What scouts like -- and don't -- in AL Central

May 9th, 2019

The American League Central has been an interesting watch so far in 2019, from the Twins’ rise to ’s bat-flipping breakout to ’s power struggle.

One group that has watched it up close are the scouts and evaluators who criss-cross the country to track clubs -- some to prepare their clubs for teams they’ll face ahead, others to evaluate teams for potential trades in the summer. Not surprisingly, they have their early impressions of what stands out, what could last and what is likely to be forgotten as summer arrives.

Here’s a sampling of impressions gathered from each AL Central club so far this season:


What they like: “I thought they were getting close to heating up before [Corey] Kluber went down. [Francisco] Lindor will turn it around soon. [Carlos] Santana is trying to use the whole field more; I’m not sure it will last. [Brad] Hand is throwing strikes and working ahead of hitters. He’s got a very good slider right now.” -- AL scout

What they don’t: “Their starting pitching is banged up after [Mike] Clevinger and Kluber went down. They look like a really good team over the last few years when the starting pitchers are consistently giving up a run or two. The lineup is easier for pitchers to deal with for sure. With [Michael] Brantley gone and a struggling [Jose] Ramirez and a hurt Lindor, they just seem like a lineup that is easier to maneuver through. Their bullpen isn’t as automatic as we have seen in recent years. They’re going to need help to keep up with Minnesota.” -- AL evaluator


What they like: “K.C.'s better than people think. They’re not in bad shape. I really like [Hunter] Dozier; he’s like a young Mark Trumbo. I love [Whit] Merrifield and the way he plays. I think [Adalberto] Mondesi’s a future All-Star. Kelvin Gutierrez is a good player with upside. Alex Gordon’s a good veteran player who gives you a good at-bat. I really like Danny Duffy. Jake Diekman is really throwing well, a good trade piece; he could be a seventh-inning lefty on a contender down the stretch.” -- AL scout

What they don’t: “Billy Hamilton can run down everything in center field, but he just can’t hit. He’s a role player for me. Jorge Soler is a good hitter, but he’s a better fit down in the order in a good lineup. Their bullpen has some good arms like [Scott] Barlow and [Ian] Kennedy, but I’m not sure about [Wily] Peralta.” -- National League scout


What they like: “I really like Matthew Boyd. He’s a good-looking starter who knows how to pitch. [Spencer] Turnbull’s got a great arm. [Jeimer] Candelario is a solid everyday player; he’s a second hitter in a good lineup. I really like Joe Jimenez. I like Shane Greene; he’s a seventh-inning guy, for me, on a good team. Buck Farmer has a really good arm.” -- NL scout

What they don’t: “Niko Goodrum’s having some bad at-bats; he’s getting beat on the fastball up and in. He’s not a middle-of-the-order hitter. Grayson Greiner needs to improve if he’s going to be a starter long term.” -- NL scout


What they like: “Minnesota is as good as any team in the American League. They have run nine games in a row over six innings with their starters. If you get that kind of starting pitching -- and they have a deep lineup. They added [Jonathan] Schoop and he is hitting eighth and [Byron] Buxton is hitting ninth. I mean that’s a deep lineup. They are athletic, and they can go get it in the field. They added [Marwin] Gonzalez from the Astros and he hasn’t started hitting yet. They are loaded all around.” -- AL scout

What they don’t: “Probably their bullpen. They have got guys, just like everybody else has guys, just not consistent guys. But they have been able to finish games off.” -- AL scout

White Sox

What they like: “They're pretty good position-wise. The Anderson kid’s good. [Jose] Abreu is a big-time player. [Eloy] Jimenez is good. I think the [Reynaldo] Lopez kid can pitch.” -- AL executive

What they don’t: “Their starting pitching needs to be better, along with their bullpen. They’ve had injuries with their starters. They need relievers to step up. How far is their pitching going to take them?” -- AL executive