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Rams' Top 10 Most Interesting Brewer Minor League Assignments


Top 10 Most Interesting Brewer Minor League Assignments

 

With the MLB season over, the MiLB season over, and the AFL on the way, it’s prospect time. In lieu of a normal ranking (only 28 deep right now), here’s a teaser. These are the top 10 most interesting assignments for notable Brewers minor leaguers moving forward in 2013.

 

1. Jed Bradley, AA or A+

This ranking number 1, at least to me, is a no-brainer. Bradley is far and away the most interesting (and controversial) minor league assignment. Typically, the Brewers are content to promote top prospects (or top draft picks, depending on what you think of Bradley at this point) once a year even if they perform terribly. So, if you look at it that way, he seems like a pretty good bet to end up in AA.

 

But it’s not that simple. Bradley would be making the largest jump up the minor league ladder and he would also be going from a pitcher’s haven in the FSL to a more neutral Southern League. The AA jump is never something that should be taken lightly, and this is even truer in the Brewers’ system given the friendly FSL environment. At the end of the day, the Brewers could deeply regret being aggressive with Bradley, and end up screwing up his development even more.

 

Further, here are the projected AAA and AA rotations for Milwaukee:

AAA – Tyler Thornburg, Hiram Burgos, Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena, Josh Stinson

AA – Taylor Jungmann, Jimmy Nelson, Nick Bucci, Drew Gagnon (maybe), Evan Anundson

 

7 of these guys are pretty much locks (I don’t see Thornburg in the big leagues come April). Gagnon is the 8th, and he’s a very good bet to make AA. Josh Stinson put up an ERA in the low 3’s in 150 IP in AA last season, so he’s also a near lock to start in AAA (the exception being he makes the bullpen out of spring training). So, unless the Brewers feel like bumping Anundsen, who threw 120 IP in AA last season, from the rotation completely, they also don’t have room for Bradley. It’s worth noting that Bradley was a $2 M investment for Milwaukee, so from a business perspective there are few prospects who will really be able to effectively block him, but there really isn’t a spot for him.

 

Odds of being in AA/A+: 50%/50%

 

2. Clint Coulter, Helena or A

While Jed Bradley’s assignment is controversial for all the wrong reasons, Clint Coulter’s is controversial for all the right ones. Coulter showed he was head and shoulders above rookie level pitching and demonstrated how quickly he is able to adjust to better pitching by hitting .300 and walking at a near 18% clip after just 40 at bats as a senior in high school. While his catching is raw, he will be working on defense in instructs for the winter and has been repeatedly praised for off-the-charts work ethic.

 

The conservative move would be to stick him in Helena for a year to refine his defense. I don’t see that one happening though. The most similar prospect Coulter profiles to in terms of prospect status and maturity level is Brett Lawrie from 2009, who started off in Low A ball despite signing late enough to miss out on the entire rookie ball season in 2008. While Lawrie had more experience based on his Canadian citizenship and the international competition that offers, Coulter’s extra pro at bats might help mitigate that.

 

Of course, the elephant in the room is how his defense progresses. I don’t think there is much question that A ball is the best place for Clint to refine his offensive game, but if he can’t catch, the Brewers might be faced with having to stick him in extended spring training to continue to try and get him up to par behind the dish.

 

Odds of being in A/Helena: 85%/15%

 

3. Mat Gamel/Hunter Morris Log Jam

This isn’t so much the assignment of 1 minor leaguer as the jam created by having Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, and Hunter Morris to divide up between the MLB and AAA. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Hart will have an MLB roster spot, and I’ll go out even further by saying he’ll be an every day 1st baseman after posting 3+ WAR this year. Meanwhile, Hunter Morris destroyed AA to the point where sending him back to the Southern League would be an insult.

