These are notes on prospects from Brendan Gawlowski, who will be chipping in on Daily Prospect Notes once a week. Read previous installments of the DPN here.
Today, we have a few notes from a series between Tri-Cities and Everett, the High-A affiliates of the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners, respectively.
Jordyn Adams, CF, Los Angeles Angels
Level & Affiliate: High-A Tri-Cities Age: 22 Org Rank: 2 FV: 50
Line: 2-5, two infield singles, 3 SO
Adams is having a bad season. After a lower-leg injury sidelined for more than a month, the 22-year-old has been ice cold since returning to the lineup. Now more than 100 PAs into his season, he’s hitting .174/.260/.261 with a 35% strikeout rate, good for a 49 wRC+.
At the plate, he looks lost. He’s struggling to identify breaking pitches out of the hand, taking strikes on balls that bend into the zone and flailing early on pitches spinning down and away from him. He also swung and missed at several low-90s fastballs in the zone. When he does make contact, everything’s on the ground, much of it hit weakly the other way. Mechanically, he’s inconsistent as well, alternately lunging at low breaking balls or pulling off the plate on swings against the heat.
He’s also raw in the field: Two nights ago, he fielded a short fly with runners on first and second and despite no intent from the lead runner to advance, Adams came up firing and launched the ball well over the third baseman’s head. His 80-grade speed is also playing down at the moment. At the plate, he’s not quick out of the box, and on one occasion he posted a 4.3 DTL on a grounder to short. There’s more speed in the tank than that, and it’s possible that the leg injury is still bugging him, but at present he’s not consistently impacting the game with his wheels.
It’s not time to panic just yet. We’re still only talking about 100 plate appearances, and with a pandemic and a leg injury in there, Adams just hasn’t had many reps for a while. But even that is turning into its own problem. He didn’t start playing baseball full time until his senior year of high school, and now he’s 22 with barely 700 career plate appearances to his name. He has plenty of time to figure things out, but Adams is trending the wrong direction right now.
Zach Linginfelter, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Level & Affiliate: High-A Tri-Cities Age: 24 Org Rank: Others of Note
Line: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 SO, 5 BB, 2 HR
Standing an athletic 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Linginfelter has plenty of arm strength and a couple intriguing secondary ingredients, but the profile is watered down by poor control. He has trouble keeping his fastball over the plate. Often as not, the pitch leaks into the right-handed batters box, and he can’t hit the glove-side half of the dish with any regularity. In my look on Tuesday, he had no command of his secondaries either.
Stuff-wise, Linginfelter’s arsenal is one I’d have graded much higher five years ago. He runs his fastball up to 96 with big tail, but most teams aren’t really in the market for two-seamers these days. His bread-and-butter secondary is an 11-5 curve with sharp but long and early break. Like the fastball, it’s visually appealing, but doesn’t play as well as the eye thinks it should.
Oddly, the pitch I wouldn’t have liked all that much five years ago — a high-80s slider/cutter with very short break — is the one that may have the best chance to miss bats. A couple of them ducked under Everett lumber on Tuesday, and the pitch gives him a legitimate weapon against lefties — a necessity given his trouble locating the curve and two-seamer to his gloveside. Despite his issues throwing strikes, there are enough intriguing ingredients to think a future in the bullpen is a possibility.
Austin Shenton, 3B/1B, Seattle Mariners
Level & Affiliate: High-A Everett Age: 23 Org Rank: 33 FV: 35+
Line: 2-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HR
Saying that a player “just flat out hits” is an annoying truism, but it’s a regrettably apt description for a more-than-the-sum-of-his-parts player like Shenton. He does a variety of things well at the plate: he has doubles power to all fields, he can square up quality breaking pitches, lay off spin in the dirt, and he’s also good at working the count. He does strike out more than you’d like to see from a bat-first player, and the power numbers are inflated by his friendly home ballpark. Nevertheless, Shenton makes plenty of loud contact, and I think he has a sneaky good chance to carve out some kind of big league role.
Dayeison Arias, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Level & Affiliate: High-A Everett Age: 24 Org Rank: Others of Note
Line: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 4 SO
Arias gives hitters a weird look, swiveling and then firing off of a stiff front leg out of an arm slot just a notch below three-quarters. He’s got pretty good gas, sitting 94-96 last night and touching 97. Righties in particular have a tough time with the angle, and his mid-upper 80s frisbee-shaped slider drew a few whiffs in my viewing as well. He only threw a couple of changeups, but even that pitch has some depth and keeps lefties off balance. Arias has performed at every level thus far, and his slider has taken a noticeable step forward in recent years. He projects as a middle reliever.
Gareth Morgan, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Level & Affiliate: High-A Tri-Cities Age: 25 Org Rank: Not listed
Line: 0-4, 3 SO
Seattle’s second-round pick in 2014, Morgan is a major-league athlete in a minor league uniform. He’s a chiseled 6-foot-4 and when he squares up the ball, it flies a long way. The problem, of course, is that he rarely connects. He’s a .207/.278/.389 career hitter with a 45% strikeout rate in more than 1,800 career plate appearances. There are no signs of improvement: Tuesday’s 0-4 outing took his batting average under .150 and kept his K-rate dangerously close to 50%. His wRC+ is in the 20s. He’s the second-oldest position player on the team.
Morgan’s at-bats aren’t easy to watch. In six plate appearances Tuesday, he swung and missed a dozen times. He was overmatched against mediocre breaking stuff and looked even worse whiffing three times against a position player lobbing 65 mph grapefruits. You could see his frustration growing with each pitch, his muscles growing tenser with each holler from the crowd and amused smile from Connor Hoover as he toed the rubber. Strike three was as inevitable as sunrise; I truly felt bad for him.
Ultimately though, Morgan’s career is less a failure than a triumph of the human spirit. After all, he’s not the first seven-figure signee to stall out in A-ball and he certainly won’t be the last. What makes his continued presence in the game so conspicuous isn’t the volume of strikeouts, but rather his unusual perseverance. Whether by choice or managerial impatience, most guys with these numbers wash out quickly. But despite six years of overwhelming evidence that he just can’t hit, Morgan soldiers on. After all the taunts, the jeers about his signing bonus, the hundreds of sliders he’s chased in vain, Morgan is still here, batting sixth and playing right field. Last night, there was a familiar form of failure. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow’s another game, another chance to start anew.