The following piece can be originally seen directly at PnR Scouting.
Ht/Wt: 6-2/195 | B/T: L/R | Year: Sophomore | Born: 11/01/1988
Ohio State at Purdue (West Lafayette, IN) April 17, 2009 (in attendance)
Michigan at Ohio State (Columbus, OH) May 2, 2009 (film)
Ohio State at Georgia (Tallahassee, FL) May 29, 2009 (film)
Wimmers has a strong and athletic frame. While he’s only average in height, he has fairly broad shoulders, a developed core and a strong lower body. There is a little projection left in him, as he could stand to gain some arm strength to increase durability throughout the game and season.
Wimmers throws out of a true three-quarters arm slot, and starts his motion tall and using a quick and high leg kick before entering his delivery. The high leg kick is effective in building momentum to the plate, but he doesn’t always balance over the rubber, leading to inconsistencies in his timing and variance in his release. This, in turn, can affect his control and command of his pitches. Moving out of his leg kick, Wimmers flies open with his glove, which can also detrimentally affect his control. He circles the baseball down below his waist before bringing his arm up, creating extra deception. During the arm swing, his glove-side elbow rises up above his shoulder, creating extra stress on the UCL of the non-throwing arm. He strides sideways towards the target, maximizing the force with which the hips pull the shoulders around. Upon foot strike, landing properly with his glove-side knee bent, his arm is in good shape — parallel to the ground and even or slightly below the pitching arm-side shoulder. Wimmers keeps his shoulders back, creating good scapular load and allowing his hips to rotate through first. He incorporates his trunk well, getting good drive off the rubber. He concludes with his upper-body hunched over, but his pitching arm ends almost touching the ground, which shows remarkable follow-through. He isn’t put in the greatest fielding position by doing so because he finishes towards first base, but hasn’t appeared to have problems reacting to balls hit back up the middle.
Fastball – Wimmers currently sits in the upper-80’s to low-90’s with his fastball, with a little room to add velocity as he increases arm strength and improves his mechanics. The pitch has good arm-side run and average command that fluctuates when he struggles to find a proper release point.
Curveball – Wimmers owns one of the finest curveballs in the draft. He throws the pitch in the mid-70’s with plus 11-5 movement on hitters. With improved mechanics, it could be a true Major League out pitch.
Change-up – Wimmers also throws a decent change-up — a 75-78 mph straight change that flashes good tumble and helps keep hitters honest. As he continues to more consistently hit his release point, it will be a nice complementary piece in his arsenal.
Projected Position: Back-end to Mid-rotation Starter
Suggested Draft Slot: Late 1st- 1st Supplemental
GRADING OUT (FUTURE):
Motion: 40 (50/55)
Fastball: 45/50 (55)
Curveball: 55/60 (65/70)
Change: 45 (50)
Control: 45 (50/55)
Command: 35 (50)
The following piece can be originally seen directly at PnrScouting.
Justin O’Conner | SS/C/RHP | Cowan HS (Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 6-1/190 | B/T: R/R | Year: Senior | Born: 03/31/1992
Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic (San Diego, CA) August 16, 2009 (film)
Tournament of Stars (Cary, NC) June 24, 2009 (film)
National Showcase (Minneapolis, MN) June 11, 2009 (film)
Randolph Southern vs. Cowan (Muncie, IN) May 12, 2009 (in attendance)
O’Conner stands out physically with a mature, strong build, particularly in his upper-body. Shows smooth actions in the field; good athleticism and body control. Quick twitch actions and athleticism mean he can likely afford to add some muscle without being forced off of shortstop, though there isn’t much room left in his frame to fill-in. His actions/frame play all around the diamond.
