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Minor League Thought Of The Day 3/16-Texas Two Step

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The bigger names in the Orioles prospect mix at pitcher really do profile as top of the rotation guys.  DL Hall, Grayson Rodriguez,  and Mike Baumann have stuff and ability and need only higher level success to keep their significant momentum rolling.  Other names like Blaine Knight, Brenan Hanifee, Cody Sedlock and Kyle Bradish have faced adversity, limited exposure, injury or some mixture of them yet still all can be placed at or near top of the rotation status if things break right for them.  No pun intended.  

Two other guys shape up as potentially useful and the thing they have in common is their names bring about thoughts of Texas, even though neither are from there.  Tall, slender righty Dallas Litscher and beefier righty Houston Roth both handled short season pretty well and Litscher who is every bit of 6 foot 8 was rewarded with a spot in the Delmarva rotation down the stretch.  

Litscher’s performance at both levels is an easy comparison, 7 games and 6 starts at both Aberdeen (36.1 IP) and Delmarva (34).  It seems simple, he’s not a multi pitch or angle guy so he’s going to use leg leverage out of the windup because he’s so tall and stay in advantageous counts maybe finish guys off with rising or high heat (tall) or swinging at his pitch if it’s set up well, especially righties. He has a curve and it’s more of a count evener than a finisher.  It seemed to be effective at low-A as righties hit him to a .167, but the release point or lack of deception didn’t fool them at Delmarva where he gave up 11ER and was hit to the tune of .316 by righties.  Big difference and the stats reflect it.  If you look at the logs, of his Shorebird apprearances the first 3 were solid,  the last few is where the damage to his promising stat line was done.  Not a ton going on, but one thing stood out a little.  He’s very tall and very skinny and used to be less skinny.  Old videos of him he had a bit more weight on his frame and he looks slower.  Now he’s on the slim side, and the leg movement is more of a balanced motion and less stiff.  Maybe he’ll find that juice he had early on in 2019. By the way he’s from Arizona.

The other guy with the Texas name is Houston Roth and although he doesn’t have a big mix as far as useful offerings, he can set guys up with moxie and finish them off too, going for K’s with a nasty cut.  Roth did not get to leave Aberdeen and his stat line there was consistent.  2-5 innings per appearance, there were 10-and only once was the broad shouldered Ole Miss Rebel allowed to surpass 65 pitches.  8 of his 13 walks came in two bad appearances and the other 8 were darn good.  His stat line was a WHIP of 1.01 and 5ER in 31.2 IP with 39K.  Low A hitters aren’t a problem.  When I watched him, and I saw him a little bit more than Dallas I saw a guy who can mix it up with speeds but doesn’t want to waste pitches and avoid the strike zone.  He goes for the K but doesn’t have rocket stuff and I’d say he locates better than he moves.  Houston is burly and looks like he’s capable of adding maybe 8-12 solid lbs to an already big frame,  sizing him up around 235 as a fully developed pro.  He’s got the lower body and height to support it- maybe a mph helps his mix or just his heat.  He was effective statistically as a reliever and a starter too so he’s shown he can get results in multiple roles.  

Again, like all other prospects I was so eager to get an eye on these guys in more ways than I saw them.  I’ll focus on these two because of their common start in Aberdeen and the Texas name thing.  Also, there’s a Lamar in Texas and a Lamar I was counting the days until seeing at camp too.  

Outfielder Lamar Sparks missed all of 2018 with a shoulder but he was able to show speed, if not strike zone mastery, sandwiched around that lost year as he went 11-14 in steals in his rookie 2017 and 14-19 in 2019.  I saw him in 2019 and was astounded at his  athletic balance and stride length once he gets into acceleration.  He lengthens and flies in a fluid pace but isn’t going so fast you don’t even notice until he’s two bases away.  His speed, like Janvrin’s is a full-out weapon.  When he checked in last week and I saw him with a similar frame as last August, but slightly bigger/wider shoulders I was pleasantly surprised.  I remember thinking, is there even room in Baltimore for another Lamar? I wanted to watch him leadoff righty. By the way, if it matters Sparks actually IS from Texas, but his town is called 7 Lakes and there’s not an Oriole with that name.  

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