• Jun

    Scouting Aberdeen on Opening Day

    After watching Aberdeen on opening night it was hard not to focus on starter Parker Bridwell. Afterall, how many times do you get to see a 19-year old sit at 92-94 MPH while touching 95 with good sink and an outstanding slider? While I put a more detailed report in his prospect tracker on the message board, needless to say he was the talk of the night.

    At the same time I got my first look at number of guys and another look at third baseman Connor Narron. Narron struggled last year when he was way over his head playing at Aberdeen as an 18-year old, but after a winter of working with his father, former major leaguer Jerry Narron, and an adjustment in his hand placement, he seems excited about getting off to a fast start. Unfortunately he’s started off slowly (0-for-12) through his first four games but he’s struck out just once and has walked two times and hit several balls on the nose right at guys on opening day.

    I got my first look at 19-year old catcher Wynston Sawyer, who after just 27 professional plate appearances was assigned to Aberdeen. Here’s one of the guys that probably could have used a Bluefield team to compete on this year, but his assignment to Aberdeen shows the Orioles are high on him. He didn’t get a ton of good swings on opening day but after talking with him after the game, it’s clear he takes a lot of pride in the defensive side of his game. His only hit so far this year was a home run in last night’s game and the New York-Penn League might prove to be too much for him offensively, especially when the 2011 college draft picks start to show up. Either way, he’ll be an interesting player to watch this season.

    One guy who stood out for me was 22-year old center fielder Martin Serrata. The Dominican switch-hitter is pretty raw, but he flashed a quick bat and excellent speed on the base paths and in center field where he can cover some ground. Of course he also got picked off second and looked pretty bad on offspeed pitches so he’s definitely a raw player, but there is some promise there.

    I also got to see Mychal Givens play shortstop for the first time and got an up close look at his swing. The Orioles apparently planned to give him some playing time at shortstop so he could eventually fill in for Manny Machado once he’s promoted to Frederick on Thursday. Defensively he played several balls off his heels and did not look too comfortable. He did turn a few double plays and looks to have plenty of arm for shortstop, but I’m not sure he has the foot speed to play there where his range appeared to be below average.

    Offensively there’s a night and day difference between the Givens I saw at the end of last season and this season. Last year’s version had a very quiet, quick load and this year’s version has his wrists bouncing back and forth as the ball is being delivered. He starts his hands out, and then brings them in as he places the bat on his shoulder, and then as the ball starts to be pitched he raises his hands away from his body and his wrists go back and forth as he loads. There is no way he can have a consistent load with these pre and post-pitch hitting mechanics and it certainly helps explains his offensive miseries this season compared to last year’s success.

    One of my biggest pet-peeves is seeing minor league hitters with “noisy” loads. Wrists need to be locked in and the load should be straight back and then an explosion to the ball. Unless you have Gary Sheffield-like powerful wrists, a young hitter will struggle with all that wrist movement during a load.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.