I made my first “prospect junkie” trip this Monday after seeing that Michael Ynoa would be starting Tuesday morning in Beloit. For those of you who can’t quite place that name, the A’s set an international free agent signing bonus record when they gave the 16 year old Dominican RHP Michael Ynoa $4.25 million. It’s been a struggle for Ynoa since signing, but he finally appears healthy and is starting games in the Midwest League, going 2 innings at a time. Regardless of how little he’s thrown since signing, I was still excited enough to see him that I made the hour drive up to lovely Beloit for a few days to see him.
I was pleasantly surprised by the talent I saw on the Beloit team, who won both games I attended. They have a handful of well-respected prospects on the team, and even the lesser known guys played well. Of course, they were playing the Whitecaps, who are almost completely devoid of talent, so I have to take most of what I saw with a grain of salt.
Top Three Tools on Display
Daniel Robertson‘s Defense. I’m going to do everything I can to avoid gushing about him right here, but…holy crap. Robertson is a big guy for a shortstop, but his range is pretty good. He made a great play on a foul pop-up, catching it on a full-out sprint about 100 feet behind third base. The next play he dove and missed on a hard grounder up the middle, but missed it by just inches despite the fact that he was about 6 steps to his left. But that wasn’t all. The very next play he ranged way into the hole and pulled off a perfect jump-throw to nail the runner at first. He just looks like he was born to play shortstop, but at his size he probably wont be able to play there much longer.
Matt Olson‘s Power. Olson turned on a fastball in the 2nd inning and hit it about 400 feet to a bit left of right-center field. Olson is a big dude, listed 6’4″ and 235 pounds (almost all of it muscle), and he generates a ton of power from that frame.
Brett Vertigan‘s Legs. After years of watching Campana in Chicago, I’m not as impressed with extreme speed from short white guys as I should be. But believe me, Vertigan can scoot. Such speed could carry him pretty far through the minors.
Baseball Skills Lacking
Renato Nunez‘s Arm. Nunez is a pretty well regarded prospect, and I did see him sting a ball last night. However, I was rather disappointed in his arm. His mechanics are not great, and even when he slowed down and set his feet, the throw was lifeless. That kind of arm is borderline unacceptable in the majors, and he’s going to need to work a lot on his mechanics.
Matt Olsen’s Contact Ability. Matt Olson has a very long swing at times, and I saw him strike out a few times this weekend, and he swung and missed more than a handful of times. Considering the level of competition he faced in these two games (laughably poor), it’s a very real concern.
Danry Vasquez‘s Approach. Vasquez is the only player on the Whitecaps roster to be ranked in the Tigers’ Top Ten by BaseballProspectus, coming in at 4th. I didn’t see a whole lot of Vasquez’s tools on display, but I did see him swing at virtually every pitch thrown to him. That absolutely will not fly for a guy with iffy power and less-than-great contact abilities.