Scouting Mariners, Dodgers in PCL

 Scouting Mariners, Dodgers in PCLTACOMA — There were several interesting young players in uniform at Cheney Stadium when the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) hosted the Albuquerque Isotopes (Dodgers) Saturday evening.

The pitching matchup pitted two non-prospects in right-handers Jordan Pries and Red Patterson, but both have enough stuff and command to present a challenge to each other as well as the opposing lineups.

Joc Pederson, CF
The last time I saw Perderson he was trying to pull almost everything and when he wasn’t he was putting too much effort into using the whole field, often giving up opportunities to pull balls for extra base hits. In batting practice, he displayed a much more efficient swing on balls on the outer half and hit the ball well to center field. The pull power is above-average and he went yard to right field in the game.

Pederson is a good athlete and might be the Dodgers’ best bet in center field over Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. The problems is Ethier, Kemp and Carl Crawford are each owed about a trillion dollars, so unless a trade is made or one hits the disabled list for a long period of time, Pederson may be more likely to help the club as trade bait.

I do question how consistent he will make solid contact in the big leagues, so we may be talking about a .260 hitter, but he’s shown the ability to work counts and take a few walks so the on-base percentage ultimately should be at least league average.

Carlos Triunfel, SS
Triunfel appears to be exactly the same player he’s been the past three or four years; a solid, yet unspectacular glove at short with a bat that teases in batting practice but doesn’t perform consistently in games. He will tease occasionally in game play, and he did so Saturday collecting three hits. Triunfel remains a hitter with almost zero discpline, swinging at pitches early in counts as if there were two strikes and he’s protecting against the strikeout.

At 24, Triunfel’s big-league role is as an emergency infielder and in the Dodgers’ organization, he’s the third shortstop (behind Hanley Ranmirez and Dee Gordon) and the third second baseman (behind Gordon and Alex Guerrero).

Jordan Pries, RHP
Mariners fans may be wondering if Pries can make a spot start or two after Brandon Maurer and Erasmo Ramirez have struggled fiercely in the No. 5 spot this season. The short answer: Probably not.

Pries will throw strikes, however, starting with a fastball at 88-90 mph. There’s arm side ride on the pitch and he commands it fairly well, particularly on the outer half of the plate against left-handed batters. There’s good sink to the two-seamer, too, a pitch he may want to go to more often.

Pries hit his spots well early in this start, but when he left pitches up he was hurt by the long ball. His changeup is below average but there were a few average versions that showed sink and with good arm speed. His breaking ball is a fringe-average 78-81 mph slider with two-plane break.

Pries is an athletic and strong 6-feet and 190 pounds. He repeated his delivery well throughout. He throws slightly across his body — not much more than most pitchers — but uses his lower half well, bending his knees and back in sync. He’s quick enough to the plate from the stretch at 1.29 to 1.36 and would be quicker if it weren’t for a long arm path.

I don’t see enough stuff to get out big league bats with regularity, but it’s difficult to say he wouldn’t fare better than Maurer and Ramirez have. It does seem the organization believes Matt Palmer is a better bet. He was removed early, with no injury, from his last start, but Pries pitches with focus and energy. Still, he’s probably just an emergency option. Thing is, the M’s No. 5 spot may be an emergency situation.

Jabari Blash, RF
Blash is a good athlete and he shows off that athleticism in the field, on the bases and at the plate where his swing is fluid. He produces plus bat speed and a solid bat path that creates line drives and deep fly balls consistently.

He’s patient at the plate, but perhaps remains too patient, often seen taking strike two on a pitch that may have been hittable.

Blash’s two-strike swing needs altering and perhaps the swing length altogether needs shortening in order to help him make more contact.

He will hit some the longer home runs you’ll see in the Pacific Coast League, but his contact rates are too similar to that of Carlos Peguero.

Blash, however, has improved significantly since the end of the 2012 season, suggesting he’s still developing at a high rate and that he takes to instruction well. He’ll be 25 next month, but there’s a ton to like in Blash physically to give up anytime soon.

Nick Franklin, SS
Franklin looked terrific at shortstop, making two high-difficulty plays, one to his right and one to his left. He’s working well with Gabriel Noriega turning two, and the more I see him there the more I am convinced he’s adequate at the position and could be average in time.

At the plate this wasn’t Franklin’s best day, but he did barrel up a fastball away and smack it to left field from the left-handed bater’s box. It was an out, but certainly a good trait from a hitter.

He’s still pulling off balls middle-in or in off the plate and chased a couple of pitches down and in. When he first came up to the majors last season, pitchers were testing him with hard stuff and he was making them pay.

