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Raising Arizona...Back To The Future

The First Dispatch from the Surprise Backfields

Yeah, I usually hang out behind this place.
Yeah, I usually hang out behind this place.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Hey hey hey, alright alright alright. It's that time of year again. Sunny Arizona! Look, I read my pieces from the last few years; what a fucking long-winded gas bag I was. Raise your hand if you like to hear yourself write? Jeez. So whatdya say we eliminate that masturbatory tone and wordy backstory, and get right to talking about...I don't And away...we...GO!

-Ryan Cordell might be Frisco's Opening Day...shortstop. Yep. The Godfather, Jamey Newberg tipped me off to this development more than a month ago, but I saw it today with my own eyes. And it's not bad. Not bad at all. He made all the routine plays, didn't look out of place, and certainly has the tools and the fluidity for the position. Seemed a bit hesitant to uncork with the throws and sorta short-armed a couple, but they got there. He started a nice 6-4-3 double play with an accurate underhand flip off a cleanly fielded worm burner. At the plate, he looks like a dude. Moving to shortstop full time would have obvious ramifications towards his overall perceived value, because I think the bat is gonna be just fine. There's some length in the swing, for sure. One scout I spoke with noted how everything Ryan drove in BP was only when he could get his arms fully extended, but that's part of the learning process and by all accounts, he's a smart kid who's gonna figure out how to at least protect the high and tight parts of the zone. He can definitely scoot as well. I missed getting a time on him down to first, but when he has to turn it on, he can. At 6'4" and more than 200lbs, he's one of those kids who is fast, but not necessarily quick. When his big, sculpted body starts movin', he's definitely going at an above-average clip. A little desert bird mentioned that with the sudden loss of top-level middle infield dudes (Profar, Sardi, Doobie) and a healthy slate of young, thumping outfielders (Maz, Williams, Rua, Smo), the club thought it a good idea to take advantage of Ryan's unique profile and give him a whirl up the middle. Short stops who can hit are unicorns, so why the hell not!

* here's a peek at Ryan. That's a physical specimen. 1st Team All-Bus material. You can also see how some of the length in his current swing leaves him a bit susceptible to the top part of the zone. No sweat- he'll fix it. He's a dude. Also not sure he's gonna get to keep that number on his back. I'm cool with that too.

-OK, so I've heard this is a Rangers' site, but I just mentioned shortstops who can hit. You guys, I think the Dodgers' Corey Seager isn't normal. I think he could be a star. He's got more power than I thought. And what an approach. Another big kid, 6'4" 215lbs, he pounded a ball to the base of the CF fence early in the AAA game. Then, he came up later in the match, and on 1-1, he took a FB on the outer edge for a called ball. First of all, VERY few 20 year-olds don't swing at this pitch. It was borderline and it was juicy and nearly all of his contemporaries take the bait. Seager didn't. He got it to 2-1, anticipating a pitch he could drive. He got one, and deposited it wayyyy over the fence in left field. The opposite way. Yikes. First he goes dead center off the wall, then works the count and goes oppo-taco. That ain't normal. 20 years-old and the sky's the limit. Only DH'd today, but all indications are LA intends to keep him at SS for a while. Big brother Kyle is a dude, Corey is a unicorn.

-Hello, David Ledbetter. Didn't have a very good season in 2014, but looked pretty salty today. Velo was down last year, but he worked 91-92 today, and though he met some barrels, he was throwing good strikes. Got a couple of looking Ks with a solid bender, picked a guy off 1B, and induced a double play by pounding the bottom half of the zone. Keep it up, Ledbetter, you got this.

-Zach Cone hit a long homer in the AAA game. Look, I know it's been a tough slog for the 1st rounder, and he hasn't played a game above A-ball, and he's 25. I get it. So does he. But when he runs into one, it goes a long way. Not sure where he'll end up this season, but obviously, it's a big one for him.

-Speaking of 1st Rounders who've been slow-roasting in the crock pot. Kellin Deglan assaulted a baseball so badly today the authorities are looking for him. Looks a bit more bent at the waist in his setup, but that might just be my eyes. Whatever it is, I don't care. He mashed a record number of homers this winter in the Australian Baseball League and the power is legit. He's always been able to catch and you just gotta remember, catchers take a long time to incubate. I was chatting with new Catching Coordinator Chris Briones (who until this year was a Rangers scout) and I asked him why it takes so long for catchers to develop, "Because it's a really hard position! You wanna strap on the pads and I'll start firing stuff at you that moves all around?" No. Not at all, actually. Thanks for the offer, Chris. I'm excited to see what Degs does this season.

* This isn't the homer. Of course I wasn't filming when he did that. You can see, he too has some length in his swing, but peep the powerful lower half and how long the bat stays in the zone. Also, in case you didn't notice, he's still left handed and so was the pitcher he took deep.

Quick note on Michael De Leon. He played in the AAA game, scooped up everything within a 20' radius of shortstop and singled up the middle off a hard throwing Dodgers righty. He isn't scared. I don't think he's headed for the shortstop position in Round Rock this year (that'll likely be Hanser Alberto), but trust me, the kid ain't scared. Also, I showed you a video to enable a visual on Cordell's body, here's one so you can understand how a stiff crosswind might push Michael into LF. (But make no mistake. I love him. He plays with major league moxie, and I love him.)

Very quickly: Heard really good things about Vic Payano developing a harder, less loopy CB and greatly improving his command. He's a 22 year old, 6'5" lefty who pitched (and walked a bunch of guys) last year in High-A. Even in a relief profile, with a mid-90s FB and a plus breaker, he's a dude. Also heard good reports on Jose Valdespina's breaking ball. He is a 6'6" 220+lb 22 year-old righty who could become a fast mover with a solid offspeed offering. Nick Williams Kd twice then demolished a ball that resulted in a triple. In other words, he was Nick Williams. And finally, expect to see former relief wunderkind Jose Leclerc in the Opening Day rotation in Frisco. Gonna stretch the kid out. He has really good stuff and has a surreal CH that moves like a cutter. It's a wacky pitch and a very effective one. I asked a man who has been around pitchers for a very, very long time if he'd ever seen a CH like Jose's and he only had one example. Then he said Jose's also gonna have to learn how to fade it because "You wouldn't want it to cut in on lefties." "Like Seager?" "Exactly."

More to come. I'll be here through Thursday afternoon. Gonna get a peek at the youngsters likely headed for the A-ball teams tomorrow.

As Always, Enjoy Baseball. Love Ya!