Saturday, May 3 - Augusta 4, Greenville 2
Ball's pitch selection and command were about as expected. You can tell the Red Sox are building him up slowly by throwing majority fastballs right now, and it's probably affecting the command of his secondaries when he does throw them. But the fact that he threw so many fastballs and still totaled a Lake Olmstead high for swinging strikes this season (16) tells you how legitimate the kid is.
Ball's fastball sat 88-91 and touched 92. It has good arm-side run, and he works with good plane from his 6-foot-6 frame. Augusta batters were unable to square the pitch at a decent rate, but they did enough to score three runs off him because they cheated fastball and caught it out front a few times. Augusta's best power threat, Tyler Horan, took him deep by cheating on an 89-mph fastball in the first inning. If Ball had his secondaries working, it would have been a different story. Taking into account the late life and plane of the pitch, Ball's fastball is a plus offering.
His changeup is the better secondary, but he had little feel for it in this start. He flashed the plus pitch a couple times and got two swinging strikes on it, but more often it was left high and firm. He probably hasn't thrown the pitch much lately, and it showed here. I saw the capability of the pitch a couple times, and it was enough to raise my eyebrows when he threw it well.
Ball's curveball was surprisingly very good. Reports indicated it's capable of flashing plus, and it definitely did a few times. It's likely to settle in the above average range down the road, because it shows some hump at times, and it'd be nice to see the pitch gain a little tighter spin. But it's definitely a guaranteed above average pitch, giving him the arsenal to be a 2 ceiling.
Ball shows good command for a teenager with a potential power arm. He has a very projectable body and should gain muscle, which should lead to a little more velo when he builds arm strength. His mechanics are clean, and he drives to the plate very well.
If Ball can gain a tick of velo and gain a consistent feel for his secondaries, he's easily a frontline starter and could eventually develop into the best left-handed pitching prospect in the minor leagues.
Lujan was again solid and should still be in a higher league. As I've written numerous times, he has proven himself in the South Atlantic League and is a 25-year-old left-hander. There's nothing left in this league for him.
Lujan sat 88-90 and touched 91 with some tail. He commanded the pitch to both sides with confidence and ease. His changeup flashed plus pretty often around 82-84, showing some fade and good arm action. The curveball has gotten better, too, which could be the difference for Lujan. If he can consistently spin an average curve in the upper levels, he could get by with his solid command profile.
Lujan's mechanics have definitely been simplified. He barely has a leg kick anymore, and his arm action is quick and clean. He said the simpler mechanics have sharpened his breaking ball, and it's showing.
I'm a fan of Margot's bat. It's quick and clean, and he barrels the ball pretty well. He doesn't get cheated when he swings, but he keeps it under control at the same time, which is a combination I enjoy watching.
Margot is an athletic 19-year-old who holds his own in center field. He lost himself going back on a ball to the 400-foot sign in this game, but Lake Olmstead's outfield is so big, it's not surprising. He reads the ball off the bat pretty well, and he has good range from above-average speed.
Margot's bat will occasionally get long, leading to pop ups, but he has the bat speed and on-base skills to profile as a No. 2 hitter, or even a leadoff guy for teams that don't care as much about elite speed at the top. He has some lift in the swing and will have good gap power down the road, with the occasional home run. He has a strong body built for a long season.
Black was activated from the disabled list prior to the game. He was placed on the list for right shoulder inflammation.
Black's return was everything he could have hoped for. His fastball worked 94-97 from outstanding arm speed, and he paired it with a plus slider around 84. The breaking ball showed sharp, downward bite, and it froze a couple Greenville batters.
Black's arm motion is long and has effort, but it works out of the bullpen. If he can stay healthy, he can be a dynamic reliever for the Giants in the future. He has late-innings potential, and I look forward to seeing more of him this season.
Notable Augusta lines:
Matt Lujan: 6.1 IP, 7 H, R, 2 BB, 8 K, 9 ground balls, 4 fly balls, 2 line drives, 10 swinging strikes
Ray Black: 1 IP, H, 2 K
Tyler Horan: 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
Brandon Bednar: 2-4, 3B, RBI
Ryan Tuntland: 2-4, 2B
Notable Greenville lines:
Trey Ball: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 R/ER, 6 K, 5 ground balls, 9 fly balls, 1 line drive, 16 swinging strikes
Manuel Margot: 2-4
Wendell Rijo: 2-3, BB
Jantzen Witte: 1-4, 2B, RBI