Laz Rivera Scouting Report, Chicago White Sox — December, 2017
Full Name: Laz Rivera
DOB: September 20, 1994 (23)
Birthplace: Miami, Florida
School: University of Tampa
Acquired: 28th Round, 2017
Height, Weight: 6’1″, 185 lbs.
Dates Observed: August 7-14, 2017
Affiliate(s): AZL White Sox (Rookie, Chicago White Sox)
Notes & Comments
Tall hitter with high back elbow; short, choppy swing with some downward plane to it; ground ball hitter with compact stroke and some occasional line drive punch. Above-average bat speed; good contact skills with ability to hit the ball to all fields. Some ability to manipulate the barrel, but more so for gap-to-gap power than anything else, particularly to right-center field with inside-out approach. Knack for putting the barrel on the ball, though, and produces surprisingly consistent barrel contact even when on the ground. Above-average pitch recognition with ability to adjust; tracks the ball well and has good hand-eye coordination. Unlikely to develop average hit tool, but enough contact and a mature approach here that’ll bring some value with development.
More gap-to-gap power than over-the-fence pop, with speed helping his case as a line drive doubles hitter. Downward plane on swing from tall stance and high back elbow hurts power projection; above-average bat speed helps produce line drive leverage, especially on balls in the upper half of the strike zone, but unlikely to be a significant power threat barring an adjustment in swing mechanics. Lean, thin build without exceptional natural strength, but could add a bit of weight with age (to be fair, he is already 23 years old). Long term power likely to remain below average with gap-to-gap ceiling; table-setter top/bottom of the order role ahead.
Comfortable at shortstop and second base, and could handle third base easily; good lateral quickness and above-average range to both sides and at both positions. Phenomenal range for the level; felt like he was in on every play during multiple AZL viewings; played big for his position up the middle. Sense of urgency from the left side with good internal clock to make plays across the diamond. Sure-handed with good feel for finding the ball; good situational awareness. Needs consistency in execution on finishing plays and throwing the ball, particularly on off-balance and difficult throws from the left side. Could stick at shortstop for the next few seasons as he moves up the minor league ladder, but ultimately feels like a utility/platoon guy for me — one who can play across the infield in a backup role if he reaches the upper minors and beyond.
Raw arm strength is good, and could arguably merit a 50 FV, but some inconsistency in execution when throwing the ball across the diamond, particularly from his backhand and when off-balance and rushing it to first. Should be ironed out with more time in the field, particularly at shortstop, but enough of a question here for me that it pushes him slightly below 50 FV — and, in turn, pushes Rivera towards a more likely platoon role than an everyday job. Room to improve, though, and wouldn’t surprise me if he does outplay the 45 FV in another couple years’ time, especially with physical growth.
Several home-to-first times clustered below 4.25 in my viewings at AZL; long, lean runner with long legs and big strides. Takes a second to get up to top speed out of the batter’s box, but good runner with above-average top speed once he does get going. Could be a decent baserunner in time, but it’ll take development in learning pitchers and situations, as raw speed alone likely won’t get it done based on his first few steps. Defensively, shows good feel for moving to both sides with ease. Interestingly, lateral quickness manifests itself better on defense than it does taking the first few steps as a baserunner; moves naturally and light on his feet in the field with good anticipation and above-average range.
Long and lean with room to grow into his body, even as a 23-year-old. Should fill out and be a decent-sized infielder with a bit of raw strength and some punch in his bat eventually. Above-average athlete and a true gamer who seemed to be in the middle of everything the AZL White Sox did in multiple viewings this summer; rally starter, table setter, defensive leader, etc. Consensus top AZL prospects aside, Laz Rivera is my pick for an under-the-radar guy I liked the most this summer in Arizona; grew on me more each time I saw him, and really proved himself a consistent rally starter in four viewings. Granted, he’s old for the league and must move into full-season ball pretty soon if he’s to be taken seriously as a fringe prospect, but this kid is a good little ballplayer and could become a nice low-round find as he moves up the next few years.
OFP (45 FV)
Lacks above-average tools across the board and plays the style of game that seems perfectly suited to a platoon/utility/bench role at ceiling; floor as organizational depth with some potential up-and-down time in the middle infield. Too old for short-season leagues and must transition into full-season ball in 2018 — ideally, I’d expect him at Low-A Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League — but athleticism and defensive versatility will help with the transition, as will his strong college background. Long term, he’s a low-round flyer that’s way off the radar and carrying no real expectations, but Laz Rivera has an interesting array of tools and intangibles, and he could prove to be a nice little find by the Chicago White Sox if he develops the next few seasons. MLB ETA: 2021.
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