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April 28, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 27

by Kevin Goldstein

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Your Every Five Days Affirmation

Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg) 

Tuesday's stats: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K

At this point it has nothing to do with how good Strasburg is, it's just what he can do on any given day. On Monday, after rain delayed start number four by a day, Strasburg delivered his best outing yet as a pro, technically retiring all 16 batters he faced, as a dropped third strike turned out to be the only blemish on his record. He sat at 94-97 with his fastball, his power breaking ball generated some foolish swings, his changeup fell off the table and his command and control was impeccable. It's not about developing a player anymore, it's about managing service time. The over/under remains early June for a big league arrival, and he's not only the best pitcher for Washington when he arrives, he just might be one of the best in the National League. Did I also mention that he had the only RBI in a 1-0 win for the Senators? 

Meanwhile, In Non-Strasburg 2009 First-Round News

Chad Jenkins, RHP, Blue Jays (Low-A Lansing) 

Tuesday's stats: 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K

Jenkins is a massive (6-4, 235) righty who was selected 20th overall last June, which made a lot of sense in the end. If you saw him on the right day last spring at Kennesaw State, he looked like a borderline top 10 pick, while the next time out, you'd wonder why he was even being discussed in the first round. Inconsistency is the name of his game, but when he's on, he's awfully impressive, combining his size with mid-90s heat and a nice slider to keep hitters of balance. Entering last night's game with a 5.63 ERA, Jenkins had one of those 'on' nights on Tuesday, and Jays fans hope this is the beginning of a run of them. 

Jenkins' Future Battery Mate?

J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas) 

Tuesday's stats: 3-for-4, HR (3), R, RBI 

Toronto's first-round pick in 2008, Arencibia has hit 48 home runs over the last two years, but a dreadfully impatient approach led to some real struggles at Triple-A last year, as he hit just .236/.284/.444. Never having drawn more than 26 walks in a season, Arenciba already has seven this year in just 55 at-bats, and the peripheral results are clear, as he's now batting .309/.387/.527. With a potent bat and excellent athleticism for the position, Arencibia has true All-Star potential if he can keep this up. 

No Seriously, There Were Other Pitchers In The 2009 Draft

Brad Boxberger, RHP, Reds (High-A Lynchburg) 

Tuesday's stats: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K

While the Reds' first pick in the 2009 draft, Mike Leake, is already in the big leagues, their supplemental first-round pick from that draft is taking a more traditional route. Boxberger is not a pure stuff guy, but he has as many as four pitches that rate at least as average, and he tends to throw strikes with them. While he's not as advanced as Leake, he might be too good for the Carolina League, as Tuesday's outing represented the third time in four starts that he pitched five innings while allowing two or fewer hits. He could be in Double-A soon, and in the big leagues as early as 2011. 

Bouncing Back?

Josh Fields, RHP, Mariners (Double-A West Tenn) 

Tuesday's stats: SV (1), 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Seattle's first-round pick in 2008, Fields was drafted as a college senior and then took nearly a year to sign, meaning he didn't make his pro debut until he was nearly 24 years old. Further complicating things was a 6.48 ERA at Double-A last year for a closer some thought could be in the big leagues quickly. Fields has two plus-plus power pitches with his fastball/slider combination, but his ultra-violent delivery and inability to throw strikes has led to very little progress so far. Back at Double-A, Fields is still having problems finding the strike zone at times, but he's also been nearly unhittable, as Southern League hitters are 2-for-16 with eight whiffs in his last four outings. There's finally a bit of optimism here, but the pace of improvements still could use a bit of acceleration. 

Sleeper Alert!

Miguel Velasquez, OF, Rangers (Low-A Hickory) 

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

Velasquez' career almost ended before it began. On pace to be an early round pick in the 2006 draft, but his involvement in a shooting dropped him to the 19th round, and then he missed the entire 2008 season due to additional legal problems. Finally cleared to play, Velasquez was one of the top hitters in the Northwest League last year, and by most accounts, has turned over a new leaf in life. One of the better athletes in the system, Velasquez has above-average raw power, an arm for right field and at least average speed, and his .301/.363/.562 line for the Crawdads is generating plenty of believers. 

Others Of Note:

  • Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 3-for-3, 2 2B. Up to .348/.392/.587, but questions about power ceiling remain; in 213 Double-A at-bats, he's hit four home runs.
  • Jason Donald, 2B, Indians (Triple-A Columbus): 4-for-4 with HR (2). Up to .324/.419/.500 in 19 games.  Has utility career ahead of him at the least, but many like him more than that.
  • Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers (Double-A Chattanooga): 3-for-6, SB. 11-for-23 in last five games and .366/.387/.493 overall.  He just keeps getting better.
  • Dan Hudson, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte): 1 IP, 8 H, 9 R. Last year's breakout played of the year has been progressively worse each start.
  • Jon Lucroy, C, Brewers (Triple-A Nashville): 4-for-6, RBI, K. 10-for-25 since promotion to Triple-A; offense-first backstop could get a September look.
  • Jack McGeary, LHP, Nationals (Low-A Hagerstown): 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K. A rare sign of life from big bonus player; also had 13 groundball outs.
  • Buster Posey, C, Giants (Triple-A Fresno): 2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB. To his credit, he hasn't let his situation affect his performance; also has gunned down 42% of opposing base stealers.
  • Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 1-for-2, 2B, 3 BB. 20 walks in 18 games and a .500 on-base percentage; one scout says his plate discipline is good, but not off the charts: "Everyone here is afraid to pitch to him."
  • Oscar Tejeda, 2B, Red Sox (High-A Salem): 3-for-6, HR (5), 4 R, 2 RBI, SB. The five home runs is already a season high; hottest hitter in minors has 26 total bases in last six games.

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:  Triple-A

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