Scouting Video and Notes: Triple-A New Orleans

{Sorry for the crummy video, I thought my iPhone would have better quality.}

I recently had the chance to watch some Marlins' prospects play at Triple-A New Orleans. While I missed Jacob Turner's start by one day, I did get a chance to see Rob Brantly behind the plate. Overall, I came away not very impressed. However, one lesser-known player raised the eyebrows of me and scouts in the audience. Anyways, here are some scouting notes on five of the New Orleans' players.

Rob Brantly, C: Brantly, of course, was the second biggest name in the Marlins/Tigers trade that sent Anibal Sanchez to Detroit. I came to the ballpark hearing mixed things about Brantly. Some people in the industry see him as an average everyday catcher who could hit 10-12 homers a year, and see some see him as nothing more than a backup. By the time I left the ballpark, I tended to lean towards the backup catcher projection.

Physically, Brantly reminded me a lot of Rob Johnson except Brantly is a little less pudgy. He's not of the prototypical catcher build, as he appears to be much more lean. As a left-handed hitter, Brantly actually hit the lefties he faced pretty well. He hit two line drives that probably should have been hits, but he still managed to go 2 for 5. Behind the plate, Brantly let a few balls get passed and he appeared to have some trouble communicating with Omar Poveda, but other than that he looked solid. Unfortunately, I didn't get a pop time on Brantly's release and throw to second, but his arm looked like his best defensive feature.

Brantly is probably going to be a backup catcher long-term or a second-division starter behind the plate.

Jose Duarte, CF: Jose Duarte will be lucky if he develops into a fourth outfielder at the major league level. However, that doesn't mean he's not fun to watch. Signed by the Marlins as a minor-league free agent in 2010, Duarte is known for his speed and defense. Duarte is no longer as fast as he was last year and when he was younger, but he still covers a lot of ground in center field. I found Duarte intriguing because he's not even six feet tall, and well under 180 pounds, yet he still has a huge uppercut in his swing. He's not a player that you'll see in Miami for a while, if ever, but Duarte is an exciting player to watch.

Omar Poveda, RHP: Omar Poveda was the Zephyrs starting pitcher. He has split time between Double-A Jacksonville and New Orleans this year, and generated some interest mainly due to his large frame. For such a big guy, Poveda throws a fastball at 87-88 MPH, and topped out at 90 MPH. He left it up in the zone, and it looked very straight and hittable. Poveda has two things going for him; his workhorse frame, and his plus curveball. Poveda is built sort of like Francisco Liriano. He looks like he could throw two hundred innings a year pretty easily. Poveda's curveball is pretty awesome. It has a lot of downward movement, and he feels comfortable throwing it early in the count. Poveda generates much more swinging strikes with his curveball than his fastball. He had Tacoma hitters such as Justin Smoak and Carlos Peguero looking silly. There has been a tiny bit of hype surrounding Poveda this year. Unfortunately, I don't see how he can turn into a major league pitcher unless he learns how to throw his fastball and changeup for strikes.

Luke Montz, C/DH/1B: Montz, a journeyman catcher who hasn't seen time in the majors since he played ten games for the Nationals in 2008, played first base at the game I was at. Montz has split time between catcher, first, and designated hitter this year. He is only hitting .243 but he does have twenty-four homers. Montz, along with Chase Lambin and Jeff Dominguez, help provide a veteran presence to the Zephyrs lineup. At the game I was at, Montz hit two home runs off very soft-tossing pitchers. He probably is going to be a Quad-A player for the remainder of his career, assuming John Buck and Brett Hayes stay healthy. However, if one of those players were to get hurt, the Marlins might choose to bring up Montz instead of Brantly.

Jon Link, RHP: Coming up with the White Sox as a prospect, Linke was throwing 93-94 MPH and was viewed as a future middle reliever in the Chicago bullpen. However, after a trade to the Dodgers, Link never got a real chance in the majors other than a quick stint in 2010. The Marlins signed Link as a minor-league free agent when the Orioles Triple-A club released him earlier this year. So far, in just 3.1 innings for New Orleans, Link has yet to give up a run and he's already struck six batters out. When I saw Link on Monday, he was touching 95 MPH, and he recorded the save for New Orleans. Link looked like a man among boys. It is reasonable to think that if Jon Link can keep pitching like this, he could get some innings in the majors by the end of the year. He's not going to make a huge impact, but it's fair to consider Link a sleeper prospect.

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