I asked Ron if he wanted to write up some observations he had on the players he saw this past week as the Lookouts played Mobile. He agreed, so here is what he saw.

Hey guys and gals. Doug asked me to throw something together about my week attending the Lookouts series with the Mobile Bay Bears. I had a lot of fun, made some new friends in the stands even managed to get an autographed baseball from Stubbs. Just take all of this with a grain of salt. I am no expert or scout, just a fan posting my thoughts on what I saw and giving my honest opinion on the prospects of a few of the guys.

Drew Stubbs CF

My take on Drew is that he will be an outstanding defensive CF. Even on balls hit into the gaps, he seems to just glide over and make it look easy. Questions still linger in my mind though whether he will make enough contact to survive at the major league level. It was hard for me to evaluate his power because he is still dealing with the lingering effects of a wrist sprain he suffered in Nooga before the break. What I was surprised to see was his discipline at the dish. They pitched Drew very carefully and didn’t give him a lot of fat pitches to hack at and he did well to take his walks. When I look at Stubbs over all game, I see a RH Von Hayes type player with more pop and better range in the outfield with a lower batting average.

Danny Dorn LF

What I heard about Danny was that he was all bat and below average defender. Let me tell you that at this moment, Danny Dorn is a better outfielder than Dunn ever will be. The first game of the series, Danny made two superb running catches down the line in left,  the second of which he laid out for. In another game he cut off a ball down the line and made an off balance throw to 2nd, nearly making an out of what normally is a standing double. The guy can flat out play. As for hitting, 2 of his 3 homers were well over 400 feet as they flew out just right of center field. Those two balls were out of any park in the majors. From my view he has as good a chance as any to make an impact at the Major League level.

Sean Henry OF

Think Ryan Freel with power. Of all the position players I saw this week, Henry has me the most excited. He can hit, hit for power, he can field and he is aggressive at everything he does. A little too aggressive at times as he can really go get it and wing it from the outfield … just ask Stubbs who he nearly ran over making a catch in right center. Not sure if Stubbs called him off but Drew ended up going for a tumble in the mini collision. No harm though and I am sure that is something the coaching staff will work on. Back to Sean, his offense is well rounded. He can sac bunt, bunt for a hit & gets down the line fast, steal bases, hit the opposite way and can hit for power. He probably has 20-25 HR power in my estimation, is very aggressive but is picky enough to draw walks. This sets him up to be a potential lead off candidate for the Reds in the next year or two. He can easily play all three OF positions. Only question is his size, will he break down like Freel does from time to time due to his reckless nature?

Chris Valaika

Dude can swing a bat and could probably do so in the majors right now. He wont hit much more than 15-20 Homers in a season but the guy will be a doubles machine. It is defense that will hold him back. The first game of the series this week, he had 2 errors and only a couple of kind decisions by the official scorer kept him from having 4. Chris just doesn’t have either the arm or the range to play short. He could be a decent 3B but I really think that arm is going to limit him to the right side of the infield. He can handle the balls hit to him or ones he has to charge, but hit a ball to his left or right that he has to put any muscle on and his throws sail all over the place. 1B Gutierrez got quite a work out because of him this week. I feel like Valaika’s bat will get him to the majors, but I think his arm is what will make him a roll player/pinch hitter over the long haul.

Craig Tatum C

All defense, no offense sums up what I saw from Craig. He has an absolute cannon for an arm. I watched him throw just about every time after between inning warm ups and his throws to 2nd rarely have any bend in them. Its just a straight laser all the way there. He is also very good at balls in the dirt as he saved several wild pitches over the 3 games he played. His problem is at the dish. First game of the series he K’d twice with the bases loaded and no outs. All on breaking balls down and away. He just couldn’t help chasing them over and over. I think he will make a fine defensive catcher but his work with the bat is what will keep him from being a major league starter.

Jordan Smith SP

Add Jordan to the list of up and coming guys to get excited about. His 6 innings of work against Mobile was a thing of beauty. He was filling up the strike zone early and often with just about every pitch in his arsenal and had the Bears flailing for most of his appearance. I can only remember two hard hit balls and he punctuated his effort with a called third strike on one dandy of an off speed pitch. He keeps this up and he could be knocking at the door to the majors by the end of next year the way Thompson did this year for us.

Travis Wood SP

Travis’ outing wasn’t as good as Smiths but it was encouraging during his up and down year. One thing holding him back is the inability to finish off batters. He had to battle but managed to do just enough to eek 5 innings. His curve still needs a lot of work as he had trouble getting it over and the Bears laid off it for the most part.

Sean Watson RP

Sean has the stuff to be better than his is right now but walks are killing him. Case in point, he came in during the 2nd game of the series, threw strike and K’d the side. Next night, his pitches are all over the place, he walks 3 and loses the game. He has to sharpen his control if he wants to make it past AA IMO.

Pedro Viola RP

Pedro has much better stuff than he has to show for it statistically wise. In the two games I saw him pitch, he was effective against both righties & lefties. The ball comes out of his hand so effortlessly you would think he wasn’t trying. Then the ball pops the mitt and you hear it echo off the outfield walls and you realize how hard he can bring it. As Doug mentioned to me in an email exchange, Viola has had worst luck he has ever seen .. a BABIP of over .450 when league average is on .300 … makes for one heck of a head scratcher when you see guys still half way through their swing and the ball is already in the mitt. Can see this guy filling a major roll in the pen down the road for the Reds

Other players of note: Robert Manuel was having a great season but got smacked around a little here. Lecure, was beaten around pretty good too though he had good velocity. Eymann & Gutierrez will never be more than AAA all stars at best … neither has any pop though Tonys is a very good contact hitter.

Was a very enjoyable week of baseball. Sat with some great people/Mobile fans who tolerated my cheering for the Lookouts quite well. Funniest moment of the week though was when Derrik Lutz was walking past our section and a kid asked him for a ball. Derrik replied “Sorry, I don’t have any balls” … Needless to say he turned bright Red when our whole section busted out laughing. =)

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