It was another beautiful day for baseball at Twin Lakes Park. Here are a few my more worthwhile notes:
- After spending quite a bit of time watching Manny Machado, I feel comfortable upping his hit tool from a 55 at draft time to 60 post draft. I think he can hit .280-.290. I can project solid 60 future power, but he’ll have to gain some muscle first. I still think the A-Rod comparisons are unfair, but I can imagine 15-20 HRs and 30-40 doubles down the line. That’s Stephen Drew power, whom I find to be a solid comp in terms of offensive production. I am loathe to throw out overall comps, though – different bodies, different defensive games. The good news is that Machado is still lanky in his upper body and can easily add some strength there without slowing him down. It’s all about how he grows into his hips and trunk.
- As for Machado’s results on Friday – I saw him absolutely rip a double down the left field line. He ran well enough, though speed isn’t a plus tool. In his next at bat he just missed a 340ish foot homer down the left field line that went two feet foul. Good bat speed, good swing, good approach. I came away impressed. One thing to note is that he, like most 19 year olds, seems very uncomfortable with inside fastballs. I saw several half-swings. Pitchers are going to attempt to jam him inside until he gets strong enough to inside out the pitch. The good news is that if they leave it a little over the plate where he can get extended, he can hit it a long way.
- I think the Orioles’ decision to move Schoop to 2B is a good one. He wasn’t going to stick at short. I initially thought third base all the way, but after seeing him there on Thursday I wasn’t so sure. His arm, while strong, is erratic, and he doesn’t always set himself up well for throws. That will stay hidden somewhat at second base, and if he can handle the range and footwork around the bag there, his bat might play up. He’ll need to shorten his stroke, though.
- Sebastian Vader is very tall and lanky. That’s all. I didn’t see him pitch. Just noting that there’s lots of room for growth.
- I came away very impressed with a Alex Schmarzo, a guy I had no intention of observing. I was standing around watching the main game when I was distracted by the sound of a mitt popping hard in the bullpen. It was Schmarzo, a 48th round draft pick from 2010 whose fastball just sounded different than any other guy I heard warming that day. When he entered the game, he immediately took to pounding guys inside with the pitch. I believe the fastball was only sitting in the low 90s, but it had explosive life. When that same pitch that was popping mitts in the bullpen jammed the second batter he faced inside, it broke up the bat in a hurry. He’s a reliever only, as I believe his only other viable pitch is a changeup that is average at best right now, but if he can learn to command that fastball inside and keep it down, I think you’ll see lots of swings and misses and weak ground balls. I’d like to see him again to get a better feel for him.
- After talking to quite a few recent draft picks, I have gotten the overwhelming impression that it is Baltimore’s modus operandi to keep their targets in the dark. Time and again, each player I talked to told me he was surprised to have been picked by the Orioles, who only watched him once or twice and didn’t express nearly the interest that other clubs had. It is a theme consistent with an organization that seems to value discretion and secrecy from top to bottom. Additionally, it seems that scouting director Joe Jordan relies heavily on the opinion of his area scouts, rarely organizing visits and planned observations. I’m not passing any judgments on the strategy, just thought it was worth noting.