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April 16, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 15

by Kevin Goldstein

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He Says He's Ready, But Is He?

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket)

Thursday's stats: 6 IP, 3, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

After last night's rehab start, Dice-K said he's ready for the big leagues, and with six shutout innings, the numbers seem to say so as well.  But a closer look brings up some causes for concern.  He struck out just two of the 21 batters he faced, meaning he wasn't missing bats, and that can quickly be explained with a velocity of 88-91 mph, a good 2-4 ticks off his normal range. Then there are the 12 fly ball outs and only four of the ground ball variety.  Six innings pitched and zero runs allowed is a good thing to be sure, but don't be so sure that he's "ready". 

Progress Both At And Behind The Plate

Hank Conger, C, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake)

Thursday's stats: 2-for-5, 2 HR (2), 2 R, 3 RBI

The Angels have struggled in recent years with sharing the catching duties between Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli, and now Conger is close to confusing the situation even more.  A first-round pick in 2006, Conger is one of the top offensive catchers at the upper levels, but his defense still needs some work, as injuries have prevented him from playing the position for more than 100 games in a season yet.  Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia has already proven to favor the defensive-minded player at this position, so will Conger improve enough defensive to gain his confidence or simply hit enough to where he can't be denied? 

I Guess The Hitting Isn't Such A Problem

Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)

Thursday's stats: 2-for-4, 2B, R

When the Red Sox gave Iglesias a deal worth just north of $8 million, it was because of the glove, as Iglesias became arguably the best defensive shortstop in the minors the second he signed his contract.  The debate was over just how much he'd hit, but the 20-year-old showed enough this spring to earn an assignment to Double-A. Despite being young for the level, he's now 8-for-24 with three doubles.  At this rate, Marco Scutaro's 2012 option could end up being a fun debate. 

Hard Not To Root For Him

Daniel Moskos, LHP, Pirates (Double-A Altoona)

Thursday's stats: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

It's certainly been a tough road for Moskos, and it's not all his fault.  Forever known as the guy Pittsburgh took instead of Matt Wieters, Moskos has consistently been the victim of unfair expectations, but at the same time, he hasn't lived up to fair expectations either, often out of shape and a far cry mechanically from his days at Clemson.  Back in the bullpen this year, where many think he belongs, Moskos is in the best shape of his career and finding the most success of his career, beginning the season with 5.2 scoreless innings over four appearances for the Curve.  He'll never be Wieters, but he might end up in a big-league bullpen at this rate, which is a big upgrade from where he entered the year. 

Maybe It's Real After All

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks (High-A Visalia)

Thursday's stats: 4-for-5, 2B, HR (3), 3 R, RBI

An eighth-round pick last June, Goldschmidt slugged .638 last year after signing, but we have a long history of college hitters putting up big numbers in the Pioneer League.  The Diamondbacks decided to challenge him at High-A this year, and he just keeps on raking, reaching base 16 times in eight games while amassing 26 total bases.  He's a big, plodding slugger whose bat is his only tool, but even those guys make it to the big leagues if they hit enough. 

Sleeper Alert!

Branyan Villarreal, RHP, Tigers (High-A Lakeland)

Thursday's stats: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K

He's a bit short for a righty, and skinny as well, but it's one of the better arms nobody knows about.  With a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s and a plus-plus slider, Villareal has the stuff to miss bats, and he was doing just that on Thursday by retiring the first 13 batters he faced, including eight via the strikeout.  Scouts rarely see his change-up, which will need to be addressed as he moves up the ladder, but for now, he can enjoy his big night. 

Others of Note:

  • Nick Barnese, RHP, Rays (High-A Charlotte): He threw seven three-hit innings last night and has allowed just five hits in first two starts.  Barnese doesn't have crazy great stuff, but he is highly advanced.
  • Chris Carter, 1B, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento): Is Carter on the verge of one of those big streaks? He's 7-for-13 in his last three games.
  • Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (Low-A Beloit): Hicks was 0-for-5 last night and is 1-for-25 on the season with 10 whiffs.  It's early, but the season has been a disaster so far.
  • Todd Frazier, OF/1B/3B, Reds (Triple-A Louisville): Frazier hit first home run of the year, but he's just 3-for-25 on the season. What happened to finding him a defensive home?
  • Adam Milligan, OF, Braves (High-A Myrtle Beach): Milligan has hit three home runs in his last six games. Take a look at his great small sample size splits—1.524 OPS vs. RHP, .282 vs. LHP.
  • Robert Stock, C, Cardinals (Low-A Quad Cities): Now 6-for-15 with six walks after last night's three-hit effort, Stock is demonstrating that maybe last year's showing was for real.

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

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