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Sarasota Snapshot – GCL O’s Update

Noelberth Romero
Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Sports
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Reading Time: 6 minutes

The 2019 season featured a GCL championship team with older players that had a camp together and the chemistry showed. They won the league going away in a year where their average age was slightly higher than the league’s. They played the best and took advantage of mistakes day in and day out without making them.

This season is just as exciting but extremely different. First of all, there are two teams instead of one. And secondly, the draftees from this year have yet to get started so the rosters are made up mostly of DSL (Dominican Summer League) players from recent seasons. The O’s have had not developed players by and large from that league, but this year is different. There’s some talent and skill that’s come stateside and the competition is on. The other teams in the league, especially the Pirates, look better. The Rays are stocked with talent. Our players are just getting started and some are being exposed to a new culture and lifestyle; that part is typical of any rookie league. The amount of saved baseballs and career firsts throughout the first dozen or so games demonstrates that this is very much the beginning.

I’m expecting that by the season’s end lots of these players will have established their profiles a bit more so these observations are just what I’ve seen so far. Speaking of that, I’m far away – several sections from home plate out towards short left as that’s where the team allows the public. So the pitch judgements are after looking at my video but I share much of that too so followers can see what I see. Also, a reminder here that this particular league is very instructional and education is clearly the priority.

Players don’t play every day, probably because the heat is unrelenting. There is intent behind every move and substitution so the stats truly do not tell the entire story like they do in other situations. Note: Saturday a few 2021 UDFA names were added to rosters. Pitchers Carson Carter (OK) and Daniel Federman (U Miami) are on the Orioles Orange team.

Let’s get started!

Coby Mayo: So far, so good. Some good at bats & shows loft and excellent reach with strength behind his hands and wrists even when the ball doesn’t go where he wants. Wood bat power is apparent but even better sign for future is in-game adjustments and being able to work for good pitches to drive. Good hands and feet. The putouts I’ve seen at 3rd, couple plays coming forward he made in time and smooth transitioning the ball. More athletic than reported. Not at all lengthy for a tall guy. I think a good offensive streak is around the corner.

Isaac DeLeon: A rigid and upright defender who treats grounders like prey and runs his glove through the bounces with force as he rips them upward. It’s unique. Transfers have been affected by this but his momentum across the diamond is significant and his arm is quick and strong. Very vocal at 3rd and SS leading the infield and making calls based on runners and situations. Lots of projection in his frame. Big shoulders and hands and uses them well to make contact. Pretty confident player and as a return for Richard Bleier O’s fans should be very content. He looks like a system climber.

Misael Deson: Very slender but quick-twitch guy. Movements are fast all around and swing is lengthy. He’s not near his desired weight so making judgements now is wasteful but skills are showing through. Good runner and good snap on his throws from the outfield. Connection makes a good sound. More muscle means louder power and I’d speculate it’s coming soon. He’s eating and trying to gain weight every day.

Miguel Padilla: Big breaking ball that he uses to get ahead in counts. Also features a devastating better, tighter slurve that he uses to finish both handed hitters. Like lots of the relievers here so far, he’s finding his stamina limits in 110 degree heat so he’s had a couple outings that looked good but ended up not so hot (not a pun). But looks like a guy who will be able to use his secondaries throughout the low minors and advance. Neat tidbit: Padilla is represented by former Terrapin great and NBA professional Greivis Vazquez. Go Terps!

Moises Chace: Met his coach and a few former teammates and they told me this young Venezuelan has great stuff and lots of heart. So far they’ve been right and he can change speeds effectively both ways too. He looks like he takes a bit too much time between pitches when he’s in a rough patch. When he’s rolling he stays in rhythm and fires around the strike zone’s perimeters for weak contact. I like his stuff but want his confidence and zip to work together and am eager to see his pitches continue to work.

Noelberth Romero: Infielder acquired along with outfielder Elio Prado for Andrew Cashner. Has great reaction time mixed with lateral quickness that could keep him in the middle of the infield. Arm strength is in need of improvement. Hustle and internal clock not matched up with his physical skills just yet. Bat is quick through the zone but swing needs some leveling a la Zach Watson. A way to go to reach his peak.

Moises Ramirez: Like DeLeon, I like his size and posture in the field. He attacks grounders and his movements/swings have some athletic roots behind them. Good accelerator on the base paths.

Davis Tavarez: Have been able to watch this strong righty for a few seasons now and his body and game have reached a great apex. He’s driving the ball and showing a level swing with an even weight transfer and much better balance than 2019 for example. If he barrels it, the ball moves quickly in the other direction. Not much in the way of stats so far but his contact is very strong and the BABIP is .303

Luis Gonzalez: This is a top 30 O’s prospect and so far has not looked the part. He’s batting .222 and has not had many opportunities to use his speed. However in the OF he’s already sharpened up his routes to the ball in the air. They needed it after a few early chances. Also, he transitions from a batter to a base runner like a track athlete with serious jets so that’s a positive too. He gets the good part of the bat to the ball, and has a good stance but needs to power into it and send it farther than he does today. It’s easy to see a good future and a handful of skills converging but he’s going to need to use the games to show it off. Between now and August he’ll get better. Note: Had a long double Saturday.

Craig Lewis: Scorching and hitting .432. Free my dude @fiftycraig. He is swinging the bat like a caveman with a club and assaulting the structures that hold Ed Smith Stadium together. Friday he tripled off the wall and then went bouncing over it for a ground rule double. His OPS is 1.165 and that’s Barry Bonds territory. His hustle is not only great to watch but it’s contagious. His squad is 1-10 yet he’s loud and positive all game long. Good arm keeps runners in check too….

Josue Cruz: I’m paying significant attention to his game because I liked him when I met him, he was humble yet self confident and talked about self belief. He’s a long-limbed lefty who’s on the tall side and has long but not slow strides. Cruz has bat skills and uses the RF line to varying success. At 1st he’s not bad, prob better at catching throws than grounders. I like him playing heads up in right where he can track and stride together. That seems more natural but he’s a hitter first. Putting on more muscle means longer fly balls and he’s already well along on that path. Very exciting lefty pull guy with upside and ceiling. I’ve seen him twice stretch doubles into triples by an easy shift in gears so he has 2 of them plus 2 homers and a double early on. Note-Saturday included a tape measure home run and 3RBI

Other players I have seen but don’t have much to go on:

INF Roberto Martinez: Very small yet connects with good pop.

C Julio Herrera: Best hitter of the catcher group, moves well for a backstop.

1B James Rolle: Thick lower half, immense strength in hip turn. Mobile at the bag.

P Jean Pinto: Strike thrower with good stuff, out pitches.

P Carlos DelRosario: Has a tumbling change-up as an out pitch that gets enough drop it mirrors a sinker.

P Raul Rangel: Used as a starter, several pitches and good control.

P Yeancarlos Lleras: Used as a reliever electric filth, uncoils on the mound into a powerful explosion of momentum. Stuff looks very hard.

P Ricky Ramirez: Used as a starter and has good fastball location, not too much movement on it.

This summary is dedicated to my one of my favorite O’s rookie leaguers, former IF and designated yeller Carlos Baez. In years past hearing him from the dugout was a welcomed symphony of baseball noise and chatter. It’s supposed to be loud! I miss that sound and think about him when there’s not enough energy in the stadium. Hope you’re doing great Bae, (pronounced Bye) and you’d be proud of your teammates.

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