Wednesday Morning Coffee: Lopez, Instructs, Top 15 | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

The Brewers provided a late night special in San Diego, offering the MLB debut of Jorge Lopez on a (strangely timed?) trip to the west coast. Lopez flashed his fastball into the mid-90s, and equally selected his change and trademark curve to keep the Brewers in the game. In terms of runs prevention, three runs allowed in 5.0 innings is not exceptional, but it’s an excellent sign for a debut: Lopez encountered a bit of trouble, but also worked through it in such a way to give the Brewers a chance to win. Sure enough, the offense cobbled together four runs thanks in large part to Jean Segura, and Lopez earned his first MLB win in his first outing. All right!

Lopez Debut # Velocity Vertical / Horizontal Movement Notes
Primary Fastball 72 93.5 “Rises” 7.85″ and “rides” in 4.41″ on RHB 95 MPH 15 times / 96 MPH twice
Curveball 8 82.2 “Drops” 13″ from fastball and breaks 8″ away from FB
Change 8 87.8 “Drops” 4″ from FB and “breaks” 2″ in from FB
Other 6 Allegedly threw 3 “two-seamers” (which match change up) and 3 “cutters”
from TexasLeaguers

One of the biggest scouting developments of the year was Lopez’s improved fastball, and the prospect stayed true to form: more than 20% of his fastballs were 95-96 MPH during his debut. Even better, Lopez did not show a “true” rising fastball, instead throwing a hard riding fastball that “broke” in on right-handed batters. It’s also interesting to note that Lopez was throwing a change up so hard that pitch f/x called it a two-seamer on MLB GameDay. As he develops, one must watch whether Lopez continues to select his change and curve equally, or if his curveball will win out in pitch selections (at any rate, Lopez’s use of both his change and curve indeed match the Padres’ weakness against both pitches).

One issue to watch with Lopez is his fastball velocity: like Taylor Jungmann, Lopez began his outing with strong velocity, but was throwing 92-93 late in his outing. However, unlike Jungmann, Lopez’s velocity shift was not as extreme, as Jungmann often hit 94-95 and then dropped to 89-90; by contrast, dropping to 92-93 from 95-96 is not as extreme. Another issue to watch is Lopez’s release points, which were clustered in a few different groups throughout his start, according to TexasLeaguers. This is not necessarily an issue if the righty is consistently repeating his delivery in other areas, but it will be worth watching to see whether his release points for his fastballs and off-speed pitches separate.

Lopez also managed to survive quite a bad/inconsistent strike zone last night. Of 28 pitches outside the zone, Lopez received three called strikes; by contrast, he received four ball calls on 17 pitches inside the zone. At least home plate ump Jeff Nelson split borderline calls between a strike and ball apiece, but he ultimately called 15.6% of pitches wrong.

Arizona Instructional League
Chances are if you follow the Disciples of Uecker gang on Twitter, you’ve seen some posts from Chris Kusiolek retweeted. Kusiolek is a masterful prospect blogger out of Oakland Athletics fandom, and he regularly scouts talent in California and Arizona. Kusiolek is currently covering Arizona instructional league bullpens, batting practice, and games, which means that his Twitter feed is full of notes on Brewers prospects.

 

 

 

I highly recommend following Kusiolek, because frankly, there are so many young players that escape regular scouting updates before the year-end prospect list cycle. This is your chance to put some physical notes next to minor league statistics, draft projections, and other development notes. Right now, favorites certainly include Cody Ponce and Demi Orimoloye, but Kusiolek also digs deep into the Brewers’ drafts and low minors prospects, including Gilbert Lara, Nash Walters, Trent Clark, and others still.

Personal List: Revisions
Believe it or not, there are a lot of developments since my previous personal list that lead me to revisit some of my picks. Here’s where my list was on August 13, with some developments noted:

  • SS Orlando Arcia (AA Biloxi): Brewers Minor League Player of the Year
  • CF Brett Phillips (AA Biloxi)
  • SS Gilbert Lara (R Arizona, R+ Helena)
  • OF Trent Clark (R Arizona, R+ Helena): Promoted to Helena since last list.
  • RHP Cody Ponce (R+ Helena, A Wisconsin)
  • RHP Devin Williams (A Wisconsin)
  • CF Monte Harrison (R+ Helena, A Wisconsin)
  • CF Michael Reed (AA Biloxi, AAA Colorado Springs, NL Milwaukee): MLB debut
  • OF Domingo Santana (AAA Fresno, AAA Colorado Springs, AL Houston, NL Milwaukee): Rookie status expired.
  • RHP Jorge Lopez (AA Biloxi, NL Milwaukee): Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year; MLB debut
  • RHP Miguel Diaz (R Arizona)
  • RHP Tyler Wagner (AA Biloxi, NL Milwaukee): Southern League ERA Title
  • LHP Nathan Kirby (A Wisconsin): Tommy John surgery places 2016 in jeopardy; 2017 will be age-23 season
  • LHP Kodi Medeiros (A Wisconsin)
  • CF Tyrone Taylor (AA Biloxi)
  • Other Favorites: RF Clint Coulter; RHP Zach Davies (MLB debut); LHP Josh Hader; RHP Marcos Diplan; and SS Jake Gatewood.
  • MLB assets: SS Luis Sardinas (Rookie status expired), RHP Corey Knebel (Rookie status expired), RHP Tyler Cravy, RHP Taylor Jungmann (Rookie Status Expired).

 

Thankfully, in a packed prospect year, it’s nice to see a spot open up with Domingo Santana receiving extended playing time in Milwaukee (and succeeding!). Unfortunately, Nathan Kirby’s status also makes it difficult to judge his ceiling: the southpaw may not be able to pitch in 2016, depending on how the Brewers develop his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. It’s easy to open Santana’s spot, but after much consideration, I also decided to open Kirby’s spot (I will do the same with Taylor Williams, as well, on longer lists); it’s nothing against either pitcher, as I like the potential in both players, but it’s more of a simple statement that I don’t personally know how to judge their ceilings until they return from their injuries.

That said, there are a few other developments since August 13 that will frame my Top 15:

  • The Brewers promoted Franly Mallen from the Dominican Academy to Helena in his age-18 season (!!!).
  • Demi Orimoloye is simply proving to be a monster prospect and is way more polished than many expected (which surprises me, in retrospect, given the fact that he’s faced professional competition since he was a young teenager).
  • Zach Davies is making adjustments at the MLB level, and frankly, seeing his change up in extended outings gives me a different feeling about his ability to mix pitches.

Frankly, I think there are good arguments to include each and every one of these players near the Top 15, and certainly in the Top 30. Mallen has received praise in the past, and the aggressive promotion by the organization speaks louder than the hype. Houser has that “back-end ceiling” pedigree, but it’s hard to ignore his groundball and command improvements (to go along with the fact that he’s a big velocity, big frame starter). Orimoloye showcased power and speed tools in-game. Questions remain about Gatewood’s hit tool to some extent, but it is unquestionable that his in-game power is a huge development (for, it’s one thing to have a tool, and it’s another to see it in-game). Finally, Davies is going to have to be a pitcher’s pitcher, but he’s already adjusting at the MLB level with that wicked change, bugs bunny curve, and a slider/cutter.

Needless, to say, it is a tough call to judge these advancements against the ceilings, advanced placement, and other strengths of many of the Brewers’ other established Top 15 prospects. I have my feelings about how I might place these players; how would you rank these intriguing-to-strong prospects?

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