A Scout’s Take: Jones, Vlad, Guthrie, Markakis, Tillman
I am hoping this will become a semi-regular feature on “Orioles Insider” where we'll talk to a scout who has recently watched the Orioles or one of their affiliates. Yesterday, I spoke to a scout who was at the Orioles-Washington Nationals series over the weekend and got his opinion on several Orioles who made an impression on him, either good or bad.
On Adam Jones: “It seems like he’s got a little more maturity about him. He has a little more composure, a little better approach. He doesn’t do as many things at the plate where you say, ‘He’s just kind of a hacker up there.’ He’s making some adjustments. I think [Vladimir Guerrero] has kind of helped him because of how he plays the game and stays on the ball to right field. He’s not going to get out in front of anything. I think that carries over to guys who pay attention and want to get better. I think Jones does want to get better, and he sees that he can take something from Vladi and become a better player. On the bases, he seems to run hard. The other day, he scored from first base on a single, and he didn’t hold up at all. That’s a sign that he’s playing hard, he’s not taken anything for granted. In the outfield, he does it pretty easy, he’s plus out there. Running the bases, he’s average to plus there. Now swinging the bat, if he continues to understand the situation and stay within himself, he’s on his way. I’m not sure if it is it his vision or is it his approach that is causing him some issues [at the plate]. I’m still waiting to see. But it looked to me that he stayed on some balls to right field that I didn’t remember him doing before. I saw a little bit of [change there]. He used to be a dead fastball hitter, and any little wrinkle, you could get him to strike out or roll over. But now, I think you have to mix it up with him a little bit.”
On whether Guerrero has anything left: “I still think he has something left through at least this year. It depends on how he’s being used. If he plays the outfield a lot and has to run around, that’s the only way he knows how to play. By the end of the year, he might tail off and lose his legs. I’ve seen him do that before. But right now, he looks pretty solid. He basically won the game [Sunday]. They should use him as an example, that this is how you drive runs in. That would be my approach if I were these guys and somebody was passing through my team on the way to the Hall of Fame. I still think he has something in him to be a .290, 20-plus homer, and 90 to 100 RBI guy. And beyond that, just his presence alone helps. He always stands out to me.”
On Jeremy Guthrie and his outing Saturday: “Good velocity. I’ve seen him the same way every time. He keeps coming. He’s got the slider, he’s got that little curveball he gets over early in the count and then he starts to pound the corners. He’s got that cutter/slider that you have to keep watching. And he’s got enough fastball to keep you honest. He’s got weapons, there’s no question. Sometimes he loses them because he starts walking guys or he starts nibbling. I think he’s a No. 3 starter, a solid No. 3. If this guy is your third guy in a playoff deal, you have to feel pretty good about it. He’s not the best of what you want for that spot, but he’s pretty darn close. He’s going to compete, throw 94 to 96 [mph], work the corners. He’s got to make some pitches. The only thing that scares me is he’s not really a [strikeout] guy. He’ll flash it to you, but that's it. When he’s down in the zone, he’s great.”
On what he sees from the struggling Nick Markakis: “At the plate, he’s swinging early -- first pitch, second pitch -- too much, and not making hard contact. He just seems like he’s out of whack. He looks a little thin, a little skinnier to me, but he’s a wiry guy anyway. When I saw him two years ago, I thought, ‘This was Markakis?’ He’s got an old-school body. Last year, I saw him the same way as I do now, and I didn’t think twice about it. I thought he was going through a little slump, like he was trying to figure it out. But this year, he looks frustrated. I don’t know what to think. If he gets his mind right, it’s all in there. He’s still young enough to pull it all together. I don’t know what his offseason program is like, if he did anything differently. I’ll still give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a solid, above-average outfielder with the ability to hit .300 and be a 16-to-20-home run guy.”
On Chris Tillman and his outing Sunday: “He was fine. He had a nice high angle, used his fastball early. If he can go in and out with that fastball, he’ll be OK. It’s fairly straight, but he’s got good angle. When he’s down in the zone, guys just see the top of the ball and it’s a good pitch. His breaking ball was working for him. He’s not an overly aggressive pitcher. He’s a bottom-of-the-rotation-type guy, maybe a fifth guy. I was a little disappointed in his velocity. He was 86 to 91 with a lot of 88s in there. He doesn’t really command a lot of presence with his physicality. It’s just his reputation of being a little less aggressive than what you’d like to see precedes him a little bit. I was fairly impressed with him early, but then he got into some jams. He did well to get out of them. He’s got to keep doing that and go seven, eight innings, not just five innings and throwing 100 pitches. That’s not pitching to contact enough. That’s being a little scared and not trusting your stuff or your stuff just isn’t that good.”