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The View From Behind the Backstop: Quick hits on Bowman, Plawecki, Morris, and more.

A quick round-up of some of the other players I have seen this year, including updates on previous reports.

Gordon Donovan

Matthew Bowman (RHP- Binghamton Mets)

5/31/14: 7 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 12 K

Bowman's delivery is less Lincecumish than when I saw him in Brooklyn in 2012, but it's still pretty fun to watch. This isn't just a batting-stance-guy-approximation of Lincecum though, there is some stuff here. I just don't know if there is enough stuff to be much more than an up-and-down reliever type. Fastball sat 92 in the first, but settled in at 88-92, sitting 89-91. He touched 93 a handful of times early, once or twice late. Bowman's control is excellent. He is able to throw right to the glove with ease, but the fastball is rather straight. This is not uncommon for shorter pitchers, and even the Lincecum delivery doesn't create that much plane or angle on the pitch. He can get right-handers to swing through it down-and-in when it gets some run, but it's too hittable in the zone.

The secondaries don't do much to keep batters off the fastball either. Bowman shows a couple of breaking balls. He primarily used a slow curve in the mid-seventies. Due to the 'uphill' nature of his delivery, the curve tends to show early with a pronounced hump out of the hand. It also doesn't have enough depth to really miss bats. He got some hitters to chase it in the dirt, that will happen some even in Double-A, but it's not a true swing-and-miss offering. Bowman will change the shape/speed of the pitch and make it more slider-like, but once it gets into the low-80s, the break is short and cutterish. Bowman showed a decent change in Brooklyn, but had very little feel for it in my look. Threw one good one early with good arm action and sink, but generally it was too firm. Potential extra middle reliever, but PCL batters may turn more of those Ks into hard contact, and he's giving up a lot of hard contact now.

Akeel Morris (RHP- Savannah Sand Gnats)

4/27: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Morris looked much better in this look compared to last August for Brooklyn. The biggest factor has been his working exclusively out of the stretch as a reliever. In the full wind-up, Morris had the highest effort mechanics I had personally seen from a professional pitcher. While he's far from 'easy' out of the stretch, he is much more under control, everything is more repeatable, and he hasn't sacrificed much in the way of stuff. Fastball was still 92-94 due to Morris' lightening-fast arm. He showed a fringy breaking ball and a firm change in the brief outing. Morris has a chance, and should breeze through both A-ball levels, but 92-94 just isn't special for a right-handed relief arm once you get to Double-A. He has a chance to pitch in a major league pen, but he is very high risk and doesn't carry late-inning upside.

Video (apologies for my yammering in the background)

Kevin Plawecki (C- Binghamton Mets)

5/30-5/31: 0-8, RBI, 2 K

I know this isn't coming from you guys, but I am starting to see some sentiment bubbling up among Mets fans that the team should consider calling up Plawecki and demoting Travis d'Arnaud. Here's a quick look at how they compared as Double-A players:

Plawecki, Age 23: .321/.351/.497, 3:1 K:BB ratio

d'Arnaud, Age 22, .311/.371/.542, 3:1 K:BB ratio

So d'Arnaud walked more and hit for more power at a younger age at the same level and league. Add in the fact that d'Arnaud is a much better defensive catcher, and this "debate" quickly becomes silly. Plawecki is definitely not ready to step in and be an upgrade over d'Arnaud. He has a very aggressive approach and has issues dealing with offspeed stuff away. There's still a lot to like here. He's strong and can barrel velocity. He's made strides with his receiving, and I've always thought he's worked well with his staffs. However, his arm is worse than d'Arnaud's, and he's not as good a receiver. d'Arnaud has had issues with passed balls, but Plawecki has his own problems moving laterally on balls in the dirt. I think Plawecki will hit enough to cover the defensive deficiencies, but he doesn't have close to the upside that d'Arnaud does.

I think the one major takeaway here is this: You just can't judge catching prospects on half-season samples. If you are going to have that quick a trigger, don't bother having catching prospects, just sign established veterans.

Here's my report on Plawecki from April.

Sean Newcomb (LHP- University of Hartford)

4/19: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K

5/3: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 2 HBP

I got two more looks at Newcomb after my initial report, and he has definitely raised his stock in my eyes. It also hasn't hurt his draft prospects that their has been a rash of injury issues among the top college arms this Spring (Hoffman, Feede, Finnegan). Newcomb showed a better curveball in these last two looks, though I'd still grade it out as below-average at the moment. He has trouble getting it consistently down-and-in to righties, and it tends to stay in the hitting zone too long. In his May start he showed the by far the best change-up I've seen from him, and it's a potentially solid-average pitch with some refinement. I still like the slider more than the curve, but I am in the minority on this, and he didn't really use it all in my May look. Consistently an easy 91-94 and holds all his stuff deep into games. Biggest issue for me is whether or not the fastball command gets there. He has issues getting the fastball in to right-handed batters and finishing his delivery in general. One thing I do like is he will show you a little more when he gets into tight spots and never gets rattled. Fairly safe pick considering the small school, cold-weather profile. Newcomb shows you solid, across-the-board present-day stuff, while still giving you a bit to dream on if the breaking balls tighten up with professional instruction. Good chance he is off the board by 10, but fair value in that spot now.

Angel Cuan (LHP- Binghamton Mets)

5/30: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

Alex Panteliodis (LHP- Binghamton Mets)

6/1: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

Two pitchers with a lot in common (though certainly not jersey size). Both are shorter lefthanders with below-average fastballs (86-88 for Pants, 83-86 for Cuan). Both have occasional command issues due to their LOOGYish mechanics (Pants steps all the way across the rubber towards first and throws across his body, Cuan is stiff and upright in his delivery and slings from a below 3/4 arm slot.) Both can cut and run their fastball a bit. Cuan's best secondary was an upper 70s, slurvy breaking ball he could backdoor or back foot, but it was very inconsistent. Panteliodis featured a low 80s change that showed some fade and sink. He has some feel for the pitch, but the arm action is just okay, at times he would slow it down to really get the pitch to turn over. He also threw a mid-70s slow curve, but hitters could generally stay back on it and pop it into the outfield when it was around the zone and lay off it when it wasn't. Panteliodis also lost some zip out of the stretch on all his offerings. Both southpaws were very hittable and likely top out at this level.