 

So, the question is obvious – what do the Brewers do to get at bats for these 3 guys? Morris is the shiny new toy in the system while Gamel has been at AAA for a few years, meaning I fully expect Morris in AAA and getting full time play. That means Gamel is likely relegated to a bench or utility type big league role, or ends up being traded. While the latter might make sense, the lack of depth on the Brewers’ bench does create some flexibility (however, it simultaneously gives the Brewers a little more leverage in a trade).

 

The million dollar question is if Gamel is good enough to warrant a trade. Considering Michael Young, Jordan Pacheo and Casey Kotchmann combined for nearly 450 MLB games played at 1B, I’d say so. It just depends what they could realistically get back, but Gamel for a reliever seems to have some validity.

 

Odds of Hunter Morris in AAA: 100%

Odds of Corey Hart in MLB: 100%

Odds of Mat Gamel being traded (yes/no): 45%/55%

 

4. Tyrone Taylor, Helena or A

Taylor’s assignment next year is similar to Coulter’s, but much more of a coin flip due to 2 key aspects. For some background, Taylor played all of 18 rookie league games (8 in Arizona, 10 in Helena). He destroyed each level by batting nearly .400 and with almost an XBH per game. If he had continued at even something close to that pace, he would have been a lock for a full season roster spot in centerfield.

 

Unfortunately, Taylor got hurt and missed the remained of the minor league season. This creates a dilemma for Milwaukee, as there is nothing wrong with sending a toolsy outfielder back to rookie ball for his age 19 season. That said, Taylor performed like someone way too advanced for the level, was a significant investment by Milwaukee as a 2nd round pick, and could vault his way well into the top 100 prospects in baseball with a strong showing in full season ball.

 

The tie breaker here might be the potentially ridiculous depth in the Low A outfield next season. Theoretically, Victor Roache, Mitch Haniger, Michael Reed, Tyrone Taylor, Jose Pena, Raul Mendosi Jr., and Yonki Hernandez all have a shot at ending up in Low A. That’s a crowd. While the Brewers can alleviate the pressure somewhat by sticking Haniger (or maybe even Roache) in Brevard County, potentially using a rotating OF DH, and utilizing the 7 day DL cleverly throughout the season, that doesn’t magically turn 6 spots into 3. Once easy way to help is to stick Taylor in extended spring training, perhaps with the idea that a potential midseason promotion could help create space at some point down the line.

 

Odds of being in A/Helena: 30%/70%

 

5. Jorge Lopez, Arizona, Helena, or A

Discussing Lopez’s status is far less fun than Taylor’s, as Lopez has started his career off about as poorly as possible. 1 repeat of the Arizona league was bad for the former 2nd rounder, I would say 2 repeats would pretty much be the beginning of the end of his pro career. However, he hasn’t had success in Arizona yet, so the Brewers would need to take chance on him to go much higher.

 

I listed A ball as an option for Lopez, but in reality that seems unlikely. A major factor here could be that Milwaukee does not project to have a strong rotation, in fact, the A ball rotation will likely be pretty darn bad next season. That could give the Brewers the ammo they need to take a chance with him, particularly because he will be spending time in instructionals this offseason to try and get him back on track.

 

I think the most likely option is that he gets a cordial promotion to Helena and even more extended spring training to try and fix the kinks and put a big league career back in the picture. At 20 in his 3rd season, Lopez wouldn’t be young for the league by any stretch, but the Brewers don’t want to overwhelm him either.

 

Odds of being in A/Helena/Arizona: 10%/70%/20%

 

6. Orlando Arcia, Helena or A

The 3rd member of the quite studly Helena or A ball club, Orlando Arica missed all of this year (where he was assigned to Helena) with a broken leg. He’s healthy now and ready for instructionals, where he will be going up against competition around the Helena level, so optimally the Brewers can manage to make up for a few months worth of pro experience.

 

Arcia has displayed a ridiculously advanced skill set for his age and compliments that with a solid all-around set of tools, meaning that he could do wonders for his stock by getting into full season ball. His next season will be his age 18 season, so obviously there is no reason to rush him, but very, very, very few shortstops have success in full season ball at 18, so if the Brewers think he can, he immediately becomes an immensely valuable asset.

