Day three of the countdown is unofficial outfielder day! We're going to take an in-depth look at three of the outfielders in the system, only one of which has played at the AA level. All three are above-average to plus runners, and all three can contribute with the glove as well as with the bat. In addition to the outfielders, we're going to get a look at my favorite catcher in the system and a soft-tossing southpaw who is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2012 season here in 2013.
50. Bryson Myles, OF
Height/Weight: 5-11/230 lb.
Acquired: 6th round pick in the 2011 MLB draft
2012 Stats: .290/.355/.379 with 3 HR, 59 RBI and 20 SB in 102 games with Lake County
Scouting Report: Myles was selected in the 6th round of the 2011 draft out of Stephen F. Austin State, and is build more like a linebacker than an outfielder. In fact, coming out of high school Myles had a scholarship offer from TCU to play football but elected to pursue baseball instead. His senior year at Stephen F. Austin, Myles led all of college baseball with 53 stolen bases, and also popped 8 HR. Myles signed early enough in the process to play 50 games with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in 2011, and he swiped 20 more bags in 27 attempts as a professional, along with putting up a .795 OPS. He played all of 2012 with low-A Lake County, and had another solid season at the plate with a .734 OPS and 20 more stolen bases, but this time he was caught stealing 12 times as well. Myles actually isn’t a burner, but he’s a 60 runner with outstanding instincts and does a nice job reading pitchers and getting good jumps. As he gets higher and higher in the organization though, stealing bases will become increasingly difficult as pitchers do a better job holding runners on as they mature and gain experience.
At the plate, Myles has below-average power, as he’s hit just 4 HR in 561 career at bats. He did hit 20 doubles and a pair of triples last season, and drove in 59 runs. He has a very flat, line drive swing and does a very good job making consistent contact. He hit .290 last year, and struck out 85 times. He’s a good bunter, both for base hits and when he’s asked to lay down a sacrifice.
Defensively, Myles was a CF in college but will end up in an OF corner as a professional. As mentioned, his speed is above average but not plus, and his arm is only about average. He’s played 24 games in CF since turning pro, but his 85 games in LF last year will be much more of the norm for Myles. He should be an above average defender in LF, but probably doesn’t have the arm for RF.
Myles has been solid but not spectacular in his two seasons as a professional. He’ll be 23 for the 2013 season, and will likely start off in high-A Carolina. The Carolina League can be a challenging environment for hitters, so if Myles can even repeat his 2012 numbers that would be considered a step in the right direction for the young OF. His bat doesn’t really project well to an outfield corner, but he also doesn’t project to have the defensive chops for CF. Myles will have to take some steps forward with the bat to avoid the dreaded “tweener” label, or else he’ll end up as more of a 4th OF than a starter.
Glass half-full: A 2nd division starter in LF
Glass half-empty: A 4th OF
49. Roberto Perez, C
Height/Weight: 6-0/227 lb.
Acquired: 33rd round pick in the 2008 MLB draft
2012 Stats: .212/.336/.293 with 1 HR and 31 RBI in 95 games with Akron
Scouting Report: Perez has four professional seasons under his belt, and is the owner of a career triple slash line of .234/.364/.336. He’s risen steadily through the organization, splitting his rookie 2009 between Arizona, Mahoning Valley and Lake County before playing the entire 2011 season in Kinston and then spending last year with Akron. As you see from his raw numbers, Perez is not going to be an impact bat behind the plate. But he’s an elite defensive catcher, and that’s something that can be invaluable regardless of his contributions on the offensive side of the ledger.
At the plate, Perez is a below-average hitter with below-average power. His career average in 362 minor league games is .234, and he’s hit just 12 HR. Considering his lack of power, he has a surprisingly productive approach, drawing 216 walks and striking out 285 times in his four seasons with the Indians organization. His on-base ability did take a step backwards last season, as Perez drew 49 walks in 95 games after walking 80 and 62 times in 2010 and 2011, respectively. If Perez can get his walk rate back up, he could provide some value at the plate, but he’s never going to be a weapon offensively.
Defensively is another story. Perez is one of the best defensive catchers in all of minor league baseball. He has an elite arm and incredibly quick actions, getting the ball down to 2nd base faster than anyone I’ve ever seen in the minors. He gunned down 35 of the 86 runners who tried to steal on him last season, an impressive 41% CS percentage. When a runner steals on Perez, the base is usually stolen more on the pitcher than on the catcher. He gets the ball out of his hand quickly, and makes strong, consistent throws that make it easy on the middle infielders applying the tags on the receiving end. His pop times are consistently in the sub-two second range, and I’ve recorded a couple of 1.8’s and even a 1.7, which is outstanding. He loves throwing behind runners when they are napping on the bases, frequently picking guys off of first base who sleep on Perez’s arm. He has quick feet, moving extremely well behind the plate, doing a nice job blocking pitches in the dirt and keeping the ball in front of him. He calls an excellent game and does a nice job working with pitchers. Every pitcher in the organization who I ask about throwing to Roberto raves about the experience, talking about how much they enjoy it when he’s behind the plate. Perez has no weaknesses behind the plate, doing everything you’d expect out of a Gold Glove catcher.
