Top pitching prospects squared off as White Sox prospect Nestor Molina bested Dodgers prospect Allen Webster in Southern League action. I caught the first seven innings of Molina's start and came away quite impressed despite a slow start.
First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Blessing and I've been writing about prospects for the past few seasons. I actually started by compiling various scouting reports on Mets prospects. When not writing about Met prospects, I usually posted my prospect pieces at Scouting the Sally; however, with Mike Newman receiving a much deserved gig at fangraphs, I settled on posting my game reports as fanposts on individual team SB Nation Blog sites. I am centrally located to two leagues, the South Atlantic League (Rome) and the Southern League (Chattanooga), and I also make a few trips to other parks within a three hour radius of my house. Last year, I scouted Jacob Petricka and his power sinker while he made a rehab start for Bristol. He literally only threw that Power Sinker, which was a nice pitch. Just didn't have enough to write a whole scouting report on.
Nestor Molina first caught my eye via tweets made by Kevin Gray, a sportswriter who covers the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He was a huge fan of Molina's development. Anyway, I saw Birmingham coming to town and hoped he'd be matched up against Allen Webster or Nate Eovaldi. It's much more worth it to me to cover multiple prospects as opposed to just one guy. Anyway, Molina went eight, was very efficient, worked extremely quick and pitched one whale of a ball game. Other than his fastball being flat in the first, which resulted in Molina giving up two extra base hits, including a HR to left center field, Molina dominated.
Before I get to Molina's pitches, I'm going to apologize for not having complete velocity readings. Chattanooga was not showcasing velocities on their scoreboard and there was no scouts operating guns today. The Barons' gun was obstructed from my view and the Lookouts' gun wasn't constantly on Molina. Actually, they had the gun on Molina more than most team's would, so I really can't complain.
Fastball: As I mentioned above, Molina came out in the first with a flat fastball. The 1st batter doubled on a 91 mph and the 3rd batter took another flat 91 mph fastball and barely cleared the left center field 2 tiered fence. After gutting through the rest of the first with a flat fastball, Molina made an adjustment and showcased a good fastball with excellent command. He was consistently between 90-92 MPH on the Lookouts' gun throughout the start. He did reach back for some extra gas on at least two occasions, getting up to 93 and 94 MPH. It's a above average offering made good by his excellent command.
Splitter: Like the prospect gurus say, this is his best pitch. Kyle Russell would tell you it is Molina's best pitch. You'll see him in the video I posted below struggle with this pitch. Anyway, sharp downward movement and it's his out pitch. I only had three velocity readings for the pitch. We'll say this pitch sat between 84-86 MPH since the readings i had were 84, 85 & 86. I really think, when he is on, this pitch will be unhittable like it was today. He commands this pitch better than most pitchers.
Change up: He doesn't need this pitch on days when his Splitter is on, which I believe will be most days. He slowed down his arm action on one or two change ups, both balls way out of the zone. I had few velocity readings on this pitch, all either 81 or 82 MPH. this pitch was an Average offering at best.
Breaking Ball: I thought he threw a slider going into this. The pitch he threw today was a curve. I had a half dozen readings on this pitch, all within a 76-78 range. It showed potential and I think you'll see some curves in the video below. I like this pitch for him, much better than a slider. I think this could become an average to an above average offering as he gains consistency with the pitch. The pitch wasn't bad today and he threw mainly to right handed hitters.
I really like Nestor Molina and believe he is a future starter. He could be straight nasty as a closer; however, a 2nd or 3rd starter is much more valuable. I really could see him becoming a solid 3rd starter. He works quicker than any other young pitcher I've seen. So quick, I missed some pitches because I wasn't ready. In more than one occasion, the Lookouts hitter wasn't even set.
White Sox Prospect Nestor Molina (via MetsgeekTV)