Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day for baseball, and I was finally able to drag my butt on down to Prince William County to see the Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals). It was a sunny, high-60s day, there were a ton of dogs in the ballpark, and the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians) were bringing a prospect-heavy outfield to the double header. I really had no choice but to be there.
Lynchburg won both halves of the doubleheader, scoring 12 times on 18 hits over the two 7 inning games. Potomac’s lineup was nearly as productive, scoring 8 times on 14 hits. Not coincidentally, no pitcher for either side was really worth mentioning, largely featuring straight high 80s/low 90s fastballs and well-below-average secondaries.
A handful of plate appearances isn’t really enough time for me to form definitive opinions on guys, but you can’t see a minor league game and NOT tell everyone what you thought of everyone you saw play, right?
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians – Man, are explosive tools fun to see in person. I’ve seen a lot of MWL players over the last few years, and most of them are only a year or two away from returning to the slightly grayer, dimmer “not talented enough to play pro baseball forever” world that most of us have lived our lives in. It’s rare you see someone in the MWL swing like Frazier (I missed him there last year), and seeing truly elite bat speed makes you do crazy things like, I don’t know, what’s a common expression that in no way reflects something you did…inadvertently and loudly swear in front of a six year old kid. That’s what Frazier’s bat speed might do to you if you were a far less civilized and refined man than I am.
Frazier loves to display that bat speed, too, swinging the bat so frequently I really can’t give you any idea of what his eye is like. He had 7 PAs Sunday, and he swung at (and hit) the first pitch at least 3 times. Despite all this bat speed, Frazier was frustratingly late on a lot of nothing fastballs, fouling them off to the right side.
He made hard contact with most balls he put in play, including a sharp line drive to right that was run down by the Potomac right fielder. I didn’t see BP, but with his swing you know there’s legit thunder waiting in his bat.
I would like to see him more and against real pitching before making much of a judgement here. The raw tools are still very promising. FV: 8 ginger ‘fro
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Indians – Blessed with a perfect body for the game, Zimmer really stands out on a baseball field. Tall, lanky, and confident, looks every bit of the first round talent he is. He’s not all Good Face, either – Zimmerwas very impressive in my viewing. He laced hard-hit balls all over the field, displaying strong feel for contact and a good command of the zone, and even he stole a base in each game. Zimmer’s power potential is not as strong as you might hope, as his wide stance and simple up-down movement with his right foot really don’t give his legs and hips the ability to explode through the swing.
He only got one chance to really show off his arm in right, but it’s, well, very obvious he’s related to a man who can touch 100 mph off the mound. It’s an easy plus, maybe more.
He clearly wasn’t challenged by the competition on Sunday, and I doubt many Carolina League pitchers will make him uncomfortable in the box. I hope to see him before he’s on his way to AA, but I doubt I’ll get that chance.
Wilmer Difo, SS, Nationals – Difo had an excellent Sunday, ripping three doubles and playing very impressive defense at short. At the plate he has a somewhat quiet setup, feel for barreling the ball up, and a lot more pop than you’d expect out of his frame. He should be a doubles machine at higher levels. In one plate appearance he went up and clearly tried to knock one out, taking a few embarrassing cuts at some changeups that dropped off the table. That’s never a great thing to see, but it was late in the day.
He has good range and an adequate arm at short. He made a handful of tough plays on Sunday (and misplayed another on a tough in-between hop), and I don’t see why he couldn’t work out at SS long term.
He’s old for his level, but I don’t think you should discount him for that. If it all works out he should be an interesting guy in that second-division-y sort of way.
Guys I Need to See More Of:
Mike Papi (OF, Indians) didn’t have a great day and is really struggling this year. His swing looked pretty slappy a few times and I don’t know where he’s going to generate any power from. He’s a first rounder though so I’d like to see him a few more times, and against real pitching, to get a better feel for his skill set.
Jake Johansen (P, Nationals) didn’t really show me much, though BP’s Craig Goldstein told me his cutter looked OK from his angle. He sat 92ish in his outing. Physically, with his tall and lanky frame, cross-fire delivery, and #flow, he reminded me a lot of Jered Weaver. Physical-comp only, obviously.
Nellie Rodriguez (1B, Indians) hit the hell out of a couple of baseballs for his first two homers of the season. Not much else going on for him – swing looked way out of whack against non-fastballs, and he barely has fall-down range at first base. Power’s legit though.
Drew Ward (1B/3B/DH, Nationals) almost went opposite field in the first game, settling for a double that one-hopped the wall. Appeared to have an OK eye at the plate.
Spencer Kieboom (C, Nationals) has a balanced swing that produced a couple of hard liners back through the box. Built like a catcher. Choreographed pre-at-bat ritual to country song. ++ name.
Khayyan Norfork (3B, Nationals) had a pretty impressive day. Looks like a natural at 3B, strong arm, good range. Made an error but overall looked good there. Made some OK contact. Another ++ name.