 

Because reports from the instruct leagues are so scarce, we likely won’t have a good read on what Mr. Arcia is doing and the assignment will feel out of the blue. However, I think there is a legitimate chance for him to end up in Wisconsin right out of the gate next season. With all due respect to 22 year old Alfredo Rodriguez, the full time Helena SS from last season, there is absolutely no one standing in Arcia’s way and if he merits the jump, the Brewers will promote him.

 

Odds of being in A/Helena: 40%/60%

 

7. Victor Roache, A or A+

Roache is another interesting decision for Milwaukee – the former 1st round pick would have almost assuredly been assigned to Low A out of the gate provided he was healthy, but instead missed the entire year with a wrist injury. However, he’s 100% now and chomping at the bit to get back in instructionals, according to Brewers’ brass. With a full offseason and a few years of college under his belt, Roache could be in line for a more challenging assignment than you would first expect.

 

In reality, there are only 2 levels at play here, High or Low A ball. The safe move would be to stick him in Low A and let him mash for a little while, but the glut of Low A outfielders might inspire the Brewers to see if he can handle a little more challenge. It is worth noting that the Florida State league plays like Petco Field, however, it’s also worth noting that if anyone has the bat speed and power to succeed there, Roache does.

 

Much like Arica, the Brewers are going to have a great deal more data on their hands to make this decision. Roache’s performance in instructional games will likely determine how aggressive they are with him. The Brewers put nearly $2 M into Roache, so while we might love some of the other Low A OFs, there is no way that anyone will block Victor.

 

Odds of being in A+/A: 35%/65%

 

8. Drew Gagnon, AA or A+

The most under-the-radar Brewers pitching prospect has a chance to start the year in AA in only his 2nd full pro season. While Gagnon has been quite impressive, putting up ERAs of 2.8 in Low and High A ball, the crazy-deep AAA and AA rotations are now going to start doing him a disservice. 2 years ago this would have been a no-brainer, but substantially less than 100 IP in High A, Gagnon is no sure bet for another promotion.

 

The situation regarding Jed Bradley is also of note here. Bradley pitched twice as much in A+ ball and received about $1.5+ M more in a signing bonus, so the finance guys will tell you Bradley will get priority. The scouts will likely say different, citing how poor Jed was, how dominant Drew has been, and how difficult the AA jump is. To me, it seems like Gagnon is more than ready for the next challenge, especially when you consider that he will likely be spending the entire year in AA.

 

Odds of being in AA/A+: 75%/25%

 

9. Mitch Haniger, A+ or A

If you haven’t noticed by now, two major strengths of the Brewers’ farm system are in the rotations at the upper minors and some of the OF in the lower minors. Haniger is next in the OF line. He was considered a very advanced player, and in his limited Low A time he lived up to that billing by posting an OBP near .400. However, he only played in 14 pro games to this point. Even though he will be another player participating in the instructional leagues, Haniger is no sure bet to get a promotion out of the gate.

 

Like with Roache, the Brewers could do a favor to the other 25,000 contenders for the Low A outfield spots by promoting Haniger. Unlike Roache, Haniger has some pro experience and a little more polish, and may deserve the promotion solely on results. In addition, there is no one on the current Low A team (who will be the future High A team) that will stop the Brewers from getting Haniger playing time, including Max Walla. Therefore, I feel a fair bit more confident that we will ultimately see Mitch starting out in the Florida State League.

 

Odds of being in A+/A: 70%/30%

 

10. Carlos Belonis, Helena, Arizona, or DSL

Belonis was the prize Latin American signing for Milwaukee at $550k. While the Brewers don’t promote from the DSL often, they have started to be a little more aggressive as that team has gained traction. A 6’3”, toolsy SS/3B, Belonis is a good runner, produced at a reasonable high level in his age 16 season, and may just be the next Latin American stud that the system needs.

