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April 15, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 14

by Kevin Goldstein

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Something Is Wrong Here

Madison Bumgarner, lhp, Giants (Triple-A Fresno) 

Wednesday's stats: 4 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 4 K

It wasn't so long ago that Bumgarner was the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game. 2009 was filled with a slow, but steady velocity dip, but the Giants blamed it away on bad throwing problems, insisting that it wasn't a long-term concern. Going into the spring, Bumgarner was expected to win the No. 5 starter job for the Giants, but he just didn't pitch well enough to earn it, and after two Triple-A starts, he's given up a whopping 21 hits in just seven innings, as what used to be a plus-plus fastball now doesn't crack 90 anymore. Be concerned, be very concerned.

Nothing Is Wrong Here

Andrew Cashner, rhp, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee) 

Wednesday's stats: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 10 K

A first-round pick in  2008, Cashner rose to prominence as a closer in college, but his fastball/slider combination and surprisingly solid change-up had the Cubs wanting to see if he can start. After stretching his arm out last year, the reigns are off and the results are stunning, as after two outings, opposing hitters are 5-for-37 with 20 strikeouts. The Cubs are getting ready to make an opening in their rotation for Ted Lilly (who pitched well at Triple-A last night), and by the end of the year, they might be doing the same for Cashner.

More Than Just The Other Guy

Travis D'Arnaud, c, Blue Jays (High-A Dunedin) 

Wednesday's stats: 4-for-6, 2B, R, 3 RBI, SB

When the Blue Jays traded Roy Halladay to the Phillies, most of the attention in the return package was paid to Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace, players who should see time in Toronto this year. But don't forget about D'Arnaud, a 21-year-old catcher with athleticism, power and a plus arm. He's started the year with a six-game hitting streak and a .423 average, and while he's not going to show up in the big leagues this year, there isn't much in the way either at catcher as he rises up the ladder.

Speaking Of Young Catchers . . .

Christian Bethancourt, c, Braves (Low-A Rome) 

Wednesday's stats: 2-for-4, RBI 

Signed out of Panama two years ago for $600,000, Bethancourt is one of the Sally League's youngest every day players at 18, but he's hardly been over-matched, as with three-straight multi-hit games, he's now 10-for-19 on the young season. The thing is, his defense is actually ahead of his bat at this point, as he's a far too aggressive hitter who is still learning how to tap into his power, but few catchers in the game can match his upside.

Recovering From A Slow Start

Brett Jackson, of, Cubs (High-A Daytona) 

Wednesday's stats: 3-for-4, 2B, 3 R, BB 

Jackson had early first-round tools going into the draft, but fell to the end of the round, leaving many to believe the Cubs got a steal after his explosive pro debut. After beginning the year in an 0-for-11 funk, Jackson has turned it all around, going 8-for-15 in his last four games while adding five walks. He has a big league approach, above-average speed and raw power, and can play an excellent center field; and teams once again are wondering why he lasted 31 picks in the draft.

Sleeper Alert!

Scott Barnes, lhp, indians (Double-A Akron) 

Wednesday's stats: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K

Acquired from the Giants last year for Ryan Garko, Barnes will never light up a scouting report, as his fastball and breaking ball are both average at best, but he throws strikes and has a nasty changeup, and that combination served him well in five no-hit innings on Wednesday.  .

Others Of Note:

  • Jake Arrieta, rhp, Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk): Seven shutout innings, now 12 scoreless in two starts.
  • Andrew Brackman, rhp, Yankees (High-A Tampa): Four innings, 10 hits, seven runs and zero strikeouts last night. Sure, he's throwing strikes, but at what cost?
  • Keon Broxton, of, Diamondbacks (Low-A South Bend): 0-for-5 with five strikeouts last night; 11 Ks in 27 at-bats overall; tons of tools, but needs to do something with them.
  • Chris Carter, 1b, Mets (Triple-A Buffalo): 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple (which I'd love to see); Still not a big fan; but deserves a look with struggling Mets offense.
  • Tim Melville, rhp, Royals (High-A Wilmington): Didn't get out of the first inning in his first start; rebounded with five one-hit innings last night; striking out eight.
  • Brett Wallace, 1b, Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas): Third home run in seven games; Las Vegas sure does help.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  Andrew Cashner

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