Breaking down the draft: Picks 27-35

Today, we look at picks 27-35. As a reminder, here are the previous articles in this series:

THT Draft Primer

Breaking Down the Draft: Part One

Breaking Down the Draft: Picks 18-26

With that out of the way, let’s get started:

27. Carlos Gutierrez | RHP | Minnesota Twins

Gutierrez was a curious pick at No. 27 for a number of reasons:

1. He is a reliever.

2. He wasn’t really regarded as a first-round talent.

3. He has a history of arm problems and isn’t far removed from Tommy John surgery.

However, it appears that the Twins plan to turn Gutierrez into a starter, which is another interesting move. I would bet one reason this move is being made is that Gutierrez isn’t the prototypical reliever: His delivery isn’t high-effort, and he doesn’t possess the power-type stuff that relievers drafted so high usually possess.

Nevertheless, problems exist. To be a successful starter, one usually needs to have three playable pitches. Gutierrez only has one, though it’s a plus pitch: a sinking fastball with good movement that generates plenty of ground balls and ranges from 88-93 in terms of velocity.

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Gutierrez does also feature a slider but it presently profiles as a below-average pitch, in part because he struggles to command it.

As I mentioned earlier, Gutierrez doesn’t have a high-effort wind-up. His tempo comes out around 31 frames, which is very slow, though his tempo is faster out of the stretch. Also, he doesn’t use his lower body very well—he is a short strider, which lessens the perceived velocity that a hitter will have of his fastball, and he doesn’t create much separation between his torso and his hips, which means he relies much too much on his arm for velocity.

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He does have pretty good arm action, though his arm recoils at the end of his delivery. In addition, he lands stiffly on his front leg and has a somewhat abrupt finish, not giving his arm a good distance to decelerate. All these things lead to additional stress on the pitcher’s arm.

Given Gutierrez’s history of arm problems, the lack of a second quality pitch, the questionable mechanics, and the simple fact that there was better talent left on the board, I can’t say that I like this pick at No. 27.

Grade – D

28. Gerrit Cole | RHP | New York Yankees

Check back tomorrow. I found Cole to be worthy of his own article because there is a lot to talk about in terms of his mechanics, stuff and approach to develop him as a pitcher.

29. Lonnie Chisenhall | SS/3B | Cleveland Indians

When I’m evaluating a player, I like to see what adjustments that player has made in the past. Since Chisenhall was drafted in 2006, I went back to check the video and found a couple of interesting differences:
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He has adjusted his stride into foot plant, he carries his weight forward for a longer period, and he doesn’t spin his hips out of the way as much as he did in 2006, though that is still a problem for him. Also notice that he is starting his swing later now than he was in 2006, indicating he is waiting on the ball just a tiny bit longer. The changes made by Chisenhall are subtle, but even small changes like these can have a major impact.

A couple of things I’ve read of Chisenhall is that he has a good batting eye and approach at the plate and that he centers the ball very well, making hard, consistent contact. Both of these are apparent in the video, as he takes most of the pitches that he sees as well as almost never hits the batting practice net, meaning the ball is centered quite well.

Chisenhall generally keeps his hands back and lets the ball travel pretty deep into his hitting zone. He keeps a short stroke and has a slight loading of the hands. His swing as presently structured doesn’t lend itself to big-time power, but it’s short enough that he can increase his loading process to improve his power production. He’ll also need to adjust the loft of his swing to produce more fly balls—right now, his swing is more tailored to hitting line drives, which is fine but ideally you want line drives and fly balls. (One player who made similar adjustments coming out of college was Florida Marlins prospect Chris Coghlan, but Chisenhall’s swing is much better than Coghlan’s coming out.)

For now, Chisenhall will stay at shortstop, but he has a projectable body and might have to move to third base down the line, which would hurt the value of his bat. Overall, there were other players I liked a bit better, and Chisenhall’s upside is fairly limited, but he has a good skill set and a solid swing on which to build.

Grade – B-

30. Casey Kelly | SS/RHP | Boston Red Sox

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Kelly is a little like Chisenhall: a pretty solid swing overall, but also in need of some mechanical tweaks. These adjustments are more slight, so Kelly should have an easier time making these adjustments than a player needing to have his swing completely overhauled.

So what are these adjustments?

1. Keep the hands back. Kelly has a tendency to allow his hands to get out in front of his hip rotation, meaning the hands are brought to the ball instead of the other way around. This tendency causes Kelly to make contact too far out in front, which hurts his overall power.

2. Keep the hips closed. Like Chisenhall, Kelly at times plants in a way that spins the knee, therefore spinning the hips; as a result, he sometimes opens up too soon.

3. Finish the swing. Kelly sometimes cuts off his swing early. What you want to do is let the ball travel deep and get extension after contact has been made. When you cut off your swing, you lessen the benefits from letting the ball travel deep.

On the plus side, Kelly generates good bat speed without allowing his swing to get too long. The adjustments that he will have to make shouldn’t be all that difficult because he’s a very good athlete (he’s also a quarterback and committed to the University of Tennessee). Also, he has a projectable body to fill out, which could add more to his current power.

