AFL Reports: Pitchers, Part Seven

Mariners RHP Brandon Maurer

Kiley shares scouting reports on Arizona Fall League pitchers from late in his week on the road, including video and reports on Brandon Maurer, Tyler Matzek, Adys Portillo and a little-known reliever that hit 99 mph.

Arizona Fall League Content

Pitcher Scouting Reports (8): Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven & Part Eight

Hitter Scouting Reports: Coming Soon

Pitcher Videos (10): Alex Meyer, Sammy Solis, Marcus Stroman, Jake Barrett, Kyle Crick, Michael Lorenzen, Matt Purke, Kenny Giles, Tyler Matzek & Andrew Heaney

Hitter Videos (5): Jorge Soler, Colin Moran, James Ramsey, Mason Williams & Kris Bryant

Mariners righty Brandon Maurer was great down the stretch last season for AA Jackson. I saw him in consecutive days with Braves scuffling AAA righty Julio Teheran and agreed with a scout I talked to just afterwards that Maurer was the superior current talent, better prospect and painfully underrated. In 2013, Teheran made a couple adjustments and ending up posting far superior numbers in the big leagues than he did in AAA in 2012 while Maurer went backwards and was awful all year at AAA and the big leagues. I didn't see or hear from scouts any one particular issue that was the problem like Teheran had, but instead general command and stuff backing up. After seeing Maurer in the AFL, I see exactly what those scouts were talking about.

While alone it doesn't mean much, Maurer's body language was awful. He didn't look like he wanted to be at the field, he was telegraphing his changeup with slower arm speed and no conviction like someone was making him throw the pitch and was easily rattled when hitters were squaring him up. The command and stuff were also at least a notch worse as advertised. Late in 2012 when I saw him, Maurer worked an entire outing at 91-95, touching 96 mph with an above average slider and changeup and fringy command on what seemed to be a bad command night but his aggressiveness served him well. Last week, Maurer worked 94-96 (consistent with maxed-out velocity in short stints) with an 86-89 mph slider that was average at best and an 89-91 mph changeup that was thrown too hard and was fringy at best. Sometimes pitchers in this development situation can find stuff and consistency as quickly as they lost it, but with an entire lost year in his rear view, it's looking more like Maurer's ultimate upside is just middle reliever.

Cardinals RHP Sam Gaviglio was a steady performer starting opposite Maurer, sitting 88-91 with above average two seam life, a fringy to average changeup at 85-86 mph he used against righties and an 82-84 mph slider that improved throughout the game. Most of his start, Gaviglio's slider was average to slightly above, then late in his outing, he slightly raised his arm slot on the pitch and flashed an above average to plus pitch a few times before he was pulled. The Cardinals are just the club to make the most of a sinker-slider pitcher with modest stuff and some feel to pitch, so I'd keep a close eye on him in 2014 to see if those starter traits hold up in a full season.

I wrote earlier in the week about Rockies high profile LHP Tyler Matzek in part two of this series but wanted to add a note from my second look at him. He sat 92-94 again and showed the same look in the command/delivery area but his slider was improved at 85-87 mph showing above average a few times whereas in his previous outing it was at least a full notch worse and a 55 future grade was a bit hopeful. Two more arms I previously wrote about, Jays RHP Marcus Stroman (same lively plus stuff) and D'Backs RHP Matt Stites (still working 93-95 mph but feel and off-speed were less consistent), also appeared in this game.

Royals LHP Noel Arguelles is another high profile, high bonus lefty like Matzek who has had trouble delivering on his projection and showing stuff and command in the same outings after his big payday. Arguelles worked 89-91 mph with an average fastball, a low 70's roundhouse curveball that was fringy to average and a changeup he rarely used that looked about average in a short look. The 6'3 Cuban defector has been a disappointment across the board in the minors as the stuff is the same to worse when I saw him workout for over 100 scouts in the Dominican following a long layoff.

Phillies RHP Kenny Giles was a nice surprise in the last inning of a slow game sitting 94-99 mph with an average to slightly above average slider at 86-90 mph. There's some effort and he's a heel-lander but this is about as clean as that kind of velocity can look (excepting Neftali Feliz and a few others). Giles' results weren't great this season in Hi-A with more base runners and homers than you'd like but the elements are here for a solid middle reliever.

Lastly, Padres RHP Adys Portillo received a bonus well into the seven figures on July 2nd a few years back but has had inconsistent results and health stateside. He's pretty maxed-out physically but has plenty of arm speed at 91-95 mph and a slurve at 80-82 mph that's inconsistent and often average at best but shows the elements to be an above average pitch when he stays on top of it. He'll be 22 in a few months so he still has some time but I don't love the hesitation in his arm action and Portillo needs to start showing results, health and consistency soon.

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