by Matthew Coller
I recently had a chance to watch the State College Spikes. Here's a look at a few position players that stood out:
Crumlich only has one plus tool, but it's a good one to have: hitting for average. The UC Irvine product is a mature hitter with a good approach and good hands to go along. He can work walks and force pitchers into deep counts. Crumlich has a little pop, but still below average power and average speed. I question whether he can play any infield position at an average level – maybe second base. His arm is solid, but range is slightly below average, though his footwork and instincts are decent. Crumlich is one of those guys who could make himself into a good utility infielder if he works hard and makes adjustments at higher levels.
Carvajal, just 20-years-old, is a speedy, athletic, slap-hitting second baseman with some potential. He's undersized, more in the mold of second baseman of 20 years ago – small, quick, good hands at the plate, with a hit-to-get-on-base mentality. Once on base, he's a threat to steal with plus speed and is an extremely aggressive base runner. Carvajal has little-to-no power, but can be a pain to pitch against. His quick hands and good hand-eye coordination allow him to foul off pitch after pitch. However, he will chase when down in the count. Considering Carvajal's age, it's likely he'll grow as a hitter in terms of approach. At best, though, he'll hit .250-.260 with fewer than five home runs.
In the field, expect him to get to some extra baseballs, but also make too many errors. It's not clear that he can handle the routine plays night after night. Though that also may come with age and maturity.
There were questions as to whether Diaz, an 11th round pick by the Pirates, would play shortstop or second base. From my time watching the NC State product, I have no idea where those questions came from. He has polished footwork moving up the middle, into the gap and around the bag. His arm is average, but he has a quick release. You could say the same for his range – that it's a little above average. His hands, though, are outstanding. The routine doublt plays are made easily, harder plays are made to look routine and he does not panic when runners are bearing down. Overall, he could translate into an average to above average defensive shortstop.
At the plate, Diaz projects to a below average hitter in terms of average and power, but does have the ability to work counts and walks. Diaz's speed isn't blazing, but he has excellent instincts on the basepaths, allowing him to get very good jumps and steal bases at a high rate.
The former Texas Tech outfielder has the ability to hit .280 to .300 with a short, sound swing and quick hands. He can pull the hands in to hit inside fastballs to left field and extend them to drive outside pitches up the middle. The most questionable of the five tools is his power, which seems unlikely to translate to the professional level. Barnes doesn't have an impressive follow through that would help drive the ball to the gaps and out of the ballpark.
Barnes' speed is plus-plus, getting down the line with the best of right-handed hitters and his instincts on the basepaths are decent. Expect him to consistently steal 20 or more bases.
In the outfield, Barnes gets solid reads and uses his speed to close on line drives in the gap. He has average range for a center fielder, though if he's moved to left would have plus range. His arm is above average for a center fielder, average if he's in right or left. Overall, if Barnes can develop a more power-friendly swing at the pro level, he could be a starter. If not, more likely to be a fourth outfielder type.
Behind the plate, Stallings' mechanics (blocking, framing etc.) are sound. Despite being 6-foot-5, he moves well and can get down to block pitches inside and out. His arm is plus, maybe a little bit more, with a fairly quick release time.
The problem? At the plate Stallings has little-to-no approach. He's willing to swing at almost anything and is far, far from patient. Even if he hit .250, his on-base percentage would end up being under .300. Despite his size, his downward swing translates into many more ground balls than long balls.