Tuesday's Lakewood doubleheader provided a unique opportunity with two 21-year-old Dominican righties pitching back-to-back games on what is the best MiLBtv stream I have seen below AA. Alberto Tirado is a falling prospect, a hard throwing reliever who was demoted and stretched out in an effort to find some control. Seranthony Dominguez is on the rise, a mostly unknown prospect who missed almost all of 2015 and promoted to Lakewood after three starts in Williamsport. Both pitchers have a three pitch mix, are relatively small (6’0" 180 and 6’1" 185 respectively), and are Rule 5 eligible.
Now, I will give some obvious caveats: this is off of a video stream, not in person, there are a lot of things missed on video that one catches in person. This also means no velocity readings outside what the person on the call wanted to give.
Game 1 was Alberto Tirado on the mound with Deivi Grullon behind the plate. It does not take long to be in on Tirado. The fastball is electric, according to the broadcast he was 95-97 touching 99 and held it into the later innings. Even with the high velocity the pitch has great life with some armside run and sink. The fastball control is poor and that might be generous. Tirado to me looked like he had trouble repeating his release point and when he missed he would miss badly. It feels like grasping at straws to say he flashed command, but there are stretches where everything works fine and he hits the glove, he was especially able to hit the bottom right corner of the zone. Then there is the slider, and I am not exaggerating when I say it might be the single best pitch of any minor league pitcher in the org. It has late, sharp two plane break and he was able to command it for stretches of the game. He and Grullon were able to get three strikeouts looking by backdooring it to lefties with Grullon framing it at the bottom corner of the zone. His changeup flashed, but it was hard to distinguish it consistently in this look.
It is not hard to say that Tirado has two future 70 pitches in his fastball and slider, under normal circumstances just having an average changeup would make Tirado a front line starter. However, Tirado doesn’t have the control right now to even be a reliever. He walked 3 and hit another in 4 innings of work that saw him throw over 80 pitches. On the season he has 29 walks in 27.2 innings. Right now Tirado is in the best place he can be. He can handle a starting workload and it gives him plenty of time to work through things to find consistency. There is a nasty reliever in there somewhere, with a .0001% chance he can really make it click at which point he is a monster. It is easy to look at the walk numbers and want to give up on Tirado, but when you watch him there are flashes that he is working through things.
Seranthony Dominguez took over for Game 2 with Wilson Garcia behind the plate. Immediately it is noticeable that Dominguez has better control. He still misses wildly occasionally (especially armside and up), but he is able to put his fastball in the zone with regularity. There is some movement to the fastball as well, but not quite the explosive life that Tirado showed in game. The broadcast has the velocity running up to 95, which matches what Seranthony has done in other games this season. Seranthony works the full arsenal off of the fastball, showing both a curveball and a changeup. The curveball is a 12-6 breaker that shows plus potential (he broke off one for a strikeout that was present plus). The changeup also looks like it could be a good pitch with solid sink, but he didn't throw many of them. Dominguez also shows solid feel for pitching, working down for ground balls while also elevating his fastball for swings and misses.
It is an interesting profile because there is a chance at 3 plus to above average pitches. He is still very clearly a low-A pitcher, he is going to need at least the rest of this year to polish the fastball command. The secondary pitches show future potential, but they need a lot of work and consistency. It is not hard to say he could be a future mid rotation starter, but there is a lot that can go wrong along the way and he likely ends up more in the back of rotation or the bullpen.
Some Quick Hits on Hitters:
- Zach Coppola is a weird hitter. He must be incredibly annoying for an opposing team. He has no power and while he can line singles, he is an infield hit wizard thanks to a great feel for bunting and plus plus speed. He also can work counts and will take walks before causing disruption on the bases. The whole profile is Ben Revere taken to the extreme with the only exception being that Coppola can actually throw.
- I mentioned it earlier, but Deivi Grullon is very good behind the plate. He receives the ball quietly and shows an advanced feel for framing. He also managed Tirado well when things went south for a little bit, and he called a good game working to Tirado’s strengths. He didn’t do much of note at the plate, but the glove is as advertised. I am also sure Grullon attempted to backpick every runner who reached 1st base and nearly got a couple.
- Jose Pujols has a real problem with breaking balls and the scouting report right now is to just not throw him fastballs. He is really struggling and he seems to be just stuck thinking and not doing right now. The hope is that the sheer number of offspeed pitches he sees will help him in the future, but until he makes that adjustment he won’t make it to AA.
- I didn’t see enough of Cornelius Randolph to make any judgements, he had two long fly balls to left field in Game 1, but that is all I remember. It is very difficult to have a lot of opinions on hitters off of two games of minor league video.