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July 2, 2013

Minor League Update

Games of Monday, July 1

by Zach Mortimer

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Pitching Prospect of the Day: Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Padres (Double-A San Antonio): 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. Sampson has really found his groove, piling up the strikeout numbers of late. He has relied on a fastball-changeup combination to dominate hitters at the Double-A level; 28.2 IP, 21 H, 7 ER, 12 BB, 32 K in six June outings.

Position Prospect of the Day: Max Kepler, CF, Twins (Low-A Cedar Rapids): 2-4, 3B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Well, it’s July 2, and we all know what that means—International signing day. Kepler has set the benchmark for players in Europe. Some believe that if he is able to succeed, it will change the game in Europe. Kepler’s skill set gives him star potential, but there is an extreme gap between current ability and his future ceiling. In a perfect world, Kepler is a five-tool monster, but let’s be thankful if he is able to stay on prospect radars; .317/.404/.707 with 5 2B, 1 3B, and 3 HR in last 41 at-bats.

Other notable prospect performances on July 1:

“The Good”

  • Lane Adams, CF, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 3-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, RBI, K. Adams is an under-the-radar prospect. He is a bit of a free-swinger, but he has solid-average bat speed. He is also a plus runner and has the ability to play center with a solid-average arm in the field and solid-average power potential at the plate. Adams focused more on basketball in high school, but the Royals were able to offer him enough money to convince him to give up that sport and play baseball full time. He profiles best as a fourth outfielder who has the ability to play all three positions.
  • Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Indians (Double-A Akron): 2-3, 2 2B, RBI, 2BB, K. I know the Indians believe, but I’ve always wondered what Aguilar’s ultimate future will be. Aguilar has plus power, but he is stuck at first base, and I am not sure how the hit tool will translate against higher-level pitching.
  • Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (High-A Modesto): 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Butler has a plus-plus fastball, potential plus slider, and potential plus changeup. If he reaches his ceiling, Butler will pitch toward the front of a rotation, and even if he is not able to reach that high of a level, he has the ability to be a ground-ball machine in the middle of a rotation.
  • Ronald Guzman, 1B, Rangers (Low-A Hickory): 3-5, HR, R, 4 RBI. Guzman has the potential for a plus-plus hit tool. He creates solid contact and can hit line drives all over the field, and has an advanced approach for a player his age. Guzman also has plus power potential, but is limited to first base defensively. He will have to really hit, but everyone that I talk to believes in him going forward. I even went so far as to ask Rangers coverage man Jason Cole what phrase describes Guzman best, and he said, “pure hitter, mature swing and approach”; .326/.348/.477 with 4 2B and 3 HR in 86 at-bats.
  • Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (High-A Jupiter): 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Nicolino has sort of flown under the radar in 2013. I’ve still heard many good things about him going forward. He has a potential plus-plus changeup and easy plus pitchability. On a podcast, I said, “Nicolino may be … a better major-league pitcher than a guy who is ranked on prospect lists.” I truly believe this may be the case; 84.2 IP, 74 H, 21 ER, 17 BB, 56 K in 16 starts.
  • Dorssys Paulino, SS, Indians (Low-A Lake County): 3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. Paulino was supposed to be the next man up after Francisco Lindor, but he has struggled in Low-A thus far. He is still developing the ability to hit quality pitching, and the recent signs of life have to be viewed as positives; .304/.319/.457 with 2 2B, 1 3B, and 1 HR in 46 at-bats.
  • Drew Vettleson, RF, Rays (High-A Charlotte): 3-4, 3 2B, 2 RBI. Vettleson has the potential to be a solid-average hitter with solid-average power, and he has a plus-plus arm. After an average first half, Vettleson will look to right the ship in the second half and get back to being a potential solid-average regular; .375/.500/.625 with 3 2B, 1 3B, and 1 HR in last 32 at-bats.

“The Bad”

  • Daniel Mateo, 3B, Royals (High-A Wilmington): 0-6, 4 K. Mateo is a guy who I’ve seen be very good and very bad. The bat has a little something in it, but I’m not sure if it will ever be consistent enough to get him on the prospect radar.
  • Michael Perez, C, Diamondbacks (Low-A South Bend): 1-5, 2B, RBI, 3 K. Perez started the year off as a prospect that could go one of two ways, and after a demotion from the High-A California League to Low-A, it has not been smooth sailing. He started his time at South Bend with a good game, and then struggled at the plate tonight.

“The Fourth of July”

The Fourth of July is a great holiday—friends, cookouts, baseball, and just an all-around good time. I would like to wish everyone a very safe and enjoyable holiday. I will make the announcement here so everyone knows: the MLU will return on Monday, July 8. I will be fine and the games will go on. As always, if anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me via email or Twitter.

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

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