Editor’s Note: Don was in attendance for yesterday’s Arizona Fall League Game — Mesa vs. Peoria — and provided us with some scouting notes on the O’s prospects.
Xavier Avery: In the baseball world, he is still a pup but is a raw athlete that shows glimpses of turning the corner. He continues to be an aggressive swinger that will chase pitches. He attacks the first pitch and gets behind in the count going for either the pitcher’s pitch or pitches outside the zone. Last week, he showed a bit more patience and today displayed this in two at bats. Forcing himself into hitters’ counts, he was selective and caught a ball belt high over the middle of the plate for a double into right field. He has a long way to go at the plate, but I continue to see strides and in game adjustments. As he moves forward, he must continue to remain patient in the box and pick up the ball better off of left handed pitching.
Brian Ward: He may not be hitting the ball well, but he is clearly seeing it as he’s had patient at bats with a pair of walks today. He was not catching up to a deceptive fastball in the 93-94 mph range and this might be a concern going forward. Defensively, he called a solid game and his improvements with footwork are clearly visible. I do not feel strongly that he will blow anyone away with his hitting, but I think he could hit in the .240 range and draw walks with occasional power. Pair this with his baseball IQ and the rapport he generates with a staff, and he could make a useful backup catcher.
Cole McCurry: His first inning of work was clean and effective. He was throwing in the 89-91 mph range with a solid changeup and decent cutter. He worked down in the zone and away from contact, leading to two ground outs and a strikeout. In the second inning, he came out a little flat and was not fully extending, leading to an early release. His pitches were riding high in the zone and living on the black. I would like to see him a bit more aggressive against left handed hitters and work inside more, but he was able to locate his fastball low and away when he needed it. He still profiles as a LOOGY and is effective with the cutter against left handed batters. He could be a useful piece in next season’s bullpen.