Going to go a different way with an extra-special evening edition of Around the Farm tonight. One of the fun things about attending minor league games is that you always know where the scouts are. Even if there isn't a functioning radar gun in the stadium you're in, you can always peek over the shoulders of the guys in polo shirts behind homeplate and get a look at their readings. Best of all, you know those readings are legit, and not a product of a juiced up home radar gun (cough, Kansas City, cough). These men are lucky enough to get paid to travel around the country and do nothing but watch baseball, and their job depends on their opinions of how young players are performing. I sat with one of these men for a couple of innings earlier this season, an experience NL scout who has seen the Indians at every level this year from the majors all the way down to Lake County. Here's some of what he had to say, from guys in the bigs down to the Captains:
Asdrubal Cabrera: He has the best hands of any shortstop in the major leagues. He has above average range, not elite but good, and his hands are the quickest I've seen in the bigs this year. He's walking more than he did last year, and still hitting for power.He's probably the best overall shortstop in the American League right now.
Carlos Santana: His defense is SO much better than it was last year...you can tell he really worked at it this offseason.
Francisco Lindor: That kid is the real deal. I can't beleive he's still 18. One of the best prospects I've seen this year.
Felix Sterling: The fastball was decent, between 91-94, but his secondary stuff didn't impress me at all. Honestly, I wrote him up as a reliever.
Jesus Aguilar: Nothing special. Organizational guy to me. I saw him hit a bunch of HR last year, but the higher he gets through the system the more pitchers will be able to attack his flaws. Still struggles with soft stuff away, especially the slider.
Roberto Perez: Wow...best defensive catcher I've seen.
He went on to say that he didn't pick the Indians to finish above .500 this year before the season started, and thinks it's remarkable just how much they are winning without great production from 1B/3B/LF/RF. He doesn't seem convinced that the Indians can stay in contention this year, and thinks that a July swoon similar to last year may be in order.
Now, I don't agree 100% with everything he said (I still think Aguilar could be a major leaguer down the road), but I think it's invaluable to get a professional opinion from a guy who's completely unaffiliated with the organization. He has absoutely no reason to tell me anything but his honest opinion, and I'm under no illiusion about his honest opinion being much better informed than mine. This is a veteran guy who's being paid by a major league baseball team to do this, and he knows a lot more about recognizing potential talent in minor league baseball players than I do. So I hope you appreciate this "inside" look into the business of baseball, and look forward to providing more and more of this type of thing as the season progresses.
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