 

Where he ends up is a mystery at this point, though I think he’s a decent bet to at least get called over. At 17, an Arizona league assignment seems more appropriate than sticking him with the college kids in Helena, however, the Brewers have shown that when they like a Latin American prospect (Alcides Escobar or Orlando Arica) they won’t hesitate bumping him the extra level.

 

Odds of being in Helena/Arizona/DSL: 5%/65%/30%

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a taylor/haniger/roache outfield for the t-rats would be FUN!!!!!
Potentially wonderful TRats lineup:

 

1. Chris McFarland, 2B

2. Tyrone Taylor, CF

3. Clint Coulter, C

4. Victor Roache, LF

5. Adam Giacalone, 1B

6. Mitch Haniger, RF

7. Jose Pena, DH

8. Orlando Arcia, SS

9. Literally anyone, 3B

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i dont know a whole lot about pena, giacalone,or mcfarland but there numbers at helena were pretty good. that looks like a championship repeat for sure to me. the 3b options aren't all that impressive, i'm sure mike garza will be back. he only played 38 games for wi and he had good numbers for helena in his short stint there.
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The whole Clint Coulter thing could have an easier decision if they had promoted him to Helena last season like they should have. He got off to a really bad start but then really came strong after that. I believe he even had more walks than strikeouts. He should have been in Helena and I have a really that's where he'll start next season.

 

I actually wouldn't mind seeing Taylor start off in Helena again though. Outfield is far and away the deepest part of our system and I'd like Taylor to get off to a nice hot start in Helena before being moved up when his confidence is high.

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i dont know a whole lot about pena, giacalone,or mcfarland but there numbers at helena were pretty good. that looks like a championship repeat for sure to me. the 3b options aren't all that impressive, i'm sure mike garza will be back. he only played 38 games for wi and he had good numbers for helena in his short stint there.
McFarland was a 4th round caliber talent the Brewers got as an overslot signing late in the draft. Very, very good hitter, and will be only 20 next season in A ball.

 

Pena was a $400k bonus baby who resurrected his career with a huge offensive season across Arizona and Helena as a 19 year old. Plus hitter.

 

Giacalone was a 16th rounder who just demolished Helena. Not as much of a prospect, but certainly a good hitter.

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a taylor/haniger/roache outfield for the t-rats would be FUN!!!!!
Potentially wonderful TRats lineup:

 

1. Chris McFarland, 2B

2. Tyrone Taylor, CF

3. Clint Coulter, C

4. Victor Roache, LF

5. Adam Giacalone, 1B

6. Mitch Haniger, RF

7. Jose Pena, DH

8. Orlando Arcia, SS

9. Literally anyone, 3B

 

Oh man, this would be sooooo fun to see... I go to a lot of games, but this would increase that number even more...

"I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!" Ajax - The WARRIORS
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Potentially wonderful TRats lineup:

 

1. Chris McFarland, 2B

2. Tyrone Taylor, CF

3. Clint Coulter, C

4. Victor Roache, LF

5. Adam Giacalone, 1B

6. Mitch Haniger, RF

7. Jose Pena, DH

8. Orlando Arcia, SS

9. Literally anyone, 3B

Oh man, this would be sooooo fun to see... I go to a lot of games, but this would increase that number even more...

No kidding! Man, now my hopes are up so high for the T-Rats' roster next season.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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AA – Taylor Jungmann, Jimmy Nelson, Nick Bucci, Drew Gagnon (maybe), Evan Anundson

 

Anundsen is eligible to become a minor league free agent this fall.

 

Really nice job with your work here, effort is evident and appreciated.

Thanks.

 

And that's definitely noteworthy. The Brewers are chalk full of potential MLB starters in the high minors, so Anundsen might find himself without a job in order to give Bradley a spot.

