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May 10, 2012

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Games of May 9

by Kevin Goldstein

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Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Brewers (Double-A Huntsville): 8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K.

A supplemental first-round pick in 2009, Heckathorn has fallen off the radar after a pair of middling seasons, but he's shown marked improvement this year, as after last night's outing he has a 3.54 ERA with 37 strikeouts against just seven walks in 40 2/3 innings. Often it takes time for pitchers to learn that at the pro level they can't blow every hitter away, and Heckathorn is now working with what he has, working both sides of the plate with average velocity two- and four-seam fastballs to go with an average slider and decent changeup. His stuff plays up due to some deception from his long levers and his durable frame is built to eat innings. There's no star potential, but he's very much starting to look like a usable big league arm down the road.

Others Of Note:

  • Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees (Triple-A Empire State): 8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Best start
    of the year and in a very efficient 97 pitches.
  • Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox (Double-A Portland): 2-for-4, HR (3), R, RBI, K. Home runs in back-to-back games and 10-for-26 in last seven games, but still just .243/.283/.393 overall.
  • Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Angels (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 3-for-5, 2B, HR (6), 4 R, 4 RBI, BB. Five home runs in last nine games; .279/.328/.492 overall.
  • Jordan Danks, OF, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte): 2-for-4, 2 HR (5), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Every time you think about writing him off he gets hot; .269/.391/.481 in 32 games to go with tremendous defense.
  • Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Astros (Triple-A Oklahoma City): 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Well-below average velocity but pounds the strike zone and gets a ton of ground balls; 1.85 ERA in seven starts, but just 23 strikeouts in 48.2 IP.
  • Ryan LaMarre, OF, Reds (Double-A Pensacola): 3-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB, CS. Athletic outfielder looks to be making strides; .285/.373/.400 in 34 games.
  • Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Mets (High-A St. Lucie): 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K. First start back from last year's Tommy John surgery.
  • Derek Norris, C, Athletics (Triple-A Sacramento): 2-for-4, 2B, HR (4), R, 2 RBI. Home run was a walk-off shot in the ninth; .303/.333/.523 in 28 games.
  • Rafael Ortega, OF, Rockies (High-A Modesto): 2-for-4, HR (1), 3 R, 2 RBI. Remains interesting for speed and line drive bat despite lack of secondary skills; .318/.372/.400 in 20 games.
  • Jonathan Pettibone, RHP, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 8.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K. Best of seven Eastern League starts; 3.98 ERA with .309 opponent's average.
  • Adys Portillo, RHP, Padres (Low-A Fort Wayne): 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. 20-year-old power arm is having potential breakout year by starting to throw more strikes and showing better secondaries; 1.41 ERA in seven starts with .140 opponent's average.
  • Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa): 1-for-3, HR (10), R, 2 RBI, 2 BB. Three home runs in two games and .356/.420/.661 in 31 games; Bryan LaHair's play allows the Cubs to be patient.
  • Luigi Rodriguez, OF, Indians (Low-A Lake County): 3-for-5, R, SB, CS. Snaps out of 2-for-28 slump; .295/.355/.438 in 27 games.
  • Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 2-for-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI. 20-for-49 (.408) in last 12 games and .279/.319/.372 overall; plus runner with outstanding bat speed.
  • George Springer, OF, Astros (High-A Lancaster): 3-for-4, HR (4), R, 2 RBI, BB, K. Has raised batting average 48 points in last 11 games; .289/.336/.467 overall, but 43 Ks in 135 ABs.
  • Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins (High-A Jupiter): 2-for-3, 2 HR (5), 3 R, 2 RBI, BB. Stock continues to rise with approach, hitting ability and power all continuing to tick up; .310/.406/.586 in 24 games.

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

26 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

GrinnellSteve

Regarding Danks, shouldn't the Sox be getting to the point where they have to think about plugging him into left and improving the defense and the on-base skills of the team? I was as high on Viciedo as anyone, but the OBP of the bottom third of that lineup is killing them, and this looks like an easy enough fix from where I'm sitting. Thoughts?

May 10, 2012 10:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

You have to give Viciedo the chance to figure things out.

May 10, 2012 10:56 AM
 
SC

Have you heard if the Rivera injury is forcing the Yankees to adjust their plans with Betances or Banuelos? With all the talk that Betances is destined for a bullpen role anyway, would the team move him into the pen in AAA before calling him up, or is that less of an issue than trying to stretch out a reliever?

May 10, 2012 11:01 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I don't think the Yankees believe either is ready, nor a this-year solution, and then there is the issue they have with trusting their own. I do imagine that if they do decide Betances can help, they'll move him in the minors, first.

May 10, 2012 14:22 PM
 
AJ

Do more scouts (that you have spoken with) see Betances as a SP or RP at this point? I see a lot of conflicting projections.

