As the majority of you all know, I attended three of the Astros Triple-A affiliate, Oklahoma City RedHawks, games in Nashville. Being that actual reports of minor leaguers are hard to come by if the player is not a Top 100-150 prospect, and even then it can be difficult at times, many of you want to see an opinion of any player you can get your hands on. Well, thats why I'm glad to live in a city that has a minor league team that plays some our future Astros.
I'm going to break this down into two sections (as I'm sure you could have already figured that out); The Hitters and The Pitchers. I'm going to prelude this in saying that I am by no means a "scout." I've watched a lot of video of prospects and have spent a good time trying to figure out how to evaluate both hitters and pitchers, albeit I feel a little more comfortable evaluating pitchers. That still doesn't put my opinion over any of yours. These comments are simply my opinion based on the limited information I have available.
Now, on to my evaluations!
Koby Clemens 1B
The younger Clemens has been climbing up almost any Astros fan's prospect board over the past several years for one reason, and one reason only...he can hit! That hasn't changed in AAA. He is still hitting at this level because he has a good eye. He can recognize pitches and can put a solid swing on a ball while puting a charge in it. He has a good head on his shoulders and he knows what he's doing at the plate. Then why are his strikeout numbers so high? His lofty swing has holes. At this point, it's unlikely any hitting coach will suddenly figure out how to minimize those holes substantially. I can see him reducing his k% slightly, but he is showing what he is already, a high strikeout power hitter capable of puting up solid OBP numbers.
Physically, Koby is smaller than I expected. He is not physically imposing by any means, he's stocky but he is short for his position. Thats nothing new to any of you as this has been documented before but I personally don't care about his size and don't see it as an issue. What I do see as an issue is his defense. I wouldn't call him a defensive standout, his range is limited and isn't exactly sound in his mechanics. He had trouble with a grounder hit right at him which cost a baserunner. He was also unable to reach a grounder down the line which wasn't exactly sharply hit either. Third base is not an option in my opinion, but I'd like to see what he could do in left field.
Jose Vallejo 2B
I wasn't able to really gather a sound opinion on him at the plate. He looks to still be getting back into the groove of hitting, since he spent all but maybe a month on the DL last season. Physically, he's athletic and can make plays in the field. He's sound defefensively and has a good arm. I didn't see enough to say he's a plus defender but I will say he's at least average.
Tommy Manzella SS
I'm not going to go deep because you've all seen him and know what he's capable of. But, I will say he looks better at the plate and in the field than he did last year. He's controlling at-bats and he's making solid contact. I'll leave the opinions to all of you.
Ozzie Navarro IF
Utility player on a bad team. He may be able to contribute during a hot streak, but I'd rather have Matt Downs any day.
Brian Dopirak 1B
I saw even less of him than anyone else, and unfortunately didn't get to see much anything to make an evaluation. But, he didn't stand out.
Anderson Hernandez 2B
He could be servicable at the major league level in a utility role. You've all seen him and already have your own opinions.
Carlos Corporan C
He's definitely more athletic than most catchers and he showed a little power and ability at the plate. He provides quality depth in AAA. I wouldn't be afraid to call him up in a pinch.
Robinson Cancel C
Didn't get much playing time so no real impression besides he's a big boy!
Brian Bogusevic OF
Bogey is a cool guy. He talked to Astros County and I a little during the game. He likes the nickname Bogey so feel free to call him that. Bogey plays with confidence both in the field and at the plate. He seems to be a popular guy in the clubhouse but I wouldn't place him as a team leader in the majors just because I don't think you could put a team on his shoulders at that level. At AAA, yes, but not in the majors. I think he needs to lean a little about when to be aggressive and when to hold back a little bit better. He took some aggressive hacks at the plate that he probably should have just tried to put the bat on the ball. He was also tagged out at home on an aggressive advance from second and lost that battle but a good piece.
He has good size and is very light on his feet which is what allows him to be as quick as he is on the basepaths and the field. As expected, his arm is strong and accurate as well. Might be able to learn to take some slightly better routes, but I'd feel comfortable with him in right field.
As mentioned before, he's confident at the plate and has a nice swing that is slightly geered more towards line drives than homeruns. He's cabable of hitting the longball when he's aggressive but needs to pick those spots better.
JB Shuck OF
My opinions of Shuckers are well documented and things haven't changed. He plays hard, he hits the ball consistently and doesn't strikeout much. I really like the guy and would love to see him in Houston. Astros County even asked me who I feel will have a better major league career between Shuck and Bogey, and my response was it depends on Shucks ability to play center. His routes and instincts are still iffy in the field. Although, he did make a throw from the warning track that impressed me. His arm strength is a little better than I remember. Still not right field strong, but center field strong. Definitely better suited for left still at this point but with potential to be a center fielder because of athletecism and speed.
On the basepaths, decisions are iffy. He was caught stealing once and picked off once as well. He just doesn't have the reaction time and instincts to be a real threat stealing bases. He has to steal a base in five attempts this season.
Drew Locke OF
Power potential, but at this point this point, potential has to be production which means potential is falling. He just isn't anything impressive anymore. He's solid but not impressive.
Collin DeLome OF
Surprisingly thin and shorter than I remember. Not a typical power hitter size. He's capable of playing center in a very tight pinch but range is limited there. Didn't really get a read on his arm though. He's in a similar situation as Locke.