Report From Burlington
Last night, the M’s Appalachian league team from Pulaski squared off against the Burlington Royals in a double-header. With a chance to catch a couple of games at once, I headed over to the park to watch Gabriel Noriega, Jharmidy De Jesus, and Steve Baron and get a first hand look at some of the M’s younger prospects.
Noriega can really play shortstop. This isn’t news – all the scouting reports on him say the same thing. The kid can pick it. How he’s hit three home runs though, is beyond me – the swing isn’t conducive to power at all, and he’s probably 160 pounds with absolutely no upper body strength. The bat is still a big question mark for me, but the glove is legit.
Baron… read above. His footwork behind the plate was impressive, he’s got a really good catch-and-release, strong arm – the physical tools for him to be a top notch defensive catcher are there. But man, the swing… it needs to be overhauled. He won’t hit without a lot of work. He’s going to have to put in a ton of time improving his offensive game, because his glove is way ahead of his bat right now.
The pleasant surprise of the day was LHP Ricky Ortiz, a 21-year-old whose lower half probably weighs 200 pounds. He’s not going to win any sprint contests, but he’s got a decent fastball (90-92), a curve that showed good break, and good command of both pitches for his level of experience. He can move the fastball in an out, and he throws the breaking ball to both righties and lefties – it’s a good second pitch.
Overall, though, one guy impressed more than the rest. Clearly, the best guy I saw in Burlington was Carmen Fusco. He’s a little old for the league, at 56, but he’s got the kind of make-up that you just can’t teach. It’s pretty rare to find a five tool director of pro scouting, but Fusco oozes the confidence of an Italian and matches it with a keen eye and a sharp wit, plus the endurance of a true warrior. He’s easily the most promising Italian pro scouting director I’ve seen in the Appy League – I think he could be going places. Keep an eye on that Fusco kid – he’s a good one.