Interview with Mike from Scouting the Sally

For those of you who aren’t aware, Mike is the brains behind the Scouting the Sally website, and with Lakewood a member of the South Atlantic League, he gets a chance to scout Phillies prospects. After a recent trip to Greenville to see the Blueclaws and the Drive, he wrote up a detailed scouting report on Jon Singleton, which you can read here. Mike was also kind enough to do an interview and share his thoughts on Jon Singleton and other BlueClaws. Check below for the Q/A

phuturephillies: Who was the biggest positive and negative surprise for you of the Phillies prospects you saw?

StS: The biggest surprise for me had to be the all-around skills of Sebastian Valle. Everything you read online about his defense is negative and it seems as if his deficiencies have been greatly exaggerated. His receiving skills need refinement, but he’s an excellent athlete for a catcher and has enough quickness and arm strength to stick.

While I was impressed with the athleticism of Jiwan James, his baseball skills weren’t as advanced as I expected them to be. I understand he deserves to be cut a little slack due to his tools and a change of position, but he was 22-months older than opposing centerfield prospect Reymond Fuentes with much less polish. The tools are impressive, but the clock continues to tick and he has plenty of catching up to do.

pp: You mentioned in your stock watch update that Trevor May was a disappointment. Do you see his flaws as purely mechanical/his approach? Is it something that should be easily correctable?

StS: May was like a prize fighter trying to push through a championship bout with a separated shoulder. He fought hard, but something just wasn’t right. Mechanical issues seemed to sap his velocity some and he was tipping his curveball. With the number of walks he has, I wondered whether he was trying to be too pretty prior to watching him pitch. May is attacking, but he just loses his release point far too often. In the South Atlantic League, pitchers like May can get by with 90-92 MPH fastballs up, but as his 5.01 ERA in the Florida State League showed, success in the Florida State League is significantly harder to attain.

pp: You tweeted that Leandro Castro impressed you. Do you think he’ll be able to handle CF defensively? He doesn’t seem to have a ton of projection left, do you see him as an every day guy or more of a 4th OF?

StS: Castro has the throwing arm and speed to play centerfield, but his routes in left field were pretty messy. I wouldn’t mind him there in a pinch, but it’s certainly not ideal in terms of maximizing his defensive value. Some regard “projection” as a player’s ability to get bigger, stronger, and faster. To me, a big part of projection is also the ability to refine tools already present. In Castro’s case, his present tools are better than the vast majority of prospects I see at the level. However, he lacks polish and additional refinement could lead to significant growth as a prospect.

pp: Jon Singleton has gotten rave reviews since joining Lakewood in May. What did you think of his approach and swing mechanics, and judging his athleticism, do you think he could be passable defensively in LF?

StS: Singleton’s swing mechanics remind me of a smaller version of David Ortiz. He has an advanced approach and extremely short swing from the left side. However, I wonder just how big the power will be when he matures. Singleton is the best hitter I’ve seen this season, but he’s a rung below the best hitters I’ve ever scouted. I wouldn’t place him in the same class as the Montero’s, Stanton’s, or Heyward’s of the world. As for left field, his arm action is more 3/4 and his throws are going to tail. Additionally, he has very long limbs which look a bit awkward on the infield. Not sure that’s going to translate well when he has to cover even more real estate.

pp: Ebelin Lugo finished the game on August 2nd, and he’s put up excellent periperhals this year in the SAL, having turned 20 at the end of April. What kind of stuff did he feature, and would you project him as having a chance to be a middle reliever in the majors?

StS:I had him up to 90 MPH with the fastball which is no great shakes. Lugo also worked in an 82 MPH slider which looked like a solid average pitch. Nothing too exciting, but better than most of the relief arms I see.

Thanks again to Mike for sharing his insights. Be sure to bookmark his site and check back regularly for views on Phillies guys and also the guys they play against.

26 thoughts on “Interview with Mike from Scouting the Sally

  1. I just watched the video on Scoutingthesally. He does seem to have a problem with fastballs up and in. He made pretty bad contact on most of them that I saw.

