A few days ago in this space we got a scout’s take on several young players in the Orioles organization. Today we get the perspective of this scout from outside the organization on a few more O’s prospects.
Hall was the Orioles’ No. 1 pick, taken No. 21 overall, out of a Georgia high school in 2017. While his overall stats were not as strong in 2018, he pitched all last year in the Single-A Carolina League at 20 and turned 21 on Sept. 19.
After pitching to a 2.10 ERA for Single-A Delmarva in 2018, the lefty went 4-5 with a 3.46 ERA for the Keys. He ended the year missing his last few starts due to an oblique injury. Hall’s walk rate increased from 4.01 per nine innings in 2018 to 6.02 per nine in 2019. But his strikeout rate went up too, from 9.54 to 12.94. Hall, who is ranked as the club’s No. 3 prospect by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com, pitched a 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches in the Futures Game.
Rodriguez was the Orioles’ co-Minor League Pitcher of the Year and had quite a season for a Single-A Delmarva team that won 90 games and led the South Atlantic League in team ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. He went 10-4 with a 2.68 ERA. Over 94 innings, he allowed 57 hits and just four homers with 36 walks, 129 strikeouts, a .171 average against and a 0.99 WHIP.
The club’s first-round pick in 2018 (No. 11 overall), Rodriguez just turned 20. He was named the South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Prospect and pitched a scoreless inning in the Futures Game on 11 pitches.
The scout on this duo: “I like Rodriguez better. I thought he was spectacular and I had him with a plus fastball, slider and curveball. I thought all three pitches are not necessarily 100 percent now pitches, but he can really spin a breaking ball with power, and his slider had some real tilt to it. I’ve seen him throwing 94 to 97 with both breaking balls working.
“He has good physicality. He may not be quite as athletic - like DL Hall is a grade better as an athlete. But Rodriguez may not have twitchy kind of athleticism but he really has that body control and sense of what he is doing right and what he is not doing right. Very impressed for his age on adjustments he made, like adjustments on his delivery, on the umpire and strike zone and to the hitters. Inning-to-inning, he was able to tweak things. I was very impressed and like him more at this stage than Hall.
“But I understand Hall’s ceiling is really high because he is more athletic and he is left-handed. Hall seems really motivated to be good and to be a big leaguer. I think he is almost too driven. He does everything 110 percent. His tempo and delivery at times can be a little too fast.
“But in terms of his pitches, he’ll flash you plusses across the board. But he doesn’t always have the body control and is not always in synch on the mound. He’ll yank a pitch to the glove side and then overcompensate the other way. It can impact his command and hurt his consistency. He’s very coachable, but sometimes can almost try too hard. But it’s hard to find athleticism in left-handed pitchers like him.
“He showed 94 to 96 with a real plus changeup and good arm speed and nice arm-side life. His curve was scraping 80 mph and he threw it with real power. I like Rodriguez better, but still like Hall quite a bit.”
The scout provided a take on Ryan Mountcastle, who was named both International League Most Valuable Player and the O’s Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year.
The 36th overall pick in the 2015 draft out of a Florida high school hit .312/.344/.527 with an OPS of .871 in his first season at Triple-A Norfolk. He added 35 doubles, one triple, 25 homers, 81 runs and 83 RBIs.
Scout on Mountcastle: “He really does have a feel for hitting. But he is a real aggressive hitter and I’ve seen him get himself out on pitches out of the strike zone. His defense at first was not average, so he’s really going to have to hit. It doesn’t mean he won’t. I really like his bat. He’s a 60 hitter with average-to-plus power. An average corner bat can give you 25 homers, and he might exceed that. I saw him really good in spring training in a game where he had two gorgeous swings for line drives. That is a nice swing. Short to the ball, long through the zone. He’s on time. I’ve heard (Paul) Konerko and (Trey) Mancini comps with him. That’s not bad. I don’t think that is unrealistic.”
The scout saw Rylan Bannon play in the Arizona Fall League. Bannon played in 110 games for Double-A Bowie and 20 for Norfolk. Between the clubs, he hit .266/.345/.421 with 11 homers and 59 RBIs. In the AFL he hit .200 with one homer and nine RBIs.
Scout on Bannon: “For me, he can really play defense. I saw him take some really big hacks, but not produce the power. He may have been trying to force the power. But he’s a smart player and runs the bases well. For me, he’s an up-and-down, reserve guy. He’s only 5-7. But in the fall league he stood out for the polish and professionalism of his at-bats. And the way he played, he played so hard.
“He was fun to scout because he played the game the right way with a very mature approach to the game. But if you just grade out the tools, he doesn’t rate highly. I saw him both at third base and second and thought he was outstanding at third base. Fun to watch play third. He’s a good player but not a toolsy player. But he hit three-hole several times in the fall league because he just competed every at-bat.
“For his size, he may be too focused at times on power. When he got to two strikes, he kind of reverted back to ‘I’ll just go gap to gap,’ and that’s when I saw him make his best contact. I had him with plus hands and an average but very accurate arm. He could make plays on the move.”