Some of the best Legends bats are found in Lexington’s outfield, as well as some serious defense. With Bubba Starling, Terrance Gore, Fred Ford (moving back to RF when 1B Mark Threlkeld has his cast removed this weekend) and Ethan Chapman, there’s serious potential that will soon be realized. In this post, I’ll take a look at what I’ve noted from this group, thus far. Since I haven’t seen Ford in the OF yet, I will leave him to the infielders discussion for now.
Terrance Gore, LF
16 games, 52 AB, 12 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 11 SB
Speed, speed and more speed: that’s what you get with Gore. I’ve had him as fast as 3.78 to first, so far, and he slipped on his way there. Also got him at 7 seconds flat on a double. He’s fast, is the general idea I’m wishing to convey here. But there’s more to him than just blazing speed.
Gore makes frequent contact at the plate, can lay down some excellent bunts (which he’ll usually beat out, regardless of where they lay), and steals bases seemingly at will. He gets out of the box quickly and hits his stride about half-way to first. Rounding on doubles, he’s nearly at full-speed by the time he’s a few steps off first. In the field, he covers far more than his share of real estate. His plus-plus range and solid arm will lend itself to lots of befuddled looks from opposing baserunners, as he runs down certain base hits with regularity. This aspect of his game is somewhat overlooked; when you have that kind of speed, most people think “base stealer” before they think “fast outfielder”.
Nevertheless, and in my estimation, Gore isn’t likely to spend the year in Class A ball. If he can keep his average up and continue to swipe bags as he has done, I’d think he would be in Wilmington or even NW Arkansas by mid-season.
Bubba Starling, CF
16 G, 56 AB, 8 H, 7 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 24 K, .143 BA, .463 OPS
As some of you may have noticed by now, Starling is struggling mightily at the dish. From what I’ve seen and heard, Bubba has been putting much pressure on himself and has had difficulty adjusting mainly due to this. The physical tools are all there: quick bat, good wheels, great arm and glove in center, etc. The problem, as I see it, is mostly mental. I expect his batting will be on the upswing in the next couple of weeks.
However, while he has demonstrated these exceptional tools, I have noticed that he’s been late on a few fastballs. At other times, he appears to be swinging from the heels and perhaps trying to do too much. Expectations weigh heavily on a young player, sometimes.
In the field, he covers plenty of ground. He moves fluidly, like you would expect from an athlete of his caliber, and his arm is easily plus for center. He’s got enough to play right, if he gets moved over at the higher levels. There’s no question of that. It’s hard to say how well he runs the bases, as I’ve seen him reach so few times.
At this level, when his swing comes around, you can definitely expect power and speed in abundance. A full season at Class A should bring a 20/20 season from Starling, with 30+ doubles. Even after the last two weeks being essentially a loss, this will be no stretch.
Ethan Chapman, RF
16 G, 51 AB, 11 H, 5 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 9 SB, .216 BA, .516 OPS
Chapman might have been lost in the abundance of potential here in Lexington, had it not been for Ford’s move to first after Threlkeld went down in the very first AB of his 2013 season. He’s not put up impressive numbers, that’s true. The thing you’ll notice about him is that he’s pure hustle. He has the classic “overachiever” look to him, although that term suggests that he’s not naturally talented.
The truth is, he seems to have excellent baseball instincts. He simply knows how to play the game. At bat, he’s a rocket out of the box on even sure groundouts. He takes a hard and aggressive (but level) swing, though sometimes he pulls his lead shoulder a bit early. He reads pitchers’ moves and steals as well or better than anyone on the team, and he’s aggressive on the basepaths. For the relatively few times he’s been on base, he’s definitely made the most of those chances.
In the field, he’s all-out on any ball hit in his direction. He even made MiLB.com’s home page highlight reel with a catch he made last week vs. Greenville, where he made friends with the infield tarp roll in pursuit of a quickly sinking fly. He has enough arm to stick in right (for now), and displays at least average range that cannot be downplayed since he never gives up on a fly or liner. I’m hoping that Threlkeld’s return and Ford’s move back to right won’t limit Chapman’s at-bats much, but I’m afraid he’ll be coming off the bench next week.
So there’s a bit about our outfielders, certainly an enviable group in terms of talent and potential. Next up: pitchers. I’d like to see a bit more of some of them before I make an assessment, so look for that post in the next week. Stay tuned, true believers.