Notes From The Farm V.2

williams

Over the past few weeks I was able to get out to Frisco to watch the ‘Riders play the San Diego and Houston Double-A affiliates. Here is what I came away with:

Frisco:

In my last piece, I wrote about how Jorge Alfaro had impressed me by making adjustments and showing improvement behind the dish. Well, since then he hasn’t shown me either. The Colombian catcher didn’t adjust to heavy doses of off-speed as I had seen him do in 2014, chasing mostly sliders out of the zone on a consistent basis. In one at bat, the pitcher had walked two straight and was only getting his slider over the plate. This is a spot where a hitter should come up with a patient approach and sit on the slider until the pitcher regains control. Instead, sitting fastball Alfaro chased sliders and struck out.

Currently the 21-year-old possesses a 28.4% K-rate. This stems not from a long swing or a lack of bat-to-ball ability but for the most part his approach. If he is able to reel that in at some point, then his plus bat speed and raw power will really be displayed to their full extent. Even with his current approach, Alfaro boasts a .290/.345/.467 slashline. This is a toolsy, toolsy player who is a little over two years younger than his level. There is lots of time for him to realize his potential, but until the approach comes along at least a little bit the development process might slow. Four walks in 27 games isn’t going to cut it.

Nick Williams walk — Grant Schiller (@BunBSchillOG) April 26, 2015

On the other side of approach talk is Nick Williams. So far this year the 6’3″ outfielder has drastically changed his for the better. The numbers now are even more impressive than in the tweet above: Williams now has improved his walk rate by 5.4% to a number over eight which is considered average and has dropped his K rate all the way down to 14.9%. This is a huge development.

The 21-year-old owns the quickest bat in the Rangers system and is capable of putting on power shows in batting practice. The biggest knock on him was always his approach. In years past his approach was “see ball, hit ball”. In an interview with Riders Broadcasting and Media Relations Manager Alex Vispoli, Williams mentioned that his dad has called him every day telling him “You don’t have to swing at every pitch” and that the coaching staff has relayed the same message. Apparently it has hit home. Where this will get interesting is when he inevitably goes through a slump. Will he abandon the new approach for his old ways or will he stick with it? Hopefully his .305/.362/.477 slashline will give him the confidence to keep his newfound patience.

Joey Gallo still contains superhero power in his bat. I don’t know how he found the Guardians of the Galaxy infinity stone and lodged it in there but it sure is helpful. Gallo doesn’t even have to hit the ball hard to hit it out. It really isn’t fair at all. Through 18 games the 21-year-old is slashing .322/.467/.610, albeit with an unsustainable .516 BABIP. Now if only he could get that K-rate under 30%…

– Frisco’s other catcher Pat Cantwell is going to see big league time someday. It may be awhile and he’s probably an up and down guy but that glove will get him there.

Around the Farm:

Luke Jackson was moved from the rotation to the bullpen. It’s too bad as during his time in Frisco he flashed the necessary components to be a starter, but this was an almost necessary move at this point. Triple-A Round Rock had not treated Jackson kindly (8.27 ERA over last two years) and at 23 years old it was simply going to take too long. So far the former 1st round pick is yet to allow a hit or run in three relief innings.

– Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff received a promotion to Round Rock. While his ERA sits at 5.32 through four starts, the peripheral numbers look good. 9.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 thus far but has allowed six home runs. Eickhoff is another one who may long-term end up in the bullpen if he is not able to develop a third major-league caliber offering. I think he’d be very successful in relief, but it’s best to give pitching prospects every chance to start before moving them.

Rougned Odor is 21 years old and has fantastic makeup. Don’t worry too much about him.

– Lefty Frank Lopez continues to find success even in the hitter-friendly California League. He throws a four-pitch mix and is walking only 1.3 per nine. He’s also left-handed.

– Outfielder Lewis Brinson is still out with a hamstring injury. He looked fantastic in Spring Training so this is really unfortunate. Evan Van Hoosier is back from his own hamstring problems.

Luis Ortiz showed advanced understanding in this interview. His commitment to the changeup is very encouraging. He has a 0.40 ERA this year.

– Infielders Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Morgan are starting to turn it on down in Hickory. Morgan has a five-game hitting streak and drew really positive reviews in Surprise. He is striking out at a 14.9% clip. That’s a real nice number for a 19-year-old. He is, however, hitting ground balls on 58% of his balls in play which is not such a nice number. Kiner-Falefa is more raw than Morgan but is intriguing as well. Interestingly, he’s been a very extreme push hitter. Here is his heat map, courtesy of MLBfarm.com:

Isiah Kiner-Falefa_HeatMap

Other:

Carlos Correa is legit. He’s ready.

Austin Hedges received the call. If you have MLBtv, watch him catch. It’s a joy.

Delino Deshields is willing to stand up for what is right #StopMascots2015:

– Almost caught Kanye having a good time:

– The greatest rapper of all time also performed during a media timeout in Chicago. They may have lost the series but the fans are all winners:

– Kanye graduated this week, yet did not perform We Don’t Care. Such a wasted opportunity. His upcoming album is now titled SWISH.

– This is terrific:

– Check the bat flip:

– Dez caught it.

 

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.

Leave a Reply