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Merryweather eyes his own scouting report

Two years after TJ surgery, righty prospect focuses on durability
@baseballexis
February 16, 2020

Julian Merryweather is looking forward to some competitive baseball.

Julian Merryweather is looking forward to some competitive baseball.

Though Spring Training has only just sprung, the 28-year-old right-hander is excited to get on the mound in games and stay there all season, as he nears the two-year anniversary of his Tommy John surgery.

The Blue Jays traded for the 6-foot-4, 215-pound flamethrower amid his recovery, though his return was delayed last year after two rehab outings showed Merryweather wasn’t yet ready. He reappeared in the Arizona Fall League, where his fastball velocity, changeup, slider and command impressed, earning him a spot among Toronto’s intriguing prospects for the 2020 season.

Evaluating himself using a Major League Scouting Bureau report and the 2-to-8 scouting scale, basing his grades on the standards set by the Bureau, Merryweather outlined opportunities to improve in all areas.

“I’m trying to improve this scouting report,” he said. “What I really want to work on... it’s always been durability. I’ve made some tweaks here and there, and really made that my sole focus after that last few years being frustrated off the field. I’m trying everything I can to stay on the field.”

Top tools

The California native gave himself the highest future grades in his changeup and poise, hoping both will move into the well-above-average range by the time he reaches his peak performance level.

“Nowadays, with hitters so locked in on velocity and being able to hit the guys throwing [in the] upper 90s, it’s important for me to have something that plays off that fastball. The changeup’s probably the best pitch I have to do that.

“Poise, that just comes from building up a lot of experience, and a lot of time in rehab for me. I had a lot of time to mull over how I handle certain situations, watching other guys go through situations and keeping those little bits of experience, even when I’m not playing -- watching guys I admire, thinking [that’s how] I want to be.”

Room to improve

Merryweather jumped his curveball, changeup and slider two grades from their present to future values. He believes that after being sidelined for most of the last two seasons, he can make solid improvements just by returning to the mound.

“A lot of it is a mystery, because I haven’t played in a couple years, as far as competition. The Triple-A level was the last one I was at [before rehab appearances] so I’m not sure how [pitches are] going to play. I want to give them room to grow because guys can always improve, and once I’m out there being tested -- trial by fire -- I can have a better idea of what I need to work on, how I’m going to work on it and hopefully turn some weaknesses into strengths.”

Scouting the scout

Though he offered insight into his own game and grades, the bulk of Merryweather’s experience with scouting reports has come from seeing ones that he’s wanted to change along the way.

“I’ve seen some pretty bad ones,” he said. “I’ve seen it all when it comes to scouting reports. You can never really tell what a person is going to do, their future -- it’s all just speculation. So I don’t put too much weight in it, each person has to go out there and prove themselves.”

What the scouts say

“He’s an athletic guy with some quickness to his arm,” one National League scout said. “His fastball was well above average, with a good angle and good finish at the top of the zone. He had a slurvy breaking ball that he used as an early-count weapon. His changeup had good arm speed and tailing action against lefties. I would definitely take a flyer on this guy coming back from his injury.”

What’s missing from the report

“So much,” Merryweather said of what the report doesn’t say. “Off-the-field work ethic, what kind of person they are, how they work with the team. Being a good teammate is such a big part of being in this profession. You want your guys to fight for you and play for you and if you’re that singular guy, that ego guy, the team can be a little cracked. All that stuff plays a huge role -- how they go about their business, professionalism, how to handle the press even -- it all molds you into being a professional.”

Alexis Brudnicki is a Canada-based Baseball Development and Special Projects reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.