Scouting high-profile debuts
Keith Law
30 de August de 2011, 11:03 AM
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Today I wanted to give some scouting reports on a half-dozen of the higher-profile MLB debuts this month of prospects who never made any of my top 100 rankings:

Eric Surkamp, LHP, San Francisco Giants

Surkamp made his major league debut Saturday against Houston, whose lineup probably reminded him of the ones he faced all year in the Eastern League. A sixth-round pick in 2008 from N.C. State, Surkamp is a finesse lefty who uses a ton of off-speed stuff to get hitters out in spite of a below-average fastball. He was mostly 86-88 mph Saturday without much life on the pitch, and I expect him to be a real fly-ball pitcher going forward unless he switches to a two-seamer or otherwise finds a way to get some downward movement on it. His out pitch is his mid- to upper-70s curveball with some two-plane break; he has plus command of the pitch, and it's hard relative to the fastball. He'll flash a show-me changeup but is more likely to go to the curveball in changeup counts. It's hard for me to see Surkamp as anything more than a fifth starter in a neutral park, but pitching for San Francisco in a division with two other friendly parks could help him look better than that.

Nate Eovaldi, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Eovaldi was an 11th-round pick in 2008 out of Alvin High School in the Texas town of that name, reaching the big leagues in a short time for a high school pick -- even as their first overall pick from that year, prep right-hander Ethan Martin, has struggled to throw strikes. Eovaldi is primarily fastball/slider, heavy on the fastball, but doesn't locate it well enough or miss enough bats with it to allow him to pitch effectively as a big league starter just yet. His slider varies a lot with its velocity; at 85-87, it has some tilt and he can bury it on a left-handed hitter's hands, but at 88-89, the slider is more like a cutter that breaks almost straight down, and isn't that sharp. He has a changeup but it's a show-me pitch at this point, slow enough out of his hands for hitters to potentially pick it up. Eovaldi's delivery is unusual, with enough of a hook in back that teammates should call him Captain, but he gets leverage from a good shoulder tilt and accelerates his arm quickly once he strides. I think he's up sooner than he should be but I can see the weapons here for a solid fourth starter; he can throw enough strikes, but has to locate the fastball better or tighten that slider up into a bona fide out pitch.

Wade Miley, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Miley was a supplemental-round pick in 2008 from Southeast Louisiana University, a pick Arizona received as compensation for losing free agent Livan Hernandez. (Arizona's top three picks in that draft have now reached the majors -- Miley, Daniel Schlereth and Bryan Shaw.) Miley starts off at 93-94 but the second time through the order he'll pitch more at 90-92, mixing in his off-speed stuff more and occasionally cutting the fastball. His changeup is much improved since college -- he hasn't given up a hit on the pitch yet in the majors -- with good arm speed and some late downward-fading action, although he only throws it to the outside corner against right-handed hitters, and they will eventually pick up on that pattern. His curveball is anywhere from 73-79 mph with two-plane break, but he doesn't bury the pitch below the zone very often and is prone to leaving it up where hitters can at least chip it into the outfield; it would be an above-average pitch or better if it was a little harder or if he had more depth on it, and even as it is he gets some awkward swings and misses from left- and right-handed hitters. His delivery is cleaner than it was as an amateur, giving him a better chance to throw strikes and get through a lineup three times; I see him as a good back-end starter with a chance to be a solid No. 3 for a good team if the curveball were to get sharper or if he holds his velocity later into games.

Chris Marrero, 1B, Washington Nationals

Marrero was the 15th overall pick in the 2006 Rule 4 draft, only the second player from the Nats' draft class that year to reach the majors along with fringy reliever Cole Kimball. (It really was a disastrous draft -- their second and fourth picks are already out of baseball, their third pick didn't sign and their sixth pick is in his third organization with a career ERA over 6, all below Double-A.) Marrero is going to have to hit to establish himself as a big league regular, as he's limited to first base and doesn't add much value there on defense, but I don't see his bat playing every day there. He has average to above-average power but has a slow bat with poor hand speed, and in the minors he's done most of his damage at the plate against left-handed pitchers. He could hang around for a long time as a platoon bat or below-average regular.

Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

Perez, signed out of Venezuela at age 16 in 2006, is probably the Royals' catcher of at least the immediate future, as the position is one of the few weak spots in their farm system. But he doesn't have the star potential of many of their other top prospects. Perez, who drew 16 walks in 356 plate appearances in the minors this year, is overaggressive at the plate but at least has good plate coverage to partially compensate; despite his size and good torque from his hip rotation, he doesn't project to hit for huge power because his swing lacks loft. He has an above-average arm and is considered a good receiver, although he's on the big side for a catcher (listed at 6-foot3, 230 pounds) and isn't athletic. The upside here is Miguel Olivo with a better hit tool, which would make him a solid regular or a little better than that.

Leonys Martin, CF, Texas Rangers

I wrote about Martin last month, but he's just now coming up to the majors and could debut in the next few games for the Rangers. The executive summary is that he can play the heck out of center but it's hard to project him to hit or hit for power with his current swing, even with the work Texas has done to clean it up. His .263/.316/.314 line in a small sample (40 games) in Triple-A isn't encouraging.

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