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Potentially wonderful TRats lineup:

 

1. Chris McFarland, 2B

2. Tyrone Taylor, CF

3. Clint Coulter, C

4. Victor Roache, LF

5. Adam Giacalone, 1B

6. Mitch Haniger, RF

7. Jose Pena, DH

8. Orlando Arcia, SS

9. Literally anyone, 3B

Oh man, this would be sooooo fun to see... I go to a lot of games, but this would increase that number even more...

No kidding! Man, now my hopes are up so high for the T-Rats' roster next season.

Unfortunately we can't say the same about the rotation, but that lineup would sure score some runs.
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AA – Taylor Jungmann, Jimmy Nelson, Nick Bucci, Drew Gagnon (maybe), Evan Anundson

 

Anundsen is eligible to become a minor league free agent this fall.

 

Really nice job with your work here, effort is evident and appreciated.

 

I agree completely. I thank you for the writeups.

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Is it a given that Yadiel Rivera is going to be promoted to BC? He wasn't exactly an offensive whiz this year with a batting average of .247 and an OBP at .290. Those are not good numbers at all. I wouldn't be surprised to see Arcia in Helena and Rivera back at Wisconsin.
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Is it a given that Yadiel Rivera is going to be promoted to BC? He wasn't exactly an offensive whiz this year with a batting average of .247 and an OBP at .290. Those are not good numbers at all. I wouldn't be surprised to see Arcia in Helena and Rivera back at Wisconsin.
He's already been to Wisconsin twice and has 600 PAs there. He's a BC lock.
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But he hasn't done anything at Wisconsin. If he can't hit at Wisconsin what makes us think he'll do any better at BC? I'm all for promoting players when they are ready but Rivera's numbers don't help the argument that he is ready. His combined average at Wisconsin is .238. His combined OBP is .278. Those numbers are awful.
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But he hasn't done anything at Wisconsin. If he can't hit at Wisconsin what makes us think he'll do any better at BC? I'm all for promoting players when they are ready but Rivera's numbers don't help the argument that he is ready. His combined average at Wisconsin is .238. His combined OBP is .278. Those numbers are awful.
Giving him a 3rd season at Wisconsin would be the beginning of the end of his prospect status. The Brewers essentially have to promote him because of that and the fact that he's the only player capable of playing SS in any reasonable sample on the Wisconsin roster.

 

He's not likely to hit for average or walk a lot regardless of which level he is at.

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Escobar had an OBP of .305 at West Virginia and was still promoted. Rivera's glove will play and he has plus power. He needs to learn patience at the plate. It won't matter all that much where he is while he is learning it.

I think the Brewers still like Anundson. His K/BB was well below what it has been last year along with quite a few other stats. He did miss all of '09 and had limited innings in '10. I hope they can re-sign him and maybe he can get back to where he was before the injury.

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Giving him a 3rd season at Wisconsin would be the beginning of the end of his prospect status.

 

I was just curious. But as of now I don't consider him much of a prospect anyway. Hopefully things change but I consider performance as much as I do potential when looking at someone's prospect status.

 

Escobar had an OBP of .305 at West Virginia and was still promoted.

 

Escobar was younger than Rivera when he did that though? And even though his OBP was poor he was at least hitting with a somewhat decent average. His batting average was a good 24 points higher than Rivera's was. Rivera is not only not drawing walks, he's not hitting either. Escobar wasn't drawing walks but he was hitting, at least somewhat. .271 for a 19 year old in A ball isn't terrible.

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My feeling is that Rivera will be promoted but not necessarily because he earned it. He's making very small strides offensively and while there is potential/tools to be excited about he certainly hasn't had any kind of epiphany at the plate.