May 10, 2012 15:27 PM
rating: 0
 
Peter7899

Man it's gotta be frustrating for Rizzo. To know you're good enough to earn a big league paycheck, yet be on minor league meal money because the big league club has Alfonso Soriano. What a craptastic scenario for the guy.

May 10, 2012 11:04 AM
rating: 0
 
gilgamesh

I don't think it's that simple.... the club has no incentive to bring him up right now, and they said they were going to have him play most of their year @ AAA regardless of how he did. I imagine he comes up around the ASB, and maybe Epstein eats Soriano's contract. But it's actually kind of a great place for the guy to be, much better than in PetCavern Park.

May 10, 2012 11:47 AM
rating: 1
 
Peter7899

I wasn't talking about the club. I was talking about Rizzo. He'd be making several hundred thousand more dollars right now if he were hitting in Chicago rather than at Iowa.

May 10, 2012 13:01 PM
rating: 0
 
This guy

You're ignoring the fact that Rizzo did the same thing at AAA last year, then got his chance in the majors and blew it, big time. It's no travesty to keep him in AAA for longer than a month this year.

May 11, 2012 11:33 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Geoff Young
BP staff

It's almost as bad as being stuck behind Brad Hawpe last year.

May 10, 2012 13:44 PM
 
Adam Hobson

Anthony Rizzo has a 51 OPS+ in the big leagues. No one knows that he's good enough just yet. Plenty of players have succeeded in the high minors, only to fall flat on their faces in the majors. Need I remind Cubs fans about Hee-Seop Choi?

For all of Alfonso Soriano's short comings, he did at least post an OPS+ of at least 100 the past two seasons. Yes, his salary far exceeds his talents, but he's not a hole on the roster.

May 10, 2012 15:37 PM
rating: 9
 
jonathanaustin

Love the updates.

One minor request, would it be possible to include each player's age - perhaps after their team. I always find myself clicking on their name to see how old they are

May 10, 2012 11:20 AM
rating: 3
 
Randolph314

Seconded

May 10, 2012 12:30 PM
rating: 1
 
Dan W.

Speaking of seconds, it takes approximately 2.9 to click on the players name and then press a button to get back to the page you were on - much less than it would take for Kevin to provide this information for you.

May 10, 2012 12:46 PM
rating: 0
 
bheikoop

For PC users, Pressing "Backspace" can cut into that 2.9 seconds dropping you to 2.6, maybe 2.5.

Where does that rank on the 20-80 scale? Envision a Jose Molina no-hustle saunter.

May 10, 2012 16:07 PM
rating: 3
 
wilymo

sure but kevin would be providing that info to all readers at the same time, instead of all 2.2 billion BP subscribers each spending 2.9 seconds looking it up ourselves. so it'd actually save 6.4 billion seconds minus however long it takes kevin to do it.

May 10, 2012 17:09 PM
rating: 3
 
slackfarmer

I'm sure BP would be very pleased if they actually had 2.2 billion subscribers. Joking aside, your point is well taken.

May 10, 2012 23:59 PM
rating: 0
 
LynchMob

Here's an idea for Dave Pease, or who ever does the web programming for the site ... when the system auto-creates a link when it recognizes the name of a player in a comment, have the code also auto-create a "tool tip" that has the player's age ... then Kevin doesn't have to do anything and no one has to click ...

May 11, 2012 09:52 AM
rating: 1
 
LynchMob

Hmmm ... then a side benefit looks like it might be that I could see Dave Pease's age as well :-)

May 11, 2012 09:53 AM
rating: 0
 
Kreylix
(389)

Second excellent start in a row by Bruce Billings - does he have the makeup to be a 3rd or 4th starter?

May 10, 2012 12:18 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

I'm going to go with 4th or 5th, but that's a compliment.

May 10, 2012 14:22 PM
 
APV2600

TJ House is off to a great start this season with some reports that he has improved his offerings. Has he risen his stock at all?

May 10, 2012 13:39 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

His start caught me eye last night, so I'm trying to get more info.

May 10, 2012 14:23 PM
 
bheikoop

Derek Norris is turning into quite the interesting prospect. In terms of Norris as a hitter, is he moving up, down, or staying stable in the eyes of scouts and prospecters? Interesting to see his 2012 OPS is lower then his career mark, if only slightly.

May 10, 2012 16:12 PM
rating: 0
 
Pat Folz

His sudden lack of walks is really something. What happened to the guy who hit .200 and OBPed .400? Do the A's have him on some sort of reverse-Votto plan where he HAS to swing at the first pitch or something?

May 10, 2012 21:05 PM
rating: 0
 
onegameref

I don't think Choi was a failure with the Cubs. They did not appreciate what he did well and what he didn't. They did use him to acquire Lee so he did provide value in the end.

May 13, 2012 15:57 PM
rating: 0
 
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