This week in the Cincinnati Reds Scouting Notebook we are going to look at two players that are having very different seasons, but both are showing some things to keep an eye on. Right handed pitcher Wendolyn Bautista has dominated in the Arizona Rookie League for the Reds, while outfielder Narciso Crook has struggled to find some consistency with the Dayton Dragons but continues to flash very interesting tools.

I wrote about the quick start that right hander Wendolyn Bautista was off to a month ago. That quick start has continued and he’s now well on his way to a great first season in the US. The pitcher now has a 1.14 ERA in 31.2 innings pitched. He’s walked nine batter and he’s struck out 39 batters while giving up just one home run. Bautista is also showing good groundball tendencies early on with a 57% groundball rate. The numbers are pretty good wherever you look. But, what does the scouting report look like?

Scouting Report

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The 22-year-old Bautista throws in the 88-92 MPH range with his fastball and he’s throwing good breaking balls. He was described as a pitchability right hander who is very aggressive with the strikezone.

While he may not a top end prospect, a guy with two breaking balls that he can throw for strikes and a decent enough fastball has a chance to turn into a good reliever if he can pick up some velocity. Right now, Bautista is being used essentially as a second starter to piggyback on the start of someone else, but if he moves into a more traditional relief role with just one inning there could me a tick or two left on that fastball.

Narciso Crook is a guy that jumped out at me the first day that I saw him in Dayton. From a physical standpoint, he fits the bill. He’s listed at 6′ 3″ and 220 lbs and he just turned 20-years-old three weeks ago. He’s already got a mans body despite a young age. He’s struggled this year to find some consistency at the plate. He’s hitting just .225/.258/.361 this season with 18 doubles, 3 triples and 5 home runs. He’s drawn just 10 walks in 300 plate appearances and he’s had 81 strikeouts.

The numbers don’t tell all of the story though. He’s got to improve his plate approach, 10 walks to 81 strikeouts simply isn’t going to allow him to ever hit enough to be productive. The strikeout rate is a little higher than you’d like to see, at 27%. But it’s the walk rate that needs to improve the most, sitting at just 3.3% on the year. It wasn’t too low in 2014 with the Arizona League Reds, but much better coming in at 7.8%. He’s still quite young, one of the younger players in the league – so there’s time to improve his approach and pitch recognition skills, but it’s something that he will absolutely have to do in order to get the most from his offensive tools.

He’s able to use the entire field, but he does have some pull tendencies in his spray chart. Right now, his power is to the pull side with all five of his home runs going to left field and a majority of his doubles have also gone to left.

The power for Crook isn’t showing up so much in games, as he’s struggling with the hit tool, which is holding back the power as well, but he will flash good power potential in games at times. 15-20 home runs in the future isn’t out of the question if his approach improves enough to allow his power play. There may even be a little more room in there than that.

He’s got good speed, though despite playing center field more than any other spot in 2015, he profiles better as a corner outfielder. He’s an above-average runner currently, but he’s right on that line between slightly above-average and above-average. If he grows any more, he probably turns into just an average runner. With that said, his body is filled out pretty well despite his young age, so there may not be too much physical projection left.

Defensively, as noted above, he can currently handle center enough to play there in the minor leagues but his lack of true speed is going to push him to the corners eventually. He’s got an above-average arm as well that should play very well in right field if and when he eventually makes the move over there.

There’s plenty of risk involved with Crook, he may never make it out of A-ball if he can’t improve his approach and pitch identification, but there’s a lot of upside for him as well. He’s got some power in his bat and he’s got the tools to be an above-average defender in the corner outfield spots.

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15 Responses

  1. MK

    Put me in the Crook fan club. To me he has been similar to and when you consider two years younger maybe ahead of Phillip Ervin when with the Dragons. If you factor the plate appearances to be the same for their full Dragon seasons (Crook has far fewer plate appearances)will have 10 less hits, 10 less runs 3 less doubles one less triple, but one more home run. Their defense is very similar.

    I know Ervin was coming off wrist surgery last year but he has not shown much improvement this year yet is still considered quite a prospect. If Crook repeats Dayton next year he will still be younger than the average age of the league.

    • Doug Gray

      I have only seen Ervin in two games so far, but the numbers for him are improved from last year when you consider the league factors.

      • Tom Gray

        The MLB pitching will be tougher than any MiLB pitchers that Ervin faces.

        I would discount which league he plays in. Good hitters hit and good pitchers pitch no matter what league it is.

      • Doug Gray

        History has shown us that even guys that go on to win mvp awards haven’t exactly had a ton of success in the Florida State League. For a variety of reasons the league just crushes power output and limits hitting. No player in the league has an OPS over 825 with 200 at bats.

      • Tom Gray

        Perhaps. Sound more like an excuse to me. Ervin has a ways to go no matter what MiLB league he plays in.

      • Tom Gray

        Pete Rose hit .330 and thirty 3B hits in 1961 for Tampa. No one told him that you can’t hit in FSL.

      • Rick in Va

        And in 2005 Joey Votto hit .256 for Sarasota in the FSL. And he hit way better against MLB pitching a few years later, of course. Rose did a lot of things that other players didn’t do.

  2. Michael Smith

    Doug isnt Ervin roughly 100 points higher than league average in the fsl?

    He is 14th in ops for the whole league, leads the league in home runs,

    • Doug Gray

      I’m in a parking lot right now, so I can’t double check, but yes, he is significantly over the league average OPS which is 651

      • Kevin Davis

        Doug, – Blue Wahoos announced Blandino promted to AA.

      • Doug Gray

        I was at the game – for all of the two innings it lasted. He rocked a double in his only at-bat.

  3. Michael Smith

    Now your comparing Ervin to Pete Rose. While your at it let’s throw numbers out for Willie Mays and Mike Trout

  4. MK

    Dragons reliever Brian Hunter will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow.