Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Keith Law Not High On Low-A Charleston Prospects

For a guy whose scouting reports I usually enjoy reading and give some weight to, I was very disappointed in Keith Law's feedback on the Saturday Low-A Charleston game he watched and reported back on, and not just because he didn't have much positive to say about any of the Yankee prospects.

In an Insider-only piece on ESPN.com, Law offered up some firsthand reports on guys like Jose Campos, Dante Bichette, Jr., and Cito Culver, none of them glowing by any means.  He described Campos as having "reduced stuff," "below-average command," and commented that those two things plus questionable arm action "didn't give me a ton of hope" that Campos can make it back from last year's season-ending elbow problems.

Law also went on to call Bichette "a mess on offense and defense," and said Culver's running was the worst he's ever seen, and this is where the major part of my disappointment comes in.  Law failed to elaborate on either of those points after making them, almost chalking these guys up as lost causes based on what he saw.  This would be an overly dramatic and foolish stance to take based on just any 1-game sample size, but this game in particular is of even more note.  The RiverDogs lost 4-1 on Saturday, scratching out just 4 hits, striking out 12 times, and committing 5 errors as a team.  It was as bad a game as you could have in professional baseball, hardly one worthy of being used as support for such harsh evaluations as the ones Law gave on the players he watched.

The facts related to these players paint a more encouraging picture.  Culver, after ditching his switch-hitting ways and going exclusively right-handed, has 13 hits in 11 games and a .244/.321/.490 batting line, showing improved pop at the plate.  DBJ, despite a low tripleslash, has already driven in 13 runs and hit 2 HR this season, something he didn't do until early summer last year.  And Campos, in just his second start back from an elbow injury, should be expected to have diminished velocity, not criticized for it.  I'll admit that Law's take on Campos' arm action and delivery mechanics are concerning, but let's let the kid get some more work, get his arm strength and innings count back up, before we start putting the radar gun on him.

These are all three flawed prospects, this we know from what they did or didn't do last season, and they all have work to do to maintain whatever level of legitimate prospect status they hold.  It still seems like Law went overboard in his negative reports on them, though, especially considering how odd and unusually bad of a 1-game sample it was.  A quick look at each guy from a higher level does give reason to be encouraged about their early performance and I'm going to be waiting a few more months before going back and trying to evaluate their progress.

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