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Vancouver Canadian Hitting Prospects

It’s been approximately two and a half weeks since I took a look at the Vancouver Canadian hitting stats.  At the time, the C’s were dead last in the league with a mere three home runs.  And all were hit by Ryan McBroom.  Since then, Vancouver have hit ten more long balls, shared amongst eight players.  They’re still last in the league  but that gap has narrowed.

As I said at the time, and I know my opinion is echoed by C’s hitting coach Dave Pano, home runs are a non-issue for this team.  They currently sit third in runs scored, behind two teams who play in parks that yield runs at a far greater clip.  They’ve also moved themselves into the upper half of the league in both doubles and slugging percentage.  The offence has not been an issue.

There have been contributions from up and down the order so far, including a breakout performance from center fielder Roemon Fields.  With the season almost half over, I, like many prospecty writers, have been re-evaluating our pre-season top prospect lists with a view to who may be making next years honour roll.

After only having one Vancouver Canadian positional player on my pre-season top 30 Blue Jays prospect list, will the performance of any 2014 C’s force their way onto next season’s list?

The short answer is yes.  But will temper that by saying he’s an 11th overall pick who signed for just shy of three million bucks.  And I’m not even sure how long Max Pentecost will be in Vancouver.

As for the rest of the lineup?  Probably not.  There are some nice players, no doubt.  Such as the aforementioned Fields, Tim Locastro, and Chris Carlson.  All of these guys will move up a rung or two on the organizational ladder in the next couple of years, but may find AA a step too far.  I’ll find the time to talk about these guys, but for now I want to focus on the two that should see New Hampshire and beyond.

I discussed Franklin Barreto‘s swing here.  There is no doubting the 18 year old’s ability to make consistent, hard contact, as evidenced by his recent 8 for 14 streak with two triples and a home run.  I do have mild concerns with the size of Barreto’s timing mechanism and the noisiness of his hands in his load.  Discussing these with C’s hitting coach Dave Pano, he agreed the leg kick is a bit big and they have been working with Franklin to get started earlier and get his foot down faster.

Along with that, they have been working on his hands.  Rather than pushing at the ball, lengthening the swing path, Barreto needs to pull his hands through quicker, especially on inside fastballs.

I took some video of Franklin this past Tuesday versus Eugene.  Apologies for some of the shakiness as we didn’t have a trip-pod.  The angle shows very well how noisy Barreto’s hands are in the load.  Also, the second pitch especially, is an example of how getting your foot down late can make you susceptible to off-speed pitches.

I think Max Pentecost could go hitless the rest of the season and still debut (and quite highly at that) on 2015 top prospect list.  Thankfully, with his swing, that ain’t gonna happen.  I didn’t get any video of the double Max hit last Tuesday, but it was a thing of beauty.  The right-handed hitting catcher let a high fastball travel well into the zone before releasing his hands and driving a laser to right-center.

The video I did get, was, like Barreto, of a strike out.  As an aside, I filmed the 6th inning.  Unfortunately it happened to be one of only two clean innings thrown by Eugene pitchers on the night.  Emeralds pitcher Tony Rizzotti was dealing, with a nasty slider.

Notice how quiet Pentecost’s hands are.  With the short toe tap timing mechanism and excellent balance, he is able to keep those hands back and explode late onto the ball.  I’ve been very impressed with Mad Max thus far, not only with his ability to drive the ball, but with the atheliticism and speed we had all read about.

This video is a great example of that.  Despite getting fooled on a slider, Pentecost is able to use his hands to make contact before easily beating out an infield single.

There is still work to be done behind the plate.  Something I hope to break down further in time.  In the meantime, just enjoy the swing.  Again, his time in Vancouver may very well be short-lived.

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