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August 14, 2012

Future Shock Blog

Minor League Update: Chiefs/Snappers Edition

by Kevin Goldstein

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A minor league update consisting solely of players from the game I attended last night in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Kennys Vargas, 1B, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 1-for-3, HR (9), R, RBI, BB, 2 K.

Vargas has become a bit of a pop-up player in the Midwest League this year as after just 21 games, he's hitting .278/.422/.736 with nine home runs and 17 walks in just 72 at bats, and 14 of his 20 hits going for extra bases, including the nine bombs. That's obviously impressive, and his home run on Monday night was a blast to center field. That said, there are a lot of things to like about him, and also a lot of red flags. He has tremendous power, which should be no surprise when you consider his listed size of six-foot-five and 272 pounds. That's 272 pounds for a player who earned as suspension at the end of last year for taking a weight loss supplement that was on the list of banned substances. Signed in 2009 as a non-drafted free agent for $85,000, Vargas put up solid numbers in three years of short-season baseball, so at 22 he's not exactly the youngest player in the league, and his line from Monday's game shows every aspect of his game. The massive power showed up in his home run, his good approach is there with a walk, and the fact that breaking balls make him look like a little leaguer is there with the two strikeouts. That's also kind of all that matters, as he's a poor fielder and well below-average runner. All he can do is keep hitter, and all the Twins can do is keep moving him up until he stops hitting. Despite the 1158 OPS, he merely falls into the mildly interesting pile, but is worth keeping an eye on.

Others Of Note:

Mason Melotakis, LHP, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K.

The Twins 2nd-round pick in June, Melotakis signed for $750,000, and he's a left-handed power reliever who sat at 92-93 and touched 95 with a promising 79-81 mph slider.

Austin Reed, RHP, Cubs (Low-A Peoria): 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 2 K.

A 12th round pick in 2010, Reed doesn't have great numbers this year out of the bullpen, with a 3.60 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 55 innings, but you do sit up a bit when he touches 96 mph while generally sitting at 92-94. Command/control is an issue.

Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 2-for-4, HR (24), R, RBI.

I've reached the point where I can't go see Sano without seeing him go deep, and his 24 home runs is fifty percent more than any other player in the league, and he leads in the RBI race by 14. He remains a mixed bag, but it's hard to walk away from power that earns 70-80 grades from scouts, as well as one of the league's best approaches at just 19 years of age, as he also leads the circuit with 74 walks. He goes to the plate looking to crush a balls, and his .259 batting average with 129 strikeouts in 397 at-bats is certainly a cause for concern, and there's simply no way he stays at third base. As a right-fielder with those kind of secondary skills, he still projects just fine.

Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs (Low-A Peoria): 2-for-3, 2B, R.

You don't want to judge any player on just one look, but especially a guy like Soler. A few months ago he was a Cuban refugee, and now he's a guy with millions of dollars in his pocket playing baseball in Wisconsin. That's a big adjustment, mentally, but Peoria is a great fit for him, as Soler is being guided along by Chiefs batting coach Barbaro Garbey, a fellow Cuban. On just one game, I certainly get it. He's a big, athletic outfielder who catches your eye the second he takes the field. He he tremendous hands and wrists, with a remarkably short swing for a power hitter, and a swing that helps explain his excellent contact rate. He wasn't challenged in the field and he put up a middling 4.4 time to first on a double-play ball, and he's a bit of a strange runner who stays on the balls of his feet. Not enough data to really make a call here, but again, I get it.

Matt Tomshaw, LHP, Twins (Low-A Beloit): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K.

Beloit's starter was a 23-year-old 42nd-round pick from last years draft. Not exactly the pedigree one looks for, but he's fun to watch, and mowed down hitters with a deep repertoire and impressive location. Tomshaw doesn't have much velocity at 88-90 mph, but he can add sink and run to the pitch and hits both sides of the plate effectively. He has a solid curveball and good changeup, and he mixes his pitches well, is seemingly always ahead of the hitter and is very aggressive. With a 2.59 ERA and three straight excellent starts, I don't feel like I saw a fluky one-day thing, and it wouldn't shock me to see Tomshaw continue to find success with an outside shot at making it as a reliever.

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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