We've only got one real scouting report from the Smokies for April, but it was a really, really good one so I'm going to post it here pretty much as I received it. It makes for good off-day reading. It comes from David Catterton, and he saw the Smokies play at West Tennessee on April 22.
I will take this time to remind everyone here that we still need more reports like this one. If you talk to me ahead of time like David did, we can discuss what you could be looking for. With a team like the Smokies or Daytona, we're still pretty much blank slates, so we're looking for pretty much everything there. Iowa and Peoria can be more targeted.
I am going to add that David was going off the stadium radar gun, and I think I speak for him when I say both of us believe it was slow. Chen's not a hard-thrower, but he doesn't throw that softly, for example.
Initial opinions purely based on appearance were that he is not a very big guy, his 5-11 210 lb. frame is a little pudgy; he doesn't look like he's in great athletic shape, but then again not many ball players are. He started out the game fine, his control was there and he was changing up speeds nicely. He has the stereotypical asian pitching motion from the wind up; as in the when he gets to the top of his wind up he pauses for a bit and then delivers; think Daisuke Matsuzaka lite. I don't know what kind of pitches he has in his repertoire, but it seemed like his was feeding hitters a heavy diet of fastballs accompanied by a pretty good slider that he liked to plant in the dirt on the outer half of the plate for hitter's to chase. The radar gun at Smokies Park was pretty inaccurate from what I could tell, but it had his fastball in the 83-85 mph range with that slider in the 72-75 mph range. His pick off move to first is unimpressive, and runners didn't mind trying to steal bases on him; trying be the key word. He had a couple of bunt singles off of his breaking pitches that he couldn't quite get off of the mound quickly enough to get too, so that hindered him a bit. He never overpowered a hitter with his fastball or slide piece. He seemed like a stereotypical keep the ball down/ground ball pitcher, which is what he lived up to through three innings. The fourth inning got a little interesting for him. His command seemed to go totally out of the window and he began to leave his pitches up in the zone rather in down as he had been earlier. His command of the fastball diminished so he turned to his slider to try and save him. This seemed to prove costly; he left two sliders/breakers hanging inside and the Mudcat hitters lined two doubles off of him. Overall, he pitched well early when he kept his slider tailing away from the hitters and placed his fastball well, but once he lost command that slider hung and the fastball came inside for the hitters to clobber. Even though the line for the night said he had 4 earned runs, I would give him 3 earned runs due to a terribly played fly ball to Richie Robnett that got over his head; leading to an RBI.
One of the most impressive, if not the most impressive ball player seen tonight. He isn't a big guy, but he looks like an athlete. He made solid contact on every single at-bat, at no time did he looked baffled at the plate. If he wasn't hitting the ball into play, he was fouling the ball off with solid contact. One of his outs was a deep fly ball to the warning track. He seems to have very good speed. One of his most impressive at-bats was on a 1-2 count that he had gotten into, battled through, and then smacked an double down the left field line. Defensively he wasn't really tested, there was one ball I remember hit to him where he made a nice diving attempt, but it was just a bit out of reach.
The other most impressive player of this night was catcher Steve Clevenger. Once again not a big guy at all, doesn't have the stereotypical catcher's build. He looks more like Jason Kendall in his prime rather than a Geovany Soto or Wellington Castillo. Steve was another player that made solid contact on every single at-bat. I believe he was a homer away from the cycle. His one out was a foul out on a breaking ball, that he obviously just missed. Defensively, Clevenger was a stud. The Mudcats tried to steal on Clevenger four times, and only managed one stolen base; which was actually a very close play at second. Point being, it seemed that Clevenger had a cannon; a very accurate one at that. Each throw was on the money, and I thought he called a pretty good game.
I have seen Darwin on two occasions now, and on both occasions he has put up a very very poor defensive showing. The first time I saw him play he made a terrible routine throw from short to first which one hoped to Lalli. Tonight wasn't much different, his first error of the night was the same type of throw. His second error was a very routine pop up in shallow center that could have been caught by a little leaguer, there was no excuse for losing it in the lights. Also, in all honesty he should have been charged with a third error. There was one line drive hit at Darwin that he misjudged his jump on, that could of very well been caught given the right timing; it was not a hard play. So, whoever told you he had great defensive ability needs to double check because he looks very unimpressive. Darwin is a small guy, and he swings the bat like it. There is not a lot of pop in his bat and he looks a lot like Ryan Theriot in the box. He also hit a lot like Ryan in that most of his outs were grounders either to short or second based on an inside-out type of swing. I just don't see another scrappy player making the big leagues for us.
The Smokies Team as a whole seemed very small in general, the only player out there tonight that actually looked like a big ball player was Brandon Guyer, who pinched hit late in the game.
James Adduci was unimpressive at the plate, but he made an absolute laser of a throw to second base on a ball hit in the corner of right field saving the batter from getting a double.
Alex Maestri pitched two innings and had excellent velocity, but his command needed a little work. Once again, the park's radar gun had to of been a bit off, but they had Maestri at about 88-90 mph. He featured a nice breaking ball and a fastball that seemed to have about a 15 mph difference between them. At times the Mudcat batters looked overpowered by his fastball.
John Gaub didn't seem to have anything special and got hit pretty hard, but luckily it was at the Smokies defenders so there was no damage done.
Brian Schlitter got the Schlitt end of the stick tonight. He fastball had good velocity to it, but that is basically all he featured tonight. The Mudcats hitters figured out Brian pretty quickly when he threw fastball after fastball. He was doing fine until Jonathan Mota made two terrible throwing errors, allowing the winning run to score.
Richie Robnett and Blake Lalli were the most disappointing at the plate tonight.
Brandon Guyer got one at-bat and struck out on a breaking ball, and looked bad doing so. Like you said, he looked a little over matched.