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December 10, 2012

Minor League Update

Games of December 7-9

by Jason Martinez

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There was all kinds of awesomeness going on in the Dominican Winter League this weekend. And the best part wasn't even 37 year-old Julio Lugo's five-hit game for Escogido. It seems that Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran aren't going to wait until Spring Training to start competing for the #5 starter spot in the Braves' rotation. The 22 year-old Delgado had a solid start for Licey on Saturday, allowing 2 ER in 5 innings with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Teheran was better, though, tossing one-hit ball over six scoreless innings with no walks and eight strikeouts on Sunday. Over his last three starts, the 21 year-old has pitched 16.2 scoreless innings with only two hits allowed, 4 walks, and 15 strikeouts. When he does things like that, we're reminded that he was, and probably still is, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

  • Matt Clark, 1B/OF, Padres (Margarita-VWL): 4-for-11, HR (3), 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 2 K. One of the top power hitters in the 2008 draft after belting 28 homers in his lone season with LSU, he's continued to homer at a high rate (102 in 548 games) in five minor league seasons for the Padres. His left-handed power bat hasn't had much of a future in an organization where most left-handed power hitters have proven no match for Petco Park's spacious right field. With the fences being moved in much closer in 2013, though, maybe it's time to take the 26 year-old a bit more seriously. 
  • Ender Inciarte, OF, Phillies (Zulia-VWL): 3-for-7, 2B, RBI, BB. The 22 year-old has had a recent change of plans for Spring Training. Instead of reporting to Diamondbacks minor league camp in Arizona next February, Inciarte will be in major league camp in Florida competing for a bench spot with the Phillies, who selected him in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Odds are against him as he tries to make the jump from Hi-A, but the Phillies are currently lacking in this area and Inciarte has a skill set -- speed (46 SB in 2012), defense, and ability to put the bat on the ball (53 BB, 63 K in 2012) -- that could give him a chance.
  • Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins (Oriente-DWL): 5-for-7, HR (3), 3 2B, 5 RBI, BB, K. As you probably already know, it's prospect ranking season and Sano was the subject of a fascinating discussion between some of our prospect experts here at Baseball Prospectus. They were trying to decide if Sano or Byron Buxton, the #2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is the Twins' top prospect. Ultimately, it was Buxton and his five-tool potential that won out over Cano and his one very loud tool -- power.  The 19 year-old took out his frustrations of not being #1 out on DWL pitching this weekend, with four extra-base hits, a single, and a walk in his eight plate appearances.
  • Neftali Soto, 1B, Reds (Santurce-PRBL): 3-for-4, BB. By the time Joey Votto's contract expires in Cincinnati, Soto will be 34 years old and might be retired from baseball for all we know. Barring an injury to Votto, we can make a pretty good assumption that Soto's never going to be the starting first baseman for the Reds. After hitting 30 home runs for Double-A Carolina in 2011, the Reds may have been thinking that they had a pretty good fall back option should Votto leave as a free agent after the 2013 season. But Votto signed an extension, Soto struggled in Triple-A in 2012, and the 23 year-old must have a big season or his spectacular 2011 season will seem like a distant memory.
  • Jose Alvarez, LHP, Tigers (Anzoategui-VWL): 7 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 3 K. Recently signed as a minor league free agent by the Tigers after seven seasons in the Marlins' system, Alvarez has been making a pretty good impression on his new team. With seven shutout innings on Friday, the 23 year-old lefty has allowed just one earned run over his last 18.1 innings with one walk and 10 hits allowed. His strikeout numbers dipped once he reached Double-A but he has terrific control and should give the Tigers some solid depth in the upper minors next season.
  • Carlos Contreras, RHP, Reds (Este-DWL): 1.1 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 2 K. I'll admit I had never heard of Contreras before the Reds added him to their 40-man roster last month. You'll have to forgive me for not knowing anything about a guy with a career 5.20 ERA who spent most of 2012 with Lo-A Dayton. There's a reason, however, that the Reds would protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He has to have a great arm. Trust me, teams wouldn't think of selecting an A-ball pitcher with mediocre stuff and good command. Contreras has a great arm and, at 21 years of age, he may be finally starting to put it all together. After years of struggling in short-season rookie levels, Contreras posted a 3.12 ERA with 20 saves, 24 walks and 63 strikeouts in 60.2 innings between Lo-A and Hi-A. 

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