Tigers prospect scouting report: Sandy Baez
As part of his regular series of scouting reports on Tigers prospects, James Chipman profiles right-handed starter Sandy Baez, a non-drafted free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic in October 2011.
Baez pitches in extended spring training camp in Lakeland, Florida, ahead of assignment in June to his next competitive level, which will likely be short-season Single A Connecticut of the New York-Penn League.
Editor's note: All numerical grades are determined on the standard scouting scale of 20-80, where 50 is big-league average. A score of 80 is extremely rare, except in speed, or raw power. An OFP (overall future potential) of 50 is solid and applies to most organizations.
Date of birth: Nov. 25,1993
Bats / throws: Right / right
2014 stats at rookie Gulf Coast League Tigers: 61.2 innings, 1-2 record, 3.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
Body: Listed at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds. Height and weight appear fairly accurate. Baez has bulked up a bit since last season but still features a rather thin and wiry frame. Moving forward, Baez should fill out nicely as he reaches physical maturity; projecting average strength throughout his upper and lower body.
Delivery / mechanics: Slings the ball from a three-quarter arm slot; medium effort in delivery; hides the ball well, causing a fair amount of deception. Lots of moving parts in his delivery, subsequently resulting in inconsistencies repeating mechanics and arm slot. Has, however, made great strides in improvement. Exceptional arm speed causing the ball to jump out of the hand, challenging batters. Lands hard on the first-base side after release; able to field his position fairly well, though. A tick above average to the plate (1.20-1.27); holds runners well.
Fastball: Consistently sits between 91-94 mph, occasionally topping out as high as 96. At its peak velocity the fastball features a little wiggle and is used primarily to change the line of sight working up and in, or as a chase pitch out of the zone. The offering is at its best in the lower velocity band where it features wicked late life that can best be described as a "bowling ball" because of its heavy, late natural sink. Baez regularly pounds the offering east to west in the lower third of the strike zone. He frequently avoids bat barrels, inducing lots of weak contact. Baez also maintains velocity exceptionally well throughout his starts. Currently a tick shy of already being a plus pitch, Baez's fastball has near plus-plus potential projection moving forward. Grade: Present 55 / Future 65
Change-up: Sits between 81-83 mph. Plays well off the fastball keeping hitters off-balance and guessing. Has feel, maintaining arm speed to sell the pitch, giving it swing-and-miss potential moving forward. Arguably still a work in progress, however, in its current state, as his consistency varies. Utilizes a standard grip. Average downward dive with occasional fade at its best. Overall, a projectable offering with big-league average potential. Grade: Present 40 / Future 50
Curveball: Sits between 78-80 mph. Short breaking ball with occasional slurvy action. Inconsistent offering that needs some fine-tuning. He'll snap one off every once in a while, though, showing progress and feel. Spins on occasion, lacking tight rotation and desired velocity, yielding well-barreled contact. Baez appears comfortable throwing it as both a chase pitch and for strikes. He will occasionally backdoor the pitch in the strike zone to break up predictable sequencing. Moving forward, control of the offering will drastically need to improve as he faces more advanced batters. Overall, I see fringe-average to a tick below-average potential, making it a serviceable option in his repertoire. Grade: Present 40 / Future 50
Control / command: His profile includes control, as Baez is an aggressive strike-thrower who pounds the zone. Like most young prospects, command comes and goes, turning him into an occasional raw dart-thrower. Regardless, Baez routinely gets ahead and stays ahead in the count. He has an advanced feel for pitching, sequencing exceptionally well to avoid predictable patterns, and he pitches backward to keep the opposition guessing.
Additional points: Baez has intense mound presence and can be best described as a bulldog. He enjoys the game of baseball and wants to be a big-leaguer. Baez is highly regarded by his teammates and coaching staff as a hard worker and a great teammate. There are no off-the-field issues.
Projection: A relatively unknown name coming into last season, Baez solidified himself as a prospect to keep an eye on moving forward. The 21-year-old ground-ball machine is loaded with enough projection to dream and see a potential big-league average starter should the secondary stuff come to fruition. At the very least, his stuff should play up a bit higher in the bullpen, and with his bulldog mound presence there he could be a potential high-leverage reliever when all is said and done. Overall, I'm bullish on Baez, and I see an average big-leaguer.
James Chipman scouts the minor leagues for The Detroit News and is based in Orlando, Florida. Twitter: @J__Chipman.