 

The problem is that if you stall Yadial in WI, then you have to jump Rodriguez past him who had a decent season for Helena, but a college player putting up a .735 OPS in Rookie ball isn't all that exciting. Would it ultimately matter if Alfredo would flame out in A+? I don't know, and I'm not sure it matters which player between Rodriquez and Rivera is in A or A+. In the end we're all still hoping that Rivera figures out some plate discipline and quits flailing away at breaking pitches out of the zone because if he won't hit then he's simply not a prospect regardless of his tool set.

 

From a SS prospect perspective I'd like to see Ortega repeating AZ and Arcia in Helena, with the DSL kids repeating down there as well.

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

- Plato

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

- Plato

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My feeling is that Rivera will be promoted but not necessarily because he earned it. He's making very small strides offensively and while there is potential/tools to be excited about he certainly hasn't had any kind of epiphany at the plate.

 

The problem is that if you stall Yadial in WI, then you have to jump Rodriguez past him who had a decent season for Helena, but a college player putting up a .735 OPS in Rookie ball isn't all that exciting. Would it ultimately matter if Alfredo would flame out in A+? I don't know, and I'm not sure it matters which player between Rodriquez and Rivera is in A or A+. In the end we're all still hoping that Rivera figures out some plate discipline and quits flailing away at breaking pitches out of the zone because if he won't hit then he's simply not a prospect regardless of his tool set.

 

From a SS prospect perspective I'd like to see Ortega repeating AZ and Arcia in Helena, with the DSL kids repeating down there as well.

Quite frankly, the Brewers are still really thin as an organization at SS. It shouldn't matter too much for the next 6 years since Segura is entrenched at the big league level, but having no one of note at AAA, AA, or A ball in a concern.

 

Personally, best case scenario is that Arcia dominates instructs and the Brewers stick him in A ball. I'd say Helena is more likely, but you never know. I'd like to see Ortega get into Helena this season as well.

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Personally, best case scenario is that Arcia dominates instructs and the Brewers stick him in A ball. I'd say Helena is more likely, but you never know. I'd like to see Ortega get into Helena this season as well.

I don't agree that Arcia to A would be best-case, since the guy has only logged one 'full' season of pro ball, and that was 64 G (254 PA) in the DSL. He's only entering his age-18 season & coming off a serious injury, there's simply no reason to push him to Wisconsin yet imo. I wouldn't even be surprised if he starts off the season (after ext. ST) with the AZL Brewers. Even Helena would be asking a lot of him imo since he lost all of '12 to injury.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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Personally, best case scenario is that Arcia dominates instructs and the Brewers stick him in A ball. I'd say Helena is more likely, but you never know. I'd like to see Ortega get into Helena this season as well.

I don't agree that Arcia to A would be best-case, since the guy has only logged one 'full' season of pro ball, and that was 64 G (254 PA) in the DSL. He's only entering his age-18 season & coming off a serious injury, there's simply no reason to push him to Wisconsin yet imo. I wouldn't even be surprised if he starts off the season (after ext. ST) with the AZL Brewers. Even Helena would be asking a lot of him imo since he lost all of '12 to injury.

He was assigned to Helena as a 17 year old, and presumably will have a winter of instructs and US-based coaching. The odds of him going back to the AZL Brewers are pretty much 0 IMO.

 

What I originally meant is that the best case scenario is that Arcia is good enough this winter that he essentially forces the Brewers to put him in full season ball.

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I don't think sending Rivera back to Wisconsin would be a death sentence at all. The Brewers should base the decision on where to send him based on the hitting coach he seems to click with more... if that's the guy at Wisconsin, fine. If that's the guy at Brevard, great.

 

He's not turning 21 until next May and the Brewers seem to have the position settled in Milwaukee for the time being. Pushing undeserving players without a good reason shouldn't be an issue, and neither should the status of Alfredo Rodriguez.

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Melvin says that Gamel will get work in winter ball at 3rd and right as well as 1st. He has a history at 3rd, but obviously had trouble with throws. But an injury at any of those positions in 2013, and he could get in there.

 

The kid has a really good (left handed) swing.

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