Continuing to delve into detail with scouting reports on some of the more intriguing prospects in the Brewers’ system, I’ve decided to take a break on the pitching side of things and begin focusing more on position players.
My first positional scouting report came back a few weeks ago when I took a somewhat brief look at 2012 supplemental first-round — 38th overall — pick and current low-A Appleton outfielder Mitch Haniger. Following that same geographical trend, I’ve decided to break down the game of 20-year-old Timber Rattlers shortstop Yadiel Rivera, whom the following handful of paragraphs will be thoroughly dedicated to.
BLUF: Has the ceiling of a plus-average defensive shortstop with a below average hit tool and fringe-average power.
Player Overview: Drafted by Milwaukee in the ninth round of the 2010 draft with an $85,000 signing bonus. Designated to rookie club in Helena after signing, struggled with plate discipline and posted just a .209/.243/.257 line over 49 games. Was promoted to single-A Appleton to start 2011 but actually regressed at the plate, batting .194/.224/.262 with an isolated power of .068 in 111 plate appearances. Was demoted back to rookie ball midway through that season and saw immediate improvements, most notably in his power-hitting abilities. Has spent entire 2012 season in low-A and has batted .218/.265/.382.
Body (6-2, 175): A thin, lanky and somewhat narrow build with long limbs, Rivera has superb natural athleticism that serves him well. Looks as though he’s still growing into his frame and has room to pack on a few more pounds. Will look the part of a big league shortstop once that happens.
Hit: Quiet and mechanically sound with good hand position pre-pitch, Rivera’s bat has solid-average overall speed but has strong and quick wrists that make his swing deceptively fast. Loads with a subtle front leg raise that induces very little movement from his core to his limbs, and keeps his hands high and in an almost identical position to his pre-pitch. Has decent plate coverage but loves to pull the ball which leads to mechanical breakdowns at times and subsequently elevated strikeout rates. Could develop into fringe-average hitter with more consistent approach over time. Grade — 35/45
Power: Not a whole lot of power to speak of but more than many scouts give him credit for. Struggles to put breaking pitches over the fence but from what I’ve seen has very good gap power with fastballs and changeups in the zone. Low-torque swing induces solid line-drive contact without much loft. Probably has the ability to hit anywhere from 20-25 doubles per season with improved approach, home run projection still a ways off. Grade — 35/45
Arm: Without a doubt the best infield arm the system has to offer. Makes consistent throws to every bag in the infield with great accuracy and very good velocity. I don’t think it has much projection left to it. Grade — 60/60.
Fielding: Plus-defender right now and scary to think he has room to improve. Very good instincts at shortstop with plus-plus range to his glove and arm-side. Fluid mechanics from his base up through his core and upper-body. Quick feet give him hasty reaction time on hard-hit grounders. Turns double-plays with ease. Grade: 65/75.
Speed: Fringe-average to average overall speed. Very good base-runner but doesn’t try to be too aggressive in stealing bases, though he most certainly could; has good first-step quickness and doesn’t take much time to get from first to second thanks to long strides. May have enough for double-digit steals per season in big leagues one day. Grade — 50/50
Summation: Very raw, and still developing a sense for the game, Rivera has some intriguing tools. His best can be found in the field, where he is an exceptional defender at shortstop with tremendous range and an outstanding throwing arm. Still very unpolished as a hitter and will need to improve approach. Has some natural power that he will need to tap into and will also need to improve on breaking pitches. Speed can be found more so in the field than on the bases. Hard worker, good makeup and character, likeable personality.
Relative Risk: Somewhat high. Defensive ceiling is through the roof but plate discipline leaves something to be desired.
Future: Has moved slowly through the system and all signs point to it staying that way. Will finish out this season in low-A and will in all likelihood wind up back in Appleton in 2013, with a chance to move up to high-A Brevard at mid-season with improvements at the plate. May be another three seasons before he challenges for a September roster spot.