MIAMI SHORES, FL- The Florida-based Division II Sunshine State conference can compete with most D1s around the country. Tampa and Florida Southern are perennial national powers and there’s depth up and down the nine-team conference.
Barry University boasts one of the league’s best prospects in third baseman Yan Gomes (PGX#316), a transfer from the University of Tennessee. He’s hitting .406-18-80 with a .482 OBP in 187 at-bats. I made the trip to see him on Friday night (April 24th, 2009) against the University of Tampa.
From my eyes, I estimated Gomes to be 6-0, 190. He’s solidly built with a little thickness in the hips. Gomes has broad but sloped shoulders that look the part of a professional hitter.
During batting practice, Gomes stood in an open crouch and took a light load, keeping his hands low throughout. He generated 40/50 bat-speed, 55 line-drive power, and 45 raw power. There is a little bit of extra length to his swing (compared to an average MLB hitter). He showed the ability to turn on an inside fastball and also to flick outside pitches the other way.
For the game, Gomes would go 2-4 with two singles in Barry’s 7-5 defeat of Tampa. In order, Gomes flew out to right field slowing his bat to hit a curveball; hit a hard opposite field single to right on an outside fastball; a groundball single through the hole at short; a flyout to center field. Gomes didn’t take many pitches in his four appearances.
Defensively, Gomes made four plays without any problem. He handled a hard one-hopper and made the forceout at third on the first one.
I think Gomes has the tools to become an average third baseman but I can see where he may struggle at the get-go. He doesn’t have a very good ready position; Gomes is upright and his glove is also up. He has a tendency to hop with the pitch, which makes his first step slow.
I remember a scouting director telling me that getting rid of the pre-pitch hop made all the difference in the world for Robin Ventura. The Chicago White Sox 1st-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 1988, Ventura was a tremendous pure hitting prospect whom most scouts graded out as a poor defender. They believed he would have to move across the infield and work hard to become even adequate at first base.
Strangely enough, Ventura would go on to win five gold gloves at third base in the big leagues. This former scouting director told me the White Sox corrected the hop early in the minors and his first step improved remarkably.
(Also oddly enough, Ventura would go on to a career batting average of “only” .267. Most scouts envisioned a bad-defense, high-average, “not much power” guy and he turned into a 294 homerun slugger with five gold gloves.)
I won’t predict that kind of path for Gomes, but I do think he has solid-average hands and the quick transfers to become a major league average defender at the hot corner. His range is below-average now, but with the said improvements I can see it becoming average.
While I didn’t get any good running times on Gomes (both singles were turns where he didn’t run them out), it was clear from watching his stride that he’s well below-average. I would say he’s a 35 runner.
The Brazilian-born Gomes played at several Perfect Game events (while attending Miami Southridge High School) and our scouts were always impressed with him as a hitter, especially at the 2005 Perfect Game National Showcase. Gomes was a catcher at the time and had a best pop-time of 1.83 seconds. I wonder if he can still catch, if that would be an option at least for utility purposes in pro ball. Gomes also ran a laser-timed 6.92 60 yard-dash at the 2005 National, but that speed has diminished since in the last four years.
Gomes isn’t going to be a high draft, but first ten rounds is reasonable. He has a chance to hit and play several positions. In addition to third base and maybe catcher, Gomes is potentially a first and second baseman.
Senior shortstop Danny Lima is another Miami high school product. Lima transferred from Tennessee with Gomes and is having a big year for the Barry Buccaneers. He was attending his brother’s wedding on Friday so I didn’t see him, but Lima’s a certain senior draft who has a chance also to go in the first ten rounds. Lima is hitting .418-6-36 in 194 at-bats for the year. RIghthanded pitcher Bobby Hernandez closed the game on Friday with 90-91 MPH fastballs and a 73 MPH curve. He’s a strong senior draft himself, possibly the middle rounds.
Tampa senior rightfielder and righthanded hitter Steven Broschofsky really smoked the ball in a 2-4 day, including a line-shot line-drive single to right. The 6-2, 210 Louisiana State transfer has a big league body as well. His peripheral tools all grade out around 40, so I don’t see him as a high draft but a good senior sign who has a longshot chance to hit his way up. He’s hitting .361-11-38 in 158 at-bats for the Tampa Spartans. First baseman Jose Jimenez, who is 5-11, 235, is a lefthanded power plant (.399-10-49 in 158 ABs) who doesn’t project or have much for peripheral tools, but will probably be a late senior sign because he can hit in the low minors.
Scouts had UT lefthanded pitcher Carmine Giardina high on their follow lists coming into the spring. The junior transferred from Central Florida and had a spot in the rotation early. He has struggled this year, however, and is no longer projected as an early pick. Junior righthanded pitcher Alex Koronis, a Miami transfer, pitched the last game of the series on Saturday. In a complete game 7-inning effort, he beat Barry 7-1. I didn’t get to see him pitch, but he has some scout buzz on his side.