Baby Birds to Watch in 2021 – Part 2

 See Part 1 here.

Dan Hammer

I am really intrigued by his athleticism and leg strength when I think about his future. Very strong and powerful lower body athlete with little on-mound experience so far. Only 35 pro innings means we don’t have much to go on although he performed very well in his small sample size. Good heat and he uses a slider and change up to keep hitters off balance. Watching him go through calisthenics and all the pitching exercises and he absolutely tests the pliability of the medicine balls hurling them with force and torque. Hitters: be on notice.

2021 should be Hammer Time.

Adam Stauffer

Noticing a trend? Stauffer is a tall righty who has started his career well, as his WHIP is less than one (0.93) and his ERA only barely over it (1.02). His 2019 60 K/19 BB could be the foundation for a beautiful bullpen force being built. We’ll see how the team uses him; at the moment eight of his 25 pro appearances have been starts. Stauffer has a traditional 4-seam/Curve/off speed package to go with his developed and chiseled 6-7 frame. He tread water in the GCL for a season or two before his explosion in 2019 so let’s see if he can pick things up where he left off.

Brett Cumberland

This guy can hit and knows it, as he carries himself like a guy who could walk out of bed and go 4-4 off Randy Johnson. Rookie league adjustments in the Braves system in 2016 are the only reason his career on-base is less than .400 (it sits at .377.) Getting to first base is his priority and if he can’t hit or take a free pass, well he was hit 41 times (!!!!!!!) in 2017. A switch hitter who uses the RF line for target practice, he’s impressed O’s execs too as he was in the dugout and earning ABs during the spring.

Watch him perform and his draft pedigree makes sense. Baseball and it’s unique moments are not that difficult for him.

Robert Neustrom

I’ve read that he’s unathletic and stiff. I’ve also watched throwing drills from the outfield and his had the most sizzle and steam on them compared to other outfielders. I’ve also stood by home plate and watched him sprint around the bases and angle towards home. The word that comes to mind is… well, it’s certainly not “stiff.”

Maybe more “strong guy” than “strider,” there’s a place for him in my lineups. In year one as a Shorebird, he showed well before being sent up to Frederick where he wasn’t as successful. Quickness in his moments will help him excel, but his pop will determine his true future.

Blaine Knight

In Delmarva he had three wins before he had given up three runs so the start and was sizzling…and then he got to Frederick and it didn’t work out. As a Key, the Arkansas superhero was 1-12 with a 1.53 WHIP and .273 average against. There were a variety of factors working against him at Harry Grove Stadium and he needed a fresh start. Covid and 2020 unfortunately were how he got that step back. I’ve seen him throw and he hasn’t lost an ounce of stuff since college at all. I think he can get started, get into a rhythm or pattern of success and be nothing near the 1-12 guy he was. There’s not a dominant offering, but plenty of command and a clean, low effort delivery. He also can locate every type of pitc.

One negative however is his lack of weight gain. He’s a slender player but he makes up for his lack of mass with attitude. I bet he can’t wait to get back to playing ball.

Nick Vespi

Bigger lefty who has put together a good career so far, with 100 total appearances. 26-16 is good, but 303 k in 281 IP and a .218 average against shows a pitcher that could take a step towards dominance. Command issues that marked his early years are gone and he can hide the ball well. Don’t be shocked if some of his starts are must-watch. Pitches like a leader; a bulldog type and I love that kind of example.

The Stanford 3: Kyle Stowers, Andy Daschbach, Mav Handley

Drafted out of Stanford in 2019, this trio has not had much time to climb the levels just yet. Some negatives and positives as they adjust their games and bodies to the pro grind have shown through, however. Handley got spring training opportunities and is always going to show high level speed along with elite level quickness and baseball brains. In his year 1, he threw out 19 of 30 potential base stealers and finished with a .994 fielding percentage. Stowers, the uppercut swinging OF with a bounce in his step, had five HR and 20 XBH in his Ironbirds debut. The hulking Daschbach put together a .350 OBP, can play corner infield and has been tried at corner OF as well. 2021 should mean more defined roles and opportunities for this group and there’s plenty of reason for optimism and to expect continued success.

Fans should be ready to stay tuned to the entire system starting that first week of May. It’s great to have the minors back so let’s start developing some players!

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