Hitting out of a slightly open stance, O’Conner has relaxed hands at the plate that rest on top of his shoulder, with his elbow up and parallel with the ground. He has a very slight timing step, and a medium size stride that he controls well by keeping his hands back and in line with his back knee and head. Very distinct rotational hitter, O’Conner has plus bat speed and maintains good athletic posture from his load to the point of contact. He rotates his back shoulder extremely well through the point of contact. This keeps his elbow in the ‘Power L’ position, resulting in quite an impressive compact swing for a high school bat. O’Conner uses his quick hips to his advantage, and his back knee is bent 90 degrees at the point of contact (indicating he’s rotating cleanly while maintaining good balance and weight distribution). He also has good hip/shoulder separation, which is the foundation of the plus bat speed and impressive loft. The momentum O’Conner generates in his swing carries through to his post-contact extension and easy follow-through, which is remarkably similar to Manny Ramirez’s.
Two things immediately stand out about O’Conner’s defensive game are his excellent arm strength and lightning quick release. He has been clocked in the mid-90s on the mound, and carries that arm strength into the field. His range is merely adequate, but he makes up for it in part with his quick release and in part with his agility. O’Conner moves his feet well and centers on the ball, positioning himself well for rough hops. He’s also proficient on both sides of the double play. To maximize his defensive production, he will need to learn to be more aggressive coming in on the ball, as well as fielding through the ball more regularly, as he has a tendency to wait back (though his quick release and arm strength minimize the negative results some). He should have the athleticism to stick at short or even slide behind the plate, as a pro.
Throwing out of a high ¾ arm slot, O’Conner comes at hitters with a high leg lift, and continues to drop and drive on his way to the plate. Upon doing so, his shoulders fly open before his hips, often resulting in a lack of command. Instead of breaking his hands towards second base, O’Conner loses deception by cuffing the ball behind him towards first base. His arm action is a bit worrisome, as well. He’s late and breaks his hands with his elbows, which is often an indicator of a potential future injury. Upon foot strike, his hips are already fully rotated, causing his arm to play catch-up, creating unnecessary stress on his shoulder/elbow. He lands on his front foot with plant-leg bent, which is a good thing. However, he doesn’t generate the maximum amount of power because he doesn’t push off the rubber as hard as his velocity indicates. More of a thrower than a pitcher at this point in time. He finishes falling off towards first base, placing him in an awkward fielding position.
Fastball – O’Conner’s fastball compares favorably to his peers — a prep class flush with power arms. He sits around 91-92 but can dial it up to the mid-90s. Presently, it does not have much life. Command is below average.
Curveball – O’Conner’s curveball has good 11-5 bite and sits in the 74-77 range. Still inconsistent, it can flatten a little and his command of the pitch fluctuates with his ability to find the release point.
Change-up – Didn’t flash his change, but it is a known bullet in his arsenal — reputation for being a work-in-progress.
Projected Position: SS/C
Suggested Draft Slot: Mid- to Supplemental-1st Round
GRADING OUT (FUTURE):
Motion: 30 (50)
Bryce Brentz is a rising junior from Middle Tennessee State, and he’s expected to be a top draft choice in the 2010 draft, having already been drafted once by the Cleveland Indians in the 30th round of the 2007 draft. However, the position at which he’ll be drafted has changed. Highly touted as a pitcher entering college, Brentz has now made himself into one of the best outfield prospects in the college game. Here’s your first rundown in a series where I’ll examine a number of prospects in the 2010 draft class.
Brentz went to high school in Knoxville, Tennessee at South Doyle High School, during which he was an all-state player as a pitcher. The Indians drafted Brentz as a result of the great progress he made during his senior year, though they had no interest in him as a hitter. However, Brentz improved his hitting greatly as time went on, making himself into a starting outfielder during his freshman campaign with Middle Tennessee. He ended up starting 51 games that year, hitting .329/.404/.671, tying for the team lead in home runs with 18, and leading the team in steals with 13 in 16 attempts. However, he struck out 47 times, most on the team, compared to just 24 walks. His name was on the radar screen entering 2009, but no one expected the breakout year he had.