Now, both in Triple-A and in the big leagues, pitchers are working him away more and when they do come in it’s either hard and out of the zone in or up, or it’s soft stuff nearly in the dirt. It’s an adjustment he’ll have to make before the M’s, or any club, hand him a job in The Show.

Logan Morrison, 1B
Morrison has been the DH mostly in Tacoma but his rehab stint is almost up and he’s playing almost everyday. The hamstring looks fully healed — he even attempted to steal in this series — and he does appear to be seeing the ball well.

What we haven’t seen from Morrison is that extra snap with the bat he showed in the minors with the Marlins and early after his call-up to the majors. The discipline and batting eye are certainly alive and well, but it’s taking him a little longer to get the swing started, which may signal a problem with velocity is imminent, explaining some of his struggles when he has been healthy.

Morrison isn’t trusting his hands right now; he singled softly to right field in his first plate appearance Saturday, but if he’d stayed back and exploded on the ball, he might have hit it to Foss High School. It was knee high and over the middle of the plate and he was fooled by the change of speeds off the fastball.

Xavier Avery, OF
Avery can run, and I love his hands, but he’s displayed timing issues every at-bat I have seen. He lunges toward the plate and does so early, and his stride may be too long for him.

There’s a little pop in the bat — he homered on a middle-in fastball on the first pitch of the game Saturday — and the bat speed comes easy. The drifting is a problem, however, making him susceptible to good velocity and pitches on the inner quadrant.

Jesus Montero, 1B
Montero still is a mess, in my opinion. He remains at least 20 pounds heavier than he should be — he’s listed at 235 but that’s a joke — and the problems he displayed at the plate in the majors in 2013 are still around in 2014.

Montero still cannot hit, nor track, the right-handed breaking ball. He was fooled by and/or swung at several of them in this game, getting himself out on numerous occasions. He gets out front just about anytime the pitcher offers something other than the fastball, robbing him of his bat speed and balance.

As of today, Montero is not an option in the big leagues, in my opinion; he’s better than he was defensively, but still is buried by Justin Smoak in that category, and struggles or not, Smoak is a considerably better bet to occasionally give the Mariners something at the plate.

Granted, Smoak should be batting seventh when he’s in the lineup, but if Morrison can’t help, the Mariners don’t have an in-house option to help at first base.

At this stage, Montero is simply a minor league hitter that was once a good prospect. The raw power is there and the Triple-A numbers aren’t awful, but he’s hopeless against sliders and curveballs, is showing no discipline on them whatsoever and therefore has no place on the 25-man roster in Seattle.

Mike MacDougal, RHP
MacDougal sat 91-93 mph and showed an inconsistent 82-85 mph slider. When he was at his best in the big leagues, the 37-year-old was sitting 95 with a plus slider and occasional curveball with depth. The slider was a swing-and-miss option with sharp downward break.

He did not command his fastball in this one as he had trouble finishing pitches. The slider backed up on him several times. As per usual, MacDougal’s mechanics leave a lot to be desired. His arm lags behind on every pitch because he breaks from the glove late and the arm path is long and employs three parts.

Written by Jason A. Churchill

Moi2 Scouting Mariners, Dodgers in PCL

Executive Editor
Jason founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at Inside the Park and covering prep, college and pro sports for several news outlets, local and national, including MLB.com and ESPN Insider. He currently serves as co-host of the Steve Sandmeyer Show on 1090 The Fan, CBS Sports Seattle.

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5 comments on “Scouting Mariners, Dodgers in PCL

  1. […] Churchill of Prospect Insider has some scouting reports on several Tacoma […]

  2. […] if the Mariners have any first base help down on the farm, the answer, at least right now, is a resounding ‘no’ … Mike Zunino also is struggling of late. The second-year catcher is seven for his last 46 […]

  3. eknpdx says:

    JAC, any word on when Taylor is expected back? Also, did Choi answer any question about his PED suspension? Hopefully he returns today where he left off.

    And speaking of which, would Morban make it through waivers?

  4. Scott Goin says:

    It sounds like Montero is just sitting on the fastball, hoping that by crushing that pitch he’ll inflate his numbers and get called up. It’s a little disturbing that the coaching staff is letting him do that instead of re-working his approach at the plate so he can handle the offspeed pitch. Easier said that done perhaps. Montero, as evidenced by his PED usage, has probably always looked for the short-cut. I doubt he’ll ever put in the work to really improve himself.

  5. bookbook says:

    Thanks for the analysis. Was encouraged (surprised) to see the Jabari Blash optimism.

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