Two-Way Player

Kelly also grades out as a top-level pitcher. I’ve heard that the Red Sox prefer him as a pitcher, but Kelly would prefer to play short. I do not have a big preference, though I lean toward Kelly being a shortstop.

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Kelly features an average-to-above-average fastball ranging from 88-92 mph with pretty good movement along with some sink. He also flashes a plus curve at times as well as a developing change-up. He has command of all his pitches.

Mechanically, Kelly doesn’t have any glaring red flags. He shows the ball to second base, which I don’t like, but he has a generally short arm action. He does a good job of firming up his front side, which helps his command, though instead of keeping his arm by his side, I would rather it be more out in front of his chest.

Kelly is a solid pick at both pitcher and shortstop—he does a lot of things well, and there isn’t anything he does that really makes me sour on him. However, I’m not exactly wowed by him, either. The biggest question for me is whether he can stay at shortstop, since he could outgrow the position, but nothing said thus far leads to me to believe that he’ll have to move off the position.

Grade:

As Hitter – B-/B
As Pitcher – B-

*Hat Tip – SaberScouting

31. Shooter Hunt | RHP | Minnesota Twins

Hunt showcases two at least average offerings: a fastball and a curveball. The curveball is the better of the two pitches. The hump of the ball just after release, which a hitter can use as an indicator of the pitch’s type, is pretty minimal: The pitch looks as if it’s coming in on the same plane as a high fastball. The similarity allows each pitch to play up better than it actually is. In addition to this, the curveball is pretty late breaking, giving the hitter even less time to decipher the pitch type.

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The fastball ranges anywhere from 89 all the way up to touching 94. It has some downward movement, though it has a tendency to straighten out. If he could consistently reach higher velocities, he would give hitters even less time to decipher the difference between the fastball and the curve. When Hunt’s fastball comes in at the lower end of his range, hitters have enough time to recognize it and take a clean hack.

Fastball Grade – 45 Now, 50 Future

Curveball Grade – 60 Now, 60 Future

Hunt also has a change-up, but he hardly uses it. To become a successful starter in the big leagues, he’ll need to develop his change to at least a playable level.

Mechanics

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Hunt’s arm action is a bit questionable. He lets the elbow pick up the ball but he doesn’t scap load well (which you can better see from the angle behind home plate), leaving velocity on the table. What he does do well is hide the ball, which makes his release point difficult to pick up.

Hunt has some command problems, but they stem more from picking at the corners rather than mechanical issues. He does a good job of firming up his front side to prevent himself from flying open. However, I prefer pitchers to be in a more athletic, more compact and more together position during their wind-up, and I view Hunt’s wind-up as sort of stiff and not as compact.

Given his solid two-pitch combination, Hunt should move quickly, but I suspect that he will struggle with the adjustment to higher levels of competition due to better pitch recognition from hitters and the need to further develop his change-up. However, he has the upside to become a solid back-of-the-rotation starter or a very solid set-up guy out of the ‘pen.

Grade – B

32. Jacob Odorizzi | RHP | Milwaukee Brewers

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Odorizzi has a very short arm action from hand break to when the arm reaches a cocked position; this shortness imparts a sneaky quality to his fastball. I think this is part of the reason why you’ll hear Odorizzi’s velocity referred to as “easy.”

However, I wouldn’t describe Odorizzi’s rotation into release as the cleanest in the world. His elbow gets a little high, and he takes a bit more time to rotate his elbow into release than I ideally like to see. However, that may be because he is so quick in getting his arm up that he has to wait for his body to make its way through his wind-up. I would say that he might be adding extra stress to his shoulder, so the Brewers might want to clean up his arm action—not overhaul it, but make it more efficient. How one would go about doing this is up to the Brewers’ development staff, since messing with a pitcher’s arm action is risky. One way to correct Odorizzi’s timing would be to break his hands later.

Nevertheless, I love Odorizzi’s upside. His fastball comes in between 88 and 93 mph with good late movement, though he reportedly began fooling around with a four-seamer and saw his velocity hit 95.

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Fastball Grade – 55, Future – 60

Odorizzi has two breaking pitches, a curveball and a slider. Right now, the curve is the more advanced. It has a big breaking action and is more of the sweeping variety. Since the start of his senior year, Odorizzi has made great strides in improving his curve; however, he still needs to tighten up the pitch, allowing the break to be even harder.

Curveball Grade – 50, Future – 60

Odorizzi’s slider is more of a work in progress, but it shows promise and has also come a long way. Reports on his change-up indicate that much more development is needed. However, Odorizzi possesses good command of all his pitches.

Let me add that I love pitchers who are also athletes, and that picture fits Odorizzi, who was also a highly recruited wide receiver in high school. Why are athletes better? Because they can take the pounding that is associated with pitching better than a non-athlete can. Also, athletes have an easier time making needed mechanical adjustments. Odorizzi combines his athleticism with a wiry frame that he should be able to add weight to.

Given the combination of athleticism, three potentially average or better pitches and good command, Odorizzi gives the Brewers excellent value at No. 32.