  2. I don’t get him knocking James by comparing him to a younger player in Reymond Fuentes. Feuntes was drafted out of HS just like James, but has had no injuries and has been a position player the last two seasons. James was drafted as a pitcher and didn’t hit at all in his first pro season, didn’t play the OF. Then he got injured and missed his 2nd pro season and for his 3rd pro season was converted to OF. How would Fuentes look if when he was drafted out HS he didn’t play OF for 2 seasons? and didn’t even play ball at all for one of those seasons?

    James is basically a 2nd year player who missed significant time due to injury. Of course he’s not going to be as advanced as someone who has been playing baseball constantly and knew their ticket to the bigs was as a fielder.

  3. I got the impression that he was saying that James is older than comparable players, and that is counting against him. Yes, he lost some time because he was pitching so his development will be delayed, but age is definitely.

    Great interview, James. And thanks to Mike for taking the time to be interviewed.

    – Jeff

  4. mikemike –

    That’s true. My interpration of the Mike’s answer was that he’d be a bit more excited about Jiwan James he was younger.

    Personally, I think he’s really only a year behind, and if he makes his MLB debut at 25 instead of 24, then it’s really not a big deal.

    – Jeff

  5. I dunno maybe I’m just overly optimistic, but I think the fact that he’s playing at almost the same level as a guy taken in the 1st round by the Red Sox despite not being a hitter and fielding a position for 2 seasons should have people me more interested in Jiwan James than dismissive of him.

    I know I’m very interested to see how he plays next year in Clearwater because all he’s done is improve each season since he switched to the OF.

  6. Reputation of Valle’s fielding deficiencies- I believe it all stems from that BA write-up listing the projected Philly line-up in 2012 or whenever. They did not really have a decent prospect to plug in as a future 3B or a MLB player likely to stay that long, and they had 2 promising Catchers in Valle and Travis D’Arnaud, so they plugged in Valle as the future 3B rather than leave the position vacant and left D’Arnaud as the Catcher. Some people see that and it becomes ” Valle is so B-A-A-A-D at Catcher “scouts” say he will have to shift to 3B, soon” after this is repeated 10,000 times via the internet it becomes “everyone knows Valle is a defensive bum”.

  7. Hello all,

    First off, a big thanks for Phuture Phillies for conducting the Q&A. PP was one of the first sites to really accept the site and what I do and it means a lot. Being linked on this site has led to some of the highest traffic days in my site’s history and for that I am grateful.

    A couple of things on James….

    He has tools and a frame scouts can dream on, but I really was expecting more polish based on his improving statistics throughout the season. Based on the prospect hype he has received, I thought I was going to see an elite physical specimen with rapidly developing baseball skills. What I did see was a plus athlete (not nearly as good as Gose) with a swing which incorporated next to none of his size and strength. I compared his swing to a blind man guiding a cane to a scout last night and his comment was “I wish I had thought of that to use in my report”. There was just no explosion.

    I was unable to see Julio Rodriguez and only saw Colvin complete his pitcher’s routine during batting practice. Big kid, well built, plenty of room to continue filling out. I’ve spoken to scouts who have had him as high as 97 MPH on their gun. In two years watching prospects, I’ve only seen one player touch 97 MPH in person with two other confirmed 97 MPH readings from scouts. That’s pretty elite arm strength.

  8. Mike, thanks for the report. Appreciate the honesty on James–sometimes it’s hard for people on here to hear anything negative about a Phillies prospect, but your report is a good one and deserves to be respected, not dismissed by people on here.

    Hopefully he continues to develop though.

  9. It’s refreshing to have an unbiased perspective on the phils prospects. Too often people here overrate them and try to make them out to be something they’re not (even though most of us haven’t even seen them play).

    I’d love to see more posts like this. Great stuff

  10. Thanks for replying Mike. Phans of this site certainly appreciate first hand accounts of prospects since it is tough to see them in person. I certainly have no legitimate scouting ability and can just looks at stats, so actual reports are great to build a better picture of how prospects are doing.

