March 5th, 2016

Spring Training Tour-Braves and Tigers

I continue my Spring Training Tour today with my observations of the Braves and Tigers.

While in Florida I may see a team only once. I have to make some scouting decisions based upon batting practice and perhaps one or two trips to the plate or an inning on the mound. But that’s the life of a scout. I’m not complaining.

Champion Stadium is a scaled down edition of a big league park with all the frills packed in a smaller package. On the grounds of Walt Disney World, the park is showing some wear from when I first saw games there, but it’s a fine fan friendly Braves venue.

Highly touted prospect Sean Newcomb got the start for Atlanta. It was very evident that he was nervous throughout his outing. He couldn’t command his pitches and got hit a bit. When he fell behind in counts he had to come in with his mid-90’s fastball. However, it was easy to see that the huge lefty will have an impact on the Braves rotation in the future. It’s good that he can take the mound in Spring Training and gain some valuable experience against quality big league hitters.

Freddie Freeman drove a fastball to deep right field off Tigers lefty Daniel Norris. It was a “no doubt about it” home run with an easy pass, getting loft on the ball. He certainly didn’t show any signs of wear and tear on his wrist. Freeman has a very natural approach at the plate and he won’t get himself out. A savvy hitter, he can take the ball where it’s thrown-even against lefties. He’s legit. No doubt about it.

Ender Inciarte came to the Braves in the deal that yielded Shelby Miller for Arizona.
IMO Inciarte is an under the radar player with multiple obvious tools that include an ability to hit for average, some power, a good arm, good speed and good defense. He’s the total package. The Dbacks will miss his top of the order spark. Atlanta is a good home for him. He got on base in the game with a solid base hit and showed the type of player I have always seen. Keep your eye on Inciarte as he grows as a player.

A name to watch with Atlanta is Mallex Smith. The diminutive Smith (5′-9 ) can fly.

The Braves are loaded with prospects they acquired in trades. I really, really like the direction they are taking as they head to their new stadium in the future.

I was so glad Miguel Cabrera made the trip to Kissimmee for the Tigers. I wanted to see for myself if he looked healthy and in good physical condition. Wow! Cabrera looks terrific. I can’t state strongly enough what a force he again appears to be. Every swing is meaningful. Every swing is lethal. I think he’ll do serious damage with Upton and J D Martinez surrounding him. Miggy is…Miggy once again.

And what about VMart? If his knees hold, VMart is viable once again. He looked very good to me. He was patient at the plate, put the bat on the ball and generated some loft. What a factor he will be in that terrific Tigers lineup. Based upon what I’ve seen, I think we can count on big things from him. As long as the knees hold.

My greatest surprise was the ease with which Shane Greene handled hitters. He was hurt last year. The Tigers thought they were getting the solid Greene that faced them when he was with the Yankees. He started the season well and then went south quickly. In this game I saw movement on the ball, confidence in his stuff and true rhythm. I think he ends up in the pen and works his way to the rotation to spell an injured or ineffective starter along the way.

Daniel Norris started for Detroit. Other than the bomb he yielded to Freddie Freeman I think he looked fine. Tall and slender at 6-2, 195 pounds, Norris can offer the club innings as a starter, but he has to keep the ball out of the center of the plate and repeat his good delivery to last in games.

I have not made any final conclusions about prospect outfielder Steven Moya. He’s tall and thin at 6-6, 229 pounds. When he makes contact the ball flies. Making contact is the issue. He gets fooled easily by breaking balls and lefties give the left-handed hitter fits. He needs more time to develop his raw skills. The true power exists. The bat speed and quick wrists help. Pitch recognition, patience and self-confidence are all on the agenda for his 2016 Minor League development season.

Tomorrow: Astros and Cardinals.

Thanks for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff

I hope you’ll watch the video edition of BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD with host Bob Eres. You can find it at YouTube and at Prosportsbroadcasting.com.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.