Williamsport Trip Day 1 (7/7/17): Larger Than Life

Since I started this adventure to be a scout two years ago I have attended at least one game at all but one facility the Phillies are affiliated with. This weekend, that has changed as I can now scratch Williamsport off the list finally. And when I made the nearly three hour trek to the home of Little League World Series, you would think one of the three games I will attend this weekend had to be entertaining. Last night was that night as three Phillies prospects showed their goods.

Let’s start with the pitcher Kyle Young who if you don’t know who he is can be described simply by this picture:

Young, a southpaw drafted in the 22nd round pick from 2016, is listed at 6’10”, 205 lb on the team website. But that needs to be updated since he grew two inches and gained 20 lbs over the last year and is now a whopping SEVEN FEET TALL. The most talked about player in the sport today, Aaron Judge, is 6’7″. The tallest player ever to play in an MLB game, former reliever Jon Rauch, is an inch shorter than Young. And while his size probably is so demonstrative to hitters facing him, I was more impressed by his command of his arsenal for a player of his size.

In the 1st inning, he would go 1-2-3, but would fall behind 2-0 each time. He ended up with a 50-50 split on balls and strikes in a 14 pitch inning of mainly fastballs. It ended on a nice diving grab by LF Josh Stephen (2016 11th rd) robbing Philly area native, Nolan Jones of a knock.

The second inning he would strike out the side by getting two RH hitters swinging on fastball down the chute and change-up down and out before freezing a LH on a fastball. Things got a bit chippy in the third as he would have two on and two out before getting Oscar Gonzalez to swing and miss on a fastball that ran away arm side.

That would start perhaps the most dominant stretch I’ve seen by a minor league pitcher live as Young would go on to strike out the final seven he faced, all on swings and misses. The last six went: slider, change-up, fastball, change-up, change-up, slider. Here’s the last of the seven straight and the 11th of the night:

Young ended up with a final line of 5 shutout innings allowing one hit, walking none and striking out 11 on 69 pitches, 49 strikes (There’s was a battle of what the final pitch count was between me, Mitch Rupert and the guy who logs the game for the MiLB). He threw 10/17 1st pitch strikes (nine on fastballs), eight times which would lead to a strikeout. The breakdown of his 11 Ks were four on fastballs, three on slider and four on change-up. So a different look to each one. Most of the pitches that got away from him were to RH hitters away. He was more in control facing LH hitters despite the only hit of the game coming from one. The key for me was that RH hitters went 0/10, with one reaching on an error, and striking out seven times, all swinging.

I asked a scout yesterday where he had his fastball, and he said 88-90 mph, but there were times where I thought it looked must faster than that and I think that was key. His body still has a long way to go and he could sit more in the low to mid-90s when it’s all said and done. But his size combined with the 3/4 arm action could make it difficult on hitters to pick up his fastball even if he doesn’t much more velocity. He dominated hitters with it with tremendous armside run, pounding it in towards RH and away to LH. He had a real good feel for his change-up the entire night, and his slider acted more slurvy, but it has tremendous potential with really good break and tilt on it. I think being left-handed gives him some advantage of making the big leagues as a reliever, but based on the type of command he has shown early in his career (45/7 K/BB in 45.1 IP, 13 G (6 GS)), his ceiling is that of a mid-rotation starter where if he doesn’t add velocity he could be similar to Chris Young, who had some good years. Of course Young would like to add more velocity and be more like his idol, Randy Johnson. And believe me, I’m sure we can all agree that anybody would want that.

As for the other two guys that showed out last night they both had multi-hit games and hit opposite field home runs. Jhaylin Ortiz has had an impressive start to the season showing good plate discipline early (9 BB entering the night). In his 1st AB he took a 1-0 fastball down and away in the strike zone and the ball easily cleared the right-center field fence. His power is just so effortless to all fields that it’s hard to believe he is 18 years old. I liked how he stayed back in the zone long enough to hit the barrel and make such a beautiful sound. After grounding out quickly in his 2nd AB, his 3rd AB is probably the most telling about where he is as a hitter. He hovers the plate pretty tight, and the first three pitches were fastballs in to try and knock him off the plate a bit. He then flailed badly at two similar breaking balls on the inner third before he punched a hanging change-up into RF for a base hit. He popped up behind the plate in his final AB, and while he didn’t get a chance to field in right (Young took care of that easily) overall I was very impressed by his plate selection. It was really when he got breaking balls where he struggled which is to be expected from most pro players at this age.

Then there was the this year’s 1st round pick, Adam Haseley (he was the DH last night) who after a quick little ground out his 1st AB pounded the opposite field in his last three. If you recall, I wasn’t very high on the pick of Haseley not because of him, but because I felt their were potentially other creative opportunities to be had in the draft (I was also pretty high on Alex Faedo at this point). That said, Haseley has continued to just be a machine after hitting .390 in his junior season at Virginia. His 2nd and 3rd ABs were of very similar nature as he would work deep counts both times before solidly hitting fastballs that cut back towards the middle to LF for singles. After the 1st single, he would be be caught trying to steal 2B on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out. He got a late jump on a fastball, and while the throw was a bit high he’s was out pretty easily. His wheels would be on display again after his 2nd single where he advanced to 3B on a hit and run single by Ortiz. He had a much better jump than the first time he tried it. He’s not lighting quick, but he certainly has above average speed. Then his final AB, he would get a hanging 1-1 breaking ball and got enough of it to get it just over the LF wall. His bat speed is impressive, but it’s how he separates and stays back on the ball long enough to go the other way that gets me. In his 1st 11 pro games he is hitting .500 and has base hits in 9 of 11 games, all of which are multi-hit performances. It’s pretty clear the he is way too advanced of a hitter early on to be playing in the New York-Penn League and if this pace keeps up, he may join Mickey Moniak in Lakewood or even bypass him to Clearwater by August to keep both of them playing CF for the time being. I still think it’s more likely that Haseley will be the one to move to LF because Moniak’s athleticism is more apt to stay in CF.

Well that’s all I’ve got from a thrilling Friday night. So what will Saturday night bring? Well, waking up this morning I found out on Williamsport’s website that 2nd round pick Spencer Howard is now listed at the probable starter. And for those who are still on the fence about Howard, we will see if he does something tonight to change your mind. Man, it’s as if Williamsport has been waiting for me to come to see all of this excitement.

Author: Jeff Israel

1 comment

  1. Dave H

    Great report Jeff! You definitely picked the right time to go out to Williamsport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *