Game Notes: 5/1 Greenville @ Hagerstwon

This past Friday, I made the two and a half hour slog through I-495 and I-270 traffic to get up to Hagerstown, Maryland, to see the Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox) face the Hagerstown Suns (Washington Nationals). The traffic was awful, it almost rained, and Rafael Devers sat the game out. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of sitting near a very nice couple, Tim and Judy, and their nephew Joel, who was about to ship back out on deployment. They were great to talk with, and I am so happy I got to meet them. Should any of you ever see this: thank you SO MUCH for making a somewhat lonely night watching bad A-ball baseball so warm and entertaining!

I also saw the funniest thing I’ve ever seen at a baseball game: a free T-shirt girl tried to lob a shirt at a fan, but kinda slinged it underhand instead. She ended up throwing a bullet right through this guy’s plastic beer cup, exploding it all over him and the people around him. I couldn’t stop laughing for an inning.

Prospect-wise, without Devers in the game, it wasn’t super interesting. Here’s what I picked up from the game:

Michael Kopech, P, Red Sox – Kopech only lasted 2 1/3 innings this game, but he looked very impressive, if raw. The tall Texan righty has an ideal frame – tall, big-shouldered, athletic, with the ability to add strength as he ages.

In terms of raw stuff, Kopech flashed two pitches with easy plus potential. There was no radar gun there, and those charting behind home had their gun set up so that it was giving obviously wrong readings so no one else could use it, but it was plainly obvious Kopech was throwing his fastball in the mid-90s. It was explosive and had good arm-side life. Sally league hitters had no shot against it, swinging through it a number of times. When they did make contact, it was pretty weak. Given his frame and athleticism, it’s not that tough to imagine this being a plus-plus offering down the road.

Kopech’s breaking ball was just as impressive. He displayed two distinct looks: a big, sweeping CB and a tight, hard-biting, two-plane MFer of a curve/slurve. He showed the ability to bury both on a lefty’s back toe, as well as some feel for throwing the tighter CB for strikes. The pitch has potential to be an easy plus pitch in the future if he can improve his command of it.

Kopech did not throw a changeup in this outing.

This is all great to hear about a 19 year old pitcher’s raw ability, but Kopech has a very long way to go before becoming an effective major league pitcher. His delivery is a mess right now, leading to command troubles and a mistrust of his own stuff.

Kopech’s delivery features a fast, exaggerated leg kick that throws him off balance from the get-go. He clearly has to fight to get this landing spot from there, a fight made tougher given a lack of consistency in the speed with which he goes through his delivery. He’s sometimes very fast through the whole thing, and sometimes very slow.

There is also effort in multiple stages of delivery, resulting from weird tempo through the delivery. He’s very fast through the leg kick, slows everything down during his stride, and then exploding through release.

These troubles not only lead to diminished command but also, probably, to diminished stuff. In warmups, Kopech’s sweeping curves was enormous, almost Sean-Marshall-esque. The biting breaking ball was even better, displaying even tighter break and devastating movement. His fastball had a bit more run. In-game though, the fastball was a bit more hittable, and he just couldn’t snap the curves off as well, leaving some up, others totally aborted mid-delivery and just sailing into the RH batters box.

I hate to say things like “he’s in his head”…but that’s sure what it looked like. He was visibly frustrated with himself after poor pitches and his defense letting him down. That’s something he should be able to grow out of as he matures.

Given Kopech’s frame, age, and athleticism, it’s way way too early to throw him into the reliever box, even though the mechanics and two-pitch mix scream for it. He has the chance to develop into a strong future starter. Not-a-scout grades: 7 pot FB, 6+ pot CB, 45 pot command

LATE EDIT: If that report is true, and Kopech touched 100…well,Id bump that FB grade up to pot 8. That’s nuts.

Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox – Chavis struggled at the plate Friday against much older pitchers, swinging through changeups and making weak contact on mediocre stuff. It’s only 3 PAs so I can’t really pass judgement here.

What I CAN pass judgement on is his defense. Chavis had one of the worst games at 3B Ive ever seen. He made a bad decision on throwing to second on a weak grounder, displayed not-even-fall-down-range on a weak liner pretty much half a foot to his left, and generally looked very uncomfortable and unathletic over there. It was really bad, you guys.

Other Somewhat Interesting Guys

Dale Carey, OF, Nationals – Ideal athletic frame. Broad shoulders, big ass. Athletic dude. Runs well. Showed feel for putting barrel on the ball, ripped some balls into outfield with some, heh, carry. Want to see him play more, he was intriguing.

Mauricio Dubon, SS, Red Sox – looked very good at short. Fast hands, strong arm, comfortable making running plays. Read a bad hop on a hard hit one-hopper very well that sent him deep to his left, made strong throw for out. Looks overmatched at plate, bails out and pulls off on every swing. Glove very nice though.

Carlos Pinales, P, Red Sox – came in in relief for Kopech, good mop-up effort. Low-mid 90s, breaking ball had some bite (45 grade), changeup had nice fade (40/45). Some funk to the delivery hid the ball well. Potential last-dude-in-the-pen kinda guy.

Phillips Valdez, P, Nationals – Looked very good against hitters largely 3-4 years his junior. Fastball had good life, low-90s. CB lacked bite but he showed ability to throw for strikes. Org arm, most likely.

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