Grade – B+

33. Brad Holt | RHP | New York Mets

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Holt does a really good job loading his arm horizontally toward first base. By loading his arm this way, Holt is “scap loading.” I’ve talked about scap loading before, but if you haven’t heard the term, here is a semi-detailed definition:

Scap loading is the horizontal loading of the arm. By loading the arm horizontally, the pitcher almost seems as if he is trying to touch his throwing elbow to the mid-point of his back. By carrying out this action, the pitcher creates tension in all the elastic muscles and tendons of the shoulder, and if done efficiently, the shoulder unloads aggressively toward home plate due to these elastic muscles being stretched and then released like a rubber band you let go after stretching.

The end product is a high-velocity fastball, which is exactly what Holt possesses. Holt’s fastball is very lively, reaching up to 95, and it gets on the batter quick. It seems to pick up an extra gear just before it reaches home plate. My opinion is that he even has some velocity left in the tank, which could be tapped either through mechanics (like getting his hips moving a little earlier toward home plate) or by filling out his projectable frame.

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Grade – 60 Now, 65 Future

Of course, scap loading isn’t the only thing that a pitcher needs to do to generate velocity. In fact, there are many things a pitcher needs to do, but here are a couple other things that Holt does well:

1. He strides aggressively into foot plant, picking up momentum just before planting.

2. Notice as his front foot is close to planting: The numbers on the back of his jersey are still facing toward first base, while his lower body is faced in the direction of home plate. This distinction means that he is creating a good separation between his torso and his hips. When the foot plants (or just before), the torso is uncoiled forward forcefully, bringing the arm along with it.

Secondary pitches and command

In the video provided, Holt didn’t flash too many sliders, but the pitch has decent late-breaking action. However, the question is whether he can command the pitch and throw it for strikes on a consistent basis. If you watch the side-view clip, you will notice that his glove never firms up before he rotates his shoulders. One benefit of keeping the glove firm out in front of one’s chest is better command of one’s breaking pitch. The release point becomes more consistent, and you don’t have to worry about slowing down to prevent your front shoulder from flying open because the glove firms up beforehand.

Holt also features a presently below-average change-up, and he will have to work on maintaining his arm speed when throwing it.

There are some things that Holt needs to work on, but he gives you a projectable body, a great arm and a potential steal should he find some sort of consistency with his secondary pitches.

Grade – B/B+

34. Zach Collier | OF | Philadelphia Phillies

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I’ve seen Collier compared to Garrett Anderson, and I would have to say that the comparison is right on the money.

Collier does a good job of carrying his weight forward and keeping his hips closed, though there are occasions when he opens up too soon. Notice that his front foot lands not toward the pitcher but more toward the shortstop; this helps him keep his hips closed. He lets the ball travel deep into his hitting zone, indicating plenty of bat speed, although like most players who are still developing their power, he must learn to more consistently keep his hands back. When planted, he rotates firmly on his front leg.

I’m not sure that you really see this in the video because Collier is inside-outing a pitch and lining it to the opposite field, but as I said with Aaron Hicks, the components of a power-packed swing are there. In Collier’s case, though, his swing has fewer holes at the moment (though I really like both players).

Collier might want to lower his hands to shorten his swing somewhat, but I like his swing a lot. His above-average-to-plus raw power will display itself as he adds more weight to his projectable frame and makes the minor tweaks to his swing. He provides great tools to work with and if developed properly, Collier could blossom into an above-average regular. Should he be playable in center field, Collier has an outside chance of becoming a top-5 offensive player at his position; however, Collier’s arm is below average, and he might outgrow the position.

Grade – A-

35. Evan Frederickson | LHP | Milwaukee Brewers

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I’m not sure what they’re doing at the University of San Francisco, but they seem to excel at finding big left-handed pitchers with poor mechanics and mediocre velocity and turning them into pitchers who can pump out 97-mph fastballs. Last year it was Aaron Poreda. Poreda was able to completely overhaul his mechanics to improve his velocity from 87-90 mph and get up to 96-98.

This year, that pitcher is Evan Frederickson, who I can only assume overhauled his mechanics like Poreda and improved his velocity from 86-88 to 95-97. The mechanics shown in the above video do not generate fastballs in the upper 90s—not even close. Too awkward, too long of an arm action, and too inefficient a chain of kinetic events.

However, what did not change in Frederickson was the very poor control. The video shows very erratic control, and the numbers bear out terrible control all season long (7.3 BB/9). In addition to the awkward mechanics, there is simply a lot of noise in his delivery. He also doesn’t firm up his glove very well.

Since the velocity here is so far off from what has been reported, I can’t give Frederickson a grade until I see him as the pitcher he is reputed to be.

Grade – Incomplete

Next time, we’ll break down picks 36-42. I’ll also be providing a video profile of Buster Posey for Giant fans at some point in the near future. And remember, check back tomorrow for the scouting report on Yankees draft pick Gerrit Cole.

References & Resources
MLB Scouting Bureau
Minor League Baseball
College Splits

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