Brandon Koch was easily the top Tampa Bay Rays prospect that I saw from the Hudson Valley Renegades’ press box yesterday, and I gave him a full piece here. Of course, I did see plenty of other prospects, and let’s discuss them now. If you have any additional questions on a player, please comment and I’ll see what I can answer.
Brandon Koch: One last note on Koch is that when I mentioned the control issues he was supposed to have before the draft, everyone in the press box responded “What control issues? He had one bad outing!” It’s nice to see the eye test confirm the statistics that Koch has been lighting up the strike zone for the Renegades.
Michael Velasquez: I entered this game knowing nearly nothing about Velasquez, a 6’1″, 215 lefty who signed withe Rays as a non-drafted free agent in 2014. He finished this game allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits in 5 innings, striking out 3 while walking none. I came away unimpressed.
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Velasquez’s biggest strength is that he gets good sink on his fastball, which sat in the high-80’s and reached 91 MPH. However, he left it up way too often as his command was far behind his ability to throw strikes. Velasquez has some deception in his delivery, but he also has arm slot issues that prevent him from getting the nice movement on his heater every time. Velasquez also throws a high-70’s curveball and low-80’s changeup. Both pitches flashes plus once or twice–the curveball with sharp 1-to-7 break and the changeup with sink and fade–but most of the time, they either hung up in the zone or missed the plate by a ways. Velasquez needs a lot more consistency before he can be considered a prospect of any type.
Tim Ingram: I liked Ingram, who was the Rays’ 31st round in this year’s draft out of Division III SUNY Old Westbury. True to the scouting report I had on him after the draft, he ranged from 87 to 91 MPH with his fastball, and he was able to get movement away from right-handed batters along with some sink. His money pitch was his changeup, a low-80’s offering that looks like his fastball out of his hand before featuring great late action that helps him force some whiffs. I didn’t see his curveball, but his fastball-changeup arsenal was sufficient for this level.
Ingram’s command looked much worse in his second inning of work as he left both of his pitches up in the zone too often, but if he can keep his pitches down and make his breaking ball a decent third option, he has a chance to work his way up the ladder as a middle relief type. That’s about all you can ask from a player selected so late in the draft.
Joe McCarthy: McCarthy, the Rays’ fifth rounder from this year out of the Virginia, looked good in the batter’s box. He showed off solid pitch recognition and bat speed even as he went 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts. Hopefully he will hit for more power as his back injury moves farther into the past.
McCarthy also moved well in left field, but his arm was extremely weak. Twice the Renegades needed a cutoff man on his throws from left field to third base, and the cutoff man had to be pretty far out onto the left field grass. He was accurate on one throw as he came away with an outfield assist–his arm is closer to Hideki Matsui‘s than Ben Revere‘s. In any event, McCarthy is limited to left field and first base, so he better really hit.
Michael Russell: Russell was the Rays’ fifth round pick from 2014, and he didn’t play last season because of back pain–yes, the Rays have selected two straight fifth rounders with back issues. Russell looked alright at the plate with discipline and some bat speed, but looked out of his element at shortstop. His arm isn’t great, but the bigger issue is that his hands are mediocre and he doesn’t have the instincts to make up for it. It would be surprising to see him play shortstop at higher levels. He’s more of a second and third baseman, and he could probably play left field as well.
Now some quick hits:
Matt Dacey: I was surprised by how upright he was in his stance–it didn’t seem conducive to hitting for power. He did show a quick bat, though.
Jake Cronenworth: I liked his swing and he looked fine at second base, but his pitch recognition looked bad as he whiffed by a lot on a few breaking pitches.
Danny De la Calle: He has a strong arm and showed good receiving skills, but his bat isn’t there. Even so, he showed a short enough swing (if he won’t hit the ball with any authority) that I was surprised that he has 33 strikeouts against 1 walk in his first 89 pro plate appearances.
Angel Moreno: You see the tools–the quick swing, the raw power, the speed–but he is far away from figuring anything out.
Hector Montes: I wasn’t impressed, but he did drill a hanging breaking ball for a double.
The folks at Dutchess Stadium treated me well–it was Star Wars night, so all sort of crazy things were going on–and it was nice to see all of these Rays prospects.