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May 12, 2010

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of May 11

by Kevin Goldstein

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I Thought He Was A Glove Man

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

Tuesday's stats: 3-for-5, 3B, 5 RBI, K

When the Red Sox signed Iglesias last year to a four-year big league deal that included a bonus of over $6 million, it was primarily for his glove. Some believe he become the top defensive shortstop in the minors the moment he signed, and the hope was that he'd develop enough offensively to play every day and bat eighth or ninth. While he continues to impress with web-gem worthy plays on a near daily basis, his bat has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the system, as the 20-year-old Cuban is 10-for-17 in his last four games and batting .323/.365/.448 overall in a league he's exceptionally young for. There's a reason the Red Sox signed Marco Scutaro for only two years with an option, and this is it. 

Ok, We Can Be Optimistic At This Point

Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds (High-A Lynchburg) 

Tuesday's stats: 3-for-5, 3B, HR (7), 2 R, 4 RBI 

A first-round pick in 2007, Mesoraco did somewhere between little or nothing until this year, with scouts talking about his weight as much as his batting average. Be it better conditioning, some tweaks to his swing and approach, or just a wake-up call that he had to get moving, he's doing just that, as the 21-year-old is now batting a whopping .347/.435/.663 in 28 games for the Hillcats. He's already just two away from his career high in home runs, and these kind of numbers just can't be a total fluke. On at least some level, it's real progress. 

Surprising Power

Max Stassi, C, Kane County (Low-A Kane County) 

Tuesday's stats: 2-for-5, 2B, HR (6), R, RBI, 2 K

The Midwest is well-known for being brutal on young hitters, as between big baseball parks and brutal early-season weather, big offensive numbers become very hard to come by. Drafted in the fourth round last year but given first-round money as a good bat/great glove backstop, Stassi has suddenly slugged three home runs in his last seven games, and his six home runs places him fourth in the Midwest League, with the three players in front of him all old for the level while Stassi just turned 19 in March. Up to .274/.344/.496 in 29 games, the only big whole in his game so far is a whole lot of swing-and-miss, as he's had multi-strikeout games in more than half of his contest with 44 whiffs overall in just 117 at-bats. 

Help Is On The Way, Rangers Fans

Alexi Ogando, RHP, Rangers (Triple-A Oklahoma City) 

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

The Rangers certainly proved they needed some bullpen assistance on Tuesday, as in a 13-inning loss to the A's, it was a battling offense that kept the game going that long, with four of the six relievers used by Texas giving up runs. 2009 draftee Tanner Scheppers has been blowing away minor league hitters as is expected to be up by the break if not sooner, but don't for get about Ogando. Once exiled in his native Dominican Republic due to visa issues, the 26-year-old right-hander is making up for lost time by blowing hitters away with upper-90s smoke and a plus slider. He looked just fine in his Triple-A debut, and at his age, it's not like he's going to get much, if any, better, so he might not be far behind Scheppers on the 200+ mile trip south to Arlington. 

Really Good, Just Not What Was Expected

Mike Minor, LHP, Braves (Double-A Mississippi) 

Tuesday's stats: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K

The seventh overall pick in last year's draft, Minor was seen not as a high-ceiling talent, but at least one who could move quickly based on his combination of average-to-a-tick-above stuff and outstanding command and control. That pinpoint precision was on display when he didn't walk a batter in 14 innings last year, but it's been a different story in 2010, as he's handed out 22 free passes in just 36 2/3 innings, a shockingly high rate of 5.4 per nine innings. Just as shocking is his 54 strikeouts (13.3 K/9), as he hardly has the kind of stuff that one would expect so many whiffs from. For now, he's the hardest kind of prospect to evaluate, as he's not necessarily better or worse than expected, as much as he's seemingly morphed into a completely different pitcher.   

Sleeper Alert!

Austin Hyatt, RHP, Phillies (High-A Clearwater) 

Tuesday's stats: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 14 K

Hyatt is a difficult pitcher to wrap one's head around.  There are all sorts of negatives here.  A 15th-round pick last year as a college senior, Hyatt is in his first full season, and he already turns 24 in two weeks. Then there's the stuff, as his fastball and slider rate as no more than average, while his changeup might be a tick above. So we have an advanced, polished strike thrower with no projection, but at the same time, he's totally dominating, limiting Florida State League batters to a .181 batting average while striking out 53 in 42 2/3 innings. As a 15th-round pick, if he even gets to the big leagues, that's quite an accomplishment, but some scouts are coming around and seeing Hyatt as having big league bullpen possibilities. 

Others Of Note:

  • Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 1-for-3, HR (6), R, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, SB. That's five home runs in last ten games for those scoring at home, now up to .333/.398/.656.
  • Jason Castro, C, Astros (Triple-A Round Rock): 2-for-3, 3 R, 2 BB. Too early to call him 'hot' or anything, but a four-game hitting streak is better than nothing, and his batting line is now a still bizarre .244/.381/.279.
  • Alex Gordon, OF, Royals (Triple-A Omaha): 2-for-4, HR (3), 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Scout quote of the week when asked about Gordon: "Hell, I don't know."
  • Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 2-for-5, 3 RBIs. Now at .409/.489/.574; the glass half empty guy would point out that 70% of his hits are singles, including just one home run in 115 at-bats.
  • Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville): 3-for-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB. Three hits and no home runs?  Actually, he the double missed clearing the fence by inches.
  • Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs (Double-A Tennessee): 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, K. 4-for-9 since move up to Southern League.
  • Brett Wallace, 1B, Blue Jays (Triple-A Las Vegas): 4-for-6, 2 2B, R, 4 RBIs. Strange split of the day --  lefty hitter has .410 average against southpaws, but just .270 mark against righties.

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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