Notes From The Farm V.1

LOPEZ

Over the past couple weeks, I made it out to two Frisco games as well as an Allen Eagles game to check out Kyler Murray.

Frisco Notes:

Jake Thompson did throw many more changes than he did in 2014 which was a very positive thing to see. There was a good-sized delta between his change-up (CH) and fastball (F)B velocity and he spotted the pitch well with movement. He still almost exclusively used sliders as his out pitch in two-strike situations, however. Thompson understandably doesn’t wholly trust his change-up yet and his confidence in the pitch will be interesting to track throughout the season. He also used his two-seam fastball much more frequently which when combined with chilly temperatures explains the drop in velocity. Control/command lagged a little but it was his first start of the year and minor leaguers don’t get as much in-game warm-up action as the big league side. I wrote up Thompson in-depth in 2014 here.

Jorge Alfaro‘s need for development behind the plate has been well-documented. The talented backstop has made improvements in this area but still has a ways to go. In 2013, Alfaro allowed 28 passed balls in 86 games behind the plate. In 2014, the number was down to 23 in 90 games. So far this year, the Colombian has tallied zero passed balls. His focus is better than the reports I had heard during his time in Hickory and Myrtle Beach and is a big reason why this number has improved. In general, I think the makeup concerns reported during his time in the lower levels are over-exaggerated. During his time in Frisco, Alfaro has made adjustments, worked on his approach, and improved defensively. Framing has gotten better around the sides of the plate but is still a major struggle on low pitches. Despite an 80 arm, Alfaro has a slightly below average pop time due to some shaky footwork. He’s working on these things though.

Alfaro is just 21 years old. I don’t think he is particularly close to major league time despite his Double-A level and top 50 MLB prospect status. Personally, I think you’re looking at the back half of 2016 for him being ready. It will take some time to finish these things off. But I don’t doubt that he will become an MLB regular because I have seen that he does work hard and I have seen that he is able and willing to adjust on top of being an impressive raw talent. Just be patient with him.

I like the idea of stretching Jose Leclerc out and experimenting with him as a starter. He’s got a real nice fastball that sits mid-90s with cut – a plus pitch. He has a really odd changeup, normally a strong changeup will fade and a poor one will be straight. Leclerc’s falls into neither category. His change cuts, on top of a 10+ mph drop from his fastball velocity. Controlling the pitch was an adventure early in this outing, but once he was able to get it in the zone and down it was the cause of multiple swinging strikes. The 21-year-old’s curve is also an interesting pitch. Right now, it is not near a major league offering. Most of his breakers broke early and would be hit hard at the highest level. But the few that broke late were above average pitches. If Leclerc can more consistently work his harder curve into his repertoire more often, he’d have an arsenal that could stick as a starter. However, all three of his pitches break away from right-handed hitters as he doesn’t throw two-seamers or know how to fade his change right now. At some point, these adjustments will need to be made if Leclerc is to avoid the pen.

Chris Garia‘s 80 speed is legit. But if you want to watch for the key to how he develops, peep his approach. Once this comes along the performance will as well.

 

Around the System:

Luke Jackson spun his one of best Triple-A performance to date last night. The 23-year-old right-hander tossed 6.2 innings of two-run ball while striking out eight. Coming off an unsuccessful Triple-A debut in 2014 (10.35 ERA), this success is nice to see.

– Catcher Tomas Telis has cut his K-rate down to 6.3% and raised his BB-rate to 6.3%. His career averages are 10.8 and four and have steadily improved the last couple seasons. Good to see that continue. He is however hitting ground balls on nearly 74% of his balls put in play thus far, which means his current .378/.417/.444 slash-line is very much a product of his .405 BABIP.

– Through 5.1 innings, Spencer Patton has allowed zero runs while striking out nine.

– The average High Desert score so far this year is 5.1-6.4 with that number reaching even higher for home games – the California League sucks. Frank Lopez doesn’t care. Lopez is 21 years old, left-handed, throws a four-pitch mix, and put up a 2.84 ERA in Low-A Hickory last year. Through three starts in the hitter-friendly California League on a team with a 6.38 ERA, Lopez has one of 2.81 with more strikeouts (17) than innings pitched (16) and only three walks. He has only allowed nine fly balls through three starts.

– I had notes on Hickory during this week’s Minor League Monday.

 

Other:

Kyler Murray is a legit first-round caliber pick. He is ranked as the #1 QB in the country and one of the best shortstops in the country as well. That’s an athlete. The reported number he would sign for is $3 million.

Royals 3B prospect Hunter Dozier:

Royals OF prospect Terrance Gore:

Riders manager Joe Mikulik provided some entertainment after Tanner Scheppers was ejected during his rehab assignment.

He also supplied this beauty:

 

– De La Soul and Nas dropped a good one yesterday.

 

Grant Schiller
Grant is currently a student at the University of North Texas and long-term hopes to get into the world of scouting. He will spend many nights over the summer checking out the prospects around the Texas League in Frisco. When not around baseball, Grant will probably be dropping threes at the rec with no remorse.

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