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April 29, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of April 28

by Kevin Goldstein

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Things Change Quickly

Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles (Triple-A Norfolk) 

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

Three days ago I speculated as to whether or not red-hot Jake Arrieta would get the next call to the big leagues as opposed to Tillman, who made 12 big league starts last year but began 2010 in the minors. Forget I said anything as Tillman delivered Norfolk's first no-hitter since 1992, sitting at 90-94 mph with his fastball and generating plenty of bad swings from his plus curve. A fifth inning walk was the only blemish on his record, and he looks big league ready . . . just like Arrieta. Patience, Baltimore fans, patience. 

Proving To Be Human

Aroldis Chapman, LHP Reds (Triple-A Louisville) 

Wednesday's stats: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 4 K

Like Stephen Strasburg, Chapman has the spotlight on him every time out. Unlike Strasburg, reasonable expectations for Chapman involved some very real growing pains. While Chapman delivered the first quality start of his young career while throwing a season-high in innings and pitches (99), there was some sloppiness associated with the outing, as he gave up the first two home runs of his nascent career while once again having occasional command issues. The fact that he can deliver this kind of outing on an “off” night is a tribute to his talent, and he's still on pace for a big league look towards the end of the year. 

Maybe Last Year Was For Real After All

Carlos Peguero, OF, Mariners (Double-A West Tenn) 

Wednesday's stats: 4-for-5, 3 HR (9), 3 R, 4 RBI, CS 

Peguero hit .271/.335/.560 last year, but that didn't get him much attention as a prospect. See, last year Peguero played at High Desert, the most inflated offensive environment, and where 19 of his 31 home runs occurred, to go with a .679 slugging percentage, compared to a .449 mark on the road. Then there was the 172 strikeouts as well to give cause for concern. The Double-A Southern League was expected to be something between a test and a wake-up call for Peguero, and instead, the 23-year-old Dominican is now tied with Mike Stanton for the minor league lead in home runs after last night's three bombs. Between the numbers and some impressive early reports from scouts, he's already improved his stock considerably, and everyone knows that Seattle is desperate for some power sources. 

More Good News For Mets Fans

Zach Lutz, 3B, Mets (Double-A Binghamton)

Wednesday's stats: 3-for-3, 2B, HR (6), 3 R, 3 RBI, BB  

It's been a good April for the Mets, at both the big league and the minor league level. A fifth-round pick in 2007, Lutz was a massive star at  Alvernia College, a small Division-III school in Pennsylvania, but a broken foot limited him to just 25 games in his first two seasons. Finally healthy, he had a good year in the Florida State League in 2009, and this year has been nothing short of an explosion, as he leads the Eastern League in home runs and total bases, while sitting in the top three in on-base percentage and slugging. He'll never replace David Wright at third base in New York, and he's not very good there anyway, leaving most to believe he''ll end up at first. That's Ike Davis territory, so Lutz' future might be bright, but it's probably not going to happen in the Big Apple. 

Running Like It's The 1980s Again

Mike Trout, OF, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids) 

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

Born in 1991, the Angels first-round pick from last June wasn't even alive back when stolen bases were a much bigger part of baseball, but he's doing his best to help bring speed back to baseball, with nine stolen bases in his last ten games and an overall line of .372/.432/.474. He doesn't look like a traditional leadoff man at nearly 220 pounds, but the plus-plus speed is very real, and scouts think there's going to be power down the road as well. 

Sleeper Alert!

Bruce Pugh, RHP, Twins (High-A Fort Myers) 

Wednesday's stats: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K

A 19th-round pick in 2008, Pugh was a relative unknown last year, but he opened the eyes of scouts by showing 94 mph heat out of the Low-A Beloit bullpen while striking out 99 in 85 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. His secondary stuff still needs plenty of work, so most think he'll move back to a relief role as he advances, but he delivered the best game of his pro career Wednesday, whiffing 12 of the 25 batters he faced. Not a huge prospect, but for a 19th-rounder, he's a good find for a team that often sets the standard for scouting and player development. 

Others Of Note:

  • Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners (Double-A West Tenn): 0-for-4, 2 K: Concern is now official, as 0-for-18 slump drops No. 2 overall pick last June to .132/.280/.191 in 18 games.
  • Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 2-for-4, HR (3), 4 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB. Among the hottest players around; 13-for-22 with eight walks in last six games, showing patience, power and speed.
  • Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians (High-A Kinston): 2-for-2, 2B, 2 BB: Very impressive so far; 15-for-32 in last 10 games and .349/.408/.540 overall; underrated talent.
  • Tyler Ladendorf, 2B, Athletics (High-A Stockton): 2-for-3, 2B, BB, SB: Acquired from the Twins last July for Orlando Cabrera, he has some intriguing tools and is up to .311/.373/.422.
  • Neil Walker, UT, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis): 4-for-4, 2B, HR (3), 2 R, 3 RBI: .333/.407/.560 in 19 games seems like a big step forward; now playing first, second, third and left.
  • Brandon Waring, 3B, Orioles (Double-A Bowie): 3-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K: 10-for-22 in last five games with 19 total bases; defense at third remains shaky.

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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