Excerpts from Badler's free notebook on Scheppers and a salutary warning:
"• Tanner Scheppers has created buzz by pitching in the mid- to high-90s for Surprise. A likely top 10 pick out of Fresno State in the 2008 draft prior to hurting his shoulder that April, Scheppers opted not to sign with the Pirates when he slipped to 48th overall in the draft that year. After rehab and pitching for the St. Paul Saints in independent ball this spring, he signed with the Rangers for $1.25 million as the 44th overall selection.
One scout pointed out that Scheppers still has a hitch in the back of his delivery, but he’s flashed plenty of arm strength in his brief appearances.
“He’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s trying to do, especially for not being in pro ball,” Phelps said. “I know he played one year in the independent league after he got drafted, but for a young kid he’s pretty mature and he’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. He’s got that plus fastball, he’s got good angle with it. He doesn’t have the command with it yet, but when he gets the command, he could be something pretty special.
“With that arm speed, he’s got a curveball that has big bite and can be a plus pitch for him. The changeup he’s still developing, he’s still trying to trust and use it in the game. When you’ve got that big plus fastball a lot of times it’s tough for him to start working in that changeup, but I think over the next few years he’ll develop that.”
"Finally, a word of caution for any conclusions to draw from the AFL, be it from the numbers or first-hand observations. The AFL is a great way to congregate prospects in a relatively small area. While at a typical minor league game there might be just a few future big leaguers on the field, almost everyone here in the AFL is worth bearing down on.
Still, from seeing some of these players during the regular season compared to now, and from talking to scouts about the challenges of AFL evaluations, putting too much stock into what you see at the AFL can be dangerous.
The first week of the season can be especially deceiving with hitters and pitchers coming back from a long layoff. Scouts who have been around the league for a while say that several players’ mechanics look sharper than they did the first week of the season. Velocities have greater variance here the first week of the season as pitchers are getting back into their routines, and throughout the entire AFL season because they throw in shorter stints than they do in the regular season.
Then there are other players who simply look tired. I’ve heard a few players now who said they’re just looking forward to having the season end and are ready to go home at this point.
One other major variable affecting the hitters is that they don’t get to play every day. During the minor league season, any player who is a prospect is going to be in the lineup every day. That just doesn’t happen in the AFL, where every organization is going to want their position prospects to play as many games as possible. They might take batting practice, but not facing live pitching every day the way they’re used to can throw some guys off.
So while the AFL is a great tool for evaluators, it’s important to remember not to get too carried away with what happens here."