clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Eyeball Scout: Wheat/Chaff Updates

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Today's "wheat/chaff" report does not necessarily assign wheatness or chaffosity to players, but rather examines parts of a player's game that the Eyeball Scout deems wheaty or chafful. (What, did you think the glass was chaff empty?)

Sean Doolittle

Doolittle's velocity is back, but a couple aspects of his last outing (Friday night against the Giants) bear monitoring. The first is that Giants hitters fouled off quite a few pitches, one of the reasons Doolittle's pitch count rose to 38 in 2 IP despite throwing 28 strikes. Doolittle is a "swing and miss" pitcher and some of the balls fouled off were pitches that have historically missed bats.

Also, Doolittle threw 38 pitches, 38 fastballs, and while I think he is the type of pitcher who can succeed throwing 90% fastballs that is quite different from throwing 99% fastballs. There has to be a threat of a change of speeds and/or there has to be an ability to prevent batters from timing pitches in a long at bat.

Case in point was when Doolittle got to a 3-2 count on Jarrett Parker (who can leave town now, by the way) with two on and two out in 8th inning. It was a situation where I was pretty certain that if Doolittle could just drop a breaking ball into the strike zone he was going to ring up Parker, but he stayed with the fastball -- which he just missed with for ball 4 to load the bases.

I don't think Doolittle needs to throw a lot of breaking balls or changeups, but he will need to have enough confidence to throw one when batters start to track the fastball or are perhaps, by their skill-set, only equipped to handle the fastball.

The Eyeball Scout's current verdicts:

Velocity: back to wheat "Giddyup" on the fastball: in progress ... Arsenal: still chaff

Danny Valencia

I'm quite agnostic about Valencia, who will look steady at 3B only to show Butler-range, and then just as you are typing that he's not very good he will make a nifty stop down the line and fire a one-hop strike to 1B to complete a difficult play. He also continues to put up awfully solid numbers against RHPs this season, but sprinkled in generously are flares and bleeders (not sustainable) and flails at bad sliders (not encouraging). And then he'll bomb a HR to left-center.

What do I think Valencia really is going forward? My gut, as much as my eyes, tell me he's moody and prone to a lack of hustle, but even if that is true perhaps it can be mitigated by the Newbob Factor: players just don't halfass it for Melvin and the clubhouse vibe is consistently one of "we battle and we grind".

As for my eyes, I see a 3Bman with limited range who is reliable with the routine plays, has an accurate arm, and will not give you much range or quickness -- all of which is quite the opposite of Josh Donaldson and Brett Lawrie. I do see him as an "average at best" (probably a tick below average) defensive 3Bman.

At the plate, I think Valencia is a legitimate "lefty masher" but that Father Regression will take its toll on Valencia's prowess against RHPs -- consider that even in this "career year against RHPs" he has an OBP of just .322. On a career basis, his slash line against RHPs stands at .237/.274/.388 and I would be hard pressed to believe that he has figured something out so profoundly that he can be expected to produce more than, say, a .250/.310/.390 line in 2016.

The Eyeball Scout's current verdicts:

vs. LHPs: wheat ... Anything special as an every day starter: chaff

Mark Canha

The Eyeball Scout fell in like with Canha back in spring training, noting his "easy power," and ever since he started getting regular playing time Canha has shown that he might be more than just a bench or role player. Though he has cooled off a bit of late, for the season Canha still has a promising batting line of .252/.309/.419 in his first big league season. He continues to show a good RF approach against RHPs to go with legitimate power to all fields.

I believe in Canha's hitting ability and think his slugging percentage will give him value going forward. His batting average will always be compromised by the fact that he strikes out a fair amount, though that is offset by how hard he hits the ball when he hits it. In these ways, along with the visual of his swing, Canha has a bit of a "Donaldson-lite" ceiling

What is probably not realistic is to hope that Canha puts up a Donaldson-like OBP, though Canha did walk a fair amount in the minors and we have seen a bit more plate discipline in Canha's second-half at bats. However, with a big swing designed to try to drive the ball, at least so far Canha's priorities do not appear to be OBP-based. So perhaps what every day playing time could yield Canha in his second season is something like a .260/.330/.460 line, which would be great but is likely also around his ceiling. The Eyeball Scout remains, however, a real Canha believer (which is better than opening up a real Canha worms).

Defensively Canha has made strides both in LF, where he has gone from "bad" to "passable," and at 1B, where he has gone from "passable" to "about average". I don't love his range but I do like his consistency and judgment on balls he can get to.

The Eyeball Scout's current verdict:

Wheat as an every day player, even if not mistaken for a star

Marcus Semien

I have said for a while now that I predict a "breakout season" in 2016 for Semien. I continue to be pretty flabbergasted at how much progress Semien has made defensively in how little time, and I am nothing short of genuinely excited to see what Ron Washington can do with Semien in an off-season.

At the plate, put me in the camp who firmly believe that Semien's defensive woes, and tireless work with Washington to correct his defensive problems, took a toll on his hitting. I think Semien can hit, both for average and for some power. His minor league profile suggests a player capable of taking walks and maintaining a solid OBP, and I like the way the ball jumps off his bat.

Also, countless times I have observed Semien swinging at a good pitch for him to drive and just missing -- either "swinging through" the pitch or fouling it back. These are pitches I believe he will drive next season. He can be overpowered by a great fastball but I think he has the tools to handle most pitches and the maturity to develop a smart approach that will allow him to use the whole field, shorten his swing at times and drive the ball at other times.

I will not be surprised if 2016 yields not only at least an average defensive shortstop -- something the Eyeball Scout had trouble envisioning just 3 months ago -- but also a very productive batter with a line of, say, .270/.340/.420. And that's an awfully good player.

The Eyeball Scout's current verdict:

Wheat, baby!

What do you think of these assessments? Fair? Foul? Fowl fare? Such as, for example, General Tsu's chicken? I should probably stop typing now.