Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Training Interlude: Interview with Zach Mortimer part 2

One of the great things about coming down to Spring Training is that you meet so many fans from all over.  Sure, there are a lot of Canadians down here to catch a glimpse of the Blue Jays or maybe an autograph, but there are also a lot of scouts and baseball writers.

One such person who I've met in Dunedin is Zach Mortimer, a writer for Baseball Prospectus who has been checking out the Blue Jays camp over the past several days.  We got to talking last week and caught up this afternoon for an interview after the Blue Jays intrasquad games today.  It wasn't a long chat -- we got chased away by a security guard who wanted to close up the complex -- but Zach shed some interesting light on the world of scouting and what he thought of the Blue Jays organization, as well as some of the prospects he's seen over the past few days.

Here is part 2 of the interview with Zach.  He talks more specifically about Blue Jays prospects.  He's already sent me his own Blue Jays top 10 prospects list.  I'm going to get together and talk to him about it and I'll put that up as part 3 of the interview.


Blue Jays from Away: What else have you seen in some of these Blue Jays prospects at the minor league complex.  We saw a couple of minor league intrasquad games here today.  What have you seen that was promising, what have you seen that is not as much as you hoped from some of these guys?

Zach Mortimer: First, I want to address that the way the Blue Jays approach amateur scouting, I believe is the best way that you can go after it.  They've gone after high-ceiling guys that can be game changing players.  You go after the pitchers with the very, very large frames, that are very projectable that can grow into their bodies, and they may not be throwing 90 now -- but you look at a guy like Matt Smoral, and whatever he's throwing -- Smoral could be throwing 90-91 now, he's 6'9" who knows in 3 years, he could be throwing 98-99.  The arm could come, he could add it, he's got long levers, he's gonna have a ton of deception, and his is just natural deception and not the created deception.  So I would say -- things that I liked from the Blue Jays are: they go after athletes, they go after big-framed pitchers and they go after al ot of velocity and arm speed -- that's important things..  Things that I have not liked -- their hitters are a little behind where their pitching is at.  They had to make the trade to get rid of Jake Marisnick and players like that -- they had to make those trades.  You hate to give up a Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard but, you know what, they got major league talent.  They may win this year because of the farm that they built previously.  And they've applied it to the big league level.  They've gone all in and fans of the Blue Jays need to understand that they may lose on these trades in the long run, BUT if they go all in this year and they make the playoffs and they make a deep run in the playoffs, is that worth it?  I would say yes, it is worth it.

BJfA: And what have you seen from the players today?  Who has surprised you positively, and who has surprised you negatively?

ZM: I was negatively surprised with D.J. Davis --there's no one that's going to be higher on his boat than I am, personally, and I'm still extremely high.  He's just got a little longer to go than I thought, he struggles with pitch recognition and plate coverage, and he's gonna have to work on it.  But he flashes some really loud tools and I would not backtrack on that.  A guy that we saw -- Tucker Donahue -- he made a positive effect on me today.  We looked it up -- he got paid $5000 as a 4th round sign -- he was a guy who was picked solely for the reason he would sign for $5000 and they could use his bonus money on a guy like Matt Smoral or use it for a Marcus Stroman in the first round or D.J. Davis.  So, a guy who said, "Hey, you know what, I'm not going to take a big bonus, I'm not going to take whatever," then he came out here and  he threw 92-94 with a showable slider -- a guy for $5000 -- you're not going to find a guy for $5000 that throws 92-94.  That's a great, great job by the scouting department.

BJfA: We also saw someone like John Stilson today and you saw Sean Nolin (who I didn't see) -- These guys are showing up on a lot of top 20 or top 30 prospect lists for the Jays.  What do you think about those guys?

ZM: Sean Nolin, I'll start with.  My guys at BP ranked him at 4th in the Blue Jays top 20, I believe.  I may be a guy who's not that high on Sean Nolin because he's not really my type of player.  He's definitely a major league piece and he definitely will pitch in the big leagues one day, I guarantee that.  But I think his ceiling is somewhere around a 4th starter because he doesn't have an impressive fastball.  He sat 86-89, topped out at 90,91.  He gets a little run from the left side, so he's got a major league average fastball at best.  His curveball is pretty good -- he had a 2-plane breaking ball and he did a good job with that.  The changeup flashed.  He had some command issues with the changeup.  Eventually, I think he can project into a major league piece.  Secondly, you talked about John Stilson.  He's a guy who fell down draft boards in his draft year because there were worries about his elbow and that he was gonna have Tommy John.  He's fought through it, they've fixed that.  he was up to 96 today, the velocity fell off at the end.  The breaking balls were a little farther behind.  I'm also not going to be very high on him, I think he can be a major league piece, but I just think he's a reliever and he still needs work before he sees major league innings. He has to be able to maintain fastball velocity, and have better command of all secondary pitches. I also worry about him mechanically because he has a lot of moving pieces in delivery which has a little more effort than you would want.

BJfA: You told me that you saw Osuna throwing live BP yesterday.  What did you think about him?

ZM: I thought Osuna looked good.  Another guy who's gonna be a mid-tier starter.  He's got a good fastball - up to 96... 91 to 96. He's got a decent breaking ball, he shows how to spin the curveball pretty well, the changeup's a work in progress but it has pretty good downward action.  The way he projects going forward -- as long as he can maintain his body, that he will be good.  The only thing that you need to worry about with Osuna is that he has a body that could get away from him, he has wide hips.  He's one of those guys where you don't want him to eat his way out of the major leagues.


Part 1 of the interview can be found here: Part 1
Part 3 of the interview can be found here: Part 3

Don't forget to follow us on twitter @Jaysfromaway 

You can follow Zach @zachmort

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