Armed with a guaranteed starting spot, Brentz exploded onto the major prospect scene. He finished with a .465/.535/.930 line in 230 at-bats, slugging 28 home runs, 19 doubles, and a pair of triples. His steals fell to 7 in 11 attempts, but he improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 32-to-31. This easily made him the best all-around statistical hitter in the country, 2009 draft class hitters included. He’s followed up his incredible regular season with a Team USA roster spot, and he’s continued to hit, probably showing the best bat of the USA hitters. Through 47 at-bats with the team, he’s hit .447/.480/.617, leading the team with 6 doubles, and he’s added a triple. However, he hasn’t hit a home run yet, and his 12-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio is again concerning. He has managed to steal 4 bases in as many attempts. On the whole, Brentz’ 2009 season has propelled him into the national spotlight, and he’s still got a pair of games in Japan and the World Baseball Challenge in Canada with Team USA to cement his status as one of the elite hitters in the 2010 draft class.
Now that we have the pure performance numbers out of the way, let’s look at how Brentz compares in the scouting community. Here’s a couple quotes in an article that essentially tells you what top prospects and coaches think of him:
“He just doesn’t get out — we can’t get him out,” VU pitcher Mike Minor said. “He can hit breaking balls; he can hit fastballs. You can’t blow it by him.”
“I called Team USA just to act upon Steve Peterson’s endorsement of his player,” VU coach Tim Corbin, a former U.S. national team coach, said. “He’s the best hitter we’ve seen. … I think he just hits everything.”
That’s the number seven pick in the 2009 draft and the coach of prospect powerhouse Vanderbilt. And that essentially sums up everything I’ve heard privately, as well. He just simply has a great bat. He’s going to hit for average, and his power, while not earth-shattering is above-average. He has fairly good pitch recognition skills, but because his bat load is deeper than most good hitters, he has to rely on his superior bat speed to make it up. He can easily do that, but it’s a concern for the long-run, as he’ll have to adjust his batting style if his bat speed ever slows down, which can be as a result of simple aging or hand and wrist injuries. All hitters and outfielders face high risk of hand and wrist injuries, so his stock could certainly fall if anything were to happen over the next 11 months. I do have concerns that he hasn’t seen enough quality breaking stuff, and like most young hitters, he sometimes gets overanxious to swing, giving away at-bats where the opposing pitcher simply wanted to walk him. That seems to be the explanation I’m getting on why his Team USA strikeout-to-walk ratio is so bad, especially in comparison to some of his teammates.
Defensively, Brentz should have no problems at a corner outfield spot. He’s definitely not a center fielder, though. He still pitches for the Blue Raiders, 88.2 innings in 2009 actually, and that’s a testament to his plus arm strength. He has fairly average range, maybe a tick above, and the arm strength plays up. I worry about him continuing to pitch, as any arm injury severely limits his value in the outfield and as an overall package, similar to how Dustin Ackley had questions about his overall value before he played some center field late in the year for UNC. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brentz give up pitching in order to concentrate on his hitting and fielding next spring, though he’s thrown 8 innings of relief with Team USA, allowing 5 earned runs on 10 hits and 7 walks, striking out 12. As you can tell, he can be overpowering, but his command just isn’t what it should be. He’s really cheating himself by risking arm injuries, as his value lies completely in his bat.
Looking at the 2010 draft class so far, I’d say Brentz has definitely put himself right in the top ten. A good number of the top prospects entering the spring have faltered a little either in the spring season or summer, some both, while Brentz has continually moved forward. He’s now made himself arguably the best outfielder in entire 2010 draft class, with Florida State’s Tyler Holt definitely in the picture, but for different reasons. Brentz has to keep producing and stay healthy to keep his draft value, as corner outfielders generally don’t get overdrafted, and that puts a lot of pressure on him for his junior season. Draftitis is always a concern, but Brentz has continually gotten better over time, and his run with Team USA proves that he can handle himself on the same stage with big prospects from bigger programs. I have no doubt that Brentz can build on his monster sophomore campaign, ending up as a top draft pick in June 2010.