Perez has the defensive chops to catch in the major leagues right now. The question is whether or not his bat will hold him back from ever making it to The Show. He’s up with the big club in spring training, but will likely be sent down to minor league camp in mid-March. He doesn’t project as an everyday starter at the major league level, but can carve out a role as a career defense-oriented backup. Sal Fasano managed to stick around for 11 major league seasons despite a career OPS of just .687, because he was a good defender and a positive presence in the clubhouse. Perez can be that type of guy; his defense is just that good. He could start out back with AA Akron in 2013, but the 24-year old is ready to handle AAA pitchers any time the Indians need him in Columbus.
Glass half-full: An elite defensive backup catcher
Glass half-empty: Remember Wyatt Toreagas? Exactly.
48. Tyler Holt, OF
Height/Weight: 5-10/187 lb.
Acquired: 10th round pick in the 2010 MLB draft
2012 Stats: .258/.340/.320 with 15 2B, 34 RBI and 29 SB in 136 games between Akron and Carolina
Scouting Report: Drafted in the 10th round out of Florida State in 2010, Holt signed quickly for an overslot bonus and appeared in a few games for Lake County in 2010. Promoted to Kinston in 2011, he posted a .691 OPS in the Carolina League, hittint 2 HR and stealing 34 bases in 40 attempts. Holt began 2012 back in high-A Carolina League, the same level in which he played the entire 2011 season. In 81 games with the Mudcats, Holt hit .263/.349/.339, stealing 16 bases in 24 attempts. He was the Mudcats everyday CF and leadoff hitter, and did a nice job seeing pitches, drawing walks and setting the table for the guys behind him. Promoted to AA Akron mid-season, Holt hit .250/.326/.292 with 13 SB in 17 attempts for the Eastern League Champion Aeros. In his 55 games with Akron, Holt was again the everyday CF, showing good range in the OF.
At the plate, Holt has well below-average power, as he didn’t manage a single HR in 532 AB last season. He did hit 15 doubles and 9 triples, more a factor of his speed than his bat. He has an average hit tool, and does a nice job using the entire field and hitting the ball where it is pitched. He has a solid approach, drawing 62 walks last season to help fuel his .340 OBP. He has plus speed, stealing 68 bases in his 2+ minor league seasons and being caught 21 times. He has a little trouble with stuff on the inner half of the plate, sometimes getting jammed and struggling to get his hands out and extended. He does a much better job on pitches on the outer half, shooting them the other way with a level, line-drive swing.
Defensively, Holt is an above-average CF. His speed and range are very good, and his arm is above-average as well. He doesn’t project to be a gold glover in CF, but will definitely add value with his glove in the OF. He comes in very well on the baseball, and I saw him make a couple of outstanding diving plays in CF for the Mudcats last season. Of all of his tools, his glove is by far the most impressive.
Holt took a step back last season, despite being promoted to AA Akron. His walk rate went down, his CS % went up, and his power and OBP both fell off. Holt drew 78 free passes in 123 games in 2011, but worked just 62 walks in 136 contests last season. With his below average power, Holt’s value at the plate is tied directly to his ability to get on base, and if he’s not drawing walks then his value is severely limited. Holt’s speed can be a weapon, but you can’t steal 1B. Holt will likely be back in AA Akron to begin the 2013 season, and with some Eastern League experience already under his belt, he should be able to improve his walk rate and make some strides towards rebuilding his prospect status.
Glass half-full: A leadoff hitting CF who provides more value with his glove than his bat
Glass half-empty: A speedy 4th OF and pinch runner
47. Matt Packer, LHP
Height/Weight: 6-0/200 lb.
Acquired: 32nd round pick in the 2009 MLB draft
2012 Stats: 4-5, 3.70 ERA with 47 K and 16 BB in 65 2/3 IP between Rookie Arizona, Carolina, Akron and Columbus.
Scouting Report: Originally selected in the 32nd round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Virginia, Packer is a guy who has had more success on the field than most scouts predicted when evaluating his raw stuff. He’s a command and control lefty (read: soft tosser) who doesn’t walk a lot, pitches to contact and uses his defense rather than overpowering hitters. Packer strained his rotator cuff lifting weights during spring training in 2012, and didn’t make his season debut on the mound until late June. After three starts in the complex league and two scoreless outings in Carolina, Packer finally worked his way back to AA Akron on July 19. Picking up right where he left off in 2011, Packer threw six innings in his first start back with the Aeros, striking out seven and did not allow an earned run. After just three starts in Akron, Packer was promoted to AAA Columbus, where the high-octane environment of the International League (and cozy Huntington Park) really challenged the lefty. In 6 starts with the Clippers, Packer went 1-4 with a 5.50 ERA, striking out 23 and walking 14 in 34 1/3 IP.
