One day, two states, three games, eleven hours of baseball. That is what my half day at work was like on Saturday and that is what it takes to see “The Spectrum”. It’s what it takes to see the continuum of promise and waste that’s littered across the abyss of minor league baseball. During this day I saw a phenom, a ghost, an enigma, a surprise, a sloth, and every type of minor league baseball player you can think of in between. From nineteen year old kids who barely have to shave to a thirty-something vet who’d bolt for Korea days later, a day full of minor league baseball makes your heart sink with pity one minute and sets it a flutter with intrigue the next. Here is what I witnessed:
Dylan Bundy (BAL)
The best prospect left in the minors, Bundy created a ton of buzz thanks to his dominance at Low-A where he rarely gave up a baserunner. He was promoted to Hi-A where he continues to make hitter look silly as they flail at high fastballs and hack foolishly away at curveballs in the dirt. Bundy sat 95-96mph and touched 98mph with his fastball. He gets good plane on it for his size (he’s only about 6’1”) thanks to his nearly directly over the top arm angle. He’ll throw the already above average curveball for strikes and bury it for swings and misses. The changeup is fine but plays up when 20 year old kids are gearing up for plus-plus heat. Bundy relies too much on inducing bad swings at chest high fastballs. He’d probably even get away with it at Double-A. But when it comes time to pitch to big boy major league hitters, he’s going to have to use other means. Not everyone is Hunter Pence.
Oh, and Bundy will pitch for two decades if he stays in the shape he’s in now. His lower half, which he uses with extraordinary efficiency, looks like that of Brian Westbrook or Barry Sanders. He’s going to be a monster when he polishes up.
Hit the jump for the rest of Eric’s piece…
Yordani Ventura (KC)
Just as much heat as Bundy but far less feel for it, Royals howitzer Yordani Ventura profiles best in a bullpen. The fastball sits mid-90s touching 99mph with a ton of life when he throws it arm side. The sweeping curveball flashes plus and he even threw a good changeup or two. But Ventura’s diminutive stature and well below average control are going to relegate him to a bullpen where his velocity might even tick up a bit. He’ll be a scary, late inning pen arm. Scary for both opposing teams and his own, for he’ll surely have outings that would make Carlos Marmol blush.
Cheslor Cuthbert (KC)
The Nicaraguan third baseman made a ton of noise late last year and the fact that the Royals even thought he could handle Hi-A ball at his age is impressive. But it seems like something’s wrong. Lethargic in the field, imbalanced at the plate, I didn’t leave Wilmington a Cuthbert fan. The bat speed is there but it’s a pull happy swing that will be exploited at higher levels. He almost seems disinterested. Hope he goes to work on his deficiencies but I’m sour on Cheslor.
Domonic Brown (PHI)
I’ve already written at length about Brown but I should not that he’s had a monster few and a half since I wrote what could be considered his prospect eulogy. Boy I hope he keeps it up.
Mark Prior (BOS)
It was surreal to see Mark Prior jog to the Coca Cola park mound. Wiry thin and noticeably older even from afar, it took him a while to loosen up on the mound even after warming for a while in the bullpen. He sat 88-89mph early in his inning before amping up to 92-93mph late. There’s nothing wrong with that but the secondary stuff was unimpressive. He garnered a few embarrassing swings with the curveball but good major league hitters will surely pick up the differences in arm speed and release he displayed, especially since I could. Seventh Grade Me was all about Mark Prior and I hope he finds a way into Boston’s bullpen. If you’re not rooting for him, check your pulse.
Tuffy Gosewisch (PHI)
Tuffy had been a great minor league defensive catcher for years. The Arizona State grad is exactly the sort of player you’d love to have in your system. No, he’s not a prospect, but he works hard, is a treat for your young pitchers to work with and doesn’t pout because he’s unlikely to get to the majors. He’s making a living playing baseball and that’s good enough for him. But it appears that, over the offseason, Tuffy discovered Tasty Cakes or something. He’s no longer the agile, ball blocking, pitch framing machine he’d been for the past half decade. It’s marginal, but it doesn’t do your teammates any favors. It’s one less reason for you to be around. Stay in shape, kids.
Steven Susdorf (PHI)
I haven’t seen anyone track the ball out of the pitcher’s hand this year like Susdorf does. He can flat out hit. He’s small and there’s barely any power there so pitchers are going to challenge him, forcing him to put the ball in play instead of drawing walks, so that will limit his on base skills. But, if he can play good defense at any outfield spot then there’s a place for him on my NL bench as a fine pinch hitting fourth outfielder. Embrace the Dorf.