Film Recap: Asa Lacy, Maximo Acosta and (MUCH) More

Written by: Trevor Hooth (@HoothTrevor)

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Check out last week’s Film Recap by clicking here.

Thank you guys for your participation this week. We have lots of players to discuss, so let’s get started!

The premise of Film Study Friday is to get quick looks and opinions on prospects, with a deeper dive in this recap. I’m hoping to help followers and readers by getting my eyes on players, but also to just talk with the Twitterverse about what they see and think as well. If you want to get involved, I’ll tweet out the call for guys to watch on Wednesdays from my account (@HoothTrevor) or you can find it shared from the P365 handle.

We kick things off with a new prospect to me, but an interesting one nonetheless. Let’s talk about Breidy Encarnacion.

Encarnacion is a SUPER interesting prospect. There wasn’t a ton of video, so I did what I could. In doing the rest of the research for the blurb to follow, Encarnacion only got better. On the surface, the only knock on him is that he doesn’t possess premium velocity that misses bats. According to FanGraphs, he has a chance for two above average pitches and one average offering. He’s just young and learning. 

It really is hard to find much negative about this guy. Even in his 2019 campaign, he dominated his way to an All-Star appearance in the DSL. It was well earned after posting a 10.31 K/9 and 2.11 BB/9 with a 2.59 FIP over 47 innings. Ian might’ve started a new obsession for me.

Up next is another young J2 signee in Arol Vera.

There’s not a ton else to say about Vera than what’s in the tweet. He was a top J2 prospect from last summer’s class. He hasn’t played in a pro game yet, but I look forward to him getting out on the field to show how that bat speed and skillset translate to the low minors.

This next guy can make a splash when baseball starts again. It’s Tejay Antone

The more I look into Antone, the more I like him. I always get worried trying to classify breaking balls, but he does have an impressive slider and a less impressive curveball. Nowadays, I am not counting out any Reds pitcher because they are infusing Driveline as directly as possible after hiring Kyle Boddy. Antone is on the 40-man as well, so he could be seeing Major League time sooner rather than later once games start up again.

He pitched as high as Triple-A in 2019 with one of the highest K/9 of his career at 8.79 through 71 innings. His FIP was over 4 last season across the Southern League and International League. He had a very solid Spring Training in his 6.1 innings of work. The Reds seem to like Antone, so I assume he’ll get his chance relatively soon.

The Cardinals have some interesting yards and we’ll cover several today, Andre Pallante is the first.

As I look more into Pallante, it makes me happier to know he has more than just his curveball. In the video I watched, it was a very hittable pitch. That said, he’s got a slider that is his go-to secondary offering. The zip I saw on the fastball turned out to be…. low-to-mid-90’s. Can’t win them all. There are also reports of a changeup. The weak contact I saw for the tweet wasn’t an accident, there isn’t much swing and miss but the movement leads to consistently missed barrels.

After being drafted in the fourth round last summer, Pallante threw 35 innings for State College (NYPL) with a K/9 of 9.59 and a 2.78 BB/9. With his pitch mix, he’ll need to develop either his curve or changeup, but he should be able to stick as a starter. Keep in mind he’s still only 21 years old. 

Another guy from last summer’s draft class is shortstop Grae Kessinger, who was a second rounder for the Astros.

Alright, the numbers for Kessinger surprised me a little bit. He slashed .232/.333/.308 in his 211 at-bats between the New York Penn League and Midwest League. Throughout those two leagues, his walk rate and strikeout rate were nearly identical. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do next season as he continues to adjust to professional pitching as a second round pick.

There is some raw power according to most prospectors, which means there’s some room for the power to grow. An optimal outcome would mean the power reaches league average. The hit tool will be what he relies on offensively, but he’s a bag of average tools type of prospect.

I love this next guy. That is all. Meet Andry Lara.

Lara is throwing from a 6-foot-4 frame. This guy is a monster. Effortless delivery with a breaking ball that is already nasty. He hasn’t pitched professionally yet, but I’m ready to overhype this dude as much as possible until he does. 

Time to jump into the draft with a prep guy who has had plenty of coverage over his career so far, Pete Crow-Armstrong.

PCA could be one of the more exciting names in the draft this year because of his athleticism. He’s a prep prospect, so he’ll have to be torn away from a Vanderbilt commitment. Though, considering where he’s projected to be drafted, it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish that feat. It will be interesting to see how the potential emphasis on going under-slot value early (in a five round draft) could affect Crow-Armstrong’s draft stock.

From everything I’ve been able to read, his instincts defensively are second to none. Enough to use his speed to stick in the middle of the grass. The biggest question to follow for him will be if the power develops or not. Either way, his hit tool should be at least average, if not more.