Packer has several pitches in his arsenal, working with a fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. The fastball sits between 87-91 MPH, and can touch 93 when he reaches back for a little extra. It’s a sinking two-seamer, and when he’s locating the pitch well it is very effective and gets the infielders behind Packer plenty of work. His best secondary offering is his changeup, a plus pitch that has excellent deception and movement. The pitch is a real weapon for Packer against righthanded hitters, diving down and away from righties. It’s his best pitch, and it’s action isn’t something that righties are used to seeing with a lefthanded pitcher on the bump. His slider is an above-average pitch as well, and it’s his primary out pitch against lefthanded hitters. It’s a very horizontal pitch, and has sweeping action across the plate and out of the strike zone. Packer’s 2012 mission was to develop his curveball, a pitch that he used only sparingly in college because he really just didn’t need it. The shoulder injury really hampered that development, and he’ll look to refine the pitch here in 2013.
When Packer is able to get ahead of hitters with his fastball and go to work on them with his deep arsenal of offspeed stuff, he can be awfully tough to hit. If he falls behind in the count and hitters are able to sit on his fastball though, he can get into trouble. Packer was uncaractaristcally wild last season, walking half as many hitters as he did in 2011 in about a third as many innings of work. Much of that can be put down to the shoulder injury and rust, but it shows how thin of a margin for error a guy like Packer has. If he can bounce back healthy in 2013, the 25-year old southpaw should be back in Columbus to try and improve on his subpar showing in the International League last season. If his command and control are back to 2011 levels, he should be much more successful at AAA this go around. If 2012 was a trend rather than an aberration, than Packer is in trouble because he can’t afford to walk guys or be wild in the strike zone.
Glass half-full: A back of the rotation starter
Glass half-empty: A lefty specialist out of the bullpen
46. Bo Greenwell, OF
Height/Weight: 6-0/185 lb.
Acquired: 6th round pick in the 2007 draft
2012 Stats: .310/.387/.427 with 2 HR and 17 RBI in 46 games with Carolina
Scouting Report: Greenwell began the 2012 season on the DL, and injured his shoulder diving for a ball in August. In between his two injuries, he showcased his on-base skills for high-A Carolina, posting an impressive .387 OBP in 46 games. It was the 2nd straight campaign that Greenwell has battled injuries, as he’s been able to play in just 115 games in the last two seasons. When he’s healthy, he’s productive, but those healthy stretches have been few and far between since Greenwell put up a .823 OPS with low-A Lake County in 2010. He was drafted out of a Florida high school, and was trying to decide between playing baseball or football for Miami University when the Indians selected him in the 6th round of the 2007 draft.
Greenwell profiles as an ideal #2 hitter. He should end up with at least average power, and has above-average raw hitting ability. He’s a career .285 hitter in 396 minor league games, and he’s drawn 160 bases on balls to help fuel his .361 OBP. He has just a .388 career slugging percentage, but that’s a number that should come up as Greenwell gets more at-bats as a mature 24 year old this year. He was a skinny teenager when the Indians drafted him, but he’s filled out and added a lot of strength to his 6’ frame. The added weight has translated into more power, which unfortunately has yet to be showcased in game situations because Greenwell just can’t stay healthy. The raw ability is there though, and Greenwell is primed for a big season at the plate if he can stay on the field and in the lineup.
Defensively, Greenwell is an above-average corner outfielder. Shoulder issues early in his career restricted his throwing ability, but his arm is now at least average. He has above-average speed, and in his last healthy season Greenwell swiped 25 bags. He probably doesn’t have the defensive chops for CF long-term, but should excel as a corner OF. The question is whether his bat can profile there, as so far in his career he hits much more like a CF than a LF or RF.
Greenwell has all of the intangibles that you look for in a baseball player. Last season was the third year in a row that he was playing in the Carolina League, and he could have easily been frustrated with that situation and his inability to stay healthy. Instead, Greenwell took his role as a veteran on the Mudcats in stride, and became a leader and role model for the younger players on the team. He’s a hard worker and leads by example, and he’s great about taking less experienced players under his wing and helping them adjust to professional baseball. Even when he was injured towards the end of last season, Greenwell was out on the field early for batting practice with the rest of the team and coached first base during the games. He’s a lot of fun to watch play the game, and you can’t help but pull for him. Greenwell will again begin the season with an injury to deal with, as he’s rehabbing from a torn meniscus that he suffered during the offseason. Greenwell just cannot seem to catch a break, but if he can remain healthy after he recovers from the knee injury, he should be able to make an impact for AA Akron. If he was healthy heading into spring training, he’d rank several spots higher than this on the list.
Glass half-full: A healthy and productive 2013
Glass half-empty: Injury issues persist and he never makes it to The Show