Sunday, August 11, 2013
Scouting top Dodgers, Padres prospects
By Keith Law
Corey Seager hit .309/.389/.529 in the Midwest League before his recent promotion.
LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. -- En route from Long Beach, where I was at the New Balance Area Code Games all week, to San Diego, for the Perfect Game All-American Classic, I stopped in Lake Elsinore on Friday night for a look at the Dodgers' top prospect, shortstop Corey Seager, younger (but bigger) brother of Mariners infielder Kyle.
Seager, 19, was recently promoted to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and the Quakes were in town to play the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres).
Seager's swing and stance have only slightly changed since he was a first-round pick last year out of Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord, N.C. A left-handed hitter, he's always had a wide base after his stride, rolling over his front foot slightly through contact, but the stride is a little longer now and that front side goes a little softer due to his overrotation. It's a minor issue, maybe something to address if he's still hitting .190 in a few weeks, but otherwise the hand strength and leverage that made him a top prospect as an amateur are all still present.
His athleticism is evident when he's out at shortstop, but his actions aren't good enough for him to stay there, and his size is a major factor working against him -- at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds he'd be the largest shortstop in major league history if he played even one full season at the position, and his body isn't going to become faster or looser in time. I think he goes to third base and becomes an impact bat there with 25-plus-homer potential.
• The Storm had two hitting prospects of note in their lineup in shortstop Jace Peterson and outfielder Travis Jankowski. (Top prospect Austin Hedges was promoted to Double-A 10 days earlier.)
Peterson stood out in a good way, especially on the triple he smoked in his final at-bat. His approach is quiet and simple, with good hand acceleration from his load position, and he rotated his hips very well to drive the ball the other way. After that, his plus running speed took over and he made it to third easily.
Peterson was a supplemental first-round pick in 2011 and a two-sport player at McNeese State, also playing football, but despite a lack of major conference baseball experience, he's shown solid feel for the game, including strong plate discipline and good hands at short. (He was the DH on Friday night, so observations on his fielding come from other scouts who've seen him.)
My only real concern on him is that he's old for the level, 23 in the hitter-friendly Cal League, and the Padres haven't promoted him yet even though he's not blocked in Double-A. San Antonio's shortstop is Jeudy Valdez, who has a .302 OBP and was outrighted off the Padres' 40-man roster earlier this year. It's time to move Peterson up so we can all see if he might be a long-term answer for the Padres up the middle.
• Jankowski, on the other hand, looked weak, almost frail, with less bat speed than he had when I saw him in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game two years ago. He can still run, but he's slugging all of .359 despite playing in the Cal League, and even that is a touch misleading because many of his extra bases are due to his speed, not power.
I can't see him being more than an emergency call-up guy unless he gets a lot stronger, as pitchers at higher levels are going to pound him on the inner half.