    No surprise that Jiwan is another lottery ticket. No reason to rush him though and certainly a small coaching tweak could rocket him up the ladder. However, I see him more as a tools guy that never quite puts it together so it may be best to ‘sell high’ on him. Whereas Castro I think can be at least a 4thOF (like Fransisco) with possibility to start. I think he gets underrated since he is not a ‘toolshed’. I am surprised he was not promoted to Clearwater yet.

  11. Great insight here, thanks to both James and Mike. Keep up the good work.

    To Mike, or anyone else that has followed his work for a while now, did you have a chance to see Heyward and Stanton in their A ball years, or when they were 18? I’m not at all surprised that Singleton is a rung below those prospects, and in fact, I’m happy to hear that he’s even that legit. But I am curious if when you say “I wouldn’t place him in the same class as the Montero’s, Stanton’s, or Heyward’s of the world,” you are referring to those players’ early minor years, or their more recent AA and/or age 19/20 years? Essentially I’m wondering if Singleton will have a chance to grow into that class of player over the next 2-3 years (a guy can dream, right?).

  12. I agree, great stuff. It’s really nice to get into this level of detail about out prospects. Really gives a better picture about what kind of barriers our guys face w/o which we often go over board in our ratings. It’s easy to get carried away on a kid when you just hear he’s a great athlete and then starts to put up better numbers.

  13. In response to Phillies Red:

    I was lucky enough to see Montero at 17, Heyward at 18, and Stanton last year as a 19-year old. When I compare a player like Singleton to those three, it is at an equivalent age. If I was comparing Singleton to Heyward now, I feel it would be a pretty worthless comparison to make as both as at different points in their respective careers.

    From a numbers standpoint, a scout pointed out to me Singleton > Heyward in the Sally, but Heyward’s projection was through the roof while Singleton is fully developed physically for the most part. At Rome, Heyward was 195 lbs. and now weighs at 225 lbs. or more. At such a young age, the scouting reports far outweigh statistical information.

  14. As far as Lakewood goes, they were just loaded with talent compared to other teams in the league and this was WITHOUT Domingo Santana and Jarred Cosart who were there at one point. I don’t think there’s an organization in baseball who would not want James, Castro, Colvin, May, Singleton, or Valle in it. It’s always important to keep that in mind as so many teams wind up fielding much more filler.

  15. Mike, thanks again for the excellent input. Makes perfect sense to me, and your response is what I expected.

    Honestly, I have a hard time thinking that Singleton could be a Heyward level prospect, but I do hope that some mechanical adjustments to his swing and a little more filling out will keep him raking through the upper levels. Your reports of his quick, natural swing sounds like a great foundation for an 18-year old, even if he’s not blessed with Heyward’s absurd skills or Stanton’s jaw-dropping power. Thanks again!

  16. The positive report on Valle is more important than the somewhat disappointing report on James. Catcher is a more important position and the organization has other options (Gillies and Altherr ) if James never progresses. Good to finally see some positive review of Valle’s ability to stay at the position.

  17. Mike: Watching the video on Singleton, you can see the torque he generates down through his body. He is twisting, shifting his weight from load position into the swing pretty much like Ted Williams described it–belly button thrusting forward! It’s like the arms are just along for the ride, guiding the bat and the body is doing the real work, all in a flash.

    What interests me in that video is that in part of it Hewitt is in the background getting ready to go into the cage, taking practice swings. His swing is all arms, as if everything happens in his highly developed upper body, and he lacks the flexibility and technique to generate torque like Singleton.

    However, it’s just a practice swing. Does my observation hold water in his game swings?

  18. RE: Diamond Derby

    I filmed BP and game footage of James, Valle, Castro, and Hewitt as well. I also shot game video from a number of angles on Travis May. There’s much more on the way.

  19. Thanks Mike. I would still be interested in your opinion of whether Hewitt’s swing is fundamentally poor or if his struggles come solely from poor discipline (swinging at bad pitches).

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