Prospect Press for David Hess, Chris Lee, Chance Sisco and Others
With Spring Training just a few weeks away, it’s time to take a look at some prospects in the Baltimore organization. If you follow the system, these names are everyday names that you’ve heard of. After spending extensive time reviewing the players below, I’ll give a brief overview of the player and their outlook for the 2016 season and forward.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
David Hess – RHP
After 30 or so innings in 2014, Hess put together a solid first full professional season in 2015. Hess, selected in the 5th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, split time between Frederick (A+) and Bowie (AA). Hess offers a four-seam fastball (91-94 mph – can top 96), a change-up (85-87 mph), a slider (80-83 mph) and a curveball (72-76 mph). He has a lot of effort with his delivery and can use his fastball to get hitters out. He was also working on a two-seam fastball during the end of the ’15 season. Mechanics and delivery have improved from month to month, as he pitches from the 3/4 arm slot. Out of his three secondary pitches, the slider and change-up are the primary out pitches. The slider has become less “loopy” and gained more tilt and downward action as the season went on. He’s become comfortable throwing the slider in early counts. The change-up lacks deception, but still gives a solid offering from the fastball. The curveball is typically a “get me over” pitch, but doesn’t have real effectiveness (12-6 with minimal spin). The command on all his secondary pitches is improving and he’s able to replicate the same arm motion on all three secondary offerings.
Going Forward: Hess will need to show that he can continue to challenge hitters at the higher level. Instead of relying on a fastball 80-90% of the time, he will need to mix things up with off-speed pitches. Unless the curveball is able to be sharpened up, it should be removed from his arsenal. The biggest challenge will be pitch sequencing. If he’s able to continue and use all pitches for strikes, he will continue to be in the rotation. If some of the secondary pitches don’t develop, he could see a move to the bullpen. He’ll likely begin the season with Bowie (AA).
Parker Bridwell – RHP
Although his 2015 season was cut short due to injury, Parker Bridwell is still a prospect in the Baltimore organization. He features a four-seam fastball (92-94 mph – can top 96 mph), a change-up (79-83 mph) and a slider (78-82 mph). Very athletic frame and works from a high 3/4 arm slot when pitching with repeatable mechanics. Showed the ability at time to lose focus after a few runners reached base, needed to work on body language/keeping composer after a runner reached/scored. He has command issues at times within the strike zone. The changeup is the best of the secondary pitches, featuring arm-side fade and consistent arm speed. His changeup allows him to throw the pitch in back-to-back situations, instead of a show me or out pitch. Slider is average and at times, features strong bite, while others are flat. Can throw the pitch for front door strikes (to right-handed hitters) as well as away for left-handed hitters.
Going Forward: He has the stamina to remain as a starting pitcher, but there are questions about the command of his pitchers for several innings. Additionally, composure problems may keep him limited to a bullpen job in the future. However, he will remain in the starting rotation at Bowie (AA) to start the season.
Chris Lee – LHP
Acquired from the Houston Astros in May 2015, Lee is a tall, lanky lefty that improved in multiple ways once he was acquired by the Orioles. During his first few outings in High-A, his velocity sat between 88-91 mph; however, the velocity saw a serious uptick as the season progressed. Before and after his promotion to Bowie (AA), Lee was sitting between 92-94 mph and would top out at 96 mph. Additionally, his mechanics and control all became better, as he was able to work both sides of the plate with his fastball, something which he struggled with early on in his career. His delivery is easily repeatable and he has a nice 3/4 delivery with arm-side run on his fastball. As far as secondary pitches, he offers two types of sliders and a change-up. His “harder” slider can be confused with a cut-fastball, as it’s a hard, tight pitch that can be anywhere from 87-91 mph. His other slider is more of a traditional slider, with a sweeping action that sits between 81-84 mph. Although he typically goes fastball and slider early and often, his change-up (82-85 mph) has good action and can miss bats. If he can work the change-up more into his repertoire, he will have three above-average pitches.
Going Forward: Baltimore added Lee to their 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft and it’s easy to see why. With such improvement in a few quick months, Lee has become a prospect to watch in an empty minor league system. His biggest goal moving forward will be to control his fastball and his slider, while adding more change-ups, as he will need this to remain in rotation. Additionally, he’ll need to continue to work inside to lefties, as he’s been inconsistent with this approach in the future. He’ll likely start the season in Bowie (AA), but could quickly move to Norfolk (AAA).
Chance Sisco – C
Sisco is a catching prospect that probably everyone has heard of. However, you’ve also probably read that he needs to work on his defense. Yes, his defense needs work, but he made tremendous improvements last season. Not only defensively, but working with pitchers and calling games, working to the strengths of each pitcher – not just putting down the finger for a fastball every pitch. The big thing to remember is that when the 2016 season starts, Sisco will only be 21 years old. He’ll be a terrific offensive catcher who is improving his defense at the Double-A level. Offensively, everything you read and see is true. From his approach at the plate to his swing, he has a great ability to barrel up pitches and spray them to any part of the field. He’s not going to be a power hitter and that is fine, because he knows how to take his walks and make solid contact. Pitchers would try and “fool” Sisco by doubling-up on change-ups; however, Sisco was able to make the adjustment and hit the ball to left field. I personally refer to him as a “Joey Votto type”.
Going Forward: If you focus on the area of defense, Sisco has an above-average arm and has a good probability at remaining at the catching position. He will have plenty of time and opportunity to improve his game calling and defensive technique behind the plate, as again, he will 21 years old when the season begins. I expect him to open and remain in Bowie (AA) for 2016.
D.J. Stewart – OF
Stewart, the 25th overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft, put together a less than productive season with Aberdeen (Rookie) in the New York Penn League. The major concern with Stewart is his very low crouch at the plate. The crouch takes away from Stewart getting leverage and loft on the ball. When pitchers challenge Stewart at the top of the strike zone, he will not be able to catch up. However, there is some good news, as during instructionals, Stewart made a slight adjustment to his stance. The change was to make his crouch less pronounced, allowing him to “stand up” more. His pitch recognition is average and he makes good contact. His power is raw and only time and the change to his batting stance will tell if the power will actually make him a 20 home run guy. On defense, his arm is below-average and will likely be stuck in left field or a first baseman. Yes, he was one of the top hitters in the 2015 draft, but that’s likely because the draft was weak with talent.
Going Forward: He’ll begin his first professional season of baseball in Delmarva (A). Stewart will need to show that the adjustments he’s made to his stance can carry over to the game. If he’s able to develop a good hit tool as pitchers continue to challenge him, he could earn a promotion to Frederick (A+). Overall, as his body begins develop, he could be moved to first base from left field.