Long Beach, CA - Team-by-team reports from the Area Code Games presented by New Balance
I think year in and year out, the Brewers team representing Southern California has the most talent throughout the roster. One reason is that obviously there is a lot of talent in Southern California but at the top of the heap I would say Texas is every bit as good. The difference is that there seems to be more depth in Southern California and because they have a much larger roster, we get to see a lot of that depth.
In the previous report I mentioned more than a handful of players on this team and went back on Monday to bear down on them some more but also expected to see others emerge and that is exactly what happened.
I saw more out of Tyrone Taylor and remain committed to my belief that he is an upper round talent who has emerged here. He continued to make more hard line drive contact and he did it to all fields. Sitting down the right field line, just outside of the Brewers dugout I got to see the size and get a different type of feel for the Brewers players and being close to Taylor gave me a sense of his strength, size and explosiveness.
Tanner Rahier didn't have his best day and it can be good to see a talented player have a tough day. Rahier's game is built largely on skill, desire and make-up, with solid tools mixed in. That is not to say he doesn't have tools, because he does, but he is not the flashy, freakish type of talent that we tend to get excited about. On Monday he was not feeling it at the plate and his at-bats were not very good. However, when you see a player have a tough day, it is important to see how they handle it and with Rahier, nothing changed about his demeanor. He was just as intense but he handled his tough day well, went back to the dugout, played defense, and just keep grinding at the game. That is how it goes in the minor leagues and in the big leagues, where talent is assumed, but make-up and the ability to handle failure are the separators.
The Brewers catchers started to really impress me on Monday and I think all three of them have futures at the major college and likely the pro level someday. C.J. Saylor (5'10" 180, R/R, West Covina, CA) is an excellent receiver, blocks balls in the dirt extremely well, and looks to have a chance to hit for some average, with a compact, strong stroke. He isn't sexy or that big strong monster behind the plate with the wow arm and big raw power but his skills and talents at his position, they play very well.
I also liked Darrell Miller (6'2" 200, R/R, Yorba Linda, CA) mostly because he is a tremendous receiver, with strong, soft hands that just seemed to eat up the pitch and stop it in it's tracks. He sits really well behind the plate and presents a great target too. His actions are quiet and small. Offensively I think he will struggle more than Saylor but he has a little power and he generally has a pretty short swing with some strength in it.
The other catcher who did some things I liked was A.J. Kennedy (6'0" 180, R/R, Anaheim, CA). The one thing Kennedy has that the other two catchers don't is a plus arm and it is a legitimate plus arm. I tend to think his catching/receiving actions behind the plate are a bit too showy for my tastes and think he could certainly quiet down some of that stuff because his arm stands out plenty well. He was 1.91 in the game and was below 1.90 between innings and that plays. Kennedy struggled with the bat a bit due to a swing that gets too long but if he can figure out a way to shorten that up, be happy making hard contact and hitting for some average with some extra base pop, his catch/throw ability could move him up draft lists.
Other position players I have been interested in were Rio Ruiz and he once again showed that he can hit and is going to hit. He hit a ball that looked to be a sure home run to right field but at Blair Field, that was just a BFO... Blair Field Out. Almost any other park in America and it was a home run. I see pro hitter written all over Ruiz.
I think in time 3rd baseman Daniel Robertson (6'0" 185, R/R, Upland, CA) will develop into a pro 3rd baseman but that likely will happen during his college years. Robertson has the tools to be a plus defender and he has enough talent with the bat to suggest he can hit for some average and some power, enough to project him as an everyday 3rd baseman at the pro level. He just tends to lack consistency.
Oh, a note about one of my favorite position players, 2013 shortstop Christopher Rivera. He was here playing with a bad leg, a quad issue I believe and it has really limited what he can do on the field. In fairness, he probably shouldn't be out there performing but he obviously likes to play and he is one of the very best players in the region, regardless of age, so people want to see him.
As for the Brewers' pitchers, I was eyeballing the velocities from down the line but could certainly tell which guys I liked. There were four very solid pitchers for the Brewers on Monday. RHP Trevor Megill (6'7" 230, Huntington Beach, CA) was the one I like most for the long haul and with his body type, stuff (89-92 mph), arm action and easy fluid delivery, I can make a decent comparison to Marlins RHP Josh Johnson. What I also like about Megill is that he has feel for the breaking ball, a 76-77 mph curveball. I think Megill projects about as easily as you can fairly project any young pitcher.
LHP Kyle Twomey (6'3" 165, Placentia, CA) also looked good, with a quick, loose, easy arm action and a body that is a long way from being physically mature. He mixed in his change-up very well, showed some pitchability and then consider he was in the 87-90 mph range, with a solid curveball too, and we have a prospect. I also liked that he holds runners and has an excellent pick-off move.
The Brewers pitcher who was most impressive was RHP Cody Poteet (6'1" 178, Bonita, CA). I think he is actually a little shorter than 6'1" and a little heavier but that being said, I love his stuff and how he goes about his business. He reminds me in some ways of Astros RHP Bud Norris when he was younger, with his bulldog demeanor and good aggressive use of his stuff. Poteet was 88-91 mph with the fastball that comes out with good down angle from his overhand slot. He also has a hard 77-78 mph curveball that was about as good as any curveball I saw in Long Beach. At times it was a hammer and is a legitimate swing and miss pitch.
RHP Shane Watson (6'4" 200, Bellflower, CA) also looked good, though is a tick below some of the other Brewers' pitching prospects. He could certainly come on though and emerge as a top five round type guy in the spring. He has a great frame, a good clean arm action and a patient delivery. His stuff looked to be in that 87-90 mph range, maybe a touch of 91 and he showed feel of the curveball.
The other day I failed to mention a pitcher, RHP Ryan McNeil (6'3" 210, Nipomo, CA) who was 89-91 mph and showed a 78-80 slider that is an occasional swing and miss pitch. McNeil has nice stuff but lacks some deception. I think his stuff can keep coming on but would like to see him add a nice change-up to keep hitters off his fastball.
No doubt there are other pitchers on this team who likely didn't have their best days and will continue to develop as prospects, with more than a handful developing into good draft picks next June and out of college. I would put RHP Nolan Gannon (6'5" 195, San Diego) and RHP Conner Baits (6'5" 210, San Diego) in that category, same with LHP Cole Irvin (6'4" 175, Yorba Linda, CA). I also didn't see all the Brewers pitchers.