Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Draft: Other Players of Interest

Here are a few quick thoughts on other players who caught my eye:


Kyle Serrano RHP -- Farragut H.S. (TENN)

Serrano is an intriguing arm. His best pitch is a plus curveball, but he also has a solid fastball that sits in the 90-94 range. He only stands 6-0 and weighs 185 lbs, so he's a bit on the short side for a starting pitcher and would likely benefit from adding more muscle to his frame.

Mechanically, Serrano is fairly solid. He has a clean arm action and fundamentally sound mechanics. He uses a closed off stride and, consequently, a cross-fire delivery. His slightly closed off landing position and spine angle during hip rotation reminds me somewhat of Tim Lincecum. Though, unfortunately, he doesn't have the type of electric stuff that Lincecum possessed entering the draft.

The downside to Serrano is that his physical build and level of velocity may limit his ultimate upside. I'm just not sure how much projection is left to his game. Further, Serrano may be one of the tougher signs in the draft class, as he has committed to the University of Tennessee, where he would pitch for his father, the Volunteer head coach.

Given the possible signability concerns and lesser projection to his game, there are other options in the draft that I'd rather have. So, Serrano falls just short of making my draft board, though his mechanics are clean and his curveball impressive.


A.J. Vanegas RHP -- Stanford University

Vanegas is a very intriguing arm. He stands 6-3 and tips the scales at 215 lbs. He pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen for the Cardinal during his college career, though his stuff has always been impressive enough to start.

Vanegas features a mid to upper 90s fastball, a slider, and a cutter. He needs to develop his arsenal and polish his control in the professional ranks, but he generates easy velocity and has good projection to his game.

As a junior, Vanegas, due to a back injury, worked only 8.2 innings in which he posted a 3.12 ERA with a 12/4 K/BB ratio. For his career, Vanegas has posted a solid 2.92 ERA to go with underwhelming ratios, including marks of 4.8 BB/9 and 7.5 K/9.


Here's a look at Vanegas in action, courtesy of rkyosh007 on YouTube:





Overall, the mechanics are smooth and fundamentally sound. He does a nice job driving his delivery straight back and straight through to the plate. I'd like to see a bigger differential between the rotation of the hips and the rotation of the shoulders. A longer delay in the rotation of the shoulders would maximize the force generated by the body and increase the efficiency of the transfer of force to the baseball. Another possible issue I see is that he elevates his pitching elbow a tick too high relative to the pitching shoulder and, as a result, is slightly late in getting his pitching arm up into proper throwing position. It remains to be seen whether it would be detrimental to his performance going forward, but if necessary the arm action in the back could be smoothed out in the minors.

The Reds have had success in recent years with drafting relievers, or pitchers projected to be relievers, and developing them as starting pitchers. Vanegas could be the next in line. He's projected to go around the 3rd round in the draft, which could make him a steal if his future organization can unleash the raw potential that he brings to the table.

I'm really intrigued by A.J. Vanegas. His mechanics aren't as clean as I like, but given that he's only  projected to go in rounds 2/3/4 in the draft you have to expect, and be willing to incur, a bit more risk. His upside is intriguing and a possible conversion to the rotation could make a very valuable prospect.


Cavan Biggio 2b/3b -- St. Thomas H.S. (TEX)

Cavan is the son of Craig Biggio. There's no questioning his bloodlines. He also has an impressive hit tool. The problem with Cavan is that he may be a "tweener". Not enough bat for a corner position, not enough glove for an up-the-middle position. Biggio also isn't a great runner. So, the intrigue here is really the bat.

At the plate, Biggio has a very smooth lefthanded swing, a good feel for hitting, and the ability to control the strikezone. He makes consistent, hard contact and can get the barrel on the ball. He doesn't have plus power, but he's a pure hitter. He stands 6-2 and weighs 180 lbs, so there is some power projection in his game and filling out physically could make him an impact hitter.

Here's a look at Cavan Biggio in action, courtesy of Steve Fiorindo on YouTube:





Overall, Biggio has a sweet, fundamentally sound swing. He uses very strong hip rotation and has good hands. After loading his hands, he has a short path to the ball, getting to the point of impact quickly. He also effectively utilizes some "bat lag", a positive component of the swing that refers to the barrel of the bat lagging behind the hands in the swing. The longer the hitter can maintain that lag, the more power will be generated by the swing. When the bat emerges from the lag position, the barrel comes around and into the point of contact. Biggio maintains a slightly smaller "lag angle" than the average hitter, giving his swing a slightly steeper, more direct, angle of attack, due in part to a more straight line, rather than rounded, hand arc.

I'm impressed by Biggio's swing mechanics and hit tool. He seems to have a good feel for hitting. The question is how much power projection is there in his game? And, how much defensive value will he have?

There's a reason not many amateur 2bs are drafted. Most of time shortstop prospects are drafted instead, with those short on arm shifted to 2b and those short on range shifted to 3b. Biggio is currently a 2b. There's a real risk that, as he climbs the ladder, Biggio won't hit enough given his likely landing point on the defensive spectrum.

Cavan Biggio is the type of prospect with which the St.Louis Cardinals have had good success. Identifying and developing pure hitters despite questions about their defensive ability. I'm not sure if they are better at identifying these types of prospects or better at developing them. It could be either, but Biggio is one on whom I would support the Reds taking a chance. He lacks his father's athleticism, but I believe in the bat.

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