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Premium Content Scout’s Eye – Jordan Lyles vs. Ezekiel Spruill and More

September 28, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG 2 Comments

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*PLEASE DO NOT EMBED THIS VIDEO ANYWHERE*

MATCH-UP – Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves) at Lexington Legends (Houston Astros)

KEY PROSPECTS WE ARE WATCHING – Ezekiel Spruill (RHP, Braves), Adam Milligan (OF, Braves), Jordan Lyles (RHP, Astros), and Jay Austin (CF, Astros)

GAME BOX SCOREClick Here

EZEKIEL SPRUILL and JAY AUSTIN


REMINDERif you’re looking for more game footage, you can sign up for a yearly MiLB.tv account for just $14. There are hundreds of full games for you to choose from.

We’ll get the Ezekiel Spruill vs. Jay Austin match-up out of the way first as it was over quickly. It’s the very first AB you see in the video above. Austin — a raw, toolsy, and athletic outfielder drafted highly by the Astros in 2008 — gets himself out by slapping at a first pitch fastball that was running away from him. It’s not a pitch Austin should have been chasing and it exemplifies Austin’s plate discipline issues, which is something that should improve with experience.

The story here is Spruill, however, who threw his best start of the season. He had all three of his pitches working — the fastball, curveball, and change-up. All three are average pitches at the moment with the curveball profiling as slightly above average at times. The curveball was particularly impressive in this outing, showing good bite and generating a healthy amount of swings-and-misses. The problem for Spruill comes in the matter of consistency. He doesn’t have that curveball working as much as he’d like from start-to-start.

You’ll notice how Spruill stayed out of the middle of the plate. When he missed, it wasn’t in a place where the hitter could do much damage. He generally worked the corners and hit the glove. That’s a must of Spruill as he doesn’t have the present stuff to blow it by hitters.

I thought the change-up looked good at times as Spruill maintained fastball arm speed and the pitch showed a decent dip out of the strike zone as it approached home plate.

Mechanically, I’ve mentioned a couple changes that might help him produce better velocity on his fastball. For an example, an increase in tempo might be helpful. However, he’s maintained essentially the same mechanics since he’s been drafted. His arm action is also still on the long side. His front side mechanics still look good to me though I don’t think I have the best angle to make that judgement.

JORDAN LYLES AND ADAM MILLIGAN


REMINDERif you’re looking for more game footage, you can sign up for a yearly MiLB.tv account for just $14. There are hundreds of full games for you to choose from.

First, a little background on Adam Milligan, who remains mostly an unknown entity in the Braves farm system. He was a 6th round pick in 2008, but was considered a tough sign because of a strong commitment to Vanderbilt. He’s built like a rock, is a tremendous athlete with a football background, and has plus-plus raw power, which manifested itself in Rome. The drawback to Milligan was a lack of refinement. His approach at the plate is still rough, but he’s made tremendous strides this year.

The Lyles vs. Milligan match-up can be found at the 28 second mark in the video above.

Lyles gets ahead of Milligan 0-2, but Milligan hangs in well. He takes a pitch on the outside corner before Lyles comes high and inside, which would draw the count to 2-2. Lyles follows up the high-and-tight fastball with a low-and-away change-up. Milligan looks like he’s fooled by the pitch and a bit out in front, but he makes the adjustment and lines the pitch into left field. The result was an out, however, as the outfielder was positioned well on the play.

I’ll have more footage on Milligan in the near future.

I must say, I’ve become a huge Jordan Lyles fan. All this after I was very luke warm on Lyles when he was drafted. He’s made some adjustments mechanically, which I will get into at another time, as well as filled out his projectable frame. This has helped Lyles increase his velocity by a pretty significant margin since high school. Let’s go over some of the stuff he showed in this outing:

Fastball – A rising fastball that will also move away from right handed hitters. He has pretty good command of the pitch, but there are times he struggles to locate it. When he loses his command, he tends to miss up in the zone. As for why he misses up in the zone, my take is that it’s a mechanical issue. Occasionally, Lyles will have a timing issue with his arm action, which ends up arriving slightly later than it should. As a result, the pitch will sail on him.

Curveball – Lyles didn’t throw too many in this outing, but it flashes above average, maybe even plus potential. He battles with its consistency, but it’s come a long way since being drafted.

Change-up – Lyles didn’t really have the pitch working for him in this game, but it’s an average, potentially above average pitch with the potential to get better.

I have a different game on file in which Lyles throws his curveball and change-up more frequently and with better success than this particular game.

Other Notes

Despite the occasional timing problem, Lyles does show an ability to consistently repeat his delivery. He’s a good athlete, which helps matters.

What I also like about Lyles — and this is where I’ll end — is that he shows a real good feel for pitching, especially when you consider his age level. He pitches off his fastball, but will mix in other pitches at the appropriate times. He’s also shown a willingness to pitch inside to hitters, making them less comfortable in the box batter’s box. It’s early and I have much more research to do, but right now Lyles would qualify as my top prospect in the Astros farm system.

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