Holy Hickory: Non-Outfielders
Seeing Hickory on Friday and Saturday night was an experience. Each night, at least six prospects worth writing about were in the starting lineup causing overload. Throughout both games, I found myself missing home-to-first times, throw times, etc. due to writing about the previous batter. With so many bats, I spent very little time behind home plate except to check velocities for a brief period. It was a fun, but frantic pace.
Behind the plate, Jorge Alfaro put on the most impressive defensive performance I’ve seen in five years scouting baseball games. He was flawless, gunning runners at second base, blocking pitches in the dirt that bounced in either batter’s box and fielding bunts and executing off-balanced throws to nail opposing runners. In March, I believed Austin Hedges was the third best catching prospect in baseball behind Mike Zunino and Travis D’Arnaud. Now, Jorge Alfaro is that guy for me.
In 8-10 plate appearances, he made hard contact on a couple of occasions. One resulted in a double where he reached second base in 8.40 seconds, pulling up a couple of steps before reaching the bag. Alfaro has power, speed and athleticism, but I still question the hit tool. We may be looking at a .230-.240 hitter at the MLB level with 20-home run potential and plus defense. J.P. Arencibia anybody? (fantasy value of course)
Ryan Rua reminded me of Washington Nationals suspect/prospect Jason Martinson. Entering 2013, Martinson was considered the 20th best prospect in a poor system due to his power. He’s not a legit prospect, but his being older for the level of competition allows him to run into plenty of mistakes and post power numbers.
Rua has an impressive physique, but is stiff and lacks fluid movement. With 30 extra base hits including 14 home runs, he’s a strong player who’s on a binge against lesser competition. In another organization, he’d receive more recognition, but the Rangers are full of young, productive infield prospects. At present, he’s a marginal prospect for me and not worth acquiring in any dynasty formats.
When watching Joey Gallo, I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to Cody Johnson circa-2008. In batting practice, he launched missile-after-missile, assaulting the fences at State Mutual Stadium. On Saturday night, I left after the 8th inning with Hickory down and the 7-8-9 hitters batting. Hickory scored two in the 9th and 10th to win the game, including a two-run home run by Gallo. Damn baseball! In the plate appearances I did see, Gallo was athletic and attempted to adjust to pitches without success. With such a long swing and big frame, it’s difficult to envision him cutting down the strikeouts drastically. Plus, I don’t think he’s long for third base. Somebody will bite on the power in a dynasty league. I even bit on Cody Johnson way back when.
Of pitchers seen, Andrew Faulkner was up to 91 from the left side. He was hit around and struggled with control. He’s a marginal prospect at best.
19-year old Jose LeClerc was up to 95 out of the pen. He’s smaller and more stout than his listed height/weight of 6-feet-0, 165 pounds. Nice bullpen arm, but a max effort delivery makes it difficult to envision his ever becoming a starter.
20-year old Keone Kela was up to 93 and has a broad, strong frame. Nice relief prospect.
A reader asked me for an update on Ryan Bores, and he did a few innings. He was up to 90-mph with heavy sink down-and-in to right-handed hitters. The ball did flatten out at upper velocities though. He was best working around 88-mph.
Another reader asked about Alex Claudio, but I left just before he came in. I don’t know what to type other than I had a brain fart. After seven hours, I was ready to head home and thought the Hickory lineup wouldn’t turn back over to the guys I had traveled to see.
25 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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