With the Billings Mustangs playing on MiLB.tv the past two nights, I’ve gotten a chance to watch them play two games so far. A third game will come on tonight to give me a look at a few more of their pitchers and a second or third look at some of the position players. The view from the camera angle isn’t good to get much information on the hitters as far as their swing mechanics go, as the angle is from behind home plate. It is good though to watch pitchers and fielders though. When it comes to the pitchers, I have also been able to talk with someone who has seen the team quite a bit this year to help gather scouting reports on some of the guys I was unfamiliar with, to help out as I watched. I will have another post up on Monday with more scouting notes on the Mustangs. For today, I’ve got a couple of things that came out of the first two nights of watching. For today, I have notes on Taylor Sparks, Brian O’Grady, Argenis Aldazoro, Soid Marquez and Wagner Gomez.

Taylor Sparks

Here is the last sentence that I wrote about Sparks on the day that he was drafted in his scouting report:

With true five-tool potential, he provides a lot of upside, but his plate discipline and contact concerns also make him a very risky pick.

At UC-Irvine, Sparks was easily their best hitter. One report I got on him noted that he had better plate discipline than his college walk and strikeout numbers suggested. I wanted to see it with my own eyes. Looking at the numbers in Billings, there is no doubt a change in approach compared to where he was in college. Generally speaking, elite level college hitters are walking more than they strike out. Sparks, in his junior season walked 26 times and struck out 66 times. However in Billings he currently has 11 walks and 14 strikeouts, which is something you would expect from someone with far better strikeout-to-walk numbers earlier this year in college. Perhaps that report was right. Watching him play the last two nights, and while it is just two games worth of trips to the plate, showed that he was indeed a patient hitter. He didn’t expand the zone much, he took close pitches, he seemed comfortable in pitchers counts. A very good sign to see from someone who has the hitting tools you want to see.


Brian O’Grady was drafted as a first baseman, but he has played all over since being picked, spending time at first, third, right and center fields. He’s actually played seven games in center, which is a bit of a surprise given that he’s also played first. Working with a small number of chances, I pulled an average time down to first base on him at 4.2 second from the left side, which was surprising given his size (6′ 2″ and 215 lbs).

Argenis Aldazoro has a very strong arm, which is surprising given his low number of outfield assists over the years.  He hasn’t spent much time in the outfield this year though, playing mostly first base.

Soid Marquez is just 19-years-old, though he is in his second season in the States already, having playing in Arizona last season. His numbers are so-so thus far in Billings, 4.12 ERA in 19.2 innings, eight walks and 11 strikeouts. He’s a fastball, change up, curveball pitcher. He uses a normal 3/4 arm action and his mechanics are nice and smooth. The fastball comes in around 88-90 MPH. The curveball has some sweeping action to it, giving it an 11-5 look. I didn’t get a chance to see the change up. He showed a tendency to try to overthrow the fastball, leading to some control issues with the pitch.

Wagner Gomez used to be a catcher in the system, as recently as last year he had time with Dayton in the first half behind the plate. He has made the transition to the bullpen though, and is now in his second season on the mound. Unsurprisingly he has struggled with his control to this point in his career. On the season he has a 6.52 ERA in 9.2 innings, though prior to last night it was sitting at 4.15. He has eight walks and 10 strikeouts. Despite being so new to pitching, he is throwing four pitches. He throws a fastball, slider, curveball and a change up. That seems like a lot of things to work on for someone so new to pitching, but it could also be a matter of just trying to see which pitch he can figure out easiest to add to his fastball over the long haul. He uses a 3/4 arm slot, and as he loads his arm comes well behind him, sort of like how Tony Cingrani does it (though from the right side and not quite as smooth), giving him a longer arm action. The fastball works in the low 90’s, topping out around 93 MPH. He flashed a solid slider. I only saw one change up, and it stood out because he clearly slowed his arm action to throw it. He worked up in the zone on the night and that didn’t bode well as he was hit around hard in the inning he worked. Repeating his mechanics is going to be something he really needs to work on, as it’s not something he does well right now and it leads to very inconsistent control.