Scottsdale, Ariz. -- The Colorado Rockies have something interesting in outfielder Omar Carrizales. A plus runner, the 21-year-old mashed in Low-A Asheville for most of the season in 2015, and despite a pretty significant slump to wrap up the year—having never played full season ball before, he may have hit the proverbial wall—Carrizales snuck up on our prospect lists a few months ago.
Now with three seasons of professional baseball under his belt, there are a few things we know about Carrizales, an outfielder by trade: he's quick (67 career stolen bases), he can handle the bat a little bit (he's a career .295/.349/.386 hitter), and he's not going to hit for much power (just seven career home runs, all of which came last season while the lefty played his home games at Asheville's McCormick Field).
Power be damned, the combination of speed and contact skills can get Carrizales a long ways in this game, and now having seen him work out in person, it's evident that he's incredibly athletic, he handles the bat very well, and he has an approach at the plate that appears to be ideal for a left-handed hitter to get out of the box and put pressure on infield defenses with quickness.
Just as we did with Campbell Wear earlier this week, here's video of Carrizales working out on the Rockies' spring training back fields in Scottsdale, Arizona — first taking situational batting practice off the breaking ball machine, and then appearing for one at-bat in an intrasquad game against minor league reliever John Sheehan:
Carrizales is loose—very loose—at the plate, with limp hands and wrists that should promote very good bat speed through the zone. He, like Wear, also has a fairly conventional stance: slightly open to start, leaving him slightly closed after his stride, with a pretty consistent and conventional swing path and plane.
It's difficult not to read too much into one aspect of Carrizales' approach in batting practice, considering the context of this situational hitting exercise is to go the other way with pitches, but the outfielder seems particularly adept at and comfortable with pushing the ball to the left side of the infield. That'd make some sense, considering he's a fast lefty who has a marked advantage if he can get out of the batter's box quickly. And judging by his results, it'd be difficult to hit at or above .300 in three straight seasons like he has and not rely on pushing the ball the other way, considering how little gap power he's thus far shown in his career.
A pretty significant leg kick (seen more in the intrasquad portion of the video than batting practice; also pictured at the top of this post) could give Carrizales a little more power, but considering his strengths will come from being a good contact guy who can get on base and take extra bases in a variety of ways, focusing too much on generating power might be a detriment to his game as a table-setter.
There is one thing with Carrizales to keep an eye on this summer: while he's likely slated to begin the year at High-A Modesto, and he's still just 21-years-old, the lefty swinger really faded down the stretch last summer in his first taste of full-season pro ball. Hitting a stellar .305 on September 1st for the Tourists, Carrizales got just three hits in his final 34 at-bats of the summer, dropping his average 20 points in the process and taking just a bit of the shine off an otherwise stellar season.
Without having spoken to him yet, I'm obviously interested to see if he did anything different in the offseason to better prepare himself for the rigors of a 140-plus game season, compared to the short seasons to which he had previously been accustomed. I'm actually surprised he's listed at just 6'0", 175 lbs.; it seems he plays a bit bigger in person. Regardless, he's got enough size that he could add a bit of bulk to withstand the dog days of future Augusts better than he did previously. We'll see soon enough.
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