Staying with draft outfielders, college bat Heston Kjerstad.

The power is already very prevalent in Kjerstad’s game. What makes him such an interesting prospect is that it’s not without the hit tool. He’s got both. It’s likely the pop will always be more prominent than the hit tool, but this is a guy with potential double plus raw power. If the hit tool remains even average, Kjerstad will be a big deal moving forward. Man, that would be scary and fun.

That bat circle during the load isn’t a bad thing, it’s just more pronounced than I’ve ever seen. But when it’s over, the hands are quiet. So long as it doesn’t mess with his timing—and it hasn’t to this point—it’s just part of his swing and it makes him unique. 

Next Cardinal up is Angel Rondon.

Rondon is actually a former outfielder, which makes his control on the mound all the more impressive to me. The fastball/curve combination is what he will likely rely heavily on as his other pitches aren’t as solid. He had the kind of season that makes a prospect ascend from under the radar to even the St. Louis prospect nerds (same), to being on some well-known radars. 

He spent most of his time in Double-A in 2019, striking out 8.77 per nine. His 3.97 FIP and 3.29 BB/9 cap off what was a really solid season for Rondon. Keep in mind those numbers don’t include his dominating 45 inning stint in Palm Beach (High-A). The 22-year-old righty is trending in the right direction.

Back to the J2 ranks with Maximo Acosta from Texas.

Acosta is another case where there’s less information than most. He reportedly has gone through a growth spurt, which pushed him over the 6-foot mark. The power will be questioned for awhile, but his feel to hit already looks pretty advanced to me, so that will be something exciting to dream on for the Texas faithful.

Heading to Boston next, we take a look at a rising arm in Thad Ward.

There’s no holding back once that leg picks up—Ward is gone. He has a four pitch mix that features a low 90’s fastball, a sharp slider, a curveball and a changeup. There’s also rumors that he added a cutter that’s helped take his game to the next level. 

He pitched over two levels in 2019, striking out north of 10 batters per nine at both the South Atlantic League and Carolina League. However, that number looks a lot worse next to his 5.33 BB/9 in 54 A+ innings (thankfully, the BB/9 was only 3.11 in 72 innings at Low-A). Regardless of the high walk rate, he still posted a 3.86 FIP. Ward is a future starter, likely filling up the back end of a big league rotation.

Jordan Davis was a tough guy to look up (due to lack of video), but hopefully that changes soon.

It’s hard to make the judgement here, but it looked to me like his swing is geared toward hitting line drives to the gap. His slash line in Vermont last season was .264/.307/.430. He knocked 10 homers and 17 doubles while showing some varying patience at the plate, walking at a 10.2 percent clip in 2018 and 6 percent last season. 

Based on his grades on FanGraphs, he should have the arm to stick at third. The rest of his profile is carried by his offensive performance. 

More top flight draft arms, meet Asa Lacy.

Let’s not reinvent the wheel here, Lacy is a top draft prospect for a reason. This lefty has some electric stuff, and two plus pitches right now. His changeup is good too, and some believe it can eventually become a plus pitch as well. We’re talking about a guy who—assuming he remains healthy while utilizing abnormal mechanics—will have some solid strikeout stuff and can ascend to the top of a big league rotation.

The next dude rounds out the Cardinal arms and is my favorite of the bunch, it’s Griffin Roberts.

I’ll go to bat for Roberts any day of the week. This dude’s slider is elite and that one pitch already has me believing this Wake Forest product is headed towards a very successful closer career. His fastball is mid-90s, too. He’s just had trouble getting his career off the ground because of a drug suspension prior to his first full professional season.

To add to it, he wasn’t all too successful in 2019. His strikeout and walk rate were nearly identical, hanging just under 5 apiece (!!!!!). <insert Not Great, Bob! gif>, but I’m sticking to my guns. I’m waiting for that bounceback season whenever he hits the rubber again.

JJ Goss gained a new fan this week, and it’s me.

Save for Lara and Encarnacion, Goss is my favorite arm in this group. To refer to his right wing as an ‘arm’ is a massive injustice. It’s actually better classified as a whip because he gets it through so quickly. Of course, that’s how he generates his velocity to pair with arm-side run. His slider will certainly be a weapon, too. 

Don’t look at his ERA or you’ll be thrown off, since it was over 5 during his professional debut following last summer’s draft. His 2.92 FIP looks a little bit better. Oh, and this is the time to tell you that he’s only thrown 17 innings as a professional. When he gets a full season, the numbers will be much more interesting.

That’s it this week, thanks for all the names! Keep an eye out so you can get your request in next time!

Follow P365 contributor Trevor Hooth on Twitter! @HoothTrevor

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Featured image courtesy of photographer Sam Craft and the Associated Press


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