course of the first two months of the minor league season.
On Indians shortstop phenom Francisco Lindor: A gold glove shortstop in the making, Lindor doesn’t have off the charts agility, but he makes up for it on defense with an uncanny ability to always be positioned correctly and anticipate balls off the bat. As a prospect, Lindor is different than Jurickson Profar and Orioles Manny Machado, but belongs in the top-three shortstop prospects in all of baseball. In relation to Profar directly, the Rangers uber-prospect has a bit more bat, but a little less glove as well leaving the two somewhat of a wash. Where Profar profiles as an above average offensive shortstop in all areas, Lindor may wind up being a bit BABIP dependent as he does not profile for as much power or as many walks as Profar.
On the Lansing Lugnuts rotation: Aaron Sanchez is the clear top dog in the rotation featuring both a fastball and curveball which profile as future plus offerings leaving this contact shocked Sanchez lasted so long in the draft. In terms of raw stuff, it’s arguably the second best in the league behind Diamondbacks first rounder Archie Bradley.
No, Daniel Norris isn’t in Lansing yet, but the contact ranked the Jays best young four in this order after seeing them all in person;
As for Nicolino, he profiles as more of a back end command/control lefty even though the stat line is top shelf right now.
Syndergaard has a fantastic fastball, but his secondary pitches lag behind his other offerings.
Norris has the advanced command/control ability associated with successful left-handed pitchers, but the raw stuff is much better. Norris/Syndergaard was a near dead heat and could have ranked 2A and 2B.
What about Archie Bradley anyway?: Bradley-versus-Bundy led to a surprising debate in which the contact had a hard time believing a better 2011 high school arm could be in existence. After seeing Bradley struggle in a second appearance, he conceded Bundy was probably the better pitcher, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard Bradley discussed as one of the five-to-eight truly elite arms in minor league baseball.
Surprising take on Austin Hedges: In a series where he was downright brutal defensively, his bat saved him which is the exact opposite of how he was perceived heading into the season. In game action, Hedges simply had hard hands leading to a number of passed balls to the point where the contact would have written him off as a catching prospect had the defensive hype on the young catcher not been so huge.
Like anything else related to prospects, this information is not meant to be a be-all-end-all. Another contact put it best when he said, “place 10 scouts in a room and eight will pretty much see the same thing. One scout will like player X much more than the group and another will think much less of him. It doesn’t mean one one scouting opinion is better than another, only different.”