Friday, August 9, 2013

Scouting report: Lindsey Caughel, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers's prospect

Not many 23rd-rounders go onto have successful minor-league careers, let alone Major League careers. But Dodgers’ prospect Lindsey Caughel is off to a decent start.

He’s run into some trouble in the California League this season, but he was successful at his other stops. The Cal League is an extreme hitters’ environment, and Caughel’s stuff doesn’t play well to that.

And he’s one of the few Dodger prospects who has earned a degree. I’m not really sure what that means in terms of his ability on the mound, but it’s an interesting tidbit.

Editor’s note: I am not a scout (#notascout). This is an amateur scouting report based on what I know about baseball and from following the sport all my life. I don’t claim to be a pro, I just want to pass along the information to the masses. Enjoy.

How he got here

Caughel was a 23rd-round draft selection by the Dodgers in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Stetson University. As the 716th player chosen, the Dodgers got a guy who at least opened some eyes last season and early this season. Prior to 2012, he was drafted by the Orioles in the 35th-round of the 2011 draft.

Caughel began his professional career with the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers. As a 21-year-old, he was much too old for the league. He struck out 14 in 17 innings while posting a 3.18 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He was promoted to the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League where he was better in 42 2/3 innings. He posted a 3.38 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and, as the WHIP would indicate, kept runners off the bases much better (7.0 H/9, 1.7 BB/9).

He began the 2013 season with the Great Lakes Loons. He posted a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings and a ridiculous 26/2 K/BB ratio. That earned him a promotion to Rancho Cucamonga, where his mediocre stuff has been exposed to the tune of a 4.99 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 10.7 H/9.

Vitals

6’3, 205 pounds, 22 years old (23 on Aug. 13)

Saw him throwing in the bullpen the day before his start. Definitely has the frame of a starting pitcher.

Tools

Here’s how I would grade Caughel’s skills on the mound.

Tools
Now
Future
Fastball
40
45
Curveball
45
50
Changeup
35
40
Slider
30
35
Command/Control
50
55
Delivery
50
50

Repertoire

Caughel has a classic starter’s four-pitch mix:

  • Fastball (can sink it)
  • Curveball
  • Changeup
  • Slider

Caughel isn’t going to blow hitters away with his extremely fringy fastball. He worked in the 88-90 MPH range when I saw him and touched 91 a few times. After three innings, his velocity dipped to the 86-88 MPH range. That’s not a good sign. He has the ability to sink his fastball a little, which helps make it a potential fringe-average pitch. He gets a little arm-side run with it, but he didn’t locate it particularly well on this night.

His curveball is his best secondary offering. It’s a mid-70s pitch that features a true 12-6 break. It’s a little loopy at times, but it’s good enough to California League hitters out (ala Garrett Gould the last two seasons).

Caughel’s changeup is his third-best pitch and it has more potential than his fastball. It’s an upper-70s-to-low-80s that offers a little fade away from left-handed hitters. If his slider isn’t working, it could be his best weapon against lefties.

His slider isn’t much of a pitch. There’s not a lot of bite to the low-80s pitch and it’s not even “show me” level. He throws it sparingly.

Delivery

Caughel’s delivery is fluid and clean. It’s repeatable to the point where he pours pitches into the strike zone on a regular basis.

He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot that allows him to stay on top of his pitches. That’s how he’s able to get some grounders with his two-seamer. However, his elbow can dip and he can get under his breaking pitches, elevating them and making them pretty easy to hit.

There’s no funky or hitch in his delivery. If nothing else, he won’t get hurt because of anything abnormal. The only thing I see with his delivery is that his arm can drag every once in awhile, but that can be said about almost every pitcher. He doesn’t appear to drop-and-drive as much as other pitchers I’ve seen. That could lead to his plus control.

He finishes relatively balanced and in decent fielding position.

Video



Conclusion

I hadn’t seen Caughel throw until last month. I knew his stuff wasn’t plus or anywhere near elite, but I had hoped he could be a sinker-balling No. 5 starter. After seeing him, I’d be surprised if he reaches the majors as a reliever. He doesn’t have elite velocity and it dipped after about three innings. If he were to be a bullpen guy, he could be a consistent 88-91 MPH guy with a solid curveball. That’s his ceiling. He could be an organizational rotation arm for a decade, if he so chooses. I suspect he’ll begin with Rancho Cucamonga in 2014 before a possible promotion. After his career is over, he’ll likely go into teaching.

Maybe Caughel defies the odds and somehow finds a way to stick in the rotation or adds a few ticks to his fastball and becomes an effective middle reliever. Either way, a 23rd-rounder providing at least this kind of value is solid and a tip of the hat to the Dodgers’ scouting department.

Photo credit: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

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